The continuation of the subject with the Prophecy of Isaiah already done. Every Passage Examined
JEREMIAH – PART 4
Jeremiah 31:18 – “I have surely heard Ephraim grieving, ‘You hast chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained calf. Bring me back that I may be restored, for You are the LORD my God, Jer 31:19 for after I turned back, I repented, and after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh. I was ashamed, and also humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth.’ Jer 31:20 ‘Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a delightful child? Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him. Therefore My heart yearns for him. I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the LORD.
This follow-on section will place these prophecies in the correct context, and that is for the future. It cannot apply to the return from captivity for the following reasons –
- It speaks of Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom, destroyed by Assyria in about 722 BC, some 135 years before Jeremiah. They had nothing to do with Babylon.
- Ephraim (Samaria) was dispersed far and wide, and there was no way whatever they have been restored up to this point.
- In verse 20 God is going to have mercy on Ephraim/Israel because of their repentance. They are requesting restoration. That has not happened.
In verse 18 God is saying He has heard Ephraim grieving with repentance and requesting restoration. There is an acknowledgement of their failure and that Jehovah is their God. That has never happened because the Northern Kingdom after their dispersion became a disparate people. However, when God works in the Tribulation through the gospel, all Israel (remembering it will be a remnant) will turn to God and be saved and then restored to their land. God knows the lineage of His Jewish people and who are the rightful descendants of Abraham.
This is the same return Hosea speaks of in Hos 1:11: “The sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.” And in Hos 3:4 “for the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols. Hos 3:5 Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king, and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.”
In verse 19 you have the correct order; turning back after 2,700 years; then repentance; then instruction; and then shame with acknowledgement of the evil days since from around 3,000 years. Israel will be ashamed for its sin and then will mourn in line with verse 19. Zechariah also covers this in 13:10-11. In verse 20 God’s tenderness is revealed with “My dear son” and “delightful child” and “My heart yearns for him.” The covenant with Abraham covers all these wayward Jews, and they will come into blessing, not now, for these are the times of the Gentiles, but afterwards, God’s yearning heart for His “dear son” and “delightful child” will bring it all about. Verse 20 ends with “I will surely have mercy on him,” and it is God’s mercy, compassion and love that will has not faded for His people.
Jeremiah 31:21 – “Set up for yourself road marks. Place for yourself guideposts. Direct your mind to the highway, the way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel. Return to these your cities. Jer 31:22 How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter for the LORD has created a new thing in the earth – a woman will encompass a man?”
Verses 21-22. Commands are given here, and what it means is that the nation must retrace its steps. They must note carefully (and that is why signs or guideposts must be in order) the path they took away from God, and retrace all those errors correcting them in the way back to God. Although those orders are given to the people, it is not in their power to do that. God must draw people to Himself, the Holy Spirit stirring their hearts and minds to return. A man left to himself will never return to God.
Then, in verse 21, God tells the virgin of Israel to return, and to return to the cities from which they came. Well, of course, those cities do not exist, especially the Samaritan ones, but that won’t be a problem with God. In these interim years, has the Lord abandoned Israel? Please don’t miss the significance of “virgin” in verse 21. Over and over and over, the Old Testament prophets referred to Israel as an adulterous wife as she was joined to idols and cast off God. The Lord calls Israel a perverted nation and in adultery all the time, so why do we have this change here to virgin? It is simple. It is for the same reason God calls you and me saints. God sees us as clothed with the righteousness of Christ. In verse 21 He sees Israel clothed with the righteousness of restoration; thus, He is seeing her as a virgin in the wooing passage.
Then there is a change in verse 22. God questions His faithless people, asking why they go all over the place (and the inference is why they won’t return), and here He addresses them as “faithless daughter” and not virgin. We are now in real time, not looking at the future with gracious acceptance. The end of verse 22 is quite strange – “a woman will encompass a man.” I resorted to a couple of commentaries to try to understand this –
Gabelein: Backsliding Israel is exhorted and the assurance is given, “A woman shall compass a man.” It refers to Israel as the woman, the timid, weak, forsaken one, who now will compass a man: that is have power given unto her to become the ruler. (Some have translated this difficult passage, “The woman shall be turned into a man.”) Then follows the promise of assurance.
