Jer. 31:1 ¶ At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
Jer. 31:2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
This chapter is actually a continuation of the previous one. “The same time” is still in reference to the time that God regathers all of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and establishes His kingdom with His Son on the throne. The families of Israel will be joined together as a whole nation and no longer divided into two kingdoms. All the people of Israel will be in submission and obedience to the LORD.
Verse two is basically saying that the LORD is going to protect those that have survived the seven terrible years of Jacob’s trouble and bring them home to rest once and for all in the land of Israel. The nation will be given a brand new beginning in fellowship with the LORD never again to rebel.
The Hebrew for “wilderness” is a term referencing the places where they had been driven like cattle.
Jer. 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
Jer. 31:4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
Jer. 31:5 Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
Sometimes the KJV translation is a bit confusing. In these verses the nation of Israel is personified. It was from a heart of everlasting love that the LORD separated them out from among the nations as His chosen ones. Though they have suffered great destruction, God is promising that the nation will be rebuilt and its people will dance with joy. The land will produce bountifully and everyone will have plenty to eat.
I thought it was interesting that the LORD singled out the mountains of Samaria, since this location was the center of idolatry in the Northern Kingdom and ended up being the home of some of the most despised people in Israel in Jesus’ time. I think it is sort of like an exclamation point to the truth that all the people in Israel will be in fellowship with God and with one another.
As I think of the LORD describing Israel as a virgin at this time, I couldn’t help but think of His forgiveness to me and to all who turn to Him in faith and obedience. By His grace we are justified—just as if we had never sinned. What a blessed truth to this child of God!
Acts 13:33, 38-39 “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee….Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Jer. 31:6 For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.
These verses continue to emphasize that Israel will be a whole nation again. Those who are designated as watchmen for Ephraim (the name often used to identify the Northern Kingdom) will be calling the people to go to Zion in Jerusalem to worship the LORD “our God.” At that time the LORD will be on the throne in the person of Jesus, the Son of God. Again, this is a statement of unity among the people of Israel at that time.
The NIV commentary provided some enlightenment regarding the purpose of the watchmen in this context: “According to Jewish tradition watchmen were appointed for the appearance of the moon, from which their months were counted. Here the watchmen on the hills of Samaria are to show the northern kingdom how to go up to Jerusalem to keep the feasts….”
Jer. 31:7 For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Jer. 31:8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
Jer. 31:9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
The LORD continues to declare through His prophet that this time of future restoration will be one of great gladness. Israel will be established as “chief of the nations,” certainly a far cry from her current position of most despised. The LORD is going to gather the Jewish people from all over planet earth—including those who are blind, lame, and pregnant. He makes the point that it will be a “great company.” As I looked at the Hebrew and thought about the time being referenced, I tend to think that this is more a reference to possessing national pride and returning home with head held high. Then again, maybe in reference to the nations, the Jewish people will be much greater in number. Only time will tell.
I liked the wording of the CJB for verse 9: “They will come weeping and praying as I bring them back. I will lead them by streams of water on smooth paths, so that they won’t stumble….” In other words, their tears will be of joy and their prayers of thanks in light of the suffering they have endured. The LORD will ensure that their journey home is pleasant and safe.
Once again the people of Israel will look to God as Father. Ephraim represents the whole of the nation of Israel as firstborn among the nations. Though Reuben was actually the firstborn son of Jacob, he sinned against his father and Joseph was given the birthright. Ephraim was the son of Joseph; and just as he was often named in reference to the Northern Kingdom, he is now named in reference to the whole nation.
1 Chronicles 5:1–2 “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s:)”
Jer. 31:10 ¶ Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
Jer. 31:11 For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
The LORD now directs His message to the rest of the nations throughout the world. They are to understand that Israel was scattered because of the will of
Almighty God. Just as He had scattered them, He is now going to bring them home to Israel and take care of them just as a shepherd cares for his flock. The LORD has redeemed Jacob, representing the whole nation that he fathered.
Unknown to the Jewish people of Jeremiah’s day, that redemption would come at great price—the death of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
1 Peter 1:18–19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot….”
1 John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Jer. 31:12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.
Jer. 31:13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
Jer. 31:14 And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.
The “height of Zion” would seem to be a reference to the Temple, so I would think this would be a reference to bringing their tithes and offerings. Their obedience will flow from a soul that is overflowing with thankfulness for their blessings, and the LORD declares that they will sorrow no more.
The joy of the people will be visible from their outward expression of rejoicing through dance. The LORD will delight in turning their sorrow into joy and in comforting them. Our countenance should always reflect a heart of thankfulness, joy and peace before the LORD.
