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Jeremiah 33:14-26 – Unconditional Promises

Summary

God speaks of the divine promises in unconditional terms.

Analysis

The upshot of these oracles of promise is that God honors the covenants made with Israel's royal and priestly leadership, as promised long before (see 1 Samuel 7:14-16; Numbers 25:10-13). God will honor them forever (Jeremiah 33:14-16 is essentially repeated from 23:5-6). God understands the divine self to be bound to these covenants and so, given the divine faithfulness, God cannot back away from these commitments.

These promises are grounded in the covenant with Noah (Genesis 8:21-22; 9:8-17), as was the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:35-37). No one could break that covenant, and hence, it is impossible that God could break the covenants with David and the Levites (or house of Aaron). The increase of their offspring is as certain as the impossibility of counting the sand and the stars.

In the face of those who would claim that Israel's election has been forfeited (33:24), the promises are even more sharply articulated, going way back to the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (33:25-26). The offspring of Israel from every future generation can count on these promises come what may. The future of this people will be marked by an ongoing experience of the mercy of God.

Jeremiah 33:14-26

The Righteous Branch and the Covenant with David

14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

17 For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18and the levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt-offerings, to make grain-offerings, and to make sacrifices for all time.

19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20Thus says the Lord: If any of you could break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night would not come at their appointed time, 21only then could my covenant with my servant David be broken, so that he would not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with my ministers the Levites. 22Just as the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will increase the offspring of my servant David, and the Levites who minister to me.

23 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 24Have you not observed how these people say, ‘The two families that the Lord chose have been rejected by him’, and how they hold my people in such contempt that they no longer regard them as a nation? 25Thus says the Lord: Only if I had not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26would I reject the offspring of Jacob and of my servant David and not choose any of his descendants as rulers over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes, and will have mercy upon them.

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10 February 2011

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