Showing posts with label Jeremiah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeremiah. Show all posts

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jesus & Jeremiah

Matthew 21:12-22 narrates Jesus cleansing the Jerusalem temple that had become a "den of robbers." Immediately following that event is Jesus' curse upon the fig tree, pronouncing that it would no longer bear fruit. 

Jeremiah 7 & 8 is an oracle about Judah's exile into Babylon & the soon-coming destruction of Judah's precious city & temple. 

The "den of robbers" and the withering of the fig tree are both clearly alluded to in Jeremiah 7 & 8 (particularly 7:8-14 & 8:4-13). 

Isn't it reasonable, therefore, to associate the message of Jesus in Matthew 21:12-22 with the message of Yahweh in Jeremiah 7 & 8? 

If Yahweh cleansed his temple in the days of Jeremiah, that same message of cleansing was being repeated in the days of Jesus. Since the covenant-breaking of Judah's leaders was being repeated, the message of Yahweh's covenant-faithfulness was being repeated. The major difference between these two visitations was that Yahweh would send his own Son to die in the place of Judah, to be faithful to Yahweh's covenant, even unto death, so that the old Israel would finally die and a new Israel raised up to newness of life in union with Him. 

Salvation would come upon Israel through judgment in 70 A.D, but the old Israel and it's "den of robbers" in union with the first Adam would die in the judgment upon Jerusalem. Those who would not give up everything to follow Jesus, the second Adam, would wither and die like the fruitless fig tree of the old Israel. Only those who took up their cross and followed Jesus would be constituted as members of a new Israel, a new and living body--the body of the faithful Son of Yahweh (Ex. 4:22; Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15)

Jesus came to his own and his own received him not. He came as the faithful firstborn "Son" that Judah repeatedly failed to be after receiving his inheritance. The scepter departed from Judah once Jesus came, to whom it belonged (Gen. 49:10 MT); and unto him is the gathering of all nations in him as promised.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Resurrection as Release from Prison

Jeremiah himself had been unjustly beaten and condemned to prison by Jerusalem’s king because he had prophesied that Jerusalem would fall to her enemies (Jer 37:14–18). So the king permitted Jeremiah to be cast into a well so that he might sink into the mire (Jer 38:6). But an Ethiopian eunuch interceded with the king and was given permission to take thirty men to rescue Jeremiah (Jer 38:7–10). So the prophet was lifted up out of the pit of death (Jer 38:11–13). He was then brought to the third entrance to the temple (Jer 38:14). And after Jeremiah was released, God commanded him to bring a word of good news to the Ethiopian eunuch, who was to be assured that God would reward him because he had trusted in the Lord (Jer 39:15–18). 
Likewise, in the fullness of time many would see Jesus as a new Jeremiah (Matt 16:14). For Jesus too would be beaten and condemned by Jerusalem to bonds. And for having prophesied that the city was to fall to her enemies (Matt 24:1–2; 27:40), Jesus would be killed and placed in a grave (Matt 27:62–66). But on the third day Christ was released from the grave and so raised the third temple (John 2:19). Afterwards Jesus sent a message of good news to an Ethiopian eunuch, that God would accept him because he had trusted in the Lord (Acts 8:26–39).1

1.  Gage, W. A. (2010). Theological Poetics: Typology, Symbol and the Christ. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Warren A. Gage.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Living as a Prize of War (Jeremiah 21:1-10)

In Jeremiah 21:1-10 the prophet is confronted by Zedekiah, king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar had installed on the throne in place of Jehoiakin (Zedekiah's nephew). In verses 1-2 king Zedekiah sends ambassadors to Jeremiah, hoping to hear news that Yahweh would be faithful to His covenant with Israel and deliver Judah with the same kind of "wonderful deeds" He used to deliver Israel in times past. These "wondrous deeds" are the same "mighty powers" and "wonders" of Exodus 3:20, Deuteronomy 34:12, and Psa. 106:8 (LXX). Zedekiah thinks Yahweh's faithfulness is a one-way street of blessing, as though Yahweh would do whatever it took to protect the reputation of His own house (i.e. the Temple in Jerusalem). Zedekiah knows that Yahweh delivered His people out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the promised land to build His house, and now that His house has been established in Judah, surely He wouldn't allow His enemies to destroy it, would He? 

