Category Archives: Believer’s Study Bible

July 25, 2017: Verse of the day

img_1416

6 [7] The nation is addressed straightforwardly and emphatically. (Note the use of the personal pronoun “you” [NRSV, ESV].) The demand for “love” and “justice” echoes earlier passages (2:19; 4:1). A surprising twist concerns Israel’s “turn/return” (šûb)—Hosea’s term for repentance—to Yahweh. Its present impossibility has been patently obvious (5:4; 6:1; 7:10, 16; 11:7), but still there was hope of future penitence (3:5; 14:1–2). What is new is that this summons is coupled with the promise of divine assistance, which will enable Israel to do what it cannot (and will not) do on its own. Many English versions translate the preposition be as “to” (“to God” in NASB, NRSV, NIV), but it is more properly taken as beth instrumenti: Israel can return “with the help of” God (NJB, NEB, ESV; cf. GKC §119o, W–O §11.2.5d). With his help, fickle Israel can be changed into a steadfast people, willing to wait on him. This wording may be a reminder of the words spoken to Jacob in Genesis 28:15; if so, it brings literary closure to this Jacob series.[1]

12:6 return. Like Jacob, who returned to Bethel to fulfill his vow (Gen. 35:1–15), Israel must return to the Lord.[2]

12:6 In the true prophetic tradition Hosea calls his people to return (repent). God does not judge only to destroy, but also to call His people to repentance, which ultimately leads to deliverance and restoration.[3]


[1] Carroll R., M. D. (2008). Hosea. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, p. 292). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1252). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[3] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ho 12:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

July 9, 2017: Verse of the day

img_1384

62:5 sons will marry you. “Marry” in the sense of occupying and possessing the city.[1]


62:5 Your sons are the loyal inhabitants of Zion (here, the eternal city of God; cf. Psalm 87). shall … marry. A poetic image indicating that the inhabitants of Jerusalem will love and cherish their city: the inhabitants of Zion will forever be committed to and delight in their eternal dwelling place, for the Lord’s people are there, and the Lord himself is there. Isaiah’s poetic imagery leaves an overwhelming impression of joy, delight, righteousness, beauty, safety, and peace. so shall your God rejoice over you. Boldly drawing on a familiar human image of inexpressible joy and delight, God says his delight in his people will be like that of a bridegroom’s delight in his bride. Isaiah explains that in God’s great plan of salvation, he not only forgives his people, protects them, heals them, provides for them, restores them to their home, reconciles them to each other, transforms them so they are righteous, honors them, exalts them above all nations, and makes them a blessing to all nations, as he called them to be—but more than all these things, he actually delights in his people.[2]


62:5 Israel in her redeemed state and splendor is figuratively called the bride of God, just as the New Jerusalem is referred to as “the bride of the Lamb” (cf. Rev. 21:2, 9, 10).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 62:5). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1353). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Is 62:5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

 

June 11, 2017: Verse of the day

img_0271

13 The “two evils” (so, correctly, the NASB; see comment on 1:14) go hand in hand, since whenever there is a turning away from (in this case, the Lord), there is also a turning toward (here, idols), as noted by Feinberg, 391: “Judah’s sin was compounded by rejection of truth and reception of error.” Or, as put quaintly by Matthew Henry, “Cleaving to sin is leaving God.” Once again, with prophetic penetration, the people’s utter folly is graphically exposed. This also underlies Jeremiah’s message of repentance (see comment on 3:6–7 with reference to the root šwb, GK 8740); God’s people must turn away from their idols to turn back to him. As obvious, however, as this polemic against idolatry is to most Western readers, the great majority of whom are life-long monotheists, the subtle lure and overt power of idolatry was such that these charges from the lips of Jeremiah would have been greeted by scorn and disdain, hence the constant use of analogy and metaphor to drive home the point.

The Lord was Israel’s “spring of living water” (again in 17:13), meaning their natural source of freely flowing, fresh (= nonstagnant) water, in contrast to water kept in jars or wells (cf. Ge 26:19; Lev 14:5–6, 50–52; 15:13; Nu 19:17). Here, however, there is a first step in the transition to the wholly spiritual meaning put on the words by Jesus in the NT (see John 4:10–11, where, of course, the ambiguity in meaning opened up the conversation between the Lord and the Samaritan woman; 7:38; cf. also Rev 7:17). In place of this Source of life, God’s people have hewed out for themselves useless replacements. (The NASB is to be preferred here, recognizing the emphasis on their own effort; see 1:16, containing the stereotypical indictment that idolatry is worshiping the work of one’s own hands.)

