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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Jeremiah 31

 

 

Verses 1-22

Jeremiah 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.

During the Israelites’ banishment to Babylon, God’s covenant with them had been as it were in abeyance, but in this promise of their restoration he brings it to the front again, and he gives a peculiarly gracious turn to it: “I will be the God of all the families of Israel.” What a mercy it is to have a family God, and to have our whole family in Christ! Brethren, you have a family Bible, and you have, I hope, a family altar; may your whole family belong to God!

Jeremiah 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.

Pharaoh tried to kill Israel; when he drew his sword, it looked as if the whole nation would be slain. But God got them away from Pharaoh into the wilderness, and there he caused them to rest. God still teas a people whom he will certainly save, and the adversary shall not be able to destroy them. Now comes this glorious verse:-

Jeremiah 31:3-4. The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built,

Jerusalem was all broken down, her houses were vacant, and her palaces were in ruins, but God’s promise to her was, “ Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built.” If the preacher tries to rebuild those who are spiritually broken down, his work may be a failure; but when God does it, it is effectually done.

Jeremiah 31:4. O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tablets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

God can take away his people’s sorrow, and fill them with exultant joy. Their flying feet shall follow the flying music, and they shall be exceeding glad. May the Lord make his people joyful now in his house of prayer!

Jeremiah 31:5. Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.

God’s people shall get to work again; and they shall have the fruit of their toil, and shall rejoice before God because they do not labour in vain nor spend their strength for nought.

Jeremiah 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.

The men of Ephraim did not go up to Zion to worship, they forsook the one altar at Jerusalem; but the day will come when they will turn again to the Lord. Watchmen have to be on the look-out for enemies, but the day will come when even they shall be able to leave their watch-towers and to say, “ Let us go up to Zion unto Jehovah our God.’ Are any of you watching just now with anxious eyes? Have you been watching all through the night? Well, you have not seen much, and your eyes ache with looking out for evil; so drop your watching now, and say one to another, “ Let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God.”

Jeremiah 31:7-8. For thus saith the LORD Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nation, publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them-

Notice the prayer and the answer. The prayer is put into our mouths, and before we hardly have time to utter it, the answer comes: “ O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them”-

Jeremiah 31:8.From the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame,

How can they come? Will they help one another? God himself will be eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.

Jeremiah 31:8. The woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.

They were not fit for traveling, yet God in his great mercy can make the feeblest of his people strong, and when he means to bring them to himself, they shall come even though it looks as if they could not come.

Jeremiah 31:9. They shall come with weeping,-

Never mind the weeping so long as they do but come, and remember that there is no true faith without the tear of repentance in its eye: “ They shall come with weeping,”-

Jeremiah 31:9. And with supplications will I lead them:

The way of prayer is the way home to God.

Jeremiah 31:9. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble:

Happy are the people who have such precious promises as these. The way is to be straight, and their feet are to be so firmly planted in it that “ they shall not stumble.”

Jeremiah 31:9-11. For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. 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. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob.

The secret of every other blessing is redemption. If God has redeemed he will save, depend upon it; the precious blood of Jesus shall ne’er be shed in vain.

Jeremiah 31:11-12. And ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come”-

If they are redeemed, “they shall come.” Christ did not die in vain; the redemption that he wrought must be effectual; “ therefore they shall come”-

Jeremiah 31:12. 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:

These are all temporal mercies, and it is a great blessing to see God’s goodness in them. If God blesses common mercies, they are blessings indeed; but without his blessing they may become idols, and so may become curses.

Jeremiah 31:12. And their soul shall be as a watered garden;

What a delightful simile! It is of little use for the body to be fed unless the soul also is well nourished: “Their soul shall be as a watered garden;”

Jeremiah 31:12-14. And they shall not sorrow any more at all. 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. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness,

God will give the spiritual leaders of his people enough and more than enough, more than they can take in, he will satiate them with fatness.

Jeremiah 31:14. And my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

What a delightful promise this is! Listen to it and carry it home, all of you who are truly the Lord’s people.

Jeremiah 31:15. Thus saith the LORD A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

There is here a prophetic allusion to the massacre of the infants by Herod at the time of the birth of our Lord. It was a time of sorrow indeed.

Jeremiah 31:16-17. 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. And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD that thy children shall come again to their own border.

As Rachel is represented as weeping for her children, so is she represented as mourning for the tribes that were carried away into captivity, yet is she comforted with the Lord’s gracious assurance, .’ they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” So they did, and there is to be a glorious future yet for the people of God of the ancient race of Abraham.