In verses 3 - 10, Jeremiah responds to Zedekiah. There we find out that Yahweh does not plan on destroying His own house, let alone allowing its destruction from the hand of His enemies. Instead, Yahweh is determined to destroy Israel's temple by the hand of Israel's enemies. In chapter 29, during this same period recorded in chapter 21, Yahweh commissions Jeremiah to write a letter to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, telling them to build Yahweh's house there, in Babylon, and to reject any prophet who claims otherwise. The same message is found briefly in this chapter, too:
He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. (v. 9) 

In 21:3-10, Yahweh does promise the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, but by that time Yahweh had left Jerusalem and built His house elsewhere; by that time Babylon was also Yahweh's vassal state, and Israel was Yahweh's enemy. 
I Myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and fury and in great wrath. And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They shall die of a great pestilence. (21:5-6)
Here Jeremiah mentions Yahweh's "strong arm" and "outstretched hand," which is a description of holy war that Yahweh wages against His enemies (Exod. 6, Deut. 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 26). But this holy war is against Jerusalem and their idolatrous rulers. This holy war is Yahweh vs. Israel, and the great Exodus power is still in Yahweh's hand. In verses 8-10 Yahweh graciously offers Israel a choice of life or death much like that given by Moses before crossing the Jordan (Deut 30:11-12), and later in the book of Jeremiah we learn that Israel responded to that offer by accusing Jeremiah of two sins: first, of conspiring with the rulers of Babylon, and second, of undermining Yahweh's promise to dwell in the midst of Israel in his "house", the temple. For those in Israel who were actually paying attention to Jeremiah's preaching, Jeremiah is clearly not pro-Babylon; he is pro-Yahweh, and he knows that Yahweh is using Babylon to wage holy war against a greater threat to His Kingship: Judah. 

This was good news for the people of Israel, among whom Yahweh was building His house. Just because Yahweh had set His face against Israel (v. 10), that did not mean He had abandoned His people entirely. He simply chose to build His house elsewhere, in Babylon. During that time in Babylon, the land of Israel would have it's promised rest (ch. 29). During that time Yahweh would remain faithful to His covenant. He would bring rest to His people and their land, and he would deliver them from His enemies. After that deliverance and rest their Jubilee would come.

There are many lessons which can be gleaned from this history. Perhaps the most important one is found by recognizing that Yahweh's faithfulness includes His covenant curses, not just blessings. Christians often presume that God's faithfulness to us is equivalent to Him blessing us, and that is not true. God's faithfulness includes discipline and punishment. An important distinction  can be made between those two, also. Discipline is what God does as a Father to His children. Punishment is what God does as a holy Judge against His enemies, even those enemies in covenant with Him. 

Why do Christians presume that God will not punish them? Is it because they're in a covenant-relationship with Him? Why do professing Christians presume that they are always in a position of safety from God's judgment? Is it because Yahweh is thought of only as their Father? Do they really believe God ceased being the just Judge of all at the cross? 

Christians like Zedekiah are certainly able to conjure up a cheap view of God's grace in their minds. The same is true with their understanding of God's covenant loyalty. Like Zedekiah, it is often presumed that Yahweh will not destroy those who take refuge in His house. They think Yahweh still dwells among them, and that they haven't contributed to anything wicked, thus provoking His wrath; and if they have, the sacrifice of Christ becomes their excuse to still live wickedly sometimes. Like Zedekiah, some of us presume that our Christian community, our church, our households, are not in any danger because that's where Yahweh chose to build His house in the first place, just like He did with the temple in Jerusalem. But was the temple under Zedekiah's reign still Yahweh's house? And was Jerusalem still His holy city? Jeremiah's message seems to portray otherwise. 