The repetition of “cisterns” in the Hebrew (bōʾrôt bōʾrōt) conveys shock: They have hewn out for themselves cisterns—cisterns broken!—which cannot hold any water. What they previously had, supplied by the Lord himself, was perfectly good; they abandoned it for a defective human replacement. Such is the self-destructive nature of Israel’s idolatry! (For archaeological background on cisterns, cf. King, 154–57.)[1]


2:13 two evils. First, Israel had abandoned the Lord, the source of spiritual salvation and sustenance (cf. 17:8; Ps 36:9; Jn 4:14). Second, Israel turned to idolatrous objects of trust; Jeremiah compared these with underground water storage devices for rainwater, which were broken and let water seep out, thus proving useless.[2]


2:13 Living water is found in Christ (John 4:10–14).[3]


2:13 the source of living water In Deuteronomy 32:40, Yahweh describes Himself as the eternally living God, contrasted against lifeless idols (compare Jer 17:7–8, 17:13; Psa 1:3).

for themselves A metaphor for a people no longer reliant on the living God. See Jer 2:27–28.

that can hold no water Foreign gods are broken containers; they cannot produce water, and they cannot hold the water poured into them.[4]


2:13 two evils. Jeremiah stresses the seriousness of Judah’s sin.

waters. God alone provides life-giving water (Is. 55:1; John 4:10, 7:37–39).

broken cisterns. The gods they took for themselves were useless, empty.[5]


2:13 Ancient landowners would dig cisterns to collect the rainwater. To insure that the cistern would hold water, the landowner plastered it inside with lime. Often cracks would develop and the water would leak out. In like manner Israel had abandoned Yahweh, the “fountain of life” or “fountain of living waters” (cf. Ps. 36:9; Prov. 13:14; 16:22; Is. 55:1; John 4:10–14; 7:37–39) for man-made powerless gods. They had committed two “evils”: they had forsaken Yahweh, and they had tried to improve upon Him.[6]


[1] Brown, M. L. (2010). Jeremiah. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah–Ezekiel (Revised Edition) (Vol. 7, p. 90). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Je 2:13). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1372). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Je 2:13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1052). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Je 2:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MAY 31 – GOD ALREADY KNOWS!

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me…. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

—Psalm 139:1, 3

In the same way, God, in one effortless act, knows instantly (not a little at a time, but instantly and perfectly) all things that can be known. That’s why I say that God cannot learn. As I said before, if we realized that God couldn’t learn, we could shorten our prayers quite a bit and step up their power. There is no reason to tell God things that He knew before you were born!

God knows the end from the beginning and He knew it long before it happened. Long before your parents met, God knew what you would be doing at this very moment. Before your grandparents met, before England was a nation, or the Roman Empire dissolved, or the Roman Empire was formed, God knew all about us. He knew everything about us—every hair on our head, our weight, our name, our past. And He knew it before we were born.

He knew it before Adam was. And when Adam walked in the garden with God, God knew all about Adam, all about Eve, all about their sons, all about the human race. God never gets astonished, astounded or surprised, because He already knows. You can walk down the street, turn the corner and get the surprise of your life. But God never turned the corner and got surprised, for the simple reason that God was already around that corner before He turned it. God already knew before He found out! God knows all things. AOGII113-114

Lord, I’m thankful that with You there are no surprises, nothing You don’t know ahead of time. Thank You. Amen. [1]


139:1, 2 First, he begins with the omniscience of God. God knows everything.

There is nothing He does not know.

Though limitless the universe and gloriously grand,

He knows the eternal story of every grain of sand.

But here it is His knowledge of the individual life that is particularly in view. In 1988 it was estimated that there were 5,000,000,000 people in the world. Yet God is intimately acquainted with each one. He knows all about every one of us.

He has searched us and known us! Words and deeds, thoughts and motives, He knows us inside out. He knows when we sit down to relax and when we rise up to engage in the varied activities of life. He can tell what we are thinking, and even anticipates our thoughts.