Finally the priests will be full of the Spirit and delighting in their service before the LORD. In fact, all of the people of Israel will be satisfied with His goodness; they will want for no good thing.
Jer. 31:15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
Jer. 31:16 Thus saith the LORD; 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.
Jer. 31:17 And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.
These verses flash back to the thoughts of the Jewish people throughout the centuries that have suffered at the hands of their enemies and pictured by Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife. This same verse was used to describe the mourning of those Jewish mothers in Bethlehem and the surrounding area whose babies were killed by Herod after the birth of Jesus.
Matthew 2:16–18 “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In 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.”
I’ve learned in my studies that prophecies often reference foreshadowing events before culminating in final fulfillment. In these verses the LORD is giving words of hope and encouragement that “thy work” would be rewarded, and they would eventually be regathered in the land of Israel as a nation. I believe that work is a reference to yielding to the LORD in faith and obedience. This was true for the exiles in Babylon and will once again prove true when the Jewish people call out for the return of Messiah.
Luke 13:34–35 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Jer. 31:18 ¶ I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.
Jer. 31:19 Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.
These verses paint a picture of a very repentant “Ephraim,” representing the nation. The people are acknowledging that God’s judgment was deserved. They had responded to His authority like an undisciplined calf. Just as a calf will eventually respond to training in the yoke, so would the people of Israel. When they turn back to God in repentance and submission, they will be very ashamed and full of remorse for the sins of their youth.
I certainly identify with this heart and am so thankful for God’s faithfulness and patience in growing me spiritually!
Jer. 31:20 Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.
Jer. 31:21 Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.
Just as any loving parent, the Father looks at the children of Israel through eyes of the most wonderful love. Even as He has to rebuke and chastise their rebellion, the LORD does so with an unconditional love for His children. Just as the rebellion of a child troubles a parent’s heart, so was the heart of God troubled by Israel’s rejection of His authority.
“I will surely have mercy upon him” – Who can read these words and not be reminded of the Savior’s teaching on the prodigal son.
Luke 15:18–20 “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
In verse 21 it seems that the LORD is urging His people to look back on the path that led to their rebellion; and as they look, to turn back toward home in submission to Him—just like the prodigal son.
Jer. 31:22 How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.
I certainly had to read through verse 22 several times. I had to remind myself that the “backsliding daughter” seems to be connected to the reference to the virgin Israel in verse 4. The question seems to be speculating about how long it is going to take the “daughter” to become repentant. The “daughter” has been in rebellion against the LORD, while the “virgin” will be restored to fellowship with all forgiven. The “woman” seems to reference maturity to the point that she will become a leader (from the Hebrew) among men. I tend to look at this as a statement of the leadership role that Israel will possess when restored to fellowship with the LORD when Messiah assumes His throne in Jerusalem. This would definitely be the creation of a new thing since Israel has never been an acknowledged leader among the nations.
Jer. 31:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.
Jer. 31:24 And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.
Jer. 31:25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.
The LORD is declaring that when Israel is regathered and restored in fellowship with Him, it will be known as a land of justice. It will be a land whose inhabitants will experience complete satisfaction and contentment. The speech of the people will reflect their recognition that the LORD is the source of their blessings.
This should be a description of every child of God today. We should be publicly thankful for God’s blessings upon our lives. Our lives should reflect our thankfulness in word and action.
Jer. 31:26 Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.
It would seem that Jeremiah had received this message from the LORD while sleeping. It stands out to me that his description of that sleep was that it was “sweet.” The Hebrew makes reference to pleasant and agreeable, but with a direction connection to a root that includes the idea of something given as security or a pledge. Because of Jeremiah’s love for his people and his nation, I feel sure that is how he understood it.
I have a semblance of understanding that feeling. There are many times I have awakened with something specific on my mind regarding writing, ministry etc., and I felt it just had to be something God communicated to me while I was asleep. A couple of my poems in particular have basically written themselves after awaking in the early morning hours with a compelling desire to put pen to paper.
Jer. 31:27 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.
Jer. 31:28 And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.
In these verses the LORD is declaring that in that future day of restoration He will ensure that Israel’s population of both man and beast will be abundant. Just as surely as He has refined them in the fires of judgment, He will watch over them to ensure their growth and prosperity.
When I looked at the Hebrew for “watch over,” it referenced sleeplessness. I couldn’t help but think of the words of the psalmist.
Psalms 121:4–5 “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper:”
Yes, these words apply to Israel; but they also describe God the Father’s unchanging character. This is especially comforting to this child of God, because I know that He is just as diligent to “watch over” me, His child of faith.
Romans 8:16–17 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ….”
Galatians 3:26 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Jer. 31:29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.