Yahweh did leave Israel with hope though. But that hope was not in the temple in Jerusalem. That hope was in Him, and He went with His people to Babylon. Surely the voice of Rachel's weeping would be heard in Ramah, where her children would be slain by sword, famine, and pestilence (Jer. 31:15). But Yahweh's good news to those who hoped in Him was different. A virgin Israel   would trust in Him and return from Babylon (Jer. 31:21). Unlike Rachel, she would be told to keep her voice from weeping and her eyes from shedding tears, because there was a promised reward from her faithfulness in Babylon (31:16-17). There was hope for the future of virgin Israel, as long as she trusted in God's covenant faithfulness to bless those who bless Him and curse those who curse Him--as long as she lived as His peculiar treasure gathered from the holy warfare waged against His enemies.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Another Exodus for Jacob (Jeremiah 30:18-22)

Jeremiah 30 (NASB)
18 “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwelling places; and the city will be rebuilt on its ruin, and the palace will stand on its rightful place.
19 ‘From them will proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who celebrate; and I will multiply them and they will not be diminished; I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant.
20 ‘Their children also will be as formerly, and their congregation shall be established before Me; and I will punish all their oppressors.
21 ‘Their leader shall be one of them, and their ruler shall come forth from their midst; and I will bring him near and he shall approach Me; for who would dare to risk his life to approach Me?’ declares the Lord.
22 ‘You shall be My people, and I will be your God.’”

Chapter 30 of Jeremiah begins the first proclamation of good news to Yahweh's people in exile. Chapters 1-29 present a tour of Yahweh's faithfulness to Israel wherein he repeatedly confirms his hatred for Israel's repeated rebellion. Israel wants to live and think idolatrously like all the other nations, so Yahweh is going to pluck them up from their own land and plant them in the midst of the Gentiles. Only in chapter 30 do we begin the first lengthy exposition of good news. Yahweh would indeed punish Israel like all the other rebellious nations, as promised, but yet again he would spare Israel for his name's sake, and establish his covenant with them again. 

The language of chapter 30 is filled with Exodus imagery, but especially in verses 18-22, which begin with Yahweh's calling of Jacob, the son of Abraham who would later be called "Israel," and would lead Israel into Egypt. Egypt, of course, is where Yahweh delivered Israel from captivity in the beginning of their formation as a nation. This call of Yahweh in 30:18 recapitulates Yahweh's call to Jacob, before Israel was formed as a royal priesthood at Sinai, eventually developing into a kingdom-city with a royal palace and Yahweh enthroned in their midst. In verses 18 and 19, Yahweh says he is coming again to restore those fortunes of Jacob, to start a new beginning, just as he did with Jacob's descendants all the way up to David and his descendants. From them will come another great thanksgiving and celebration like the time in which it's city and palace was first established. 

Verses 20-22 are also reminiscent of the Exodus, which describes the blessings and curses pronounced upon Israel in Deuteronomy just prior to parting the Jordan, thereby completing the Exodus which began in Egypt and waited for 40 years in the wilderness. This time the restoration is from Babylonian captivity, and will follow all the curses of Yahweh's Law which sentenced them there in the first place (Deut. 28:15-68). Once that exodus begins, tremendous covenant blessings will accompany Israel as promised in the Law (Deut 28:1-14). Instead of decreasing in number, Israel will be as the sand of the seashore, multiplying greatly in number. The Lord will honor them in the sight of all nations, and that honor will be significantly great. Yahweh will establish them again, and drive out all their oppressors from the land, like he did when they first entered Canaan. Yahweh will even bring all rulers into account who live in their midst, and will cause them to draw near to Him. This Israel will be reformed, like the first formation out of Egypt. Israel would again be Yahweh's people, and again have Yahweh as their God (Ex. 6:7; Lev. 26:12; Jer. 7:23; 11:4; 30:22)

Time after time Yahweh proved his loyal love toward Israel. Over and over Yahweh proved himself to be merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in tremendously gracious love toward Jacob. But the days were coming, according to Jeremiah's next prophecy (in chapter 31), that Yahweh would establish a new covenant with the house of Israel, a covenant unlike the one he made with Israel during the first Exodus. With this new covenant he would write his Law upon their hearts and not on tablets of stone. No longer would each Israelite teach his neighbor through the old covenant administration of sacrifice, temple, and priesthood. All of Israel and their surrounding neighbors would know Yahweh intimately, in a powerful sweeping way which had never been accomplished before. Yahweh would forgive their iniquity once for all, and remember their sin no more, through the sacrifice of his Son. Then finally, once for all time, under that new covenant in his blood, it could be said of Israel that Yahweh is their God, and they are his people (Jer. 31:33).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

St. Jerome's Preterist Interpretation of "the Antichrist" and "lawless one" (2 Thessalonians 2:5-8

Commenting on Jeremiah 25:26, Saint Jerome notices the likeliness of Jeremiah camouflaging a reference to "Babylon" with the Hebrew name "Sheshach." Even the ESV translation notes this by translating the actual Hebrew word, Sheshach, as "Babylon." 

