When division leads to multiplication – Tuesday, 18th week in ordinary time – Jeremiah 30:1-2,12-15,18-22

When division leads to multiplication – Tuesday, 18th week in ordinary time – Jeremiah 30:1-2,12-15,18-22

This section is dated, “in the tenth year of King Zedekiah”, who, you remember, was the last of the kings of Judah. The captivity of Judah by Babylon took place in the eleventh year of his reign, so things are very close to the end. The city has been under siege for over a year, and already sharp famine has set in. There is no bread in the city at all, and it looks to be only a matter of weeks before the city must capitulate to the siege of the Babylonian forces. There is no relief in sight, no one on the horizon to help them. The nation is facing perhaps the darkest hour in all its history.

For twenty-three years, Jeremiah had prophesied the coming destruction of Jerusalem (from God’s case against Judah in chapter 2 through chapter 28). His tone, thus far, has been largely one of judgment. Then in chapters 30-33 which is also called the ‘Book of Consolation’, the prophet looked forward to the restoration of God’s kingdom. While the situation, humanly speaking, could not have been darker, God commands Jeremiah to speak out concerning the future while also addressing the present.

We see the bright light of God’s intended future blessing for His covenant nation; the combined and restored northern and southern kingdoms. The promises of God are both surprising and magnificent. Surprising in light of the manifold iniquities of God’s people and magnificent in their breadth and scope of peace and prosperity.

God spoke to the Jewish people honestly about their sinful condition, and that among men there was no one to plead their cause. In the history of the people of Judah, her people often trusted in and gave themselves to foreign nations hoping they would protect them, relying for help against Babylon. The reality was that Judah was abandoned in her hour of need.

Yahweh had inflicted His people with a wound from which they could not recover because they had sinned greatly. No one could intercede effectively for them because the Lord was determined to punish them. Israel’s political allies had forsaken her and would not help her. Even crying out would not help them.

Ironically, even now, the people who cry out under the pain of a long drawn-out siege seem to ignore that it is their sins that they need to cry out against not merely the sufferings that come from war. God reminds them that the catastrophe that has come upon them is a consequence of their own actions and not merely accidents or events of bad luck.

Yet for God, while the pangs of pain must be borne by his people for their failings, the last word is that of restoration. “ I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob.” God repeated the promise of restoration. Their present captivity in Babylon would not last forever and the twelve tribes of Israel (referred to here as tents of Jacob) will be restored. Jerusalem would never remain a dead or unoccupied city. God would build and restore it again. God promised to bless the people in the city, making them merry and with a promise to multiply once again.

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