139:3 He sees us when we walk and when we lie down; in other words, He keeps a constant watch on us. None of our ways is hidden from Him.[2]


139:1 searched me and known me. Cf. the appeal in vv. 23, 24. He is the all-knowing God who has an intimate understanding of the psalmist, as of all His creation.

139:2 you discern my thoughts. God is omniscient. Thoughts may be the most private areas of life, but they cannot be hidden from the Lord (1 Chr. 28:9; Jer. 17:10; John 2:25).

139:3 You search out my path … lying down. Lit. “You have measured my traveling and my stretching out [to rest].” This is a merism for the thoroughness of God’s knowledge. See note on 49:2.[3]


139:1 This psalm contains the clearest expression of the attributes and character of God to be found in the Psalter. One could hardly describe the omniscience and omnipresence of God more effectively. As David meditated upon God’s omniscience, which includes actions (vv. 2, 3), words (v. 4), and thoughts (v. 2), it was apparently more than he could comprehend (cf.Rom. 11:33).[4]


The omniscience of the Lord (139:1–6)

139:1. The theme of verses 1–6 is announced in the opening verse: the Lord knew David penetratingly. David said God’s knowledge came as if He had scoured every detail of David’s life and thus knew him intimately.

139:2–4. Samples of how well God knew David are stated here. The Lord (You is emphatic in Heb.; cf. v. 13) knew every move he made; the two opposites of sitting and rising represent all his actions (this is a figure of speech known as a merism; cf. vv. 3, 8). God knew not only David’s actions; He also knew his motivations (thoughts; cf. v. 17). Afar evidently refers not to space but to time.

The daily activities of the psalmist were also thoroughly familiar to the Lord. The opposites of going out in the morning and lying down at night represent the whole day’s activities (another merism; cf. vv. 2, 8).

But the one sample that epitomizes God’s omniscience is in verse 4. Before the psalmist could frame a word on his tongue, the Lord was thoroughly familiar with what he was about to say. (The Heb. for “word” is millâh and the similar-sounding word for completely is kūllāḥ)

139:5–6. David’s initial response to this staggering knowledge was that he was troubled. Like many who respond to the fact of God’s omniscience, he thought it was confining, that God had besieged him and cupped His hand over him.

Moreover, this kind of knowledge was out of David’s control—it was too wonderful for him. The word “wonderful” is in the emphatic position, at the beginning of the sentence. On the meaning of “wonderful” as “extraordinary or surpassing,” see comments on 9:1. In other words divine omniscience is too high for humans to comprehend (also cf. comments on 139:14).[5]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 769). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 994). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[4] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ps 139:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 891). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

May 30, 2017: Verse of the day

img_1342

31:34 No more shall every man teach: No longer would intermediaries like priests or prophets be needed to show the people how to know the Lord. From youngest to oldest, from peasant farmer to kings and princes, all would know God. Knowledge of God is a major theme of Jeremiah (2:8; 4:22; 5:4; 8:7) as well as of other prophets (Hos. 5:4). This knowledge is an intimate relationship with God evidenced by faith, obedience, and devotion. God will forgive and will purposefully not remember the sin and iniquity of His people who come to Him in repentance and faith. Jesus the Messiah fulfilled this promised New Covenant through His work on the Cross (Matt. 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; 1 Cor. 11:25).

31:35 sun … moon … stars: God, the Creator of all things, entered into covenant with His people. sea … waves: The Hebrew people learned from their Canaanite neighbors to fear the sea (Ps. 93). But God is Master of the sea, as He is Master of all things (Is. 51:15).[1]