A cursory glance at modern english versions of the Bible will illustrate this translational difference. The ESV translation reads, "…and after them the king of Babylon shall drink", whereas the more literal NASB translation reads, "…and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them."

I point this out not because Jerome's familiarity with ancient Rabbinic literary procedures is particularly noteworthy or unique to commentators of his day, but because from this specimen of Jeremiah's writings he deduces that prophets sometimes wrote cryptically for their own safety and for the safety of those who discern their warnings and take refuge in Christ because of it. According to  Jerome, even the apostles sometimes wrote cryptically to protect themselves and the faithful flock of Christ from soon-coming judgment upon the land. In this regard, Jerome's following comments about the apostle Paul's language in 2 Thessalonians 2:5-8 are particularly noteworthy, especially in light of the myriads of bizarre futurist (especially dispensational) interpretations of it in the 20th and 21st centuries. Instead of interpreting Saint Paul's words about the "lawless one" and its association with "the antichrist" of John's letters as entirely future to his own generation, Jerome follows a contemporary preterist interpretation of both these cryptic descriptions, which he thinks Paul's audience (i.e. Jewish converts of Thessalonica) would have understood. He writes:
I think that it was prudent for the holy prophet to hide the name of Babylon, lest he openly stir up against himself the madness of those who were besieging Jerusalem and who were ready to seize him at any moment. We read that the apostle did this same thing against the Roman Empire, writing about the antichrist:
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this? And you know what is restraining him (understand: "the antichrist") now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the appearance of his coming.
By "he who now restrains" he means the Roman Empire. For until the Roman Empire is destroyed and taken "out of the way," the antichrist will not yet come, as it says in the prophecy of Daniel. But if he had chosen to say this openly, he would have foolishly stirred up the frenzy of persecution against Christians and the nascent church.1

1.  Jerome, Ancient Christian Texts: Commentary on Jeremiah; Thomas Oden and Gerald Bray, editors [Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic; 2011], pp. 156-7

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Playing the flute

Matthew 9:23 displays a contrast between faithless rabbinical customs and the customs that honor Yahweh. According to rabbinical tradition, flute-playing in the first century was a symbol of mourning. But this is significantly different than the examples found in the old testament. Jeremiah 48:36 is the only old testament passage paralleling moaning with flute-playing, but that passage is actually paralleling the sound of a flute similar to the sound of moaning, and not flute-playing per se. Instead, flute-playing throughout the old testament is more commonly symbolic of celebrating one’s gladness for God’s healing presence (Psalm 5; Isaiah 30:29). Isaiah 5:12 even refers to flute-players while celebrating the feasts of Yahweh. But because Israel plays the flute and does not regard Yahweh’s deeds on their behalf, nor do they see the work of His hands in their midst, Isaiah says that Yahweh parches their thirst, starves their honored men, and sends them into exile (v. 13). 

Some people in Israel may put on a good performance with flutes, but Jesus won't dance to their tune because they call evil good and good evil. They put darkness for light and light for darkness, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (v. 20). Hypocritical flute-playing in Yahweh’s presence leads to death, whereas the flute-playing of faith is appropriate for celebrating Yahweh’s life-giving presence.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A voice was heard in Ramah (Matthew 2:13-23 part two)

Continuing where we last left off in this series, Matthew 2:13-23 reads: 
Now when thy had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet,  
“Out of Egypt I called my son."1  
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:  
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
 weeping and loud lamentation,
 Rachel weeping for her children;
 she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” 
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 