Jeremiah 31:18. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus;

There is never a penitent in this world bemoaning himself without God hearing him. Do not think that a single penitential cry ever rises unheeded from a contrite heart. That cannot be; God has a quick ear for the cries of penitents.

Jeremiah 31:18. Thou hast chastened me, and I was chastened, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke:

“I bore the chastisement, but derived no benefit from it. I have not repented of my sin, I have not turned unto thee.”

Jeremiah 31:18. Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.

If the Lord undertakes to turn us, we shall be truly turned, that is, converted.

Jeremiah 31:19. Surety after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, 1 smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.

Are there any here recollecting the past with terror, and lamenting before God because of their sins? Then hear what God says. He seems to echo the voice of Ephraim. As Ephraim bemoans himself, God bemoans him:-

Jeremiah 31:20. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child?

You might expect the answer to be, “No, he has lost the rights of childhood; he has been unpleasant and provoking to God, “ yet God does not give such an answer as that to his own questions, but he says:-

Jeremiah 31:20. For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still;

Notwithstanding that the Lord threatened him, and sent prophets to foretell evil to him because of his sin, yet he says, “I do earnestly remember him still;”-

Jeremiah 31:20. Therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him saith the LORD.

What a wonderful speech for God to make! Even the infinitely-blessed God represents himself as in trouble concerning penitent sinners, remembering them in pity, and longing to have mercy upon them.

Jeremiah 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.

In crossing the desert, travelers raise little cairns of stone that they may be directed on a future occasion, across that pathless sea of sand; and so God bids them set up waymarks, and make high heaps, that they may know how to come back to him.

Jeremiah 31:22. How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter?

God still asks in pity, “how long will you seek here and there for comfort?”

You will never find it till you come back to your God. Emptiness is written upon everything till the heart comes to its Saviour and Lord.


Verses 1-26

Jeremiah 31:1-3. At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 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. 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.

Was there ever a sweeter word from heaven than this, — everlasting love proved by the drawings of divine grace? I know that your hearts will be full of music if ever the Spirit of God has spoken home to your soul such a message as this. Let us read it again. “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.

Jeremiah 31:4-5. 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. Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.

God has kind purposes of love towards his ancient people, and he will yet bring Israel again to her own land. And, spiritually, he has like purposes of love to all his elect; and they shall joy and rejoice with unspeakable delight. What though you are barren for awhile? God shall yet come to you, and you shall be fruitful.

Jeremiah 31:6-9. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Do not forget the first meaning of this passage in its reference to Israel, but suck in also the consolation which comes from it to all who are believers in Christ. The Lord will certainly bring all his chosen ones to himself. Blind as they are, — wandering as they have been, — they shall come back to him; they shall come back with tears of repentance, and with refreshments of mercy: “by the rivers of water.” They shall come back to their God, who says, “I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.”

Jeremiah 31:10-11. 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. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

Redemption lies at the bottom of every favor that we receive from God. He blesses us because he has redeemed us. He has bought us with so great a price that we are too dear for him ever to lose us. Because he has bought his flock, therefore will he fetch it away from the enemy.

Jeremiah 31:12-14. 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. 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. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

Why, these very words are full of marrow and fatness! The promise is inexpressibly sweet; what must the fulfillment of it be? Oh, for faith to lay hold upon it! Yet there is a note of sorrow mingled with the pealing of the joy-bells: —

Jeremiah 31:15-16. Thus saith the LORD A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. 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.

“Your lost babes shall live; their very bodies, mouldering in the earth, shall rise again. Be not grieved or vexed overmuch; for ‘they shall come again from the land of the enemy.’ “

Jeremiah 31:17. And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.

There is another sorrow, — a deeper sorrow than grief over children, that is, sorrow for sin: —

Jeremiah 31:18. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, —

And there was an end of it, —

Jeremiah 31:18. As a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke:

Since thy chastisements have been of little service to me, lay thine hand upon me: —

Jeremiah 31:18-19. Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented;

Repentance is a turning from sin unto the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:19. And after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh:

In very grief of heart, as if I could not smite myself enough for having sinned.

Jeremiah 31:19. I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.

Now when a man talks like that, how does God speak?

Jeremiah 31:20. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still:

“Not only do I remember him, but ‘I do earnestly remember him still.’ “

Jeremiah 31:20. Therefore my bowels are troubled for him;

“I cannot bear to see his misery.”

Jeremiah 31:20. I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.

Oh, what blessedness there is in this gracious promise!

Jeremiah 31:21-26. 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. 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. 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. And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.

I should think it was. If a man could dream like that, he might well wish to go to sleep again. To dream of everlasting love, of gracious drawings, of heavenly restorations, of sin forgiven, sorrow removed, and desire satisfied, well may the prophet, say, “My sleep was sweet unto me.” May we, when we are awake, learn what the prophet heard in his sleep!


