Jeremiah 31 continues the theme of Israel’s future restoration to the land after being exiled 70 years in Babylon. Like a father longs for a prodigal to be restored to the family, the LORD longed for Israel to turn to Him, and He promised He would “be the God of all the families of Israel, and they [would] be [His] people” (31:1).
A Promise of Restoration and Reconciliation (31:2-13)
Jeremiah 31:2-6 foretold the LORD’s paternal, and perpetual love for Israel (the northern ten tribes scattered among the nations of the world, 31:2). To Israel, the LORD promised His grace, everlasting love, mercy and compassion (31:2-3). Though far from home, He promised a day when the nation would be restored and joy renewed (31:4). In that day, the people would replant their vineyards and enjoy the fruit in peace (31:5-6).
The people of the captivity were promised the LORD would gather His people from the nations, and none would be left behind (31:7-9). The blind, lame, and women in labor would return to the land God had promised Israel (31:8). What a glorious promise! Like a father holds the hand of his small son, the LORD promised to lead Israel home, and they would not stumble (31:9).
Who is the LORD? He is the Shepherd of Israel (31:10), the Redeemer of Jacob (31:11), the Supplier of all their needs (31:12). He is the cause for rejoicing, for He promised, “I will turn their mourning into joy, and comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow” (31:13).
Rachel’s Lamentation and Restoration (31:15-17)
Bible students are familiar with Jeremiah 31:15. If that verse sounds familiar, it is because it was a Messianic prophecy that was fulfilled when Christ was born. We read in the New Testament, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matthew 2:17-18).
In Jeremiah, the LORD commanded Israel, “Refrain thy voice from weeping, And thine eyes from tears: For thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; And they shall come again from the land of the enemy” (31:16). Ramah was the deportation station for the Jews who were removed from Judah, and taken to Babylon. The people were overwhelmed with sorrow, but Jeremiah was to tell them, stop weeping. Why? Because the LORD promised He would restore them to their land (31:16b). Stop crying, Israel for “there is hope in thine end…thy children shall come again to their own border [land]” (31:18).
The Cry of Ephraim (31:18-21)
So much more could be addressed in Jeremiah 31, but I close this chapter inviting you to consider Jeremiah 30:18-21. The LORD heard the cries of Ephraim (Israel), and the people acknowledged He had chastened them as His people (like a father chastens a son whom He loves, Hebrews 12:5-6). Because He chastened Ephraim, the people acknowledged their sin and repented, saying, “I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, Because I did bear the reproach of my youth” (31:20). We are reminded the LORD is loving and compassionate toward sinners, for He confessed to wayward Ephraim (Israel), “I do earnestly remember him still: Therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord” (31:20).
The LORD promised to establish a “new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (31:31) in the closing verses of Jeremiah 31. The “new covenant” was the same old covenant – the law of the LORD, not written on stone tablets, but on their hearts. God promised, He would “be their God, and they [would] be [His]people” (31:33, and quoted in Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:14-18). The “new covenant” – we could say, the “renewed” covenant was established through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross (Matthew 26:27-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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