31:34 The word translated “forgive” (salah, Heb.) can mean “send away” or “let go,” and is one of several O.T. words for forgiveness (v. 34; 36:3; cf. Is. 55:7, note). Another term is kaphar (Heb.), basically meaning “to cover” (Prov. 17:9; Is. 1:18) and most often associated with the various aspects of the atonement, which is impossible without God’s forgiveness. A third word is nasa˒ (Heb.), meaning “lift up or away” (Gen. 50:17; Ex. 10:17). In the N.T. there are four Greek words rendered “forgive”: (1) aphiēgmi, meaning “send away” or “let off” (Mark 3:29; Acts 5:31; 13:38; 26:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14) and also rendered “liberty” (Luke 4:18) or “remission,” which indicates a permanent removal of deserved punishment and condemnation (Matt. 26:28; Mark 1:4; Luke 1:77; 3:3; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 10:43; Heb. 9:22; 10:18); (2) paresis, meaning “remission” (Rom. 3:25); (3) apoluōg, literally “to loose away from” or “away from destruction” (Luke 6:37); and (4) charizomai, meaning literally “be gracious to” (Luke 7:43; 2 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13). The latter word is enhanced by its relation to the noun charis, meaning “grace.” Forgiveness is the demonstration of God’s mercy and grace (Ps. 86:5; 103:10, 11), the sovereign act of God which reflects His very nature. Sin breaks the fellowship between God and man just as it breaks the harmony among men. Fellowship is restored only through forgiveness. If God is willing to forgive man, how much more should man forgive man (cf. Matt. 6:12). Those who have been forgiven should then become the forgiving (Luke 7:40–47; 17:3, 4). Divine forgiveness is marked by its unlimited scope (cf. Ps. 78:38; Luke 17:3, 4), its absolute erasure of sins (cf. Ps. 103:12; Mic. 7:19; Heb. 10:17), its abundant and gracious pardon (cf. Is. 55:7), and its automatic forgetting simultaneous with forgiveness (cf. Is. 43:25; 44:22). Though human forgiveness is inferior to divine forgiveness, the pattern is available and worthy of imitation (Eph. 5:1). The fruits of forgiveness include (1) peace (Gal. 5:22), (2) healing (2 Chr. 30:18–20), (3) restoration (2 Cor. 2:7–10), and (4) cleansing (James 5:15, 16). The forgiveness of their sin will assure a personal relationship with Yahweh. Likewise the law will not be relegated to written material only, but also will be known by the indwelling of the living Word in individual believers. In the new covenant it is God Himself that initiates and executes His blessings toward Israel. The people of God have hope in: (1) a coming day of restoration (v. 31); (2) personal fellowship with the living God (vv. 32, 33); and (3) the forgiveness of their sins (v. 34).[2]


31:34 There will be no need for a faithful remnant within the covenant people to teach the unfaithful majority to know God, for all covenant partners will know him. This covenant will include only those who know him, and he will remember their sin no more.[3]


31:31–34 a new covenant. In contrast to the Mosaic Covenant under which Israel failed, God promised a New Covenant with a spiritual, divine dynamic by which those who know Him would participate in the blessings of salvation. The fulfillment was to individuals, yet also to Israel as a nation (v. 36; Ro 11:16–27). It is set 1) in the framework of a reestablishment in their land (e.g., chaps. 30–33 and in vv. 38–40) and 2) in the time after the ultimate difficulty (30:7). In principle, this covenant, also announced by Jesus Christ (Lk 22:20), begins to be exercised with spiritual aspects realized for Jewish and Gentile believers in the church era (1Co 11:25; Heb 8:7–13; 9:15; 10:14–17; 12:24; 13:20). It has already begun to take effect with “a remnant according to God’s gracious choice” (Ro 11:5). It will be also realized by the people of Israel in the last days, including the regathering to their ancient land, Palestine (chaps. 30–33). The streams of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants find their confluence in the millennial kingdom ruled over by the Messiah.[4]

A new covenant (31:31–34)

Commentary

31–32 It is only fitting that the weeping prophet from Anathoth, who spoke of death and destruction for more than forty years, would be the one entrusted with the glorious new covenant oracle—an oracle whose words were surely in Yeshua’s mind at the Last Supper (cf. Lk 22:20), an oracle repeated in Hebrews 8:8–13; 9:15–22; 10:16–17, and an oracle whose theme ultimately became the primary name given to the Greek Scriptures as a whole. (Though Lundbom, 2:474, claims that “it comes as somewhat of a surprise … to find so little said in the NT about a new covenant,” it cannot be denied that the entire NT is permeated with the understanding of the new realities of the new covenant God has made with his people.) The significance of these verses cannot be overstated. (According to Carson, “Matthew,” EBC, 8:538, “It appears, then, that Jesus understands the covenant he is introducing to be the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecies and the antitype of the Sinai covenant,” with earlier reference to Ex 24:8. As to the word “new” in this context in some NT manuscripts, cf. Luke 22:20.)