Verses 1-28

Jeremiah 31:1. At the same time, faith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

How divinely he talks, — as only God can talk These people had rejected him, yet he says, “They shall be my people,” not only some of them, but all of them: “I will be the God of all the families of Israel.” Behold the wonderful power of divine grace upon the hearts of rebellious sinners. There are no “ifs” and no “buts” here; it is “I will” and “they shall.” God knows how to work out his own purposes of love and mercy.

Jeremiah 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.

If we ever do get true rest of soul, God must cause us to rest, as David said, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” The rest of the heart is a miracle of divine power.

Jeremiah 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.

There is the source of everything that is good and gracious: “everlasting love.” When God has once set that love upon his people, anything and everything that is for their good may come out of it; all temporal good and all eternal blessings will come out of everlasting love. Oh, that we might each one of us have grace to appropriate these blessed words to himself: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” They were given to Israel of old, but the spiritual Israel possesses all the privileges of the natural Israel, and much more.

Jeremiah 31:4. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built,

Whatever God does is done effectually; there is never any failure in his work.

Jeremiah 31:4. O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tablets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

They had wept and mourned, but they were to dance; they had been very sad and disconsolate, but they were to take down their harps from the willows, and even to have their tablets or timbrels again.

Jeremiah 31:5. Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountain of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.

God makes the luxuries of grace to be common things to his people. Fare that once seemed so rare as to be enjoyed only on high days and holidays shall become everyday meat to his people when their Lord reveals himself to them.

Jeremiah 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.

For many a year Israel had gone to Bethel to worship the calves, or stayed at home to adore the shrine of Ashtaroth; now they were to go to Zion to serve Jehovah. See what the grace of God can do even for idolaters. If any of us have been bowing down to our idols, may we this day turn to the living God; may the power of his grace lead us to go heartily and unanimously to worship the Lord our God.

Jeremiah 31:7-8. 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. 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.

Whatever God does, he does thoroughly. When he shall restore his ancient people, he will not leave the weak ones behind, and if, today, we are enjoying his presence, the most afflicted and the most infirm among us shall know what the joy of the Lord means. The Lord grant it, and we will praise his holy name.

Jeremiah 31:9. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them:

Weeping and prayer go well together. There is no prayer like a wet prayer saturated with the tears of repentance.

Jeremiah 31:9. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of water in a straight way, —

Hear this, ye mourners. God will supply your need with rivers of waters, and he will make you to walk in a straight way. Sometimes we are perplexed because the road seems to wind in and out like a labyrinth, but God can lead us in a straight way: “I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way,” —

Jeremiah 31:9. Wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel and Ephraim is my firstborn.

They had forgotten their relationship to Jehovah, but he still remembered that they were his children.

Jeremiah 31:10-11. 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. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

They were the Lord’s chosen people even when they were in captivity in Babylon. He had scattered them because of their sin, but he would gather them in his mercy.

Jeremiah 31:12-14. 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. 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. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness saith the LORD.

What a blessed change this was for those who had sorrowfully cried, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” And we rejoice in a still greater change when the Lord brings us into spiritual liberty.

Jeremiah 31:15-17. Thou saith the LORD A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the LORD Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tear: for thy work shall be rewarded saith the LORD and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.

A mother’s sorrow over her lost babes is very great and long-enduring, but if she is a Christian, she shall meet them again in the land of the blessed, and shall be parted from them no more for ever.

Jeremiah 31:18. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus;

What a wonderfully expressive word that word “bemoaning” is!

Jeremiah 31:18-19. 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. 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.

Hear what the Lord says about these bemoaning ones, these sin-loathing ones: —

Jeremiah 31:20. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child?

Or we may render it, “Is this Ephraim my dear son? Is this my pleasant child?” He is all that now that he begins to hate his sin.

Jeremiah 31:20. For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still:

Think of this, you who forget your God, ye backsliders, wanderers from your Father’s house.

Jeremiah 31:20-21. Therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD. Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps:

Raise cairns along the road at various point to let other travelers know the way in which they should go.

Jeremiah 31:21-22. Set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities. 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.

Whereas the enemy had compassed Jerusalem round about, now Jerusalem was to be the besieger, and to compass her enemies, and defeat them. Some interpreters think this is an allusion to the birth of the Saviour, that “new thing in the earth” — the incarnation of the Son of God.

Jeremiah 31:23-25. 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. And there shall dwell is Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.

