Behold! Days Are Coming! (Jeremiah 31:27–40)

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“Behold, the days are coming…

Behold the days are coming…

Behold the days are coming…”

—Jeremiah 31:27, 31, 38

Saints, behold, days are coming. Days are coming when Yahweh “will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast,” (v. 27). Days are coming when Yahweh “will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” (v. 31). Days are coming when “the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD,” (v. 38). These days are the focus of what is called “The Book of Consolation” (running from Jeremiah 30–33). The Book of Consolation is a bright star in the dark night of Judah’s judgment. Jeremiah has long warned Judah of the darkness of exile, but here, he tells them that they do not go into exile without a light of hope.

The same key phrase introduces the book in 30:3: “For behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” Later in our text, the same hope is expressed with the phrases, “it shall come to pass” (v. 28), and “in those days,” (v. 29). Jeremiah 30:24, after speaking of the fierce judgment that is soon to break upon them, promises, “In the latter days you will understand this.” In Jeremiah 31:1 we read, “At that time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.” In 31:6 God tells them, “For there shall be a day when watchmen will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God’ ” (all emphasis mine). These coming days are the fulfillment of that frequently mutilated promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This future, this hope, is so much more epic than what many make of it.

These days, all these promises of restoration, the fullness of the consolation held out for the people of God—all this is to be realized in the Christ, God’s king, the Son of David.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them” (30:8–9; emphasis mine).

Though “The Book of Consolation” is theologian speak, a label invented by men for this distinct portion of Scripture, it is a near perfect one, for these promises and the comfort extended therein are exactly what Simeon looked forward to.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:25–32; emphasis mine).

So then, these days have come and they are coming. They are here now, but not fully here yet. The eschatological promises were inaugurated with the first advent of Christ and will be consummated at His second advent. This age is fading away, and the age to come is breaking into the present. John Mackay opens commentary on this passage writing, “The clause begins with ‘Behold!’ … , probably to emphasize the reality and imminence of what is being talked about. The significance of the time reference in this phrase is much debated, but it seems to point to a future scene, the precise time of which is not revealed, but which is certain because the coming events are already rising out of present circumstances (30:3). What will happen will be a development of factors that are already at work. Therefore those who by faith accept the divine analysis of the situation can be confident that what is foretold will come to pass.”

Judah could be sure of these future promises because of how they arise out of the present. If Judah could be confident and take comfort in these promises, as they saw them arising out of God’s present doings, how much more may we?

Because these days have come, we may be certain they will come. The Christ was born the Second Adam. The Christ lived to be our righteousness. The Christ died bearing our sins. The Christ rose conquering our foes. The Christ ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father with all things being put under His feet. The Christ will certainly come again. Oh how much of the comfort promised here has already come in part and so how much more may we take comfort that the fullness certainly lies ahead? Oh saints, let us now with the eyes of faith behold! days are coming!

Meridian Church · 7.5.20 Jeremiah 31.27–40 Days Are Coming Josh King

Restoration vs. Reconstruction (Jeremiah 30:1–24)

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“And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him. But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them” (Jeremiah 30:8–9).

I’m no Rushdoony Reconstructionist, nor a Bahnsen Theonomist but I do believe the law of God informs the Christian concerning justice and truth. It tells us, with absolute authority, what to advocate for and what to protest against. Still, and here’s the kicker, the cultural mandate is a mandate, not a promise. So, if you’ve got a few of those fancy five dollar theology words in your back pocket, you might venture I’m not a postmillennialist. Roger that. But don’t then libel me a pessi-millennialist. I am opti-millennialist. I am optimistic; fully believing that the kingdom has broken in and will fully come. This age is fading away like a mist. The age to come is raining down and a deluge is coming. God will gather every soul which the blood of Christ has ransomed and not lose one. His glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea and His praises will be sung in every language. Nothing happens but that which advances His kingdom according to His plan. Our God never sounds retreat. His strategies may confound us, but we privates shouldn’t doubt the strategy of the general. After all, He did deal the deceive blow by clothing Himself in weakness and dying on the cross. In other words, I’m not optimistic about man’s obedience to the cultural mandate. I’m optimistic concerning the church’s obedience to the great commission, though not because of the church herself, but because all authority has been given to Christ who has promised to be with her.

This world is a Babylon and it is doomed. Whist we remain, let us seek her welfare, for in it, we will find our own. Our hope is not in a Babylon built up, but torn down. Our hope is not in Babylon redeemed, but destroyed. Our hope is not Babylon lifted up, but Jerusalem coming down (Jeremiah 29:10).

