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Jeremiah 23:33-24:10 & 29-30

08.12.2010

Welcome to the Jeremiah fig-a-palooza. 

24 | In chapter 24, Jeremiah introduces us to God’s imagery of figs.  Essentially, God shows Jeremiah two baskets of figs, one good and the other rotten.  Apparently, this is the Mediterranean version of the “bad apple” concept.  God explains that the good figs represent those of His people taken into exile, while the rotten figs are those that stay behind in Jerusalem or escape to Egypt.

HUH?!?

I find this all kinds of problematic.  First, God’s been sending prophet after prophet to tell people how awful exile will be and that it will be a punishment for wickedness.  Now He tells us that the “good figs” are the one going to exile? 

Second, this seems an awfully convenient image for those exiles that come back in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah and lord it over their social inferiors who weren’t taken away.  This seems good ammo for those who doubt the traditional dates of composition for scripture because this seems like an after-the-fact justification passage.  I’m not saying I believe this, but I can see the thought process.

On the other hand, in the spirit of trying to make this imagery fit, I can see two ways that the fig analogy makes sense.  Particularly for those “rotten figs” that ran away to Egypt and essentially cast their lot with Neco instead of submitting to God’s punishment, I can see how this passage serves as a warning of ultra-punishment.  It’s like a child who avoids being spanked by cursing his dad and running away.  The ante is upped, and the punishment becomes more than spanking.

Additionally, God uses punishment as a way of cleansing us.  The fig analogy, then, could describe the condition of the people after exile, since the “good” figs will have gone through the purification of punishment, whereas the “rotten” figs will have dodged the refining fire.  It’s just a stab in the dark, but I think that’s where I ultimately come down in terms of understanding this section.

29:7 | It’s interesting to me that the exiled Jews are told to ‘seek the welfare of the city’ where they have been sent into exile.  As the study Bible points out, this is an indirect way of God telling them to make themselves comfortable because they will be there for a while.  Also, it seems consistent to me with the ideas made more explicit in the NT about respecting temporal authority and submitting to those rulers that God has seen fit to establish in the world.

29:10 | The promise of a return after 70 years works on two levels.  On the immediate level, the return thus described is that of Ezra coming back (which I presume we’ll cover in the next month or so).  On another level, 70 is a number used in the Bible to mean an interminably large number (think of Jesus’ requirement that we forgive one another 70 x 7 times).  Thus, God is saying that the people will be dispossessed of their land for a LOOOONG time.  This dual-level promise is similar in structure to that which God gave to David in terms of his son building a temple for God, which Solomon did immediately but Jesus did ultimately and more fully.

29:11 | MEMORY VERSE!!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

This is a helpful verse for those that are afraid to trust in God.  Like Jon Acuff says, we all think that if we submit to God, we will immediately be sent to Africa.  We don’t stop to think that God may have a plan for us that actually makes us happy.  God’s will is different from our own, but it’s still perfect, and He wants to give us hope and peace, not evil.

29:17 | Jeremiah reminds us that this is ultimately about figs.

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From → [constant], [memory]

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