St. Jerome makes an interesting observation concerning this “fulfilled” prophecy of Jeremiah in Matthew’s gospel. He writes,
Certain of the Jews interpret this passage thus: when Jerusalem was captured under Vespasian, countless thousands of captives were led through this way by Gaza and Alexandria to Rome. But others say that in the final captivity under Hadrian when the city of Jerusalem was overthrown, innumerable people of diverse ages and both sexes were sold at the marketplace of Terebinthus. …Let these people say what they want. We say that the Evangelist Matthew has rightly taken up this testimony because it is the place where Rachel was buried and she wept for the sons of those nearby in the surrounding houses as if she were weeping for her own sons.3 

Some questions arise from these comments of Jerome: Why would Jewish scholars consider this passage from Jeremiah as needing to be fulfilled around 70 A.D.? Why insist upon a specific exile of Jews to Rome under Vespasian or a general dispersion of Jews across the Roman empire by Hadrian? Why not view Jeremiah’s prophecy as already being fulfilled in the Israel's history? After all, Jeremiah seems to have been describing events in Israel’s near future, events surrounding their return from Babylonian captivity.

I suspect, as I do with other post-70A.D. Jewish commentaries, that Jewish tradition has kept a close watch upon the Christian scriptures, especially those Christian gospels which reveal that their promised Messiah did come, and a massive exodus did occur, and that their promised Messiah did deliver Israel out of their long-awaited exile. It seems that they were diverting attention away from the historic Christ-centered reality of Jesus tabernacling among Israel and leading a great exodus of His people out of the land of Israel prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., in order to retain their views about Jesus not being the promised Messiah.

In the last post I mentioned a few times that Matthew’s gospel is about Israel. But it doesn’t take much imagination to realize that Matthew’s gospel is about Jesus too. Yet it’s not about both isolated from each other. It’s about Jesus as Israel. It’s about Jesus and His covenant people together, both head and body together, dying and rising together. As Jerome noted well, Matthew has “rightly taken up” the testimony of Jeremiah 31:15 in the events surrounding Jesus and Israel’s life together. If we stop and think about it a bit more, Matthew's reference from Jeremiah 31 only makes sense if both Jesus and Israel are identified as God’s Son.

In chapter 31, Jeremiah’s message is particularly noteworthy because it is directed to Ephraim by name. “I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn,” says the Lord (Jer. 31:9). Ephraim is also described as Yahweh’s “dear son” and “darling child” (v. 20), always expected to live up to the image of Yahweh’s Son. However, Ephraim was not Joseph’s actual firstborn son. When Joseph brought his firstborn son before his father, Israel laid hands on Joseph’s second child, Ephraim, instead, blessing him as the firstborn even though Manasseh was the actual firstborn. This typology of first and second sonship is nothing new to the history of Israel, being seen in numerous other examples (e.g. Ishamel and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Reuben and Joseph, Levi and the twelve tribes, Adam and Jesus), and it runs through the message of Jeremiah 31 too. Ephraim, like Jesus, is the second son, a second Adam, chosen to receive the promised inheritance of the actual firstborn. But in the context of Jeremiah 31, when the Lord speaks of Ephraim, He speaks as though Ephraim bears the image of the first Israel, the first Adam, who fell in the garden sanctuary and was later exiled into the land. He speaks as though His son had already been disciplined, as though Ephraim had already been taken into exile. Time and time again, the northern kingdom of Israel broke covenant with Yahweh, and Yahweh responded by showing mercy time and time again; but when Jeremiah spoke in chapter 31, northern Israel had already been taken captive. Ephraim was already no more, which is why Rachel is described as weeping for her children. Rachel was the wife of Jacob (i.e. Israel) and therefore the mother of Israel’s children, but now Ephraim had gone into exile, finally receiving his due for repeated breaches of God’s covenant; and in exile, what hope could there possibly be for the future of Yahweh’s people? This is the context in which Matthew (2:18) quotes Jeremiah 31:15 as finally being fulfilled:
A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children because they are no more.

Matthew does something unexpected with this “fulfillment” passage though, something similar to what Jerome described the Jewish scholars doing in his own day. Matthew interprets Jeremiah 31:15 as fulfilling events within his own generation. Instead of interpreting those events as being fulfilled in the past when Israel actually returned from Babylonian exile, Matthew interprets Jeremiah 31:15 as fulfilling the events of Herod slaughtering the innocent children of Israel around Bethlehem. Jeremiah describes Rachel as hearing the cries of her children being deported into captivity from Ramah, yet Matthew cites this as fulfilling the theme of continued exile for God’s firstborn son. What gives? This type of prophetic "fulfillment" is not ordinary, or is it?

