Yesterday we ended with a statement of judgment. Today we have a chapter full of hope and a promise from God that you can start taking advantage of immediately! It’s the New Covenant! Let’s dig in…
“At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”
2 This is what the Lord says:
“The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the wilderness;
I will come to give rest to Israel.”
3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
4 I will build you up again,
and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.
Again you will take up your timbrels
and go out to dance with the joyful.
5 Again you will plant vineyards
on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them
and enjoy their fruit.
6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out
on the hills of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”
7 This is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Jacob;
shout for the foremost of the nations.
Make your praises heard, and say,
‘Lord, save your people,
the remnant of Israel.’
8 See, I will bring them from the land of the north
and gather them from the ends of the earth.
Among them will be the blind and the lame,
expectant mothers and women in labor;
a great throng will return.
9 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,
because I am Israel’s father,
and Ephraim is my firstborn son.
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations;
proclaim it in distant coastlands:
‘He who scattered Israel will gather them
and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’
11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob
and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—
the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,
the young of the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden,
and they will sorrow no more.
13 Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance,
and my people will be filled with my bounty,”
declares the Lord.
15 This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
16 This is what the Lord says:
“Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord.
“They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,”
declares the Lord.
“Your children will return to their own land.
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning:
‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf,
and I have been disciplined.
Restore me, and I will return,
because you are the Lord my God.
19 After I strayed,
after I came to understand,
I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
20 Is not Ephraim my dear son,
the child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I have great compassion for him,”
declares the Lord.
21 “Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
the road that you take.
Return, Virgin Israel,
return to your towns.
22 How long will you wander,
unfaithful Daughter Israel?
The Lord will create a new thing on earth—
the woman will protect the man.”
23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me.
27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. 29 “In those days people will no longer say,
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
35 This is what the Lord says,
he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar—
the Lord Almighty is his name:
36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,”
declares the Lord,
“will Israel ever cease
being a nation before me.”
37 This is what the Lord says:
“Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel
because of all they have done,”
declares the Lord.
38 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.”Jeremiah 31 NIV
God’s Pattern: Warning, Judgment, then Hope
Israel was past the warning stage. They didn’t listen or pay attention to the warnings from prophet after prophet to turn from worshiping idols and fake gods. So, God sent the Babylonians to inflict His judgment on Judah and Jerusalem. Fortunately, God loves us. John told us…
We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:19 NIV
God opens with the statement, “I will be their God and they will be My People.” That’s how God wanted it in the first place! You know, like back in the Garden of Eden. The video at the bottom explains how we humans messed it all up and how God regenerates the relationship through His Son, Jesus.
First, note that Jeremiah foresees prophecies that will take place after the 70-year exile, then, in the 1st century, and also in the end times or last days.
- Favor or Grace in the wilderness – this is during the end times. In Revelation 12, we have a “woman”, which is Israel, (NOT Mary!), who gives birth to a Son, Jesus. The child will be caught up to Heaven before the “dragon”, Satan, can catch Him. Then the “woman” flees into the wilderness and will be safe for 1,260 days, which is 3.5 years — half of the Great Tribulation. This was prophesied both by Isaiah 16 and Hosea 5. The Israelites flee to Petra to escape the Antichrist who invades Jerusalem and the 3rd temple. That’s called the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.
- Bringing His people from the “north country” and all the ends of the earth. Though Israel is its own sovereign state, it’s still “divided”. The West Bank and Gaza don’t belong to Israel. However, there will come a time when it will no longer be divided. Furthermore, Jews from all over the world will return. From 1989-2006, over a million Jews emigrated from Russia to Israel — and more are coming. There are approximately 14 million Jews in the world and about half live in Israel. They’ve been returning to the land. Unfortunately, not to the Lord. There are many “secular” Jews. Though, through ministries like One For Israel, many Jews are finding the Messiah.