When the bonds of Babylon are burst, we then serve Yahweh our God and the Son of David, our King, whom He has raised up for us. These burst bonds do not result in any Bolshevik Revolution. The tyranny of the one is not to be replaced with the anarchy of the many. Neither is the hope a democratic republic founded on God’s law. No, the hope Jeremiah speaks of is a monarchial theocracy. Our hope is neither that of Animal Farm, nor Manor Farm, but of Narnia. As Trufflehunter explained to the irascible Nikabrik,

“I’m a beast, I am, and a Badger what’s more. We don’t change. We hold on. I say great good will come of it. This is the true King of Narnia we’ve got here: a true King, coming back to true Narnia. And we beasts remember, even if Dwarfs forget, that Narnia was never right except when a son of Adam was King.”

Yes, our King sits at the right hand of the Father ruling the nations, but things will not be made fully right until those nations are ultimately broken with a rod of iron, Zion descends, and His throne is manifestly established on earth. Then, things will be put to right. Then, all will be restored. This mountain is built, not by the nations, but on top of their crushed rubble. Our part is to be faithful to God’s law within the city of man, preaching His gospel, our hope—the gospel of Christ and the city of God ruled by His King.

Meridian Church · Jeremiah 30:1–24 || Restoration || Josh King

Drinking out of the Mug Auntie Gertrude Bought You (Jeremiah 29:1–32)

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Would you buy one?

What is that thing that you like or want to like, but you can’t admit it because you know that person likes it? This isn’t the same thing as a guilty pleasure. There, the thing itself embarrasses you; like a dude admitting he enjoys the music of a particular boy band. What I’m speaking of is shame felt because of who or what is associated with the thing. It isn’t that you like the boy band; it’s that you don’t want to like the thing that the boy band likes. Or, perhaps you’d like to buy a certain product, but you don’t, not because of the product itself, but because liberals are known for endorsing it.

Say you are in a small group and folks are mentioning passages that are dear to them. No one wants to say Psalm 23 because everybody knows and loves that one. No one picks that one because they want to be unique and original. That is one kind of sin. I’m aiming at another. The exact same reasoning might happen with Jeremiah 29:11 if you were in a prosperity gospel preaching church. Frequent flyers over these skies probably don’t visit such destinations. Still, Jeremiah 29:11 will go unmentioned because it is so associated with that movement. In the first instance, when you mention Psalm 23, people may think, “He said that because it’s the only [eye roll] passage he knows.” In the second instance, when you mention Jeremiah 29:11, people suspect you’re a heretic.

Prosperity gospel preachers are guilty of ignoring huge chunks of the Bible. Though less dangerous, let us not ignore the few—oh the very few—that they have picked up as if they are guilty by association. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, even the parts that those guys seem to really like. How clever of the enemy: if he cannot get you to forfeit the truth for love of a lie, he may get you to forfeit the truth for fear of the lie.

And thus we have distanced ourselves from this promise. Some have tried to justify the distance by arguing that this text has nothing to do with us. But is this so? This kind of relegating of Old Testament promises to the wastebasket smells dispy-ish. The specifics of the promise do sound very Jewish and ancient. “It happened to them; it happened back then,” so we reason. Yes, but did it fully happen?

This chapter transitions from false prophets to true promises. Chapters 26–29 record a number of showdowns between Jeremiah and the false prophets. In stark contrast, Chapters 30–33 are known as the “Book of Consolation.” Here, some of the sweetest promises in all of Scripture are recorded, the very “plans” Jeremiah is speaking of. What are these plans? The apex of them is spoken of as a “new covenant” or “everlasting covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31–34; 32:36–41). Do these verses have anything to do with you? The author of Hebrews thinks so (Hebrews 8–9). Read all the promises of restoration held out here and see if the new covenant is not what ties them all up with a bow.

So then, when you’re afraid to drink out of that coffee mug with Jeremiah 29:11 printed on it that your auntie Gertrude gifted you, know that you already drink of the cup of Jeremiah 29:11. It is the cup of the new covenant of Christ’s blood poured out for the forgiveness of your sin.

The exiles who returned to Jerusalem only came to the hills of this promise. We have come to the heavenly Zion. We have come to the mountain, but yet, we are only at the base. And so it is that we look back, or should, to the shadows cast by this mountain, so that we might better know the peak that awaits us in Christ. Jesus is gathering the exiles from all over the earth. They are His people. He is their God. He has redeemed us out of captivity and He will restore all that was lost by sin and its curse. He will bring us home where He will dwell in our midst forevermore. This is our hope. This is our future. This is His plan.