This prophecy is to be fulfilled in the restoration of Israel to Palestine; until that happens, the promise bears a spiritual meaning to all the children of God. O weary soul, thou shalt be satiated, that is more than being satisfied; thou shalt have as much of holiness and joy as thou canst hold! Plead his promise now, O sorrowful soul, and may God fulfill it to thee!

Jeremiah 31:26. Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.

Well might it be. Poor Jeremiah, who so often wept over the woes of Israel, was the very man to be refreshed when he heard from God that he would visit his people in mercy, and bring them back to their own land. Happy dreamer, who dreams such a blessed dream as this, a dream that came true in due time.

Jeremiah 31:27-28. 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. 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.

What a black list of words we first have here! God’s way of dealing with his people when they wander away from him is very stern. They must be brought back, but it will be over a very rough road. The Lord says that he “watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict;” and in the same measure he now declares that he will watch over them to do them good. As our tribulations abound, so also shall our consolations abound by Christ Jesus. If you have been bitterly convinced of sin, you shall be sweetly convinced of pardon. The deeper God digs the foundation, the higher he means to build the house. Those who are brought to him in great affliction very often afterwards know more of Christ and more of the love of God than any others.


Verses 18-26

Jeremiah 31:18. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; —

It is God who is here speaking. There is never a moan, or a sob, or a cry,or a sigh, but God hears it. The Lord is very quick of hearing for the sorrows of penitent sinners; there is no mistake about this matter, for he says, “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; “ —

Jeremiah 31:18. Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, —

“No good came of it. I smarted, but I was not benefited: ‘Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised,’” —

Jeremiah 31:18. As a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou; art the LORD my God.

There was never a heart that spake thus, unless grace had been secretly at work with it; and depend upon it, if God has brought us to this point, that we are ready to declare him to be our God, and are anxious to be the subjects of his converting grace, it is because God has looked upon us in his wondrous love. If thou desirest to be turned towards God, thou art already in a measure turned towards him. The desire to feel is a kind of feeling, the longing to believe has some measure of faith in it. Be comforted by this thought, yet be not content to rest where thou art, but go on till thou hast all the blessing that the Lord is waiting and willing to bestow upon thee. Happy is the man who is saying to God at this moment, “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God.”

Jeremiah 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.

‘When a man has “sown his wild oats,” and God in mercy helps him to come back from such a dreadful field as that, he recollects what he has been, and he is ashamed of himself; sometimes, he is more than half ashamed to mingle with God’s people, for he is afraid that they will have nothing to do with such a wretch as he has been; but he is, most of all, ashamed to come near to his God, because of the reproach of his youth. Yet listen to the Lord’s gracious words concerning him: —

Jeremiah 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.

Here we seem to look into the very heart of God; and he is represented to us as though he had contending passions within him. He speaketh angrily one day, but he doth earnestly remember mercy the next day. God changes not, yet his dealings with men must change, because their state varies so much. He sometimes speaks in great wrath while they hold to their sin, but love lies even at the bottom of that wrath; and anon he changeth his tone, and speaketh comfortably, and putteth away the sinner’s sin when he sees that his anger has wrought the due result, and the sinner quits his sin to come to his God. Some of you understand this treatment, for you have experienced it; but you cannot comprehend the fullness of mercy and love that is in the heart of God towards the repenting sinner.

Jeremiah 31:21-22. 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. How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter?

How long will you be seeking comfort where you cannot find it, and pleasure where nothing but misery can come?

Jeremiah 31:22-23. For the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man. 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.

Jerusalem was cursed because of sin; but God declared that, in his great mercy, he would make it to be a place of blessing, and men should speak of it as the “habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.”

Jeremiah 31:24-26. And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.

He that can sleep and dream as Jeremiah did, may well say that his sleep was sweet to him. May God grant to us, whether we sleep or wake, to be always with him! Then our time shall be indeed sweet unto us.


Verses 22-37

Jeremiah 31:22. For the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.

Here is a prophecy of the birth of Immanuel, God with us, born of a woman by the supernatural power of the Holy Ghost. Mary was indeed blessed among women, and we rejoice in that Man who was thus miraculously born to be the Saviour, Christ the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:23-30. 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. And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.

There are good times in store for Israel; Jerusalem shall then be the “ habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.”

Jeremiah 31:26. Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.

Jeremiah woke up with a pleasant impression of his vision upon him, and well he might, for was there ever a more blessed one than that of which we have just read?

Jeremiah 31:27-28. 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. 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.

All the ingenuity of heaven seems to be taxed to bless believers; and just as man sought out many inventions for evil, God in his infinite love and mercy seeks out many inventions for the good of his people.

