Jeremiah was a bullfrog?

or Understanding the Restoration Era

Peter Leithart writes:

NT Wright has long argued that first-century Jews considered themselves to be in a continuing exile. The canon of the Hebrew Bible suggests as much.

If we take our arrangement (the LXX arrangement), the Hebrew Bible ends with Malachi, who certainly doesn’t see a gloriously restored Israel when he looks around him.

If we take the MT arrangement, the Hebrew Bible ends with the decree of Cyrus; it’s as if the return has never happened.

Either way, the canonical arrangement supports Wright’s contention.1


jeremiahI had a long debate with my friend Matt who holds Wright’s view. I see the point. But regardless of the arrangement of the canon, what does the Bible teach?

I subscribe to Jordan’s view that the exile/restoration prophecies actually concern the exile/restoration. When Jeremiah predicted a New Covenant with Israel and Judah, it was the one ratified at the beginning of Zechariah. It came to pass, no bull. Those who apply the prophecies of restoration directly to the first century get it wrong.2

The Jews may have thought they were still in captivity. But they also thought the second Temple was less glorious than Solomon’s. Ezekiel’s Temple was a vision of an empire-wide temple made of people, synagogues spread throughout the empire. It was a picture of a restored Israel’s greater spiritual influence, in the same way that Revelation’s new Jerusalem is a picture of the church.

Like many Christians today, they were impatient for the Messiah to come and “wash behind their ears”, fix all their problems, when He had commanded them to conquer the world with their witness. The exile was long over, and atoned for as well. The Jews failed to understand the times they lived in, and so do we in many cases. Like Israel in Ezekiel 37, the first century church was an Israel resurrected for warfare.


1 Peter J. Leithart, Continuing Exile and Canon.

2 Doug Wilson’s excellent new commentary on Hebrews, Christ and His Rivals, still does this from what I have read so far. To be sure, the apostles quoted the prophets because they prefigured the first century, but the details of the prophecies anchor them in previous history.

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