- Verse 15 is quoted in Matthew 2. Pastor Sandy Adams explains: “‘Ramah’ was near Bethlehem. It’s where Rachel was buried. Its women were considered her daughters. When Herod killed the babies of Bethlehem to eliminate the Messiah, this verse described the reaction of these ladies. They wept for the children. But in Jeremiah’s day, Ramah was a staging area for Nebuchadnezzar. It’s where he processed Jews to be taken back to Babylon. Here, Rachel, the mother of the nation, is mourning for the exiles taken to Babylon. Yet, God speaks to Rachel [in verse 16]. [She] is assured and comforted that her children will return. It’s a promise that Israel will return to the land.”
- Verse 22 is interesting. It’s translated in different ways, which is why I chose the NIV version rather than the NLT, which I usually use. “The woman will protect the man” is picture of a pregnant woman protecting a male child, the Messiah. Israel will return home and Messiah will rule.
- In verse 31, God promises the New Covenant. This one is uniquely different from the ones in the past. (Again, check out the video at the bottom.) A covenant establishes the terms of the relationship. Like any agreement, both parties need to AGREE! Pastor Sandy Adams comments…
When God brought Israel from Egypt to be His own, He ushered them to Mount Sinai where He gave them terms…commandments – a cleansing or a system of sacrifice – and consequences, blessings and curses. There were 613 commandments regarding morality and civics and ceremony… But the people sinned and violated the commandments, thus God constructed a sacrificial system to cover their sin. This included sacrifices, priests, even a Temple to present their offerings… And to provide added motivation to keep the Law, God gave to Israel a series of blessings and curses. Blessings if they obeyed. Curses if they didn’t. But their sad history was that they failed to live up the covenant. The desperate conditions they faced at the time of Jeremiah were exactly what God predicted. Yet in the wake of their failure, God doesn’t leave them hopeless. He still wants a relationship with the Jews so He promises new terms, a New Covenant (NC).
Through Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Joel God promised this NC – yet it wouldn’t be activated for 600 years. For just as the Old Covenant (OC) was ratified by blood, so was the new. Just before His crucifixion Jesus took the cup, and said (Matthew 26:20), “This is My blood of the New Covenant.” On the cross Jesus did far more than gain our forgiveness. He created for us a new way to relate to God – new terms for a relationship that had soured.
In verse 32 God compares Himself to a heartbroken husband who’s wife had been unfaithful. The NC is as much a relief to God, as it is a revival in us. What Jesus did was monumental! Here it is… Verse 33, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (NJKV)
The OC consisted of Laws written on stone tablets. There was nothing wrong with the Law God gave to Moses. The Law of God was perfect. The Law didn’t fail the Jews, it was the Jews who failed to keep the Law. The problem is where the Law was written… Stone tablets can be neglected, rejected, forgotten, misunderstood, misapplied, taken out of context, obeyed in action, but not in attitude. They can even serve to discourage us, rather than encourage us. But not the NC. Rather than write His laws on stone tablets, God writes His intentions in our mind and hearts. He puts in us the desire to obey and love Him. The OC was too dependent on human willpower. Whereas, the NC is God’s work. Our only part is faith. The Law told men what to do, but didn’t give them the power to do it. The NC avoids that deficiency.
It’s been said, “To work and run the law commands, yet gives me neither feet nor hands. Better news the Gospel brings, it bids me fly, then gives me wings.”
Under the NC we have a personal, intimate relationship with God. We no longer need a priest or intermediary to teach us about God. Under the NC we can experience God firsthand. Every Christian has a backstage pass to God.Sandy Adams
Lastly, God promises that Jerusalem will never again be “uprooted or demolished”. That’s speaking of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. It’s interesting that the Israelites were in captivity for 70 years and the Romans demolished the temple in 70 AD. The number 7 is the number of completion in the Bible. 70 years completed the Babylonian exile. Likewise, in 70 AD, God ended the religious rites of the Jews and the Old Covenant.
That brings up a good question…
Do YOU have a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with Jesus?
You can, you know, and it’s really simple!
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.