The Regathering & Restoration – the 1st Restoration Generation
It is apparent, according to Jeremiah 30:1-31:40, that there must be a glorious and one-of-a-kind regathering and restoration of the Jews. Having understood Jacob’s Trouble and the Doctrine of the Wilderness According to Hosea, it behooves us to study what remains as a major theme in Jeremiah’s prophecy. Promises of a regathering and restoration can be observed from the beginning, for example in Jeremiah 30:3, 8-10, 17-22, and necessarily so these promises are positioned as a result of Jacob’s Trouble via the Wilderness Period. Moreover, the regathering and restoration of the Jews continues as a predominant subject from Jeremiah 31:3 onward, right after the status of the population of the regathered Jews is unmistakably clarified (“the people which are left of the sword” – Jer. 31:2) in correlation with Ezekiel’s prophecies in Ezekiel 20:1-32. Therefore, the actual time and generation of this regathering and restoration must be identified.
“And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations. And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.” – Jer. 25:11-14
“For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and 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.” – Jer. 29:10-14
“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” – Dan. 9:2
Indeed, according to the word of the LORD, there was a regathering and restoration in progress after 70 years (Zech. 7:5). This regathering and restoration was authentically powered by the promises of God. God was genuinely motivated to accomplish it in this historical generation according to the Word of the LORD in the aforementioned passages and elsewhere. God’s intentions for regathering and restoring the people were made abundantly clear through the former prophets (long before the regathering), and with these intentions bearing record we are enabled to know what God endeavored to do with the Regathered Generation of His people even though this period was short-lived.
In the beginning stages of the regathering and during the process of the people’s restoration unto Glory, the definitive examples of God’s Glory were held in memory as Spirit-filled men of God did reach forth to grasp the Glory of the Restoration that awaited them. For example, Nehemiah was remembering the Glory of God in the Church Defined (Neh. 9:20, 30) and longing for it. This is reminiscent of how Isaiah and many others did, likewise, lament the absence of God via the Glory of the Exodus Generation (Isa. 63:11-14, Ps. 77, Hos. 2:15). What Isaiah and others did lament and what Nehemiah longed for, God granted. Can you believe it? Otherwise, if this wasn’t the case, why did God say the following? Why did God speak through Haggai and Zechariah testifying of the restoration of the Glory of God as in the days of old, saying,
“I am with you” – Hag. 2:4 (Isa. 12:6)
“According to the word that I Covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” – Hag. 2:5 (Isa. 11:16)
“I am returned to Jerusalem” – Zech. 1:16
“I…will be the Glory in the midst of Her [Jerusalem]” – Zech. 2:5
“lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD” – Zech. 2:10
“Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem…” – Zech. 8:3
“I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all things” – Zech. 8:12
“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not: So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.” – Zech. 8:14-15 (Jeremiah 31:28)
Moreover, and specifically speaking, what do these affirmations and promises mean? In what practical manifestation did the Glory of God operate a restoration and for how long? Graciously, the LORD was very direct with His intentions. The LORD directly stated what He would perform through the instrumentality of Zerubbabel the Governor and Joshua the High Priest, saying,
“Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.” – Hag. 2:2-9 (Isaiah 60:1-22, 14:1-3, 49:22-26; Rev. 3:9; 15:4, Ps. 72:9, Micah 7:17, Isa. 49:23, 60:14)
“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” – Zech. 4:6-10
“And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.” – Hag. 2:20-23
“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.” – Zech. 3:8-10
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD. And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.” – Zech. 6:9-15
All these promises were genuinely delivered to these men, Zerubbabel and Joshua. In this very specific way and for this very definitive purpose the Glory of God had returned to Israel. However, as always, these were conditional promises given to the Restoration Generation. Vital conditions were joined to the aforementioned promises and prophecies in Jeremiah 12:15-17, Zechariah 3:6-7, and Zechariah 6:15.
“And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. And it shall come to pass, IF they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people. But IF they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD.” – Jer. 12:15-17
“And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; IF thou wilt walk in my ways, and IF thou wilt keep my charge, THEN thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” – Zech. 3:6-7
“And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, IF ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.” – Zech. 6:15
Tragically, the people continued in disobedience and thus the Covenant promises and prophecies delivered to the Restoration Generation were breached. According to the prophecies, these people were supposed to be a people of no more fear or weeping (Jer. 23:4, 46:27-28, Ezek. 36:15, Isa. 30:19), no more uncleanness or defilement (Isa. 52:1, Zech. 14:21, Ezek. 36:29, 33, Ezek. 11:18, 37:23, 43:7), no more straying from God or idolatry (Ezek. 14:11, Zech. 13:2, Ezek. 20:37-42, 36:25, Hos. 14:8), and therefore there would be no more divine anger or war (Ezek. 16:42, Isa. 54:9-10, Ezek. 39:29, Hos. 13:14, 14:4, Jer. 23:4-6, Hos. 2:18, Isa. 60:18, Mic. 4:3-4, Ps. 46:9) and the people would never again leave the Holy Land (Amos 9:11-15, Jer. 31:40)! Did it happen? No. Haggai 2:14, Zechariah 7:1-14, Nehemiah 13:1-31 (100 years later), and Malachi 1:1-4:6 do account of the decisive breaches of the Covenant according to the sins of the people and the corresponding repentances of God unto a recasting of the prophecies to be fulfilled in the Latter Days of a distant generation.