Reading through the Bible together
This chapter builds on the same themes that were discussed in the previous chapter. Restoration of a land that was ravaged by war and plundered by raiding nations (vs. 4,11,18). It again introduces the covenant theme. A graphic picture is painted of the long walk to captivity by the youth and all the captives passing through Ramah, en route to Babylon. But there is a promise of future prosperity, and it is so sure that the Lord says “when I bring back their captivity” (v. 23).
The restoration is not a probability, it is sure. It is in God’s time-table. When Jesus gives the signs of His coming in Matthew 24, He uses illustrations from nature about the signs for the coming of summer. The coming of Christ is as sure as the coming of the season in its appointed time.
The people that God is addressing here are in a state of crisis. They had broken the covenant terms that God has set, so He allowed the Babylonians to come and raid their land. Now God wants to restore them and bring them back home. He also wants to renew the broken covenant. For the first time in the entire Old Testament God promises plainly: “Behold, the days are coming says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (vs. 31-33).
God does not remove the law or do away with it, He promises that He will help Israel to internalize the law so that it is part of their total life. God also promises: “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (vs. 34). This act of forgiveness is another indication that God does not remove the law, instead He works on the people. He forgives them and empowers them with His law in their hearts.
The restoration of the land, the punishment of the enemies, the return of the people to their land all are meaningless if there is no covenantal relationship. External reformation is meaningless if there is no corresponding transformation of character and restoration of a relationship with God.
“Dear God, transform my life and place Your law in my heart. Amen.”
Assoc. Professor and E.G.White Research Center Director
Helderberg College, South Africa