Jeremiah 30 – Saved Out of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble
“Think no more of Jeremiah as exclusively the weeping prophet; for the flashes of his delight make the night of his sorrow brilliant with an aurora of heavenly brilliance.” (Spurgeon)
A. Writing the prophecy down.
1. (1-3) Write the words in a book.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, “Thus speaks the LORD God of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’”
a. The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: Jeremiah 32:1-2 gives the time of this prophecy and book (covering four chapters, Jeremiah 30 through 33), right before the final fall of Jerusalem. Its general tone of hopefulness and optimism sets it apart from much of the previous in Jeremiah.
i. Jeremiah 32:1-2 gives the time of this prophecy and book – right before the final fall of Jerusalem. “The historical context is clearly indicated in Jeremiah 32:1 f. (cf. 33:1). Jerusalem was in the final stages of an eighteen-month siege which ended with its destruction by the Babylonians… The situation, humanly speaking, could not have been darker, but at this very point God commands Jeremiah to speak out concerning the future.” (Cundall)
b. Write in a book: Jeremiah was commanded to write the following prophecy. Previous words from God were obviously written, but there was special emphasis on the recording of this word. This is likely because its ultimate fulfillment was a long time distant to the days of Jeremiah.
i. “These are the contents of this precious book; every leaf, nay, line, nay, letter whereof, droppeth myrrh and mercy.” (Trapp)
c. I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah: This is a promise stated many times before and after in Jeremiah. Yet as this prophecy develops, it seems clear that this return from captivity is later and greater than the relatively soon return from the Babylonian exile.
i. This is especially indicated by the last words of this chapter, which tell us that in the latter days you will consider it (Jeremiah 30:24). Jeremiah here looked beyond his present day and near future to see the latter days.
2. (4-7) The time of Jacob’s trouble.
Now these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah.
“For thus says the LORD:
‘We have heard a voice of trembling,
Of fear, and not of peace.
Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it.
a. That the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah: The mention of both kingdoms is another hint that this written prophecy speaks of something later and greater than the return from Babylonian exile. It is true that the Kingdom of Judah did contain people from all the tribes (2 Chronicles 11:13-16), so these words don’t demand a greater fulfillment, but they do suggest it.
b. We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace: Jeremiah poetically described the terror of the Jewish people (Israel and Judah) under a great, incomparable calamity.
i. “The picture of men clutching their thighs in anguish gives rise to the question Can a man bear a child? They behave like women in labor and their faces have turned pale.” (Thompson)
c. That day is great, so that none is like it: Jeremiah often used similar words to describe the coming judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem in his own day. Yet this describes something beyond that; another time of great terror to come upon the Jewish people and a time worse than ever before (none is like it).
i. That day is great. The idea of the great day is often connected to the calamity that comes upon the earth in the very last days.
·The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out (Zephaniah 1:14).
·For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand (Revelation 6:17).
·Gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty (Revelation 16:14).
ii. “The phrase hayyom hahu, ‘that day’, is frequently used in the prophetic Scriptures to introduce information concerning the Day of the Lord, a significant eschatological theme.” (Feinberg)
iii. None is like it: Jesus also said there was coming a day of incomparable tribulation: Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:21).
d. It is the time of Jacob’s trouble: As described in Jeremiah 30, this time of Jacob’s trouble seems beyond the catastrophe of the Babylonian invasions and exile. This is a coming time of catastrophe appointed for the Jewish people, also described vividly by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:15-22), and there connected to what Jesus called the abomination of desolation.
i. In connecting Jeremiah 30 with Matthew 24, we note that what we often call the great tribulation is particularly the time of Jacob’s trouble; it is when a great and terrible world leader and the government he represents will try to destroy the Jewish people. Working through these, Satan himself will hope to devour the Jewish people (Revelation 12:1-6).
ii. This does not minimize the persecution that will also be brought against the followers of Jesus, both Jewish and Gentile during that time. Yet in God’s plan of the ages, this is noted as the time of Jacob’s trouble, because God will work in and through this catastrophe to bring salvation to the Jews.
e. But he shall be saved out of it: Through this time of incomparable tribulation to come against the Jewish people, God will rescue them and bring them His salvation. He will protect them (as in Revelation 12:6) and bring them to faith in their Messiah, Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 23:6, Romans 11:26).
i. “Jeremiah is stating that before the just-mentioned promise of restoration can be fulfilled, the nation must be severely disciplined, but not to the extent of final calamity.” (Feinberg)
ii. But he shall be saved out of it: “Not from it, but yet out of it; the Lord knoweth how to deliver his.” (Trapp) The Jewish people (those not yet trusting in their Messiah) will endure this time of Jacob’s trouble and be saved out of it. In contrast, Jesus told us to pray to escape these things (Luke 21:36), and Jesus promised His people that they would be kept from the very hour of calamity that comes upon the earth (Revelation 3:10).