Jer. 31:30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
It would seem that this saying was coined by the children of those who had been take captive to foreign lands because of the sins of their parents. I remember addressing this saying in my study of Ezekiel; following is an excerpt from that study.
Ezekiel 18:1-2 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?
Ezekiel receives yet another message from the Lord. The Lord is taking issue with a common saying in the land of Israel. The meaning of the saying seems to be explained more clearly by the prophet Jeremiah in his book of Lamentations.
Lamentations 5:7 Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.
It would seem that this saying was a result of a wrong understanding of God’s word. I was also confused until I began my own verse-by-verse study of the scripture. In Exodus we find this scripture.
Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me….
I think an excerpt from my journal on Exodus is appropriate here.
“When we choose to follow other gods (really self), then we are building our lives on a lie which will impact in turn the lives of our children and in turn their children etc. It's interesting that the Lord used the designation of the 3rd & 4th generations. I just realized that those would be the normal generations of a man's lifespan at that time upon whom he would have direct impact. On the other hand, those who love Him and keep His commandments can expect God's love to be evident to their children for generations. The more submissive and obedient we are, the stronger the foundation for our progeny.”
Ezekiel 18:3 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
The Lord is tired of hearing the truth of His word misinterpreted. Right now He is going to set the record straight.
Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
Each individual is held accountable to God for his/her own sin. Yes, we are influenced by those around us; but we are ultimately accountable before God as individuals. The Hebrew for die is a reference to being killed. I think it is important to note that the context of this passage is addressing the righteousness of God in punishing the people of Israel by causing them to be taken into captivity and their nation destroyed.
Jer. 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Jer. 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
Jer. 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jer. 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
I am sure that the message of these verses brought a song to Jeremiah’s heart. The LORD is declaring that in these future days He is going to make a new covenant with the people of Israel. Instead of a covenant of law written on stones with no inherent power to empower the people to keep it, the LORD is going to write His law on their hearts. In other words, the covenant will be a part of their very being and will empower them through the Spirit to act according to the true intent of God’s law. Every person of Jewish birth will “know” the LORD; they will have a relationship with Him that reflects their love and obedience. They will know Him and see Him and interact with Him in the person of His Son Jesus Christ who will rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem. Again, that beautiful truth—“I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
The Apostle Paul also talked about this glorious time in Israel’s future.
Romans 11:25–27 “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”
The verses in Romans above make it clear that a full number of Gentiles would be brought into covenant relationship before Israel turns back to God in faith. We know that Jesus Christ established the new covenant through His death and resurrection. The writer to the Hebrews also makes it clear that this covenant is an everlasting covenant; it will never be replaced.
Hebrews 8:6 “But now hath He [Jesus] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”
Hebrews 13:20–21 “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.”
With the new covenant the believer receives the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower him to live victoriously according to God’s law.
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
Ephesians 3:17–21 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
When we fail and fall into sin, forgiveness is ours for the asking.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
What is available to every believer through faith in Jesus Christ in this age of grace will be given to every Jewish person that enters into or is born during the Messianic Kingdom. This will become the ultimate fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham concerning his physical descendants through Jacob.
The LORD confirmed His message to Jeremiah through Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 11:17–20 “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
Ezekiel 36:26–28 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
Jer. 31:35 ¶ Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:
Jer. 31:36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
The LORD goes on to declare that Israel will endure as a nation before Him forever just as surely as the sun, moon and stars are part of the night sky. Point is made that He is in control of these ordinances as well as the waves of the sea. The Psalmist echoed this truth.
Psalms 148:3–6 “Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.”
Psalms 89:8–9 “O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.”
Jer. 31:37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.
This is a very interesting declaration from the LORD again affirming that the nation of Israel will exist forever in spite of their time of rebellion. The clear implication is that heaven cannot be measured nor can the foundations of the earth be discovered.
Jer. 31:38 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.
Jer. 31:39 And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.
Jer. 31:40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.
The city being referenced is Jerusalem, and these verses seem to be defining future borders of the city. The LORD is also declaring that the city will be forever secure under His authority and power and will be considered His holy possession.
It is especially interesting to note that the valley of the dead, the place where the sacrifices to Molech were made in the Hinnom Valley, is included in this designation since under the law association with the dead made one unclean. When I looked up “Gareb,” it too would normally be considered unclean since it was the gathering place of the lepers. I think this is just a powerful statement of the power and authority of God to cleanse not only sinners and clothe them in His righteousness, but also to purify the land in which the blood of so many innocents was shed. In fact, it makes sense that the LORD would choose to turn such a place of horror into a place of holiness in regard of those innocents that were murdered there.
These borders seem to significantly increase the area that will comprise Jerusalem as indicated by Ezekiel in the closing chapters of his prophecy regarding the millennial temple.