Meridian Church · Jeremiah 29:1–32 || True Promises And False Prophets || Josh King

The Don: Dressing for the Light

dresses-53319_1280.jpg“We cannot always be excited. We can, perhaps, train ourselves to ask more and more often how the thing which we are saying or doing (or failing to do) at each moment will look when the irresistible light streams in upon it; that light which is so different from the light of this world—and yet, even now, we know just enough of it to take it into account. Women sometimes have the problem of trying to judge by artificial light how a dress will look by daylight. That is very like the problem of all of us: to dress our souls not for the electric lights of the present world but for the daylight of the next. The good dress is the one that will face that light. For that light will last longer.” —C.S. Lewis, “The Wor’d’s Last Night

Ethical Eschatology (2 Peter 3:11–18)

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness… (2 Peter 3:11).”

Eschatology is that field of theology that concerns the study of the eschaton, that is, the end. Eschatology has fallen on hard times and most often evokes an “Eek!” or and “Eh?”. I believe there are two primary reasons this is so:

First, we fail to remember that all the New Testament is eschatological. Jesus inaugurated the last days. This is why the gospels tell us that the kingdom has come, Peter preaches that Joel’s prophecy concerning the last days is being fulfilled, the author of Hebrews tells us that these are the last days, and John tells us it is the last hour. The eschaton is here now, but not yet fully here.

Second, I lay the bulk of the blame at the feet of Bible-prophecy man, who with his abundance of charts, outlandish interpretations, and flopped predictions has caused many to become cynical. These Chicken Littles have cried “Shepherd!” so many times that we’re no longer on guard against wolves. Because true Biblical eschatology isn’t taught, we’re more prone to accept a counterfeit, so long as it doesn’t get Left Behind weird.

None of this is to say that we don’t think of the end at all, only that, as a result, we don’t think about it seriously. We now reflect on the end only in light of the inevitability death and only enough so as to pacify our conscious and comfort our sorrows. True eschatology though not only gives us hope in death, it gives us grace to live.

It has been said, “You can be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.” To this we might add, “you can be so focused on the future that you lose the present.” There is a sense in which these are true, but they obscure a greater truth. If your meditation on heaven and focus on the future cause you be worthless in the present, you’re doing it wrong.

The fruit of Bible-chart man’s teaching often bears bad fruit indicating that he doesn’t know how to garden eschatology so as to bear the fruit God intended. Whenever he leads you through Revelation the result is often anxiety, panic, and fear of the wrong sort. This is because eschatology is not a mystery to be solved, but a truth to be lived out. Readiness for the coming of Christ isn’t a matter of chronological awareness but ethical preparedness. Eschatology is ethical. Every time eschatology is taught in the New Testament, there is an ethical bent to it.

Instead of trying to solve the mystery, live as though it were true and you will find peace instead of anxiety.

The Exegetical Systematician: Orientating Advents

“In God’s plan all history is oriented to the incarnation of the Son of God and to his manifestation in glory at end of the age. The lessons for us are numerous. But one is of paramount importance. Life here and now that is not conditioned by faith in Jesus’ first coming and oriented to the hope of this second is godless and hopeless.” —John Murray, The Advent of Christ

The Exegetical Systematician: It’s Been the Last Days for a While Now

There are certain texts that are familiar or at least ought to be. They teach us the place in history occupied by the New Testament or, more precisely, the new covenant economy (Gal. 4:4; Heb. 9:26; 1 Cor. 10:11). The New Testament era is ‘the fulness of the time’, ‘the consummation of the ages’, ‘the end of the ages’, the consummating era of this world’s history. Correlative with this characterization is ‘the last days’ (Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2; 1 John 2:18). These began with the coming of Christ: So the world period is the last days.

This implies ages of this world’s history that were not the last days; they were prior, preparatory, anticipatory. The last days are characterized by two comings, notable, unprecedented, indeed astounding—the coming into the world of the Son of God and the Spirit of God. In order to accentuate the marvel of these comings we must say that God came into the world, first in the person of the Son and then in the person of the Holy Spirit. They came by radically different modes and for different functions. But both are spoken of as comings and they are both epochal events. These comings not only introduce and characterize the last days; they create or constitute it. —John Murray, The Unity of the Old and New Testaments

Further Up and Further In (Exodus 40)

Exodus is like climbing a mountain, whereupon coming up through the mist and cloud, expecting to arrive at the summit, you discover yet another mountain remains to be climbed. How sad that many climb only through the first mist and soon give up for exhaustion or for boredom. By God’s grace one presses on through the first summit of God’s ten wonders of judgment. From there you behold intimidating Sinai, but sure of your mediator Jesus Christ, you press upward and behold greater glories. Still, God called his children to go further up with Moses, to the heavenly heights to behold the tabernacle as a revelation of heavenly truths.

On the other side, after a laborious but worthwhile climb, you come to the consummation of the construction of this tent, anticipating the greatest sight of glory yet.