As in v. 27, both the houses of Israel and Judah are addressed in v. 31, and the divine announcement to them is momentous: Yahweh will make a new covenant with his people! It was Jeremiah who witnessed the valiant efforts of Josiah to renew the Sinaitic covenant—efforts that ultimately failed and the last such efforts of a Judean king—and it was Jeremiah whose calling as a prophet received undeniable confirmation by the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of Judah (cf., similarly, Eze 33:21–33). It will receive even more confirmation with the return of the exiles after seventy years.

This man had the credibility to deliver such an oracle and declare (v. 31): This covenant will not be like the covenant made at Sinai! The new exodus—also combining a demonstration of the Lord’s power and his tender care—will have a new covenant (compare the description of the first exodus here, “when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,” with descriptions of the second exodus [31:7–9]), since God’s people broke the Sinaitic covenant (prr, “break, annul,” occurring with berît, “covenant,” as early as Ge 17:14; see also Lev 26:15, 44; Dt 31:16, 20; Isa 24:5; Eze 16:59; 17:16, 18; 44:7; in Jeremiah, see esp. 11:10, “Both the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken the covenant I made with their forefathers”). They did this despite the fact that Yahweh had been a husband to them (bāʿaltî bām; cf. 3:14; for other renderings, see Notes).

On his end, Yahweh did everything he could; yet the people violated the covenant to the point of making it null and void (cf. Clemens; Brueggemann states, “The old covenant from Sinai was resisted until it was broken and abrogated”). Without a new covenant the same pattern of disobedience, judgment, and transitory repentance followed again by disobedience and judgment would be endlessly repeated. God’s only redemptive recourse, then, was to change the nature of the covenant and thereby change the nature of his people.

33 The character of this new covenant is described as one that will be made “after those days” (NASB), referring back to v. 31a and possibly back to v. 27 or even earlier and apparently meaning after they have been planted again in the land (cf. Metsudat David, “after they return from exile”). Interestingly, reference is made here only to the house of Israel, but this must certainly be understood inclusively as referring to both Israel and Judah (mentioned in vv. 29, 31); it may also reflect the fact that the Sinaitic covenant was made with one people, Israel, before there was such a thing as the northern and southern kingdoms. In the same way this new covenant will be made with one people, Israel (cf. esp. 1 Ki 18:31; see also Holladay with reference to Eze 39:15–17).

In this new covenant God’s tôrâ (“teaching, law”) will be put within his people (beqirbām, lit., “in their midst/interior”; the NIV’s “in their minds” is too interpretive) and will be written on their hearts, in obvious contradistinction to the Sinaitic covenant, which was written on tablets of stone (Ex 24:12; 34:1, 4, 28; Dt 4:13; 5:22; 9:9–11; 10:1, 3; see Eze 36:26–27; 2 Co 3:3; cf. further Pss 40:8[9]; 51:6, 10; note Dt 10:16; Jer 4:3–4). Thus it will become Israel’s very nature to keep the commandments of the Lord as their automatic, natural response; this is expressed more fully in the (clearly parallel) new heart passage in Ezekiel 36:26–27, as well as in Jeremiah 32:37–42 (see discussion there; cf. also Eze 11:17–20).

On a practical level, this means that what the psalmist experienced on a temporary and individual level in Psalm 40—delighting in God’s will and having the Torah in his heart before being overwhelmed by the consciousness of his still-present sins—will become Israel’s experience on a corporate and permanent level. Because there will be harmony between Yahweh and his people, the covenantal promise expressed first in Jeremiah in 7:23 and repeated again in 11:1–4 will finally become the reality. As Keil notes, “the essential element of the new covenant, ‘I will be their God, and they shall be my people,’ was set forth as the object of the old; cf. Lev 26:12 with Ex 29:45,” but it is only through the new covenant that it will be realized. As Heschel, 1:128–29, observes, “Prophecy is not God’s only instrument. What prophecy fails to bring about, the new covenant will accomplish: the complete transformation of every individual.” For a thorough interpretive study, see Fẹmi Adeyẹmi, The New Covenant Torah in Jeremiah and the Law of Christ in Paul (Studies in Biblical Literature 94; New York: Peter Lang, 2008).

