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©John Yerkes

Chapter 3:12-18 (ESV)

Posted on June 16, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:12-18 (ESV) - Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say,

“‘Return, faithless Israel,
declares the LORD.
I will not look on you in anger,
    for I am merciful,
declares the LORD;
I will not be angry forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt,
    that you rebelled against the LORD your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree,
    and that you have not obeyed my voice,
declares the LORD.
Return, O faithless children,
declares the LORD;
    for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
    and I will bring you to Zion.

“‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.

Question to consider: What do you think it says about the LORD that He gave warnings of judgment to Judah?

Often when people read through the Old Testament scriptures, they get so focused on the judgments of God, they miss the intention behind them.The first thing they miss is that those who receive judgment are deserving of it. There has never been a person in existence who has received undeserved judgment from God outside of Christ, and Christ received it willingly so that enemies of God could receive His righteousness by faith.

Those who do not believe that the LORD had the right to judge people can only make this claim out of ignorance of history or a faulty premise that people are intrinsically good and therefore undeserving of it.

The other thing they miss is the mercy of God. The mere fact that God would warn of coming judgment instead of simply wiping out nations was a sign that the intention was for people to listen to the warning and turn from their sin. Being angry at God for this is akin to being angry at a parent for shouting a warning to a child who is walking into traffic.

The word of the LORD to Jeremiah in today’s passage further exemplifies the mercy of God in that He offered to reconcile with the Northern kingdom of Israel even after they had been scattered to the nations if only they would turn from their sin and come to Him.

The judgment of both kingdoms of Israel served to cut out the cancer of sin that had permeated throughout the people and bring back those who desired to be reconciled to Him. This miraculously occurred during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah and the post-exilic prophets when the Medes and Persians had overthrown Babylon.

The prophetic promise which came after bringing them to Zion was fulfilled by Christ on the cross. It did not happen during the time of Nehemiah because even though people from both kingdoms returned to Zion and repopulated the land, it was never truly theirs. They remained a vassal state to the Medes and Persians, and then the Greeks, and then the Romans.

The book of Hebrews describes the throne of the LORD in which all the nations gather as the heavenly Jerusalem. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)

The ark of the covenant is no longer “remembered or missed; it shall not be made again,” just as the LORD promised. In fact, the revelatory vision given to John depicted it in the heavenly temple, "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail." (Revelation 11:19) Despite all of the false shepherds in our day, we can still say that the true church has been given pastors (shepherds) after God’s own heart, who feed us with knowledge and understanding. Those gathering together from Judah and Israel may have done so in type and shadow after the exile, but they did so in their fullness at the birth of the church at Pentecost. Today we are all part of the nations that stream to the heavenly Jerusalem every time we gather as the body of Christ and share in His word and sacraments.


Dear heavenly Father, please help us to see “church” as more than just a weekly activity or a social club. Help us to see one another as the body of Christ who gathers, eats, and drinks with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven magnifying Your glorious name, evermore praising You. Amen.