Restoration of Israel As Presented by The Prophet Jeremiah
Continuation of the subject with the Prophecy of Isaiah already done. Every Passage Examined
JEREMIAH – PART 3
CHAPTER 31. We come to the most important chapter in Jeremiah for restoration, and as this is larger than the others (33 is also), I will break it into sections and deal with them one by one. All scriptures are from the NASB.
Jeremiah 31:1 – “At that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.’ Jer 31:2 Thus says the LORD, ‘The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness – Israel, when it went to find its rest.’ Jer 31:3 The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jer 31:4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O of Israel! Again you shall take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers. Jer. 31:5 Again you shall plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria. The planters shall plant and shall enjoy them, Jer 31:6 for there shall be a day when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim shall call out, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.’”
The passage opens with the key phrase “At that time” indicative here of the start of the Millennium, and it is a family relationship that is in view in our verses. Every family that is redeemed will have God at the head, for they are His people, claimed as “My people” in verse 1. Israel must pass through seas of great torment in the Tribulation, but God will bring them out on the other side, and at His Second Coming, He claims them as His own – Hosea 2:23 “I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people,’ and they will say, ‘You are my God.’” Today, Israel is not “My people” in the Hosea sense, but what a union this will be in the future! They WILL be His people!
Verse 2. Through the Tribulation, Israel will be in the wilderness of sorrow and despair, endeavoring to find its rest; on a journey fraught with the horrors of the world leader/Antichrist who will put many Jews to death in a hateful persecution. There will be terrible times when faith will be strained. However, God does not leave His own abandoned; He provides the grace they need. In China today, we see this hateful persecution against Christians, and it gives us some insight into what these Jewish saints will face. In that passage there is an expression, “found grace in the wilderness,” which harkens back to the journey from Egypt when God cared for them, but in the Tribulation, there will be a “wilderness” the Jews will encounter for their own survival.
We look at what Jesus said, Matt 24:16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Matt 24:17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house, Matt 24:18 and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak, Matt 24:19 but woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! Matt 24:20 Pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath Matt 24:21 for then there will be a great tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” When all is done, and the Lord gathers up His own Jewish saints from all over the world, then they enter into their everlasting rest in restored Israel.
Verses 3-4. This is the promise of restoration, but the basis of it is everlasting love; for without it, God would have done away with Israel long ago, but His love is from generation to generation. His kindness to the nation has drawn them in love into His tenderness and great glory. The Lord has come from afar (the distance of time). He will do that when the time is right, and we are fast approaching that with the Rapture on the horizon, and the terrible pain of the valley of Tribulation between the Rapture and Israel’s full restoration. Isn’t it wonderful that in verse 4 Israel is called “O virgin of Israel”? This means the Lord will never remember her sin of spiritual adultery with the gods of the nations, and sees the chosen people as spotless, virginal in their union with God.
No doubt the expression, “loved you with an everlasting love,” has given rise to that great hymn,
“Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so.
Look at verse 4. God will rebuild the nation, and the prevailing joy will break forth into singing. A conquered people and discouraged people, such as they were in Babylon, could not sing the Lord’s songs whether it be in a foreign land or in their homeland. There was nothing better than to hang the harps up in the willow trees. In verse 4, what causes the people to take up the tambourines and to participate in the dances of merrymakers? What causes the people of verse 7 to sing aloud with gladness and to shout the message, and to speak out in praise? Well, in both verses, it results from the Lord’s dealings with the nation and the people who are redeemed, and who are without sin, and with righteousness – these are the ones who could sing with gladness.
What great lesson can we learn from that? The closer to God, the greater the singing. The closer to God, realizing what He has done for us, the more correct our singing will be. The greater our doctrinal position is, when we understand the immense quality of God, then the more scripturally correct our singing will be, and will put to shame a lot of the trivial, superficial stuff sung in churches now.
Verses 5-6. Two thoughts emerge here. The first is the suggestion of productivity, and that is the hallmark of the Millennium; for the land shall produce as it has never done before. The second is that there will be joy in going to Zion, actually the capital of Israel. All that is still future when the land will have peace and is still, and no enemies will ever taunt them again. It is interesting that Jeremiah has these two references to Samaria and Ephraim, as they were alternate names for the Northern Kingdom of Israel, even though they had been deported and scattered some 135 years prior to this prophet. God’s scope is the restoration of the whole land of His people.
Jeremiah 31:7 – “For thus says the LORD, ‘Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chiefs of the nations. Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.’ Jer 31:8 Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, and I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and she who is in labour with child, together. (As) a great company, they shall return here. Jer 31:9 With weeping they shall come, and by supplication I will lead them. I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.”
We have glanced at verse 7, but there will be praise for the remnant of the people. The Jews praise and beseech the Lord to save His people. What is interesting here is the context. The prayer is for the Lord to save His people, but straight away in the next verse, the Lord confirms He is going to bring them from the north country and every single hideaway place on earth, including those who are blind and the lame and the woman in labor. This is the great ingathering. The weeping in verse 9 is not in sorrow but in joy for their deliverance and salvation as they come home to their ancient land with the Lord leading them.
The way home will not be difficult or filled with obstacles, for the path is straight and refreshment is all along the way. The nations of the world will look after them, a fact that Isaiah covers. It is so significant that Jeremiah makes reference to Ephraim as His (God’s) firstborn even though that kingdom had ended. “I am a Father to Israel” is crucial, for that was the deep family relationship God has with Israel the nation. “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1). God is emphatic – “for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.”
Jeremiah 31:10 – “Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare in the coastlands afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock, Jer 31:11 for the LORD has ransomed Jacob, and redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he,
Jer 31:12 and they shall come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the bounty of the LORD – over the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd, and their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again.
Jer 31:13 Then the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together, for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow.