34 The impact of all of this will be so great that the knowledge of God will become completely pervasive (cf. esp. Isa 11:9), eliminating the need for ongoing instruction and exhortation to know Yahweh—the foundation for obedience, worship, and blessing (cf., e.g., 9:24; contrast 2:8; 4:22)—since everyone will know him (according to Metsudat David with reference to 22:16b, to know the Lord means “to fear him and to walk in his ways”). In contrast with Judah’s preexilic state, as expressed in 6:13; 8:10 (“from the least of them to the greatest all are greedy for gain”), in the new state of things “they will all know me, from the least to the greatest.”

This will come about because Yahweh will utterly and completely forgive and forget his people’s sins and wickedness—an unprecedented gesture on his part toward his chronically disobedient people (cf. 33:8; 50:20, for a reiteration of this; contrast 5:1, 7). This, of course, does not mean that he will forgive them so that they can continue to sin; rather, it speaks of: (1) a cleaning of the slate and a complete removal of the guilt of the past; and (2) the internalized nature of the new covenant, in which Israel will no longer seek to disobey—the byproduct of being forgiven (cf. Lk 7:47). As Brueggemann notes, “All the newness is possible because Yahweh has forgiven.” Compare also Radak, who explains that God will forgive them for the sins “they committed while still in exile,” adding, “and I will give them a new heart so that they will know me.”

While these verses do not state categorically that God’s people will never sin again (though Malbim says the possibility of sinning will not even exist), they do strongly imply that they will no longer be characterized by disobedience and wickedness but rather by obedience and righteousness. For further discussion of what is “new” in the new covenant, compare Bertrand Pinçon, Du nouveau dans l’ancien: Essai sur la notion d’alliance nouvelle dans le livre Jérémie et dans quelques relectures au cours d’exil (Lyons: Profac, 2000; conveniently summarized in OTA 23 [2000]: 2084). For the usage of tôrâ in this passage, compare Untermann, 98–102, who renders tôrâ as “divine legal instruction.” Huey lists Isaiah 41:18–20; 42:6–13; 43:18–21, 25; 44:3–5, 21–23; 45:14–17; 49:8–13; 51:3–8; 54:9–10; 55:3; 60:15–22; 61:1–9; 65:17–25; Jeremiah 50:4–5; Ezekiel 16:60–63; 34:11–31; 36:8–15, 22–38; 37:11–14, 21–28; Joel 2:18–32 as containing new covenant ideas, with reference to Walter C. Kaiser, “The Old Promise and the New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31–34,” JETS 15 (1972): 11–23. For additional references, see http://www.askdrbrown.org/bibliography/jeremiah.[5]


[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 923–924). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Je 31:34). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1431). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Je 31:31–34). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Brown, M. L. (2010). Jeremiah. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah–Ezekiel (Revised Edition) (Vol. 7, pp. 395–398). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 24, 2017: Verse of the day

img_1334

55:10, 11 God’s word is just as irresistible and effective as the rain and snow. All the armies in the world cannot stop them, and they accomplish their intended purpose. God’s Word never fails to achieve its aims:

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.[1]


55:10, 11 rain … snow … My word. Moisture from heaven invariably accomplishes its intended purpose in helping meet human physical needs. The Word of God will likewise produce its intended results in fulfilling God’s spiritual purposes, especially the establishment of the Davidic kingdom on earth (vv. 1–5).[2]


55:10–11 As the rain and the snow cannot fail to nourish the earth, so God’s word of promise cannot fail to bring his people into the richness and fullness of eternal life. Human good intentions fail, but God’s promises succeed (cf. 40:6–8). The word of God not only describes a glorious future, it is God’s appointed means to create that future (cf. Ezek. 37:1–14).[3]


55:11 It shall not return to me without success Yahweh’s word cannot fail to bring about the desired results (compare 40:8). The word of God contains very real power to accomplish His will. Creation happened through divine speech in Gen 1 (compare Psa 33:6, 9), and Yahweh brought life back into lifeless bones through the prophetic words of Ezekiel (Ezek 37:1–14).[4]


