Chapter 5 of The Coming Millennial Kingdom is titled Evidence From Jeremiah by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. This chapter was good, but not great. While Kaiser hits the main points of interest in the book of Jeremiah, his primary concern is a future for the physical nation of Israel. A future reality here on earth doesn’t seem quite as high on his list of points to prove in his essay. Granted, his essay is one of many in this book, so perhaps he relies on others to prove this point.
Kaiser examines Jeremiah 3:14-18, 16:14-18, 23:3-8, 29:10-14, 31:35-40, and finally 33:7-21. His essay is only 15 pages long, so that’s a lot to cram into such a short space. Kaiser certainly gives you something to think about as he examines these passages. There is no way to examine them and try to fit the church into these promises for the physical nation of Israel. What concerns me though is dispensational “jumps”. For instance, at the end of his examination of Jeremiah 23:16:14-18, he closes with, “To sum up, a restoration of the historic land, which overshadows even the Exodus in fame, preceded by a time of unprecedented trouble for Israel, can fit only the premillennial scheme.” Just because Israel will be gathered back into the land on a scale that will eclipse the first exodus does not prove that there will be a thousand year millennial kingdom here on earth. There are other solutions that alternate eschatological positions would offer for our consideration.
In examining Jeremiah 31:35-40, he opens by stating that Jeremiah 30-31 is one unit, calling it “a little book of comfort”. He paints with a broad brush breaking the entire text down into “six majestic strophes”. After basically skipping over the fifth with very little to say about the new covenant, Kaiser focuses on the sixth strophe pointing out the future for the physical nation of Israel. The reality in which God’s people live with His laws written on their hearts seems to matter little to Kaiser. For him the issue is whether or not Israel will always be God’s people or not. But a future for the nation of Israel doesn’t necessarily prove a future thousand year period, it only helps to establish a framework which can be correlated with other scriptures to do so.
Kaiser completely skips Jeremiah 32, which it seems to me that 32:36-41 is key to understanding the future reality of Israel in the land functioning as God’s people. In context with the entire chapter, Israel will be buying and selling land as they dwell in safety, passing on the blessing to their posterity after them. This indicates an ongoing reality during which time Israel will have one heart, one way, and fear God forever.
His section on Jeremiah 33 merely proclaims the position without interacting with any others, although he does mention another viewpoint. He simply sets two positions side by side and expects everyone to see the passage his way. While I agree with him, I don’t believe he makes a convincing case for someone who holds another persuasion. In order for this to happen, links between chapter 33 should be made with the other prophecies in the book of Jeremiah. It should have been noted that Jeremiah saw one end but from different points of view, while citing similar phrases to prove the point. Kaiser does this once or twice, but not extensively enough to make a thorough case. For instance, Israel dwelling safely in 33:16 could be linked with 32:37 and 23:6. Again, it seems to me that Kaiser is so preoccupied with proving a future for the nation of Israel that he forgets to set forth the terms under which they will exist, that of an extended period of time thereby laying a better foundation for the millennial kingdom.
Perhaps I’m being overly critical because I have just studied these passages in depth. I was delighted to see that he agreed with me that Jeremiah 30-31 is one oracle. I also got a little surprise when he noted that the phrase “I will restore your fortunes” “is most common in Jeremiah 30-33, where it occurs seven times.” Jeremiah 30-33 is what I term Jeremiah’s Covenant Revelation. The fact that this phrase is highlighted in these four chapters (or three oracles) shows that they are all related, and therefore should be studied together as I have studied them. The New Covenant (30-31), the Everlasting Covenant (32), and the Davidic Covenant (33) all interact in what I call God’s progressive covenant plan. I’ll close this post with his final paragraph which sums up his position.
We urge Christ’s church to take another careful look at these prophetic passages. Nowhere can it be shown that most, all, or even some of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or David, have been nullified, modified, exchanged, or transformed in value. They are as abiding as the present heaven and earth; in other words, as lasting as the historical process is prior to the introduction of the eternal state. To be sure, many of the features of the reign of God introduced in seminal form during the times of the Gentiles and the church come into full flower during the Millennium and then into God’s absolute control during the eternal state. But this affirmation in no way darkens the original future that God had laid out for Israel. One day Israel will return to her land from every country on the face of the earth. They and all Gentile believers will experience the personal presence of the living, resurrected Christ in a real, restored Jerusalem. From there Christ will rule and reign with all His saints with an unqualified justice and righteousness such as this old earth has longed to see since the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. Great will be the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
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