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: No explanation that has been given of the latter part of the verse is quite satisfactory, but the sense clearly is that in some way the natural order of things shall be reversed. The best interpretation is perhaps that it shall be the bride that shall court her husband, i.e., “instead of shyly keeping aloof or worse (as hitherto), Israel, Jehovah’s bride, shall with eager affection press around her divine husband” (Cheyne).
Another explanation is that such is the Lord’s condescension towards Israel that He will, for her glory, allow the natural order to be reversed, and deign to accept protection (of His Temple, services, honor, etc.) at her hands. For this sense of cherishing, protecting, as belonging to the Hebrew verb of the clause, we may compare Deuteronomy 32:10, “He (the Lord) led him (Israel) about; he instructed him; he kept him as the apple of his eye”; and Psalm 32:10, “He that trusts in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.” Some commentators, by a very slight change in the Hebrew vocalization, obtain the rendering, “a woman shall be turned into a man,” i.e., shall be given the courage of a man, so that all fear and hesitation on her part may be at an end.
Jeremiah 31:23 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Once again they will speak this word in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes, ‘The LORD bless you, O abode of righteousness, O holy hill!’ Jer 31:24 And Judah and all its cities will dwell together in it, the farmer and they who go about with flocks Jer 31:25 for I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.’ Jer 31:26 At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.”
Verses 23-26. These verses are about restoration and Israel again dwelling in its native land in the Lord’s fold with all His blessings upon them. The word of the Lord will be spoken again in the land. In the latter part of verse 23, I am not sure if it is the Lord or the restored people who speak this. Verse 24 reinforces the fact that God’s blessing pertains to the land concerning Israel, and here there is harmony between all agricultural and pastoral industries. Verse 25 is a great promise by God that He sustains the weary.
In the Millennium, among the Jews, I don’t think they will know weariness or any of the adverse emotions that beset us here and now. Verse 26 reveals that what had preceded this was a vision or dream, and Jeremiah woke up in a wonderfully agreeable state. However, there is a lot of doubt about this statement. The doubt is whether a real, physical sleep is meant, or merely an ecstatic condition resembling sleep. Many commentators take that line. Whatever the case, the fact that Israel will be restored is so exhilarating and exciting, so much so, that it had an effect on Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 31:27 – “Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when 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 will come about that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy, and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,’ declares the LORD.”
Verses 27-28. We have a prophecy that relates to the prosperity of Israel when she is restored. “Behold, days are coming,” is another variant of “In that day” or “At that time,” all of them reaching to the end of the Tribulation or the start of the Millennium and throughout that reign. Verse 27 means God will increase the numbers of both Jews and cattle and sheep. They will be productive. I am guessing there won’t be any unclean animals in Israel in the 1,000-year reign that will be kept and farmed. Verse 28 speaks of a reversal of God’s actions – from destruction to edification. The Lord will care for His own people so lovingly and graciously.
Jeremiah 31:29 – “In those days they will not say again, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,’ Jer 31:30 but everyone will die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.”
Verses 29-30. The children of the dispersed Samaritans and the children born in captivity in Babylon all suffered because of the sins of their fathers, and that passed on down through the descendancy. In a pale similarity, we all suffer because of the sin of Adam and Eve (though each is responsible for his and her own sins). In the Millennial days, it will no longer be said (that is, it won’t happen) that the fathers eat sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge. That aspect will change. A man who does the wrong thing will suffer for that, and there will be no effect on his children like it is now. I have to say I am a bit uncertain about the dying for his own iniquity of verse 30, as in the Millennium all restored, redeemed, converted Israel will be righteous before God. Other prophecies indicate that.
Jeremiah 31:31 – “Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, Jer 31:32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD.”
Verses 31-32. If we had to pick out the greatest single verse of restoration in Jeremiah, it would have to be this verse 31 – “the days are coming” = to be enacted after the Second Coming. God will make a NEW COVENANT with His Jewish people. I may be wrong, but I think the nation will be one, not have two identities known as “the house of Israel” and “the house of Judah,” for they are all descendants of Jacob. The question is, “What will this covenant be?” Strong’s Concordance uses these words the most to define covenant: “treaty, pledge, alliance.”
