Without any specific question, a reader asks that I work out two passages from the prophecy of Jeremiah. It is well to quote the two passages first of all.
“Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock” Jer. 31:10.
“Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them” Jer. 32:37-42.
I have discussed this passage in two previous issues. The reader is urged to go back to these two issues and read what I already wrote about this important and beautiful part of God’s Word.
I concentrated, in previous articles, on the fact that God was speaking here, through Jeremiah, to His people in Judah, just prior to the captivity. The promise of a return, therefore, was to Judah first of all.
But the question must still be answered: Does this passage have any new dispensational reference? May we apply it to the church of the new dispensation as well as to Judah in the old dispensation?
There are those who would answer: No! They make a distinction between the nation of Israel as the kingdom people and the people of God in the new dispensation that is the church. They limit the promises of the OT to the kingdom people, and refuse to apply them to the church. They are the pre-mils, and the result of their work is an OT for the Jew and a NT for the Gentile.
We do not want to chop up Scripture in this way. This passage clearly applies, as I intimated in the last article, to the new dispensation as well as to Judah. There are several indications of this in the passage itself.
1) Already in 31:2, this word of Jeremiah is addressed to the nations and to the isles afar off. Now it is true that part of the reason why God wants all the nations to know what He is about to do for His people is to show them that He is faithful to His covenant and that He does not forget what He has promised to Abraham. The nations must also know that God takes care of Israel. They, after all, mocked when Judah went into captivity.
But another reason why all the nations must know this faithfulness of God is because they will participate in these blessings when Japheth comes to dwell in the tents of Shem. These promises are for them.
2) The many promises which God makes to Israel upon their restoration are clearly promises bound up with salvation granted also to the Gentiles. God will give them one heart, one way so that they may fear God. God will rejoice over them to do them good, and put His fear in their hearts. God will see to it that they shall not depart from Him again. All these promises apply to the whole church in both the old and the new dispensations.
3) The description of the covenant in 32:38 (“They shall be my people, and I will be their God”) is exactly the same covenantal promise as is given to God’s people in the new dispensation (II Cor. 6:16) and has its perfect fulfillment at the end of time (Rev. 21:3). One great covenant typically fulfilled at the time of the return from captivity, fulfilled in principle in the new dispensation, perfectly realized at Christ’s coming.
4) The covenant is said in this passage to be “everlasting.” This is the language God uses in 32:40: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them….” It is obvious that something everlasting is not something that belongs only to the old dispensation and ceases to exist with the dawn of the new.
Always God maintains His covenant with His people. They sin against Him. They break His covenant by their sin. They transgress His holy ordinances. But God remains faithful and maintains His cause that the riches of His sovereign grace may be manifested.
God preserves His people. He chastises them to purify them and correct them. He causes them to pass through judgment. But His love never wavers. All is for their salvation. And finally He takes them into the heavenly Canaan forever, without sin, He is their God and they are His people.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 26
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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