This chapter starts with God’s promise that he will bring back the people of Israel and Judah from captivity and restore them to “the land I gave their forefathers to possess.” This of course has to do with the physical land in the Middle East directly, but the land is never about just “the land.” The latter has eternal significance, and Israel’s captivity always points to our captivity in sin, the wages of which Christ died to pay.
That this points beyond the historical moment it depicts is shown in the following verse describing the salvation the Lord will provide. He uses the phrase, “In that day” to pinpoint the time their bondage will be broken, and when they will no longer be enslaved by foreigners. Here is what comes next:
9 Instead, they will serve the Lord their God
and David their king,
whom I will raise up for them.
How could they serve David if he died over 400 years earlier? In Scripture references to David are almost always Messianic, and we know now that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Davidic reign. The physical-temporal almost always points to the spiritual-eternal, as it does here. The Lord’s promise to Israel then and us now:
I am with you and will save you.
What do we need saving from? Captivity to sin a la Israel, and spiritual death a la all humanity. In this same verse (9) the Lord says the people must be disciplined, but with justice. Their sins must be punished, and we read yet again the case laid out against them in the following verses. But at the same time he continues to affirm that he will restore his people. The Lord never proclaims judgment without the hope of salvation, justice without mercy. He again points much further with this verse about the leader he will raise up:
21 Their leader will be one of their own;
their ruler will arise from among them.
I will bring him near and he will come close to me—
for who is he who will devote himself
to be close to me?’
declares the Lord.
22 “‘So you will be my people,
and I will be your God.’”
This leader will be known by the closeness of his relationship to Yahweh. The question the Lord asks here is a rhetorical one: the Leader! Nobody else wants to be close to a holy God who will judge them for their sin. We know that among God’s people none could be found to fulfill the ultimate role of Savior. God himself would have to do it. We read in Isaiah 6 why this is:
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King,the Lord Almighty.”
This Leader is “David their king” of verse 9, all of which allows Yahweh to have a relationship with his people and be their God. Paul tells us how this happened in I Corinthians 5:
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
And what is the nature of this reconciliation: not counting his people’s sins against them. And what does reconcile mean exactly? To restore to friendship or harmony. What Adam lost, Christ restored. Now we live in harmony with our Father because he no longer counts our sins against us. A simple gospel message with profoundly eternal questions right here in Jeremiah.
The final words of the chapter say that God’s wrath and anger will be satisfied against the wicked, but the ultimate enemy we know is death. I think the word “fully” in the last verse looks to a much bigger cosmic victory won in Christ:
24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he fully accomplishes
the purposes of his heart.
In days to come
you will understand this.
We live in the days to come! The revelation of God in Christ makes all the shadows and types of the OT Clear.