Verse 32 references the covenant made on exiting Egypt, the one we know as The Law of Moses. That will be the old covenant because a new one will be enacted. The Jews constantly broke that covenant because it was not within their fallen humanity to keep it. Christ was the only one to keep the Law and was declared righteous for doing so. The old covenant failed because man failed.
Scripture records a number of covenants. God made a covenant with Noah (the terminology is “I will establish My covenant”), and the details of that are in Genesis 9:9-17. Nothing in that covenant has been revoked, including the death penalty. The next covenant was with Abram in Genesis 15:18 when God covenanted the land from the Nile to the Euphrates for his descendants forever. When Abraham was 99 years old, God made a covenant with Him that promised increase of descendants, nations and the seal of circumcision. That is in Genesis 17, but one verse I wish to highlight –
Genesis 17:19 “but God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” There is no stated record of God establishing a separate covenant with Isaac or Jacob, but they are covered in what God gave to Abraham, even though the Psalmist states it this way – Psalm 105:8 “He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, Psa 105:9 The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. Psa 105:10 Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant.”
The Jeremiah verse talks about establishing a covenant with “him” (that is the whole of Israel), and it will be an everlasting covenant. The Law was not an everlasting covenant. The Law had effect until Calvary. This covenant that Genesis 17 verse 19 speaks of, this everlasting covenant, is the very same one that is in Jeremiah 31:31, the new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah.
The opening chapters of Exodus contain these verses – Exodus 2:24 “so God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Exodus 6:4 “I also established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned, Ex 6:5 and furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.”
Both Isaiah and Ezekiel speak of this very same covenant that we are looking at in Jeremiah 31:31, and these are their verses – Isaiah 55:3 “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live and I will make an everlasting covenant with you according to the faithful mercies shown to David. Isaiah 59:21 “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says the LORD: ‘My Spirit which is upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth….”
Ezekiel 16:60 “Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.” Ezekiel 37:26 “I will make a covenant of peace with them. It will be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.”
This everlasting covenant to be made with Israel at the start of Messiah’s reign for 1,000 years will be a new one. The Church has a covenant that was sealed by blood as the Lord confirmed. Luke 22:20 “and in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.’” That is totally reliant on redemption at Calvary, the blood of the Lamb. Calvary was critical to all redemption, and that includes all the believers of the Old Testament, the Church, and the new everlasting covenant to be enacted at the Millennium, which covers the restored Jews.
I cannot say what will comprise the everlasting covenant with the Jews, but this I know: it will extend right beyond the Millennium and into eternity because it is an “everlasting covenant.” The writers of both Old and New Testaments, and the translators, sometime interchange the words “everlasting” and “eternal,” but there is a difference. Strong’s mentions “perpetual.” In the KJV, John 3:16 uses “everlasting life” whereas most translators prefer “eternal life,” but I would suggest that in this case the KJV has it correct.
Most people know the terms of spatial mathematics and these three in particular: “line, ray, line segment.” A line is defined as having no beginning or end. The definition of a ray is it has a beginning but not an end (or an end but no beginning). A line segment has a beginning and an end. Now, expanding on those, the life of a monkey is a line segment because it has a fixed beginning, and the end is when it dies. The life of a human being is a ray because it has a beginning but no end. The existence of God is a line because God has no beginning and no end. God is eternal which is the correct definition, no beginning and no end. We don’t say, “God is everlasting,” but we do say, “God is eternal.” Human beings are not eternal because, like rays, we all had a beginning.
The correct term to apply to our salvation is “everlasting” because it had a beginning but shall have no end. We are not eternal. We have everlasting life, and that is the better term to use. So, the everlasting covenant will have a beginning but no end.
In Jeremiah 31:32, the new covenant is described as not being like the first one which was made void because the nation broke it. God was the husband for them, but like an adulterous wife, Israel departed from God in its craving for whoredom, and trampled the covenant, The Law, that was theirs. In Hosea he describes the change that will come over the nation – Hos 2:7 “She will pursue her lovers but she will not overtake them, and she will seek them but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband for it was better for me then than now.’” That change happens in the Tribulation when they turn back to God.
END OF PART 4 RESTORATION OF ISRAEL FROM JEREMIAH