Jeremiah 31

Jeremiah 31

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The Lord Will Turn Mourning to Joy

31 “At that time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”

  Thus says the LORD:
  “The people who survived the sword
    found grace in the wilderness;
  when Israel sought for rest,
    the LORD appeared to him from far away.
  I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
  Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
    O virgin Israel!
  Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
    and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
  Again you shall plant vineyards
    on the mountains of Samaria;
  the planters shall plant
    and shall enjoy the fruit.
  For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
    in the hill country of Ephraim:
  ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
    to the LORD our God.’”
  For thus says the LORD:
  “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
    and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
  proclaim, give praise, and say,
    ‘O LORD, save your people,
    the remnant of Israel.’
  Behold, I will bring them from the north country
    and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
  among them the blind and the lame,
    the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together;
    a great company, they shall return here.
  With weeping they shall come,
    and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
  I will make them walk by brooks of water,
    in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
  for I am a father to Israel,
    and Ephraim is my firstborn.
  “Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
    and declare it in the coastlands far away;
  say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
    and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
  For the LORD has ransomed Jacob
    and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
  They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
    and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,
  over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
    and over the young of the flock and the herd;
  their life shall be like a watered garden,
    and they shall languish no more.
  Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
    and the young men and the old shall be merry.
  I will turn their mourning into joy;
    I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
  I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
    and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
      declares the LORD.”
  Thus says the LORD:
  “A voice is heard in Ramah,
    lamentation and bitter weeping.
  Rachel is weeping for her children;
    she refuses to be comforted for her children,
    because they are no more.”
  Thus says the LORD:
  “Keep your voice from weeping,
    and your eyes from tears,
  for there is a reward for your work,
      declares the LORD,
    and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
  There is hope for your future,
      declares the LORD,
    and your children shall come back to their own country.
  I have heard Ephraim grieving,
  ‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined,
    like an untrained calf;
  bring me back that I may be restored,
    for you are the LORD my God.
  For after I had turned away, I relented,
    and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh;
  I was ashamed, and I was confounded,
    because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
  Is Ephraim my dear son?
    Is he my darling child?
  For as often as I speak against him,
    I do remember him still.
  Therefore my heart yearns for him;
    I will surely have mercy on him,
      declares the LORD.
  “Set up road markers for yourself;
    make yourself guideposts;
  consider well the highway,
    the road by which you went.
  Return, O virgin Israel,
    return to these your cities.
  How long will you waver,
    O faithless daughter?
  For the LORD has created a new thing on the earth:
    a woman encircles a man.”

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes:

  “‘The LORD bless you, O habitation of righteousness,
    O holy hill!’

And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”

At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD. In those days they shall no longer say:

  “‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
    and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

The New Covenant

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

  Thus says the LORD,
  who gives the sun for light by day
    and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
  who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
    the LORD of hosts is his name:
  “If this fixed order departs
    from before me, declares the LORD,
  then shall the offspring of Israel cease
    from being a nation before me forever.”
  Thus says the LORD:
  “If the heavens above can be measured,
    and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
  then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel
    for all that they have done,
      declares the LORD.”

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”

(ESV)


Jeremiah 31 Commentary

by Hank Workman

In my bible, chapter 31 is marked up everywhere.  There are notes in the sidelines, thoughts jotted down, and promises I’ve penned across the top.  It is a declaration of God’s hope for the weary.  It holds magnificent statements of God’s faithfulness and deep love.  It’s a call to return to Him and be satisfied.

We search for all kinds of happiness and peace in many ways.  We pursue things that aren’t of God and find ourselves marked with the sinful ramifications.  We place our stock in ideas and purposes not ordained by Him and find ourselves empty.  We take detours on this road He has placed us and find ourselves far off the path of His destination.

With such a bullheaded mindset it’s a wonder He would still love us.  It’s amazing He would still call and lead us back.  But He does.  With loving cords of kindness, He woos and draws us back again and again.  There is a love He holds for each of us so deep we cannot understand for it makes no sense.  This chapter holds such beauty as a fresh wind of His words assault our waywardness and give pause.

“The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert.  I will come to give rest…” (Verse 2)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.  I will build you up again…” (Verses 2-3)

“They will come with weeping.  They will pray as I bring them back.  I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble…” (Verse 9)

“I will turn their mourning into gladness.  I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” (Verse 13)

“Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears for your work will be rewarded.  There is hope for your future.” (Verse 16)

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Verse 25)

This chapter of hope is declared through the relentless love of God.  These promises for Israel are true for us.  When we turn and return to Him, He brings all of these things and more.  Emptiness and dissatisfaction are replaced by purpose and resting in Him.  Where do you find yourself today? What aspect of these promises are you gasping for breath for?  The key is found within this beautiful chapter and returning to Him.


Jeremiah 31 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

There is a lot going on in this chapter, and it can seem kind of confusing. I want to focus on the very interesting but highly controversial verse 15.

Thus says the LORD: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

Jeremiah 31:15 ESV

Jeremiah is referencing this prophecy from a millennium earlier in Scripture as Rachel was Jacob’s wife. She was the mother of Joseph who was the father of Ephraim of the northern kingdom of Israel. Although Jeremiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah, Ephraim’s kingdom in the north was devastated by the Assyrians and taken into captivity. The parallels here are strikingly familiar because the Lord goes on to say in verse 16, “There is hope for your future, your children will come again to their own land.”

This is exactly the message He is portraying now through Jeremiah to the kingdom of Judah while they are in exile in Babylon.

Here is where it gets interesting. Matthew in Chapter 2, verses 17-18 of the New Testament references this prophecy word-for-word from Jeremiah (about Rachel weeping) right after King Herod has all babies in Bethlehem killed because he has received word of Jesus’ birth. It is a highly controversial verse and many scholars rebuke Matthew for using this prophecy saying it can’t possibly apply to that situation.

I’m not going to weigh in on that, however, I find the similarities between all of these stories to be fascinating. Israel, Judah, and even baby Jesus had to be sent into exile for a time. Israel and Judah’s departure was for discipline, and Jesus’ was for protection. The striking parallel here is that all three were brought back and restored for a greater purpose. The time in exile was hard, but it was necessary. There was hope on the horizon.

Finally, much of what is talked about here in Jeremiah Chapter 31 is referencing the coming Messiah who will make Salvation personal. God says, “For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. I immediately thought of Romans 1 where Paul says, “…Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

It’s pretty amazing when you can see the whole Bible coming together with different writers from different eras all leading to the same message of Salvation! The consistency of Scripture is incredible!

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