July 27, 2021
"But you, My servant Jacob, do not be afraid, and do not be discouraged, Israel, for without fail I will save you from far away and your descendants..."
“But you, My servant Jacob, do not be afraid, and do not be discouraged, Israel, for without fail I will save you from far away and your descendants, from the land of their captivity! Jacob will return and have calm and quiet with no one to frighten him. And you, My servant Jacob, do not be afraid—this is the Lord’s declaration—for I will be with you. I will bring destruction on all the nations where I have banished you, but I will not bring destruction on you. I will discipline you with justice, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.” Jeremiah 46:27-28
Let’s refresh our memories on the history of the Jewish people after the reign of King Solomon. Solomon was succeeded by his son, Rehoboam. After his coronation, the elders of the kingdom assembled to ask Rehoboam if he would be hard on them or if he would ease their labor. Instead of heeding the advice (to lighten the people’s burdens) of Solomon’s former advisors, Rehoboam sought the advice of his young friends, who encouraged Rehoboam to increase their burdens.
At that time, a leader named Jeroboam arose and convinced ten of Israel’s twelve tribes to follow him. To entice the people, he built two golden calves for them to worship instead of worshipping at the temple in Jerusalem. This entered the era in Jewish history called the “Divided Kingdom.” Henceforth in Scripture, the Jewish people were split into Northern and Southern kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom (aka Israel) was comprised of ten tribes. The Southern Kingdom (aka Judah) was comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin plus a small number of people from the other ten tribes who defected to Judah to worship God in Jerusalem.
Because the Northern kingdom of Israel departed straightway into idolatry, their eventual demise came swifter than the Southern kingdom of Judah’s demise. Assyria defeated Israel, deporting its inhabitants to other nations while filling the Northern land with foreigners of other nations Assyria had defeated. At that time, God allowed Assyria to destroy and defeat only as far as Jerusalem in the kingdom of Judah. He spared Judah because of the faithful prayers of its king, Hezekiah. After Hezekiah’s death, the bulk of Judah’s kings led the people deeper into idolatry. So, God eventually judged Judah, as he judged Israel. God will not be mocked!
Judah’s idolatry was more sophisticated. It developed as worldliness crept into Torah-observant YHWH worship. Eventually, God judged Judah as He had judged Israel through Assyrian defeat. But this time, His tool of rebuke was Babylon.
Today’s chapter begins with God’s stern declaration to the inhabitants of Judah that because they sought refuge from Babylon in an Egyptian alliance, instead of repenting and seeking God, they would be destroyed by Babylon in Egypt! But the chapter ends with a kind word to the exiled Northern Kingdom of Israel: Their time of exile would soon end. They would someday be restored to the land! God rebukes His children, and sometimes very sternly. But His mercy to His children is that His rebuke does not last forever! God, judge our nation, but in Your mercy.