Jeremiah 30:11 Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you.
Many ancient people groups no longer exist, but Israel remains. This is quite remarkable since, for many years, Israel lived outside their homeland—first in Egypt, then in Babylon, then all around the world. They should have been absorbed through intermarriage, but God preserved his ancient people and brought them home again in 1948.
This is significant because the Apostle Paul predicted a time when all Israel will turn to Christ and be saved (Romans 11:26). Their preservation through the ages is an amazing sign of God’s faithfulness, and a fulfillment of prophecy. Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you.
Jeremiah 31:33-34 This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, Know the Lord, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
God’s people violated the covenant he made with them at Sinai (Exodus 20). But instead of turning away from them, God promised to make a new covenant in which he would forgive and forget their sins. If God rejected us after a million sins, few would last very long. But since he is willing to forgive and forget, we can live with him now and forever.
This new covenant can never fail because it is based on the sacrifice of God’s own Son. After his last meal, Jesus took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:20). Then he allowed himself to be arrested, and was crucified the following day. We no longer relate to God on the basis of our own obedience, but on the basis of Christ, who lived and died for us. It is only because of him that God can forgive and forget.
Jeremiah 38:4 Then the officials said to the king, This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them.
Jeremiah was telling the people that it was God’s will for them to surrender to the Babylonians. This discouraged the soldiers who were defending the city, so the officials wanted Jeremiah dead. They did not want to kill him themselves, however, so they put him in a cistern. [I]t had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud (Jeremiah 38:6).
Jeremiah was not a young man anymore. His life had been hard, and this was his lowest point. As he sank in the mud, he may have quoted from the Psalms. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. . . . Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me (Psalm 69:2, 14).
Ministry is not always easy, and ministers are often abused. But the Lord heard Jeremiah’s prayer and sent some people to help. Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes. Jeremiah did so, and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern (Jeremiah 28:12-13).
Whenever we are sinking down, we should pray to God for help. There are people he can send to pull us out. And if we are not sinking down, we should look around for those who are. [W]hatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40), said Jesus.
Jeremiah 40:6 Jeremiah went to Gedaliah . . . and stayed with him among the people who were left behind in the land.
After destroying Jerusalem, and deporting most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah to govern the few that remained. But Gedaliah was soon murdered, and fearing retaliation, the remaining Jews fled to Egypt, and took Jeremiah with them.
Jeremiah was opposed to going to Egypt, and warned the people against it (Jeremiah 42:7-22). Either he was forced to go, or he went reluctantly. While he was there, Jeremiah prophesied that the king of Babylon would come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword. He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive. As a shepherd picks his garment clean of lice, so he will pick Egypt clean and depart (Jeremiah 43:11-12), he wrote.
The fulfillment of this prophecy is not recorded in the Bible, but it occurred around 568 BC, as stated in an ancient text housed in The British Museum. God’s people had a long history of rebellion, and they got what they deserved. [R]ebels and sinners will both be broken, and those who forsake the Lord will perish (Isaiah 1:28), wrote Isaiah. This has been true throughout history, and will be throughout eternity.
Reflection and Review
Why is the survival of the Jewish people so remarkable?
What is the new covenant?
Why should we help those who are sinking down?