In Jeremiah 33, the Spirit of God unfolds further this certainty of blessing for the people from the hand of the Lord. Not only will Judah and Israel return from captivity, and buy and sell and build and plant and be a nation restored, but Jehovah says, "I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against Me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have transgressed against Me; and it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth" (verses 8, 9).
"Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, Jehovah our righteousness. For thus saith Jehovah, David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel" (verses 14-17).
This prophecy plainly foretells the full restoration Of the religious polity as well as the civil rule under the Messiah. The nation will have royalty in the line of David, and priesthood in the line of Aaron the Levite. Then Jehovah gives them the pledge that He will no more break this covenant with Israel than His covenant of day and night. "Thus saith Jehovah, If My covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them" (verses 25, 26).
In Jeremiah 34, a comforting word is addressed to Zedekiah, apparently because of his kindness towards the prophet. He was an evil ruler, but he was not without kindly feeling. Many a bad man whose conscience towards God is not utterly silenced has a great deal of natural feeling. He has the sense that a thing is wrong, but he has no force to do the right. He sees what is right and values the man that says what is right, but has no spiritual power to carry him in the path of what is right.
Now Zedekiah was this kind of man. There were worse kings than he, and he showed some disposition to listen to the prophet. Nevertheless, Zedekiah brought on the crisis of judgment for Jerusalem and his people. It is not the most daring man that does the worst deed. Weakness may be guilty where there is no looking to God for strength. And such was the case with Zedekiah. But the Lord showed him mercy, because, I think, of what he had done to His servant Jeremiah. "Thou shalt not die by the sword, but thou shalt die in peace." How gracious is Jehovah! He tempered the judgment which fell upon Zedekiah because of a certain relenting in the heart of the king towards His prophet. The kindly act is not forgotten by God.
In Jeremiah 35, the obedience of the Rechabites is set before the men of Judah to make them feel that some men, at least, showed more reverence for an earthly father than Israel showed for God Himself. The Rechabites were a certain class of Arabs - Bedouins of the desert, as we say - who were true to the requisition of their father. He had bound them neither to build houses nor to drink wine, and these men had carried out the will of their father for a long time.
Now when the Rechabites sought refuge in Jerusalem because of Nebuchadnezzar, their fidelity to their father's request is used as a solemn condemnation of the disobedience of the children of Judah. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were bidden to accept instruction from the sight of these Rechabites who even in the time of the impending siege would not depart from the regulations of their father. They might have pleaded the circumstances as an excuse for disobeying at that time, but they remained faithful to their fathers. "And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel; because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before Me for ever" (verses 18, 19). And I have no doubt that the Lord is preserving a portion of this very race to this day.