Day 196: Prophesies of the Return of Israel

Jeremiah 50:1-7

The word that Yahweh spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet.
“Declare among the nations and publish,
and set up a standard;
publish, and don’t conceal;
say, ‘Babylon has been taken,
Bel is disappointed,
Merodach is dismayed!
Her images are disappointed.
Her idols are dismayed.’
For a nation comes up out of the north against her,
which will make her land desolate,
and no one will dwell in it.
They have fled.
They are gone,
both man and animal.

“In those days, and in that time,” says Yahweh,
“the children of Israel will come,
they and the children of Judah together;
they will go on their way weeping,
and will seek Yahweh their God.
They will inquire concerning Zion with their faces turned toward it,
saying, ‘Come, and join yourselves to Yahweh in an everlasting covenant
that will not be forgotten.’
My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have caused them to go astray.
They have turned them away on the mountains.
They have gone from mountain to hill.
They have forgotten their resting place.
All who found them have devoured them.
Their adversaries said, ‘We are not guilty,
because they have sinned against Yahweh,
the habitation of righteousness,
even Yahweh, the hope of their fathers.’

When I read prophesies about the destruction of Babylon in the Bible, it is very difficult for me to determine what part of history they are referring to. In a political and spiritual sense, Babylon is still not destroyed. The land where the ancient city once was, is desolate today, however. I am told that in recent times, Saddam Hussein attempted to rebuild the city of Babylon, but I was also told that he chose not to build it in exactly the same location, but it is obvious that even Hussein’s attempt to rebuild it failed. Here in Jeremiah, the prophesy appears to be connected with the Jews chance to leave Babylon. We know from other prophesies that this started with Cyrus. He was an emperor that ruled after Babylon was taken over by the Persians. As I mentioned before, it was a miracle of God that Cyrus was named in Isaiah’s prophesy as the one who would be used by God to cause Israel to return to the land.

This passage is less obvious, however, because of the words that come next. It’s almost as if Jeremiah’s prophesy blends thousands of years of the future into a single passage. When I read things like this, I have to admit that I get pretty confused, but at a high level, the message is comforting. It shows us that God had a plan that He was willing to share with Israel, that they would someday return to their land. This passage also reveals the hearts of those who would return. It says that “they will go on their way weeping, and will seek Yahweh their God.” That’s something that did happen when the Jews rebuilt the temple and the walls of Jerusalem, but perhaps Jeremiah is talking about what will happen in a more pure way after the Messiah is received by Israel. That hasn’t happened yet, so this passage may be talking about things that are still in the future.

Day 79: God’s People and God’s Land

Jeremiah 16:14-21

“Therefore behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that it will no more be said, ‘As Yahweh lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;’ but, ‘As Yahweh lives, who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the countries where he had driven them.’ I will bring them again into their land that I gave to their fathers.

“Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says Yahweh, “and they will fish them up. Afterward I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain, from every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from my face. Their iniquity isn’t concealed from my eyes. First I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable things, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.”

Yahweh, my strength, and my stronghold,
and my refuge in the day of affliction,
the nations will come to you from the ends of the earth,
and will say,
“Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies,
vanity and things in which there is no profit.
Should a man make to himself gods
which yet are no gods?”

“Therefore behold, I will cause them to know,
this once I will cause them to know my hand and my might.
Then they will know that my name is Yahweh.”

As we have seen in other warnings against the Israel, God tells Jeremiah that someday in the future, God will gather Israel back into their land. We know that this happened after the Babylonian captivity because we read about it in Ezra and Nehemiah, but was this really what is being predicted here?

Remember that the return to Israel and Jerusalem back in Nehemiah’s time was only a partial return. Not all of the people were there. In fact, there were many who were still living in Babylon. This passage says that a time is coming when they will come from all over and return. It mentions fishermen who will “fish them up.” In other words, there will be those who purposefully seek out the Jews to bring them back to their land from all over the world. There isn’t any evidence that this happened in Ezra’s time.

If we fast-forward to today, I think we have the same problem. There are many Jews that have gone back to Israel recently from all over the world and I understand that this time there are officials in Israel that are trying to find them around the world, but is this the fulfillment of this prophesy? I don’t think so.

There are still many Jews that are spread out across the world. What we see today may be a shadow of what is to come, but, as in the days of Ezra, I don’t think it is complete. Notice that the last part of this passage mentions the comments of “nations” that come to God. I believe that this is the critical missing piece of the prophesy. God expects the nations of the earth to promote Israel in that day and I believe that the Bible is teaching us that they will be involved in finding the Jews and putting them back in Israel. At that point, I believe it will be known across the world, that the Jewish people were brought out of all the nations by God just as they were brought out from Egypt in the past. The whole earth is to go through great trouble and plagues just like Egypt and after that is over, all will agree that the Jews and their land belong to God alone.