23 December 2011

Jeremiah 30:7-11a

"On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will break the yoke from off his neck, and I will burst his bonds, and strangers shall no more make a servant of him." (v. 8)


Jeremiah was a Jewish prophet in the 7th century BC, who lived through turbulent times in the history of the nation, which eventually led to the destruction and captivity of Israel by the Neo-Babylonians in 586 BC. His prophecies portray these troubles as resulting from the way that Israel has departed from the ways of the Lord: "I brought you into a plentiful land ... But when you entered you defiled my land" (Jeremiah 2:7).

In chapter 30, however, Jeremiah has words of comfort for the people of Israel. After all their trials "the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people" (Jeremiah 30:3). In this passage Jeremiah foretells liberation from captivity for the Jewish nation (referred to as 'Jacob'): "I will break the yoke from off his neck and I will burst his bonds, and strangers shall no more make a servant of him". Just as in the prophecy from Numbers 24 in the reading for Wednesday, God promises to "make an end of all the nations among which I scattered you" (v. 11). The new day Jeremiah prophesies will be a time of triumph for Israel, when their subjection to foreign powers will be reversed.

Jesus characterised his ministry as bringing liberation to those in captivity in the sermon he preached in Nazareth, after reading the words of Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21). This seems to be the dawn of a new age similar to that which Jeremiah was expecting for his people, though Jesus did not link it to the destruction of other nations as Jeremiah's words do in this passage.

To Ponder

What parts of the world today stand in need of the liberation from oppression Jeremiah prophesies?

How did the age begun in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ fit with the new era to which Jeremiah looked forward?

Bible notes author

David Clough

David Clough is Professor of Theological Ethics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester. He is a Methodist local preacher, a member of the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment and the Faith and Order Network and drafted recent reports on peacemaking and climate change on behalf of the Methodist Church.