14 “However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 15 but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.
16 “But now I will send for many fishermen,” declares the Lord, “and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks. 17 My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes. 18 I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled my inheritance with their detestable idols.”
19 Lord, my strength and my fortress,
my refuge in time of distress,
to you the nations will come
from the ends of the earth and say,
“Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods,
worthless idols that did them no good.
20 Do people make their own gods?
Yes, but they are not gods!”
21 “Therefore I will teach them—
this time I will teach them
my power and might.
Then they will know
that my name is the Lord.
(Jeremiah 16:14-21 NIV)
Today’s passage is composed of three sections:
- The hope and promise of a second exodus (vv. 14-15)
- Completion of the current judgment of Judah (vv. 16-18)
- Jeremiah’s prayer and God’s response (vv. 19-21)
After the Lord used Jeremiah’s life as an illustration and object lesson to the nation of Judah (vv. 1-9), the Lord then proceeded to answer the people’s complaints and tell them (again) that He was going to throw them out of the Promised Land because of their sin.
While the Lord showed the people of Judah that consequences of their sin were many and severe, the Lord gave them a glimmer of hope that all was not lost. In verses 14 -1 5, the Lord repeats His promise that He would one day restore Judah. The restoration would not be the people of Judah quietly filtering back to the Promised Land. The Lord would bring His people back using an even greater display of power and glory than when He brought them out of Egypt. This time, it would not be one nation (Israel) leaving another (Egypt), but one people (the Israelites) out of many nations (where God scattered them as part of the exile). God’s renown and fame would be even greater and a new saying would be known around the world: “As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where He had banished them.”
As wonderful as that promise was, the exile is still imminent (vv. 16 – 18). The judgment will be a complete sweep throughout the land. The Lord uses the analogies of fishermen and hunters that will drive out, catch and hunt down every last person. No one will be exempt from the consequences of their sins.
Verses 19 – 20 is Jeremiah’s prayer on behalf of himself and the people of Judah. Jeremiah is not sitting back in condemnation of the people but rather is relating to the Lord as one of the nation. Jeremiah confesses the sin of the nation and also foretells a time when the nations (the non-Hebrew nations) will come before the Lord and confess their sins and idolatrous practices.
In verse 21, the Lord responds to Jeremiah and tells Jeremiah the He will show His power and might to the nations. The purpose is not to domineer and repay them for the injustices done to His people, but to welcome them as they confess their idolatry and turn to Him.
The last phrase of verse 21 shows the Lord’s desire for the nations. He does not want to be known as “the God of the Hebrews” as a title or role. Instead, the Lord wants to be known by His name – “The LORD (Yahweh).
Jesus reiterated this same desire to know and be known on a personal level when He said,
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)
May we never forget that the God of the Universe calls us and invites us to know Him on an individual basis – to know His name and be invited into His family, to fellowship with Him and join in community with Him both now and in eternity.
If anyone does not know God on a personal basis, His offer still stands. He invites you to Himself and promises to forgive all your sins – the past, present, and future – if you will confess Him as the only true God and receive the forgiveness of your sins by the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For all who have made that commitment to the Lord, may we practice being in God’s presence each day, all day, as we go about our daily activities, walking with Him and spending time with Him.