The filling of the tabernacle is the climactic glory of Exodus; the supreme manifestation of God’s glory in this epic book. Israel has seen the Nile turned to blood, the Egyptian’s livestock die of plague, hail decimate her crops, darkness cover their land, and their firstborn die. She’s seen the Red Sea split and walked through it. She ate manna in the wilderness and water from the rock. She has seen Sinai covered in smoke and fire, trembling beneath the glory of God—but this surpasses all she’s seen. Here is how you know that this is the supreme manifestation of God’s glory—Moses, who spoke with God at the burning bush, Moses, through whom God’s ten wonders came, Moses, who split the river and struck the rock, Moses, who ascended Sinai and beheld God’s glory and spoke with God as a man speaks to his friend—this Moses couldn’t enter the tent for the glory of God (Exodus 40:35). One commentator says that the tabernacle thus becomes “a miniature portable Sinai [MacKay].” It may be miniature as to physical size but it is bigger in glory.

Exodus ends on this climax without consummation or resolution. It ends on a to be continued. There are heights yet to climb. Exodus is clearly part of a multi-volume work with Leviticus picking up where Exodus leaves off. Yes, even with all five volumes of the Pentateuch, Moses didn’t get to finish. The same cloud of glory that dwells in Israel’s midst will guide and protect them bringing them to the promised land, and thus into fuller enjoyment of Yahweh’s covenant with them. Moses didn’t write that chapter, because he didn’t experience it, but this isn’t to say he missed the height of heights.

God, by His Spirit is still leading his people home, and He will not forsake any of us, bringing us all to the height of heights, Mount Zion, the new Jerusalem, where all is temple, illuminated by the glory of God.

Enjoying the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8–11)

Altogether three reasons were given to Israel for remembering the Sabbath. The first, given here, is rooted in creation.

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:11 ESV).

When Moses calls the next generation to covenant renewal and restates this command, much remains the same, but the grounds are significantly different.

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:15 ESV).

Ultimately, I believe, that these two reasons have one unifying reason, and a hint as to how this can be is found in a yet third basis given for Sabbath remembrance.

You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you (Exodus 31:13 ESV).’

Like circumcision and the Passover, the Sabbath is a perpetual sign throughout their generations, of His covenant. Jesus comes as the fulfillment of the law. Because of Him circumcision gives way to baptism (Colossians 2:11–13), the Passover blooms into the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14–18ff), and the Sabbath, well, what becomes of the Sabbath? We’re clearly commanded to baptize and to remember the Supper, but no command is given concerning the Sabbath, nor the Lord’s day. Rather, we’re told:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord (Romans 14:5–6 ESV).

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ (Colossians 2:16–17 ESV).

What happens to the Sabbath? Jesus declares Himself Lord of the Sabbath in Matthew 12. Just prior to this Matthew records these words, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28–30 ESV).” Hebrews 4 speaks of entering God’s rest by faith, the rest of God that He had once He had finished from His works.

Because of Jesus, our work is finished, competed perfectly for us, and now we rest. What happens to the Sabbath? We haven’t abandoned it. We’ve entered more fully into it—in Jesus. Because of His redemption, a new day has dawned, a resurrection day, a day of new creation, a day of rest.

In short the physical rest of the Old Testament Sabbath has become the salvation rest of the true Sabbath. Believers In Christ can now live in God’s Sabbath that has already dawned. Jesus’ working to accomplish this superseded the Old Testament Sabbath (John 5:17) and so does the doing of God’s work that He now requires of people—believing in the one God has sent (John 6:28, 29). In fact the Sabbath keeping now demanded is the cessation from reliance on one’s own works (Heb. 4:9, 10). —A.T. Lincoln

Reading Backwards for Greater Comprehension (Exodus 2:1–25)

The immediate audience Moses intended Exodus for wasn’t reading it blind. They experienced the events blind, but now, through this narrative, they are allowed to revisit their recent history and see things as they really were. Like reading a great novel a second time, they’re able to see images, metaphors, symbols, and foreshadowing they missed because now they know the ending. “The providence of God,” says John Flavel, “is like Hebrew words—it can only be read backwards.”

The people of Israel are crying out to God for deliverance. God has already raised up the deliverer, from the Levites, who will act as their mediator, and though whom they will receive instructions concerning a tent. Israel will be delivered from the bondage of building store cities for Pharaoh, to the freedom of building a tabernacle for God, with the spoils of His victory, so that He as their king might dwell in their midst.

By faith, we read this story not only looking back, but looking forward. The true and better Moses has come. He has defeated the serpent tyrant and released us from our bitter bondage to sin and death. We’re sojourners, but, we can be sure that He will lead us all the way home. We know the ending, but one day, when this present age is past, we’ll read backwards with even greater clarity and see that God never forgot His covenant and we will ask our Father to tell the story again and again.