3. (8-9) No more slaves.
‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’
Says the LORD of hosts,
‘That I will break his yoke from your neck,
And will burst your bonds;
Foreigners shall no more enslave them.
But they shall serve the LORD their God,
And David their king,
Whom I will raise up for them.
a. I will break his yoke from your neck: A false prophet previously used the symbol of the broken yoke to bring false hope (Jeremiah 28:2-4). Here God states the true promise that one day – in the season of the time of Jacob’s trouble – there would never again be a yoke upon the Jewish people.
b. Foreigners shall no more enslave them: This points to something greater than the return from Babylonian captivity, because many times since then have the Jewish people been enslaved to forced labor.
c. They shall serve the LORD their God: Instead of being slaves to foreigners, the Jewish people will be faithful servants of Yahweh (and ultimately, His Messiah Jesus Christ).
d. And David their king: In that day, God will also raise up for them David to reign as king. Most commentators take this as a reference to the Messiah, the Son of David, and not David the Son of Jesse. Yet there are good reasons to believe that this and similar passages speak of David the Son of Jesse.
i. This promise seems impossible, yet is repeated several times in the prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah 55:3-4, Ezekiel 34:23-24, 37:24-25, Hosea 3:5). This speaks of the reign of the resurrected David, the Son of Jesse, over Israel in the Millennial earth.
ii. We have indications that as God’s people rule with Jesus over the millennial earth, people will be entrusted with geographical regions according to their faithfulness (Luke 19:12-19). It seems that David’s glorious portion will be to rule over Israel.
4. (10-11) A promise to gather and a promise to correct.
‘Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,’ says the LORD,
‘Nor be dismayed, O Israel;
For behold, I will save you from afar,
And your seed from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet,
And no one shall make him afraid.
For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to save you;
Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you,
Yet I will not make a complete end of you.
But I will correct you in justice,
And will not let you go altogether unpunished.’
a. Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob: God foretold a time of terrible catastrophe to come upon the Jewish people, the time of Jacob’s trouble. Yet God did not want them to fear, but to be confident in His ultimate victory and His promise of salvation: behold, I will save you from afar.
b. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet: In a lesser sense, this was fulfilled in the return from exile under Ezra and Nehemiah, but only in a lesser sense. It could not be said of the return from Babylonian captivity, no one shall make him afraid, but it shall be said of Israel in the Millennium.
c. I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you: This is another aspect that was fulfilled in a lesser sense in the return from Babylonian exile, but awaits the latter days (Jeremiah 30:24) for its full fulfillment.
d. Yet I will not make a complete end of you: God’s promise to Israel was that they would not become extinct as a people, either by death or assimilation. They would endure terrible affliction yet survive.
i. The believer today can draw comfort from this principle of God’s character and nature. “Take to heart these tender words: God will not make a full end of you. It may seem as though nothing will be left: the furnace is so hot; the stock is cut down so near to the ground. But God knows just how much you can bear, and will stay his hand. ‘I will not make a full end of thee.’” (Meyer)
e. I will correct you in justice: God reminded Israel that though they would indeed see the nations that afflicted them judged, God would also correct them. As they had sinned, God would not allow them to go altogether unpunished.
B. Restoration after incurable affliction.
1. (12-15) Their incurable affliction.
“For thus says the LORD:
‘Your affliction is incurable,
Your wound is severe.
There is no one to plead your cause,
That you may be bound up;
You have no healing medicines.
All your lovers have forgotten you;
They do not seek you;
For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy,
With the chastisement of a cruel one,
For the multitude of your iniquities,
Because your sins have increased.
Why do you cry about your affliction?
Your sorrow is incurable.
Because of the multitude of your iniquities,
Because your sins have increased,
I have done these things to you.
a. Your affliction is incurable: God spoke to the Jewish people honestly about their sinful condition, and that among men there was no one to plead your cause. Through history there have been few non-Jews willing to stand with Israel and the Jews in the face of deeply ingrained Jew-hatred.
b. All your lovers have forgotten you: In Jeremiah’s day and beyond, the Jewish people often trusted in and gave themselves to foreign nations hoping they would protect them. They would forget them instead.
i. “The lovers were the surrounding nations on whom Judah had relied for help against Babylon.” (Harrison)
ii. Why do you cry about your affliction: “And not rather for thy sins? Cry not perii, I have died, but peccavi; I have sinned, not, I am undone; but, I have done very foolishly.” (Trapp)
c. Because your sins have increased, I have done these things to you: God reminded them that the catastrophe came upon them from His own hand. They were not accidents or events of bad luck.
