3 August 2010

Jeremiah 30:1-22

"The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people." (v.1-3)


Chapters 30 to 33 of Jeremiah have a very different feel to them from the rest of the book and sound a much more optimistic and hopeful note. They seem to offer a message of consolation.

The reference to Israel possibly refers to the northern kingdom of Israel, which was taken into exile by the Assyrians over a century before the southern kingdom of Judah was taken into exile by the Babylonians in 597 BC. The people are in a very bad way - likely due to factors beyond merely being in exile. Their state is worse because of the campaigns raged against them that led to their exile, and as far as this passage is concerned, more importantly, their being out of relationship with God.

Although God cares about the people, their terrible condition is a consequence of their guilt and their numerous sins. God, through the prophets, paints it as it is and it is not a pleasant picture.

Yet throughout this passage, notes of hope emerge. While they have brought it upon themselves, and deserve what has befallen them, God offers a thread of promise.

While the condition of the people is, humanly speaking, incurable, a message of hope is proclaimed which envisages healing and restoration. Part of that restoration will be that "the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound". The archaeological work done on the cities of Palestine reveal a cycle of destruction and rebuilding throughout the centuries. The layers and layers of debris create the 'mounds' which the cities are now formed of.

There will be thanksgiving and celebration once again.

To Ponder

Why do we cry out to God and so often fail to see our part in bringing the difficult situation about?

If the incurable situation is only cured by God's actions, what part do people play?

What are the desperate situations in the world, or your life, that are self-inflicted? How might God speak into those situations through a prophet like Jeremiah?

Bible notes author

The Revd Peter Barber

Peter Barber is an ordained Methodist presbyter currently serving as the chair of district for the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District of the Methodist Church in Britain. Previously he has served in circuits in Cornwall, Aberystwyth, and Harpenden.