Jeremiah 31:29-30. In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

We live under a personal dispensation, there is no such thing as hereditary godliness or salvation by proxy. Every man must for himself repent, and for himself believe. Vain and foolish is the idea that, because we have had Christian parents, therefore we also are Christians.

Jeremiah 31:31-32. 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: 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.

What bliss it is to know about this new covenant! Let us notice its tenor.

Jeremiah 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;”-

Not on the tables of stone, not on the walls of the church, but “ I will write it in their hearts; “-

Jeremiah 31:33. And will be their God, and they shall be my people.

You may have heard it said that Christ will not leave his people, but that his people may leave him; but in this promise the second contingency is provided for as well as the first.

Jeremiah 31:34-37. 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. 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: 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. 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.

What a God of infinite mercy he is!

This exposition consisted of readings from Lamentations 3:1-33; and Jeremiah 31:22-37


Verses 27-37

Jeremiah 31:27-33. 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. 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 replant, saith the Lord. In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape. his teeth shall be set on edge. 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: 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: 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.

This is the central truth of all Scripture, it is the basis of all Scripture. When Paul desires to set forth the covenant of grace, he appeals to this passage. Twice, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, he bases an argument upon it, and after quoting it, adds, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.” Brethren and sisters in Christ, under the first covenant we are ruined; there is no salvation for us but under this new covenant, wherefore let us read to our joy and comfort what the promises and provisions of that new covenant are.

Jeremiah 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.

Pardoned sin, as well as the change of nature, is implied in the writing of the law upon the heart. Oh, what a privilege it is to be among these covenanted people! How shall we know whether we belong to them? The seal of the covenant is faith in Christ; I mean the personal seal upon the heart and conscience. Thou believest in Jesus Christ as thy Saviour, thou art trusting alone to his atoning sacrifice, then God is in covenant with thee, for Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant, and he who hath Christ hath the Surety of the covenant, and he shall have in due time every blessing which that covenant guarantees.

Jeremiah 31:35-37. 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: 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. 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.

Now Israel still standeth as a people separate from all others, and there is still before the literal seed of Israel a great and glorious future; but as for the spiritual Israel, who worship God in the Spirit, and have no confidence in the flesh, God will sooner blot out the sun and moon than cast away his people, or any one of them. They shall all be his people, and he shall be their God; he will preserve them, and he will keep his covenant with them for ever and for ever, blessed be his holy name, the name of Jehovah, the God of the covenant which cannot be broken!


Verses 29-37

Jeremiah 31:29-30. In these days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

God was going to deal with the Israelites individually, personally; and that is how he will deal with us.

Jeremiah 31:31. Behold,

Here is something worth beholding; read this great promise with tears in your eyes: —

Jeremiah 31:31-33. The days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 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 than, saith the LORD: 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.

It is all wills and shalls; it is all covenant life; — no longer the law graven upon the tables of stone, but the law written on the heart; — no more the Lord’s command without man’s power and will to obey it; but God will renew our nature, and change our disposition, so that we shall love to do what once we loathed, and shall loathe the sins that we once loved. What a wonderful mass of mercies is included in the covenant of grace!

Jeremiah 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, —

“All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” All believers, whatever else they may not know, do know their Lord: “they shall all know me,” —

Jeremiah 31:34. From the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD:

How will they learn to know the Lord? Well, it will be in a very wonderful way; —

Jeremiah 31:34. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Let me read that again, and may come poor wandering children of God hear the promise, and be glad that it applies to them: “ I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:35-37. 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: if these ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

Thus saith the LORD If heaven above can be measured, and the foundation 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.


Verses 31-34

Jeremiah 31:31-33. 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: 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: 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.

The old covenant was written on tables of stone; but the Lord said, concerning the new covenant, “I will put my law in their inward parts.” The old law was hidden from sight when it was written a second time, and placed in the ark of the covenant; and God says of his new law, “I will write it in their hearts.” They were always rebelling against God, and wandering away from him; but in this new, gracious covenant, he says, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Jeremiah 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:

God gives to all his people a knowledge of himself. “Whatever else they know or do not know,” saith the Lord, “they shall all know me.” Though they differ as to their growth in grace, yet “they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”

Jeremiah 31:34. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

If God has pardoned your sins, you will be sure to know him; there will be no mistake about that point. Men shrink back, and hide away from an angry God punishing sin, for they do not care to know him; but when he comes forth, dressed in the silken robes of love, to bestow free pardons upon the chief of sinners, then they know him. God grant that all of us may have this blessed knowledge! Now kindly turn over the leaves of your Bibles until you come to then 36th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, and the 25th verse, where you can read still further about this same gracious new covenant of Jehovah.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Jeremiah 31:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/jeremiah-31.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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