11-1 Angels In Jeremiah
There is much reference to Angelic language in the prophecies of Israel's return from captivity in Babylon, which also points forward to the part Angels play in the present and future regathering of Israel. It is significant that Ezra and Nehemiah speak of the "God of Heaven" whilst Zechariah speaks of the "God of the earth" or 'land' of Israel, perhaps because the Angel of Israel literally went to Heaven when the glory departed from Jerusalem, and returned, in a sense, at the restoration- to depart again at Christ's death ("Your house is left unto you desolate"; of the Angel that once dwelt in the temple).
The following commentary on the relevant passages highlights the main uses of Angelic language and the implications that follow.
The latter day application of Jeremiah and Ezekiel have possibly been emphasized to the neglect of their primary reference to the Babylonian captivity and restoration. This is no doubt due to a (correct) reaction against the critical school of thought which assigns a vague primary application to much Bible prophecy and then proceeds to mutilate the text.
23:3 "I will gather the remnant of My flock"- the Angel of Israel is likened to a shepherd in Ps. 80:1; Is. 63:9-11 etc.
v. 4 "I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them"- rulers who would genuinely care for Israel like the master shepherd, the Angel, did. Jeremiah was frequently moved to lament the false shepherds of Israel, which is understandable if the Angel shepherd of Israel inspired Jeremiah. He would have been deeply hurt at his flock being left to ruin by those to whom He had delegated His shepherding role (cp. how in Is. 63:9-11 both the Angel and Moses appear to be the shepherd that led Israel).
v. 5 "I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper". Zech. 6:12 interprets this as a reference to Zerubbabel: "the man whose name is the branch. . . shall build the temple of the Lord". Zerubbabel being a king-priest was in the kingly line, and thus can correctly be called a king in the line of David (Matt. 1:12; Lk. 3:7; 'Sheshbazzar' of Ezra 1:8 is the Babylonian equivalent of 'Zerubbabel'; Ezra 3:8 describes his brothers as "priests and Levites"). Great prince Nehemiah humbly entered Jerusalem incognito on an ass (Neh. 2:11-15)- it is a wild speculation that Zerubbabel did the same, and thus provided a primary basis for Zech. 9:9 "Thy king cometh unto thee (also unrecognized, in the case of Jesus entering spiritually ruined Jerusalem). . . lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass".
v. 7,8 "They shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them" (primarily fulfilled by the Babylonian policy of scattering their captives among other nations they conquered- hence the existence of the Samaritans in Israel). The Angel brought Israel out of Egypt- and was also responsible for their regathering from Babylon.
v. 11 The Babylonian captivity was to be because "in My house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord". The Angel that dwelt in the temple could call it "My house".
v. 14 "They are all of them unto Me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah"- both of whom were visited and destroyed by Angels. Similarly the Angels would bring judgement on Jerusalem
v. 15,16 "The Lord of Hosts "(Angels). This title of God is common in these prophecies.
v. 1 "Two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the Lord"; one representing the apostate Jews who remained in the land, and the other those who went to Babylon and later revived spiritually. We have seen that an Angel dwelt literally in the temple. This vision of two groups of Jews standing before an Angel is probably the basis of the vision of Zech. 3, where Joshua and the Jews eager to rebuild Jerusalem stand before the Angel, with the satan standing there too. 'Satan' is often associated with apostate Jews in the New Testament.
v. 5 "The God of Israel" (Jacob)- Angelic language.
v. 6 "I will set Mine eyes (Angels) upon them for good"
v. 7 "I will give them an heart to know Me"- the Angels acting directly on a man's heart.
v. 10 "The land that I gave unto them and to their fathers"- done by the Angel.
v. 11 "This whole land shall be a desolation". The Angels of Zech. 1:11 reported that "all the earth (land- of Israel) sitteth still and is at rest" (cp. also Jer. 30:10), indicating that they were responsible for the state of the land.
This chapter stresses the Angelic title "Lord of Hosts" (v. 8,17,21,25)
v. 10 "I will visit you" (God manifestation through the Angels) "after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon". Notice the further similarity with the visiting of the Jews by the Angel at the Exodus.
The use of Exodus language in both Isaiah and the other prophets regarding the return from captivity creates a link between them and Isaiah. This means that Isaiah has a dual application to both Hezekiah's time and also the restoration (how else can the Cyrus passages be satisfactorily understood?). For more evidence of this, see the appendix.
The similarity of language makes the equation look like:
Angel visiting Israel in Egypt= Angel saving Judah from Assyria in Hezekiah's time= Angel saving Judah from the Babylonian captivity.
v. 12 "Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you"- prayer to God manifest in the Angel.
v. 14 "I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places, whither I have driven you, saith the Lord: and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive". All this was the work of the Angel.
v. 19 "They have not hearkened to My words, saith the Lord, which I sent unto them by My servants the prophets"- Angels inspiring the word of God.
v. 28 "Like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict, so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord".
The interpretation of Jer. 1:11 in 'Angels and the word of God' in Chapter 8 shows that the watchers here are Angels.
v. 31 "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah". Will the future covenant with Israel be made through Angels? Or is this regarding the new covenant that the Angels arranged in Christ? See 'Angels and the end of the Law' in Chapter 12 for details of how separate groups of Angels instituted both the Law and Christian dispensation.
v. 32 "Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt". This covenant was given by the Angel at Sinai. "Which My covenant they break; and should I (therefore) have continued an husband unto them?" (AVmg. ). This associates the Angel with marrying Israel, and would explain the passages in Ez. 16,20 and elsewhere which speak of God falling in love with Israel and being flattered by their love. The implication in these passages is that God made an emotional decision in 'proposing' to Israel at Sinai. Such language is far better suited to Angels than to God Himself. The Angel here in v. 32 seems to be saying that His divorcing Israel would be justified- and as we see later in Hosea, God did divorce Israel. This contradicts- apparently- God's personal abhorrence of divorce. The situation appears less contradictory if it is recognized that the Angels actually divorced Israel, with God looking on and accepting the reason for the Angel's action. Mal. 2:14 brings this out: "The Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant". This "wife of thy youth" cannot be God Himself- seeing that He is witnessing between Israel and this other party. It is fitting if she therefore represents the Angel, whom Israel married in her national youth at Sinai, where the Angel made the covenant with Israel to constitute Himself "the wife of thy covenant". It should be remembered that Malachi was prophesying in the same context of the restoration as Jeremiah. The Jeremiah passage shows that just before the captivity God, manifest in the Angel, considered divorcing them, and He thought similarly after the restoration too, according to Malachi. "The God of Israel. . . the Lord of Hosts (Angelic titles) saith that if He hate here, put her away" (AV: "The Lord hateth putting away". The ambiguity here seems designed)). This is the same idea as Jer. 31:32- the Angel saying He would be justified in divorcing Israel, although He did not want to.
v. 33 "I will put My Law in their inward parts". The Law was given by Angels; again, notice the action of Angels on the human heart. The word is soon to be placed in Israel's stony hearts- and the power of the Spirit Angels will be operative in this.
". . and will be their God". The Angel will still be "the God of Israel" in the Kingdom; or will He be replaced by Christ?
v. 36 "If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever"- the Angel of Israel will always preserve them.