Faithful to the End.


The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, said: “Behold, I am bringing punishment upon Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh and Egypt and her gods and her kings, upon Pharaoh and those who trust in him. I will deliver them into the hand of those who seek their life, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Afterward Egypt shall be inhabited as in the days of old, declares the Lord.

“But fear not, O Jacob my servant,
    nor be dismayed, O Israel,
for behold, I will save you from far away,
    and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
    and none shall make him afraid.
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
declares the Lord,
    for I am with you.
I will make a full end of all the nations
    to which I have driven you,
    but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
    and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”Jeremiah 46:25-28 ESV

Fear not. That seems to be a strange statement for God to make after all that He has said concerning the fate of Egypt and all those from Judah who had fled there. But in these closing verses of chapter 46, He says it twice.

“But fear not, O Jacob my servant,
    nor be dismayed, O Israel,
for behold, I will save you from far away,
    and your offspring from the land of their captivity. – Jeremiah 46:27 ESV

Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
declares the Lord,
    for I am with you. – Jeremiah 46:28 ESV

His words are meant for the nation of Israel, providing them with two messages of encouragement. He would save them and He was with them. This is meant to be a reassurance that God, in spite of Israel’s ongoing disobedience and unfaithfulness to Him, would one day restore them to prominence and to their position as His chosen people. The day would come when He would return them “from the land of their captivity” (vs 27) and promises them that a life filled with “quiet and ease” (vs 27). While this promise is partially fulfilled in the return of the people from captivity in Babylon under the leadership of Ezra and Zerubabbel, it is most likely a reference a the much-more future period of time after Christ has returns to the earth and reestablishes the nation of Israel in the land of Canaan. Jeremiah prophesied about this event earlier in his book.

“For the time is coming,”
    says the Lord,
“when I will raise up a righteous descendant
    from King David’s line.
He will be a King who rules with wisdom.
    He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
And this will be his name:
    ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’
In that day Judah will be saved,
    and Israel will live in safety.” – Jeremiah 23:5-6 NLT

Christ will set up His kingdom on earth and establish His throne in the city of Jerusalem. And God will see to it that the people of Israel, spread all over the world at that time, will return to the land of promise, to sit under the rule and reign of Christ. God has a plan for the people of Israel, because He has made a covenant promise with them that He must and will fulfill. He will not break or fail to keep His covenant. In spite of their unfaithfulness, they remain His chosen people and He remains their God. And in that day, God will do for the Israelites what they could never have done for themselves. He will give them clean hearts, remove their sin, and provide them with a new capacity to serve Him faithfully.

“For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

“And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior.” – Ezekiel 36:24-29 NLT

But God is also going to restore the nation of Egypt. Unlike the nations of Babylon and Assyria, whom God would ultimately destroy for their treatment of Israel and Judah, God would reestablish Egypt. And this promise too, seems to be a reference to a future restoration that has yet to happen. The prophet, Isaiah, provides us with a glimpse what God is going to do at some future, as-yet-to-be-revealed date.

At that time five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord who commands armies. One will be called the City of the Sun. At that time there will be an altar for the Lord in the middle of the land of Egypt, as well as a sacred pillar dedicated to the Lord at its border. It will become a visual reminder in the land of Egypt of the Lord who commands armies. When they cry out to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a deliverer and defender who will rescue them. The Lord will reveal himself to the Egyptians, and they will acknowledge the Lord’s authority at that time. They will present sacrifices and offerings; they will make vows to the Lord and fulfill them. The Lord will strike Egypt, striking and then healing them. They will turn to the Lord and he will listen to their prayers and heal them. – Isaiah 19:18-22 NLT

Egypt had never been an enemy of Israel. In fact, Egypt had been a place of refuge for the people of Israel for centuries. Abraham himself had fled there to escape a famine in the land. Egypt had become the new home to Joseph after he had been sold into slavery by his brothers. It was there that he became the second-most-highest official in the land. And it was there that his father and brothers went to purchase much-needed food during yet another famine in Canaan. And at Joseph’s invitation, his father and brothers would move their families to Egypt to escape the famine. It was to Egypt that Joseph and Mary fled with the baby Jesus in order to escape the wrath of King Herod. And while the people of Judah in Jeremiah’s day had fled to Egypt for safety, they had done so without God’s consent. They had blatantly violated His command to remain in the land of Judah. And they would suffer the consequences. God makes it quite clear in this passage that He is obligated, because of His justice and holiness, to punish disobedience.

“…I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you, but with justice;
    I cannot let you go unpunished.” – Jeremiah 46:28 NLT

They would suffer because of their sin. The people of the northern kingdom of Israel were in captivity in Assyria. The people of the southern kingdom of Judah had just been taken captives to Babylon. And they would remain there for 70 years, until God miraculously arranged for their return to the land. But that return would be incomplete. Yes, they would rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and reconstruct the temple, but they would never be able to restore Israel to its former glory. They would have no king. They would still be defenseless and easy prey to the stronger nations around them. Eventually, they would find themselves occupied by the Romans. And that was the state of affairs when Jesus came to earth the first time. But when He returns again, He will restore Jerusalem to its former glory once and for all. He will set up His kingdom on earth.

“In that day I will restore the fallen house of David.
    I will repair its damaged walls.
From the ruins I will rebuild it
    and restore its former glory.
And Israel will possess what is left of Edom
    and all the nations I have called to be mine.”
The Lord has spoken,
    and he will do these things.

“The time will come,” says the Lord,
“when the grain and grapes will grow faster
    than they can be harvested.
Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel
    will drip with sweet wine!
I will bring my exiled people of Israel
    back from distant lands,
and they will rebuild their ruined cities
    and live in them again.
They will plant vineyards and gardens;
    they will eat their crops and drink their wine.
I will firmly plant them there
    in their own land.
They will never again be uprooted
    from the land I have given them,”
    says the Lord your God. – Amos 9:11-15 NLT

We serve a faithful God. He is a promise-keeping God who never fails to do all that He has said. When He warns of judgment, it comes. When He promises restoration, it takes place. When He says that His Son will one day return, you can count on it. When He tells the people of Israel that they are His own. He means it.

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
 – Numbers 23:29 NLT

In a world where nothing is reliable and no one is trustworthy, we have a God who is faithful, just and true. His promises never fall short. His word never fails.

 

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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