|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 26||Part 1|
Jeremiah 17:4, "And I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not; for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever."
Christian expositors have explained this verse by the assertion that Jeremiah here predicted an everlasting captivity, from which no redemption is to be hoped.
Refutation.—The Hebrew words עַד עוֹלָם occur in Scripture in three significations. First, in application to an existence unlimited by time. Thus, we have in 2 Samuel 7:26, "That Thy name may be magnified for ever, by saying The Lord of Hosts is the God of Israel." In 1 Chronicles 17:24, we also find, "In order that thy name may be magnified for ever, by saying, The Lord of Hosts is the God of Israel." The second meaning of עַד עוֹלָם for ever, relates to man’s limited existence on earth, (see 1 Samuel 1:22), "That he may sit here for ever." And 2 Samuel 12:10, David is thus forewarned, "The sword shall never (לֹא תָסוּר עַד עוֹלָם) depart from thy house." The word never merely relates to David’s lifetime. In the third place, the Hebrew expression עַד עוֹלָם stands distinct from the forenamed two meanings, and relates to a period finite in the prescience of the Almighty, but unlimited according to the knowledge of men. See Isaiah 32:14, "Because the palaces shall be forsaken, the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks." The limitation of the words for ever is shown in the verse immediately following, "Until the spirit be poured down upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field," etc. The destruction decreed to last for ever will, nevertheless, give way to restoration as soon as the spirit, that is to say the favor of the Lord, shall descend on us. The term it shall burn for ever, refers to the third signification; but it cannot mean the infinitude of eternity as some Christians would have us believe, because all the prophets have predicted a complete restoration to the whole House of Israel. What can be more explicit than the following passages:—Isaiah, in chapter 66:20, says, "And they (the Gentiles) shall bring all your brethren a gift from all nations as a gift unto the Lord, on horses and in chariots," etc. Jeremiah 30:8, says, "Strangers shall no more enslave them (the Israelites)." Ezekiel 39:28-29 says, "And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, since I have caused them to be exiled among the Gentiles; and I will gather them into their land, and I will not suffer any of them to remain behind, and I will no more hide my countenance from them, as I have poured out my spirit over all the House of Israel, saith the Lord God." Such well defined promises admit of no contradiction, or they have all proceeded from the same divine source.