For a second time the message of the Eternal came to Jeremiah as he was being held in the court of the guard. The Eternal who made the earth, who formed and fashioned it, the One whose name is the Eternal, has this to say:
Time is growing short; the city is being squeezed, and the dreaded enemy is one step closer to victory. Some hope Egypt might come to Jerusalem’s rescue, but nothing can stop her inevitable defeat. In these dark days just before the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah is still a prisoner of the king. People come to Jeremiah as he sits shackled in a courtyard, surrounded by guards. In this humiliating scene, another message comes to the prophet from God. Once again, Jeremiah is looking past the city’s present despair to a future God is showing him: one day God will restore Jerusalem and the people of Israel.
Eternal One: Call to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you of great things, things beyond what you can imagine, things you could never have known. I, the Eternal God of Israel, tell you that all these public buildings and royal palaces have been dismantled in vain. You thought you could strengthen the city walls with the scraps of those buildings, but it is a useless defense against the siege ramps and swords of the Chaldeans. In this fight, the city will be filled with the dead whom I will destroy in My anger and wrath, for I have hidden My face from this city because of their wickedness. Nevertheless, keep watching! I will restore this city and heal the wounds of My people. I will lavish them with peace and stability. I will bring both Judah and Israel back from captivity, and I will rebuild their land to what it was before. I will cleanse them from all the sins they committed against Me and forgive all the wrongs they have done and all the ways they rebelled against Me. Jerusalem will have a sweet-sounding name once again. The good I do for her will bring Me joy, praise, and honor among all nations of the earth, for they will be in awe and tremble at the peace and prosperity I give to this city.
Listen to Me, Jeremiah. You say this place will become a desolate wasteland with no people and no animals, but it will not always be so. The towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem may indeed become lifeless, but I, the Eternal One, promise you the silence will be broken. Once again you will hear the sounds of laughter and joy, the sweet words of the bride and bridegroom at a wedding, and voices of those who bring thank offerings to the temple singing,
Give thanks to the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,
for He is good. His faithful love endures forever.
All of this will happen because I will restore the riches of this land to what they once were.
I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise: even this desolate place—with no people and no animals—and all of its ruined cities will once again have pastures where shepherds will rest their flocks. In the towns of the hill country, in the villages of the western hills, in the cities of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the vicinity around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, once again flocks will be cared for by a faithful shepherd who will count each and every one of his sheep.
Look! The days are coming when I will fulfill the promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. In those days, when the time is right, I will cause a righteous Branch to sprout from the old stump of David’s lineage; He will do what is right and just in the land. In those days, Judah will be liberated, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And the city will be called by His name, The Eternal Is Our Righteousness. I tell you, the royal dynasty of David will not cease; the throne of Israel still belongs to his family. Remember this, even as other kings rule over you. Remember also that the line of Levitical priests will not cease; for all time they will stand before Me offering burnt offerings, grain offerings, and making sacrifices.
Again, the word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah.
Eternal One: If you can figure out a way to break My covenant with the day and with the night so they do not always arrive on schedule, the very rhythm of life on this earth, only then will My covenant with My servant David be broken and his son not rule from his throne. Only then will My covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before Me be null and void. I will make David’s descendants, along with the Levitical priests who minister before Me, so numerous they will seem like the stars of the skies that cannot be counted and the sands of the seashore that can never be measured.
The word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah again.
Eternal One: Have you noticed what some people are saying? “The Eternal chose these two families, Israel and Judah, but He has now rejected them.” They clearly despise My people—they don’t even consider them a nation any longer! But again, this is what the Eternal promises: “Just as I am not about to stop ruling the universe with fixed laws so that the day and the night become confused, I will likewise keep My promise to the descendants of Jacob and David, My servant; I will not reject them. I will not forget the covenant I made with David that one of his descendants will rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will restore their fortunes and have mercy on them.