27. But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.
27. Et tu ne timeas, serve mi Jacob, et ne expavescas (vel, frangaris animo,
The Prophet now directs his discourse to the Israelites; for we have already said that he was not appointed a teacher to heathen nations. Whatever, then, he spoke of heathen nations had a reference to the benefit of his people; and for this purpose, as we have said, the Prophets extended their prophecies respecting God's judgments to all nations; for otherwise the Israelites would have been disheartened, as though their condition was worse than that of others: "What can this mean? God has chosen us as his peculiar people; in the meantime we alone are miserable: God pours forth on us his whole rigor, and yet he spares the unbelieving. It would have been better for us to have been rejected wholly by him, for the covenant which he has made with us only renders us more miserable than others." Thus the miserable Israelites might have rushed headlong into despair, had nothing been done in time to relieve them. And then the Prophets, or rather the Spirit of God who spoke by them, regarded another thing; for if nothing had been predicted they would have passed by, with closed eyes, those judgments which God executed on all their neighbors, for all that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel had predicted was fulfilled. Had they been silent respecting the ruin of Egypt, of the Philistines and the Moabites, the people, owing to their torpor, would not have considered God's judgments, but would have thought them to have all happened by chance. The Prophets then represented as in a mirror the power of God, that the Israelites might know that it extended to the whole world and to every nation.
This is the reason why Jeremiah now turns his discourse to the chosen people, and says,
"I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid,"
He means that he was as it were a hereditary servant, who had been already dedicated to God before he was conceived in his mother's womb. But as this mode of speaking often occurs, I pass it by with only a few words.
We hence learn, that though the Prophet spoke of the temporal restoration of the people, he yet had a regard to higher and greater things, even that the captives should recumb on God's mercy, and believe that he would be propitious to them even when dead. This passage then shews that the hope of God's children is not confined to this life, but extends farther, in order that they may know that God will be propitious to them after death, and that they may sustain themselves with the assurance of his favor, for otherwise this promise that God would restore their children after their death would have been absurd. "But why is he implacable to us? why does he not restore us sooner?" The Jews might have raised this objection; but the Prophet reminds them, that though they were not to be restored immediately to their country, yet the covenant of God would remain valid, and its stability would appear after seventy years.
We now perceive why the Prophet said,
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