Then, as we have in Jeremiah 1, his commission and his character shown and the visions that were given to encourage him in going on with the work that the Lord had entrusted to him, so
Jeremiah 2 shows us the state of Israel, more particularly of Jerusalem. There the Lord rehearses what He had been to His people, and what their conduct had been, spite of His favours.
In Jeremiah 3 He says what He is going to do for them.
Now I need not dwell upon the bitter charges of the prophet - the double evil of the Jews by their forsaking the Lord - the only source of living waters, and their recourse to cisterns that could hold no water by their flying to idolatry and all its corrupting influences. But, in Jeremiah 3, we have a pleading of the Lord with them. He shows them that bad as Israel might have been, Judah that had held out for a time and gave fair promises under Josiah would turn out no better. The crisis would surely come; but when a man has sunk to the lowest, God appears in His grace.
So in this very chapter after having pressed it all upon them, he says, "Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against Jehovah thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed My voice, saith Jehovah. Turn, O backsliding children, saith Jehovah, for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: and I will give you pastors, according to Mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith Jehovah, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of Jehovah: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers" (Jer. 3:13-18).
Now nothing can be more distinct than this prediction, nor more gracious; for here we have clearly the intervention of God's grace for the whole people in the latter day, after not only the Assyrian captivity which had already taken place, but the Babylonish one which was going to take place. After all that, God would recall His people - not part of them, but the whole of them - would recall Israel, would recall Judah, would bring them both back into the land, would bless them there so highly that even all the ancient blessing that they had had, namely, the ark of the covenant, which was the grand distinctive feature of David's faith, for which he had made a resting- place on Zion, and which was directly lost after Solomon (for the greater part of the nation then lost the ark, and set up golden calves). So great would be the blessing of the latter day that even what was known under David and Solomon would pass away; and be altogether eclipsed by the still brighter glory of the whole united people in the latter day; and from that time they should never depart from the Lord again.
Now it is perfectly plain that there has not been even an approach to the accomplishment of these national blessings. They are still entirely future. What was known after the Babylonish captivity was the return of a mere handful of the Jews with a few straggling Israelites. So far from that amounting to what had been known under David and Solomon, they never had so much as an independent kingdom; they never had even so much as was known under the most shameful of the sons of David - the Manassehs, the Zedekiahs, the Jehoiakims, the Jehoiachins. All these disgraceful representatives of the royal family were men of great importance, and the state, too, had a measure of independence entirely beyond what was known after the return from captivity.
Here, contrariwise, the prophet speaks of a state surpassing all that had been known under their best monarchs, and as to its being the gospel or that which we know now under Christianity, there is not the slightest resemblance. "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah" (Jer. 3:17). Now that is not the gospel. The gospel is not the throne of Jehovah. The throne of Jehovah means the governmental power, according to His name, Jehovah, put forth over the whole earth. Jeremiah promises this, and Zechariah (Jer.14) also shows us very distinctly the character of that throne. There are to be no idols; there are to be no rivals: the name of Jehovah is to be the one universal name owned and honoured over the whole earth.
At that time, Jeremiah says, Jerusalem shall be called the throne of Jehovah. Further, "all the nations shall be gathered unto it." What popery has sought under the gospel, namely, to set up a universal spiritual monarchy, will be really done under the only one that is entitled to it, namely, the Lord Jesus. He will have this kingdom upon the earth, Jerusalem His centre, and all the nations His sphere. At the same time, He will have the heavens, and the new Jerusalem will be the metropolis. His will be the renewed universe of God, that is, the heavenly city and glory above, while the earthly Jerusalem will be the centre upon the earth.
Thus, we see that the peculiarity of that glorious time will be not the heavens only for the soul, nor the earth only for men in their bodies, but the heavens and earth both put under the reign of the Lord Jesus, and Christ the acknowledged Head of all things heavenly and earthly, the church reigning with Him in the heavens, and the Jewish people placed under Him here below.
This is what is described here, at least, the latter part. We must have recourse to the New Testament in order to see the former part of it, that is, the heavenly part. The earth is always the grand subject of Old Testament prophecy, and indeed of all prophecy in general, but the New Testament shows also the heavens as they are to be under Christ.