If something doesn't seem right, it may be because we are assuming too much about what it means for prophecy to be "fulfilled." Far too often Christians assume that fulfillment of a prophetic narrative is the same as a prophecy that predicts future events. Or, to put it another way, Christians often fail to distinguish indirect typological fulfillment of prophecy from direct fulfillment of prophecy. "The main difference between direct fulfillment of prophecy and indirect typological fulfillment is that the direct fulfills what was explicitly predicted by the words of the prophet, while the indirect fulfills what was implicitly foreshadowed by historical events, which have been narrated."4 As Craig L. Blomberg has noted,5 Matthew is not interpreting the text of Jeremiah 31:15 as a prediction of future events, but rather is employing a similar kind of typology6 to his interpretation of Hosea 11:1, as seen moments earlier (Matt. 2:15). I wrote about the typology of Hosea 11:1 in the last post (here).

Matthew has very good reasons for employing a typological fulfillment here. In the narrative of Israel’s life, Ramah was, in fact, a place where captives were taken and stationed before their exile to Babylon (Jer. 40:1). Ramah, as Jerome noted, is also the region in which Rachel was buried near Bethlehem (the city in which Herod slaughtered the innocent children). Yet if we go all the way back to the Genesis narrative, there is more to the story of Rachel’s death and burial than what ordinarily meets the fundamentalist eye. It is also significant that Rachel dies while giving birth on the road to Bethlehem, and it’s in the midst of her suffering that her midwife tries comforting her with news that she has another son. After her son is born, she names him Benoni, which means “son of my sorrow,” but Israel renames him Benjamin (“son of my right hand”) as a sign of hope for Israel’s future. In the Genesis narrative, Rachel weeps over her son, yet afterward he becomes Israel’s hope. In Jeremiah's prophecy, Rachel weeps over her children once more, but this time it’s as they’re being exiled to Babylon; and just as Israel renamed her "son of sorrow" into a son of hope, Yahweh speaks words of comfort to Rachel again. This time Yahweh promises that her children will return from exile. Yahweh promises to show mercy toward his rebellious son. He promises to restore their fortunes, replenish their languishing souls, and deliver them from exile. “There is hope for your future, declares Yahweh, and your children shall come back to their own country” (v. 17).

In Matthew's day, Rachel’s weeping is finally filled full. This time her weeping is over the slaughter of the children at Bethlehem. No direct words of comfort are given her in Matthew, but the very next verse speaks of the return of Jesus to the land of Israel after the sure death of Herod (Matt. 2:19-21). Just as it was in Jeremiah's day, Israel’s life in the promised land seems hopeless in the days of Jesus' birth too, yet the hope of redemption and faith in Israel's Redeemer lives on. Even though there was a great slaughter of Rachel’s children in the region where she was buried, a corresponding promise of resurrection was also promised. That resurrection would entail a greater “exodus” than ever before in Israel’s history. That exodus from continued exile is what Jesus was born into the world to accomplish. Jesus came to save His people from bondage. Jesus came to deliver them from exile and inaugurate a new creation in the world. A voice was heard in Ramah, a voice of innocent children being slaughtered by a new Pharaoh. But without a new Pharaoh there would be no Egypt to call his faithful Son out of; and without a faithful Son there would be no Israel to die and rise with Him.

1.  Hosea 11:1
2.  Jeremiah 31:15
3. St. Jerome, Ancient Christian TextsCommentary on Jeremiah (translation by Michael Graves) [Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press; 2011], p. 194-5
4.  G.K. Beale, Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic; 2012], p. 58
5.  Craig L. Blomberg, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament; eds. G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic; 2007] p. 10
6.  G.K. Beale defines "typology" this way: "the study of analogical correspondences among persons, events, institutions, and other things within the historical framework of God's special revelation that, from a retrospective view, are of a prophetic nature. [Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, p. 57]