Q. Concerning your emphasis on context, context, context . . . Is it your opinion that Jeremiah, Chapter 33, has been fulfilled with Christ’s first advent?
We will look at two sections in Jeremiah 33, the first begin verses 4-9:
4 “For thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah which are broken down to make a defense against the siege ramps and against the sword,
5 ‘While they are coming to fight with the Chaldeans and to fill them with the corpses of men whom I have slain in My anger and in My wrath, and I have hidden My face from this city because of all their wickedness:
6 ‘Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.
7 ‘I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first.
8 ‘I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me.
9 ‘It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.’
First a little history. The time of the writing of Jeremiah is shortly before, and during Babablonian captivity. Because of the sin of Idolatry, God is bringing his judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem. Jeremiah the prophet is telling Judah that they will pay the penalty for their sins by 70 years of captivity.
The Chaldeans besieged the city of Jerusalem for a period of 16 months (2 Kings 25:3), and during this time the most horrible conditions imaginable were occurring in the city. Jeremiah describes it this way in Lamentations chapter 4:
4 The tongue of the infant cleaves To the roof of its mouth because of thirst; The little ones ask for bread, But no one breaks it for them.
5 Those who ate delicacies Are desolate in the streets; Those reared in purple Embrace ash pits.
Children without food, or water, the rich now searching through the dump for food, worse yet, listen to this description:
10 The hands of compassionate women Boiled their own children; They became food for them Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.
The houses of the city including the royal palaces had been torn down in order to strengthen the wall of Jerusalem against the attacks of the Chaldeans, yet the Chaldeans continued to besiege and attack.
After painting this rather gloomy picture of the present conditions of Jerusalem the Lord outlines the future He has planned for his people. After the day of wrath has accomplished its purpose, the people of God will receive healing (verses 6-7) and cleansing (verse 8) and blessing (verse 9). The destruction of Jerusalem would be the gateway to restoration. Death is the gateway to life. Old Israel dies and a new Israel arises.
Verse 8 makes it clear that the healing is spiritual as well as physical and material. This promise is consistent with the theme of the Old Testament on this issue. A spiritual dimension is always present when talking about the restoration of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is going to be rebuilt physically, at the return from Babylonian captivity, and we see that fulfillment in Ezra, and Nehemiah, but more importantly is the spiritual element which depicts the Messianic cleansing that will come in the future, which has already been discussed in Jeremiah chapter 31.
This is what the next section in this chapter is empathizing:
14 ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
15 ‘In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.
16 ‘In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the LORD is our righteousness.’
This is clearly a Messianic passage and therefore must be understood as pointing to the work of Christ as he came into the world. “The days are coming” point to a certain but indefinite time in the future to this terrible time Judah was enduring. God declares that He will fulfill the “good word” that He has spoken to his covenant people. This “good word” refers back to the promise of a “Righteous Sprout” (Jer. 23:5,6). This is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, the son of David and Messiah of Israel. In the days of the Messiah the people of God, symbolized by Judah and Jerusalem, will be delivered from their oppressors and enjoy peace and security.
It is interesting to notice that literal Israel and Judah never regained political independence following their return from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem. They were dominated continuously by the Persians, the Greeks, the Idumeans Herodians and the Romans. In the New Testament Judah, and Jerusalem, and Zion must be understood spiritually of the church of Christ and the deliverance and safety promised should be regarded as spiritual blessings.
Spiritual Jerusalem, the church of Christ, will actually wear the name of her Messiah and Master. She shall be called “The Lord of Righteousness” (see chapter 23:6). The church is the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22 – 32) and therefore it is altogether fitting and proper that she should wear the name of her divine husband. The holy city has taken on the character of her King.
The timing of this promise can be seen in Jeremiah chapter 31:
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.
33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
When, according to the Bible will this promise be fulfilled? The book of Hebrews tells us:
Heb 8: 6-13
6 ¶ But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
8 For finding fault with them, He says, “BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;
9 NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.
10 “FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.
12 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”
13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
When the Messiah brought the New Covenant into existence, the prophecies of Jeremiah chapters 31 and 33 were both fulfilled.