Scripture reading – Jeremiah 31 

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After recording the prophecies of the LORD’s judgment against Judah and Israel for their wickedness, Jeremiah 30 concluded with the Second Coming of Christ and the great slaughter that will occur at the Battle of Armageddon (Jeremiah 30:23-24).


Jeremiah 31


A Promise to Restore Backslidden Israel (Jeremiah 31:1)

Beginning with the phrase, “At the same time” (Jeremiah 30:24 identified that time as “the latter days), Jeremiah recorded the LORD’s promise to restore “the families of Israel” to their homeland (this following 70 years of exile in Babylon). Like a loving father who longs to restore a prodigal to his family, the LORD longed for Israel to turn to Him. He promised, then, “Will I “be the God of all the families of Israel, and they [would] be [His]people” (Jeremiah 31:1).


A Promise of Reconciliation (Jeremiah 31:2-14)

Jeremiah 31:2-6 foretold the LORD’s paternal and perpetual love for Israel as a nation and people. With the LORD’s promise of peace and rest from strife and war (Jeremiah 31:2), Jeremiah declared God’s grace, everlasting love, mercy, and compassion for His people (Jeremiah 31:3). Although Israel was far from home, the LORD promised a day when the people would be restored. The nation will be rebuilt, and the air will be filled with “the dances of them that make merry” (Jeremiah 31:4).  

The people will resettle in Samaria (the capital of the ten tribes of northern Israel) and Zion (the mountain upon which Jerusalem and the Temple were built), plant their vineyards, and enjoy the fruits of their labor in peace (Jeremiah 31:5-6).

A Promise of Reconciliation

Though living in captivity, the people of Israel and Judah were promised the day would come when the remnant of God’s people would once again “sing with gladness” (Jeremiah 31:7). On that day, the LORD promised He would gather His people from the nations, and that no one would be left behind (Jeremiah 31:7-9). The blind, lame, and women in labor would all return to the land of Israel (Jeremiah 31:8). What a glorious promise! Like a father holding a small child’s hand, the LORD promised to lead Israel home. He declared they would not stumble, “For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9).

Who is the LORD? He is the Shepherd of Israel (Jeremiah 31:10), the Redeemer of Jacob (Jeremiah 31:11), and the Supplier of all their needs (Jeremiah 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” (Jeremiah 31:13).


Rachel’s Lamentation for the Dead (Jeremiah 31:15-18)

If Jeremiah 31:15 sounds familiar, it is because it is a Messianic prophecy fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born. King Herod, after hearing wise men ask, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1-2), ordered the slaying of all the sons in Bethlehem “from two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16). Fulfilling Jeremiah 31:15, 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).

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 to stop weeping. Why? Because the LORD promised He would restore them to their homeland (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

The Cry of Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:18-21) 

So much more could be addressed in Jeremiah 31, but I close today’s Bible study by inviting you to consider Jeremiah 30:18-21. Here, the LORD heard the cries of Ephraim (i.e., 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 them, the people acknowledged their sin. They repented, saying, “I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, Because I did bear the reproach of my youth” (Jeremiah 31:20).

Closing thoughts –

Loving and compassionate toward sinners, the LORD confessed to those He chastened in their sins, “I do earnestly remember him still: Therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:20).

The closing verses of Jeremiah 31 record the LORD’s promise to establish a “new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31). While the old covenant (the Laws and the Commandments given to Moses) was written on stone tablets, the LORD promised He would establish the “new covenant” and put His “law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be [His] people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

What was the “new covenant?” The “new covenant” was, in fact, the “renewed” covenant, established through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross (Matthew 26:27-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20).

I close with an invitation and assurance to all who place their faith in the LORD. He has promised: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people…I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34; also quoted in Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:14-18).

What a blessed promise! When a sinner believes and accepts Christ’s sacrifice for their sins, the LORD promises that not only are they His child, but He will also forgive their sins.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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