Jer 31:14 I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness,’ declares the LORD.”
Verses 10-11. This is a message the whole world will hear, and the occasion will be set at the time of Israel’s ingathering. Jehovah scattered all of Israel at various times right up until AD 70, and the Jews have remained scattered in spite of a partial return beginning in 1947. He who scattered them will gather them as a hen gathers her chicks. The Lord desired that to happen 2,000 years ago, but the nation steadfastly opposed any obedience to its God, persistently refusing. But at the start of the Millennium, they have a burning desire to return. Once they have returned, He who gathered them as a hen now keeps them as the Shepherd of the sheep.
On what basis can the Lord do this for His nation, Israel? Verse 11 answers the question. The Lord both ransomed and redeemed Israel. The basis of redemption is blood, for there can be no forgiveness of sin without shedding of blood, and the crux of forgiveness is the cross at Calvary. The shed blood of the Lamb of God is efficacious for both the Church and Israel, and without it, there would be no hope for the human race. In fact, there would be no hope for the righteous ones preceding the cross because they also needed Calvary for complete redemption.
I could find no significant difference between the two words in verse 11 in the original – “ransomed” and “redeemed” except redeemed has more the idea of payment being made for release. It was the blood of Christ that paid the debt for sin to release the captive. The Jews had been held captive by evil men who were too powerful for them. Only a Strongman could set them free. Isn’t that the theme of so many dramas and novels and plots where some hero comes to the rescue? The one who will be too strong for Israel will be the world ruler when he turns on Israel halfway into the Tribulation – this Antichrist, the one almost the embodiment of Satan because he is so evil. Praise the Lord, there is One who has the power over sin and releases the captives, and no one but He could do it.
As one hymn says, “There was none other good enough to pay the price of sin; He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in,” and “He breaks the power of cancelled sin; He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean: His blood availed for me,” and “My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”
Verse 12. Verses 12, 13 and 14 go together, but I will split them. As I have said so many times, God’s blessings to Israel are in the land, and the promises lie largely in that area. When you study verse 12, you see that very clearly. Don’t miss some pertinent points here. On the height of Zion, they shout for joy; they don’t sing for joy or speak joy; they shout it. That is a powerful transformation in the redeemed saints after the Tribulation. They will be radiant. That word means “to shine, beam, light, burn,” so they are overflowing with almost inexpressible joy and radiance for their Kinsman-Redeemer.
Isaiah 60:5 “Then you will see and be radiant and your heart will thrill and rejoice because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you. The wealth of the nations will come to you.” We looked at that reference in Isaiah much earlier. Psalm 34:5 “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Radiance in attitude comes from connection with the God of light and of glory. These are great promises for Israel in the years to come, but it is also the right of the Christian to be radiant in the Lord’s presence.
Verse 13. Sorrow will be the mark of the Tribulation saints as they mount hurdle after hurdle with wickedness from Satan wanting to overcome them. It is a time when some will be betrayed, others starved and all persecuted. When all that is lifted from their heads, they enter into the presence of the King who will reign in Jerusalem, and they will not be able to contain themselves. Rejoicing in dance; young and old of one mind; joy will swallow up grief and mourning; comfort will be theirs, joy overpowering any sorrow. Such is the transformation in restoration.
Verse 14. Both priests and people will be blessed. No longer will the corrupt and false priests operate, but in His Kingdom, all will be righteous and honorable for the Lord. The word “abundance” means “fat ashes” where the ashes of the victims were mixed with fat. The priest’s portion was the wave-breast and heave-shoulder, and the Levitical priests were supported by part of the offering, but the verse here is saying there will be just so much, so much abundance for the priests. We know these verses are set in the time of the Millennial Kingdom, so the verse confirms there will be animal sacrifices in the Millennium, a fact that some want to reject. These will not be sacrifices for sin, for that will be gone for God’s holy nation, but they will be sacrifices of praise and worship to Messiah-King. The last 9 or 10 chapters of Ezekiel outline in detail the functioning of the Millennial Temple.
The blessing for the people will be satisfaction with God’s goodness. That would take two forms – the great productivity of the land and consequential blessings flowing from that, and great spiritual satisfaction of joy, peace, and other aspects no doubt. It will happen because the Lord has declared it!
Jeremiah 31:15 – “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.’ Jer 31:16 Thus says the LORD, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for your work shall be rewarded,’ declares the LORD, ‘and they shall return from the land of the enemy. Jer 31:17 And there is hope for your future,’ declares the LORD, ‘and your children shall return to their own territory.’”
Verses 15-17. Verse 15 is quoted in the New Testament at the time of the slaughter of the infants by Herod. To apply that verse to Herod’s time only is very limiting because it could also have application to the double destruction of Jerusalem and even to the Nazi atrocities. The remainder of the verses in this section are significant as it goes beyond those times and into the Tribulation and the Restoration of Israel. The Jews will be terribly persecuted in the Tribulation, and one can hear Rachel weeping. Verse 15 is not final, for we move to verse 16, and the sunshine of hope bursts on the scene. God will reward their work, for the recompense for all this trouble now arrives and they enter into blessing.
This verse, when speaking of the return from the land of the enemy, definitely can apply to the return from the Babylonian captivity, but to confine it to that is imperfect. They were murdered and exiled from their land in 70 AD. The greater application for verse 16 is the return at the start of the Millennium from the lands today, nearly all of them enemies of the Jews. Verse 17 is one of great hope, for in their future they will come to their own territory. There is not much hope to return as from the Babylonian captivity, only to find yourself confronted by enemies, and then the horrible Seleucids, and then the Romans, and then full destruction of their land. No, when they return in the future, it will be permanent and in great joy, never to be bothered by enemies again.
END OF PART 3 RESTORATION OF ISRAEL FROM JEREMIAH