55:10, 11 rain. The rain falls abundantly and of its own accord, and in a familiar but mysterious way produces plants and useful crops, evidently for the purpose of supplying people’s needs. The divine purpose in this is applied figuratively to the word of God in order to distinguish it from fallible human thoughts and plans. It also speaks of the Lord’s word as His decree by which He governs history. It never returns without accomplishing God’s sovereign purposes. Cf. 40:8.[5]

55:11 It is the divine origin (or character) of God’s word, and not some magical power, which causes it to accomplish the purpose for which it is sent (cf. Heb. 4:12).[6]

10–11 The declaration of vs 8–9 not only looks back to v 7 but on to vs 10–13, to shame us out of our small expectations. God’s thoughts are more far-reaching and more fertile, as well as higher, than ours. The comparison of his word with rain andsnow suggests a slow and silent work, transforming the face of the earth in due time. The reference is to his decree (cf. e.g. 44:26; 45:23) rather than his invitation or instruction, which can be refused (48:18–19; cf. the similar imagery to that of v 10 in Heb. 6:4–8).[7]

55:10, 11 bring forth: For a similar reference, see 2 Cor. 9:10. God’s word is similar to rainfall; it produces fruit (Ps. 147:15–20). Just as water enlivens and strengthens a withering rose, God’s word produces life in the hearts of sinners.[8]

55:10–11. Having spoken of the future time of blessing (the Millennium) and the salvation which leads to it, the Lord then assured believers that His Word … will accomplish what He says it will. His word is like rain and snow that water the earth and help give it abundant vegetation. In the Near East dry hard ground can seemingly overnight sprout with vegetation after the first rains of the rainy season. Similarly when God speaks His Word, it brings forth spiritual life, thus accomplishing His purpose.[9]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 55:10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1342). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 55:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1228). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Is 55:11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Kidner, F. D. (1994). Isaiah. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 664). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[8] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 865). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[9] Martin, J. A. (1985). Isaiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1111). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

May 20, 2017: Verse of the day

img_1332

16–17 Judah’s pattern of disobedience is rehearsed again. Because the people have lost their bearings and forgotten their way, the Lord exhorts them to return to the foundations, to the ancient paths, to the sure foundations of their ancestors. (Compare the description of false deities in Dt 13:6; 28:64 as gods which “neither you nor your fathers have known,” and note the call in Pr 22:28 not to “move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.”) This is where they will find respite and rest for their souls (language apparently borrowed in Mt 11:28–30), but in keeping with their history they said, “We won’t go that way!” (Compare the response to Isaiah’s invitation in Isa 30:15: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”)

So the Lord reached out to them once more (v. 17), warning them through watchmen (= prophets; cf. Eze 3:17–21; 33:1–9), who urged them to listen to the sound of the alarm, but they said, “We won’t listen!” (e.g., 18:12; note the call to the people to turn back and do right, followed by their negative response; on this, cf. already 2:25; note also God’s heart on all of this in 7:13b and par.).[1]


6:16 Here is the image of travelers who are lost, stopping to inquire about the right way they once knew before they wandered so far off it.[2]


6:16 the ancient paths. The way of faithfulness revealed to Moses and the earlier prophets. the good way. The proper life of faith-driven obedience. walk. A metaphor for patterned living (cf. Ps. 1:1). We will not walk describes strong rebellion against revealed truth.[3]


6:16 the ancient paths A metaphor for the proper way to worship Yahweh according to the laws of the Pentateuch. Compare Jer 18:15.

We will not walk The people’s refusal is direct and explicit; it is open rebellion against following Yahweh.[4]


6:16 ancient paths. This phrase describes the traditional religious life of the Israelites from the time of Moses; it is the task of priests and prophets to direct the people.[5]


6:16 Jeremiah admonishes the people to remember the old traditions of faith and obedience. By returning to those ancient paths and walking in them they could find rest. They defiantly refuse![6]


6:16, 17 Old paths probably refers to the Sinai covenant and the Book of Deuteronomy, as Jeremiah called the people back to former days of steadfast devotion. The people obstinately refused to walk rightly and find rest. They also refused to listen to the alarming sound of the trumpet, denying that any danger existed.[7]


[1] Brown, M. L. (2010). Jeremiah. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah–Ezekiel (Revised Edition) (Vol. 7, p. 153). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Je 6:16). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1385). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Je 6:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1270). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Je 6:16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 889). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.