2. (16-17) Devouring the devourer.
‘Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured;
And all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity;
Those who plunder you shall become plunder,
And all who prey upon you I will make a prey.
For I will restore health to you
And heal you of your wounds,’ says the LORD,
‘Because they called you an outcast saying:
“This is Zion;
No one seeks her.”’
a. All those who devour you shall be devoured: God spoke comfort to His people, assuring their sense of justice that those who had afflicted and devoured them would themselves go into captivity and become plunder.
i. “Because his people have undergone judgment and have acknowledged their guilt, God pronounces retaliation in kind on their enemies.” (Feinberg)
b. I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds: God promised to bring ruin to Israel’s enemies, but restoration to Israel. They would both be afflicted, but only one would be restored. God promised to restore them because the opposing nations treated Israel as an outcast.
3. (18-20) The restoration of Jerusalem and the people of God.
“Thus says the LORD:
‘Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob’s tents,
And have mercy on his dwelling places;
The city shall be built upon its own mound,
And the palace shall remain according to its own plan.
Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving
And the voice of those who make merry;
I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish;
I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
Their children also shall be as before,
And their congregation shall be established before Me;
And I will punish all who oppress them.
a. I will bring back the captivity of Jacob’s tents: For emphasis, God repeated the promise of restoration. Their present captivity in Babylon would not last forever, nor would future captivities.
i. “By the term tents we should understand ‘clans,’ that is, people who dwell in tents.” (Thompson)
b. The city shall be built upon its own mound: Jerusalem would never remain a dead or unoccupied city. God would build and restore it again. God promised to bless the people in the city, making them merry and multiplied.
i. I will also glorify them: “I will put honour upon them every where, so that they shall be no longer contemptible. This will be a very great change, for they are now despised all over the earth.” (Clarke)
4. (21-22) The One who draws near.
Their nobles shall be from among them,
And their governor shall come from their midst;
Then I will cause him to draw near,
And he shall approach Me;
For who is this who pledged his heart to approach Me?’ says the LORD.
‘You shall be My people,
And I will be your God.’”
a. Their governor shall come from their midst: In the context of the ultimate restoration of the Jewish people, Jeremiah prophetically described their governor, the One who ultimately rules over them. He comes from their midst; He is one of them.
i. Jeremiah 30:21 in the ESV is perhaps helpful:
Their prince shall be one of themselves;
Their ruler shall come out from their midst;
I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me,
For who would dare of himself to approach me?
b. Then I will cause him to draw near: The phrasing here indicates that the unique ruler would draw near to Yahweh in a special way, as a priest and representative of the people. This refers to the Messiah, who is not only a King but also a Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
i. “He will have the privilege of approach to God. Usage in the OT shows that this means priestly position and ministry (cf. Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:13).” (Feinberg)
c. For who is this who pledged his heart to approach Me: Yahweh did not ask this question because He did not know; He asked the question to draw attention to this One, perfect in obedience and in heart and who could approach God the Father as priest on behalf of His people.
i. Who is this: “Who but my Son Christ durst do it, or was fit to do it? He is a super-excellent person, as is imported by this Mi-hu-ze, Who this he?” (Trapp)
ii. Who pledged his heart: “Our Lord with all his heart desired to do this: he ‘engaged his heart’ to perform it. Before all worlds his master purpose was to approach unto God as man’s representative…His heart was occupied with love to God and love to man, and he could not rest till he had restored the broken concord between these divided ones.” (Spurgeon)
d. You shall be My people, and I will be your God: This is the result of the approach of the King-Priest. God’s people are brought into close and deep relationship with God.
5. (23-24) The whirlwind of the latter days.
Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD
Goes forth with fury,
A continuing whirlwind;
It will fall violently on the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it,
And until He has performed the intents of His heart.
In the latter days you will consider it.
a. The whirlwind of the LORD: The whirlwind here is a figure of God’s judgment, coming like a tornado that brings destruction and cannot be contained or controlled.
i. “Before there can be blessing, judgment must be meted out to the guilty.” (Feinberg)
b. The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart: The judgment of God is certain. In His mercy He may long delay it, but it will certainly come. The judgment of God also comes from His heart. One expression of God’s love for the good is His displeasure for what is evil.
c. In the latter days you will consider it: God reminds us that much in this chapter waits until the latter days for its ultimate and true fulfillment.
i. “In the days of the Messiah, but especially at the end of the world, when all these things shall have their full accomplishment.” (Trapp)