A Promise of Restoration
Jeremiah likely wrote these next three chapters in the tenth year of Zedekiah's reign and the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (32:1). The armies of Nebuchadnezzar had just begun to besiege Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah was shut up in a jail just outside the king's palace (32:3).
Yahweh gave Jeremiah a prophetic word and told him to write it down (1-2). Because Jeremiah was told to write these words, they were likely never given before the destruction of Jerusalem but rather to give to exiles for future hope. While Jerusalem was preparing for total destruction, Yahweh was planning and revealing Israel's future restoration:
a) Yahweh would restore their former prosperity (Deuteronomy 30:2-5).
b) Yahweh would restore their former unity as a nation,
c) Yahweh would bring them back to the land (3).
Israel in Distress (4-7)
Jeremiah began to write down the words Yahweh spoke to him (4).
Before Israel and Judah were returned to the land, there was to be crisis. Israel and Judah would be menaced and terrorized; they would experience overwhelming anxiety and trepidation. All sense of security and well-being would vanish (5). Jeremiah painted a picture of men in labor giving birth to a hideous future, their faces pale with dread (6).
While there had never been a time like that in Jacob's history, no hardship so grave and oppressive as "the time of distress for Jacob," yet Israel could hope—they would be saved (7).
The Day the Distress Ends (8-11)
The "time of distress for Jacob" would come crashing to an end when Yahweh broke the yoke of slavery to foreign world powers. To those powers they would no longer be servants. There would come a time when Yahweh would break the power of Babylon (8). They would come to live as servants to Yahweh and His King from the lineage of David. Yahweh would personally raise this King as a Deliverer and Ruler over them (9). When Yahweh smashes the true yoke of slavery, then Israel will become true converts and pledged followers of Yahweh. They will act as those committed to Yahweh by serving Him.
There is no doubt Jesus and the New Covenant is ultimately what is being prophesied here. Jesus, the King Yahweh would raise up, is the One who would smash the yoke of slavery to sin, satan, and death.
In the short term, Babylon is in view here. Yahweh would break the yoke of Babylon off their backs and free them to return to Jerusalem, never again to be enslaved spiritually to foreign powers, as they were to await the arrival of Yahweh's King, Jesus.
Because of what Yahweh was going to do, because of His promise to deliver them from slavery, Jacob or Israel did not need to be hopelessly depressed as they were presently being paralyzed by surrounding horrors. Though they be driven to far away places, those places they would be driven to were not too distant for Yahweh to save. Neither distance nor time could thwart Yahweh's coming salvation and Yahweh's coming Savior. Jacob, which would mean all Israel, would return and come to find rest again, and none would make them fear (10). This is the source-material of Jesus’ words: “Take My yoke upon you," and “Come unto Me all who are weak and heavy laden." He had smashed one yoke and was offering a whole new government to the weary (Matthew 22:28-29).
a) Yahweh's promise: salvation, a new beginning. They would not come to an end in exile.
b) Yahweh's second promise: to make an end of those nations where they were scattered.
c) Yahweh's third promise: Israel would be disciplined for their idolatry but only enough to change their hearts. His discipline and punishment of them was not to bring them to an end (11).
Israel would survive the exile, but those nations who had taken them captive would not survive their harsh treatment of Yahweh's people.
Israel's Discipline (12-17)
Yahweh then described the punishment with which he afflicted Israel. The sin of Israel was so grave that Yahweh had to inflict His people with an incurable pain and a wound which left them completely impaired (grievous) by weakness (12).
No one could defend their cause, no remedy could be found for their wound, and no therapeutic or medicinal curative measures were humanly or religiously possible (13).
All of Israel's allies (lovers) had forgotten Israel; none cared about what became of her as a nation. Yahweh had dealt a blow that wounded Israel with what seemed to her like a clubbing from an unfeeling thug.
Israel's morally reprehensible behavior was of such size and number that Yahweh had to go to extraordinary measures to discipline her (14).
It was useless for Israel to cry tears of repentance over her pain—her pain could not be cured. Yahweh repeated that her sins had been too large and too many. Israel's mindless defiance and obstinate ways had driven Yahweh to extreme measures. To save His nation, He had to wound His nation (15).
Israel could not heal herself; the nations where she was held captive could not heal her. She was incurable. Only Yahweh could heal the pain. Those who had inflicted the blow of captivity and relished devouring Israel would in turn be devoured. Those who ruthlessly plundered Israel would be ravaged themselves and stripped bare. Those who had ravaged Israel with violence would be themselves raped of goods and fortunes (16).
When Israel was abandoned to utter powerlessness, then Yahweh would restore her to health and heal her wounds. Yahweh had the power to heal the incurable. Yahweh was able to take the one who was named "Outcast" and restore her name, “Zion, My holy city and habitation, My people under My care" (17).
The Vision of Israel Restored (18-22)
Yahweh listed out what His restored people would experience:
a) Every home and family would have restored to them the welfare and prosperity they had been promised.
b) Every home would experience the presence of Yahweh's compassion.
c) The city would be rebuilt.
d) The king's palace, thus Yahweh's government, would once again rule Israel (18).
e) Songs of celebration and thanks to Yahweh would fill their voices.
f) As a people, they would re-multiply once again.
g) Yahweh would restore the stature of their reputation, and they would be honored.
h) They would no longer be considered insignificant (19).
i) Their children would play in security.
j) They would restore the habit of congregating or gathering for worship.
k) Those who oppressed Israel would be punished (20).
l) They would give birth to a native Son who would come from them and rule them. He would be a Son who could approach Yahweh like no One else ever had. He would approach Yahweh with such confidence that His daring would confound all of Israel (21). This was, of course, Jeremiah's way of looking to Jesus, who was a native son of man and a native Son of God. Jesus entered the presence of Yahweh in astonishing ways (John 5:19).
m) Israel would return to being Yahweh's people, and Yahweh would return to being their God (22).
Continuing Punishment (23-24)
For now, the punishment would continue. God's wrath would billow in a sharp, whirling motion, like a great storm, coming down from heaven on the heads of those committed to violating God's standards. This was a picture of being so overwhelmed by disaster that it was impossible to fathom all that was happening to them (23).
Yahweh then announced His plan to withdraw from His people in anger and execute on them all the intentions of mind, which could not be undone. He had sent forth His will and it could not be gathered back. Only after Jesus came and poured out His Holy Spirit would the Babylonian exile begin to make sense (24).