Jeremiah Chapter 31  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Jeremiah 31
Jer 31:1(top)
Jer 31:2(top)
Jer 31:3(top)
Jer 31:4(top)
Jer 31:5(top)
Jer 31:6(top)
Jer 31:7(top)
Jer 31:8

“gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth.” There are many verses that prophesy Israel’s return to the land of Israel. Although Israel did return from Babylon, these prophecies will be fully fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom, as is clear from the context (Jer. 31:8-17, esp. v. 17). [For more information on Israel’s return to the Promised Land, see commentary on Jeremiah 32:37].

Jer 31:9

“and Ephraim is my firstborn.” This is not meant to be literal, but is a poetic expression of the love God had for Israel, here called “Ephraim,” in parallel with “Israel” in the previous phrase. Israel is called “Ephraim” many times in the Old Testament because Ephraim was the most powerful tribe of the ten tribes that made up the nation of Israel. Also, that “Ephraim” (Israel) is called God’s firstborn is a poetic way of expressing that God had special love and concern for His people Israel, and was not meant to express in any way that Israel, who had been so unfaithful to God that they were scattered by the Assyrians, were somehow more loved than the southern kingdom of Judah. All the tribes of Israel are metaphorically referred to as God’s son (cp. Hos. 11:1).

Jer 31:10(top)
Jer 31:11

“will ransom.” The Hebrew uses the prophetic idiom, and puts this phrase in the past tense (“has ransomed”) for emphasis. [For more on the prophetic perfect idiom, see commentary on Eph. 2:6].

“Jacob.” Jeremiah 31 has a mixture of references to God’s people returning to the land of Israel, and to Samaria and Zion. Thus Jeremiah 31 is not just about Israel returning from the Assyrian captivity or about Judah returning from the Babylonian captivity, but to all of God’s people returning from their captivity.

Jer 31:12(top)
Jer 31:13(top)
Jer 31:14(top)
Jer 31:15

“A voice is heard in Ramah.” Jeremiah 31:15 is quoted in Matthew 2:18. “Rachel” is the perfect choice to weep for the captivity of both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Rachel was one of the wives of Jacob and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin (Gen. 30:22-24; 35:16-18), and thus the grandmother of Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph fathered Ephraim and Manasseh while he was in Egypt (Gen. 41:50-52), and Ephraim became the chief tribe of the ten-tribe nation of Israel, which at the time Jeremiah wrote had been carried away over a century earlier by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5-24). Thus, at the time of Jeremiah, the nation of Israel was “no more,” so “Rachel,” who had been dead for many centuries, is poetically portrayed as weeping bitterly for her children. But God promises that he will bring Israel back from captivity to the land of Israel, a promise that has still not been fulfilled but will be when Christ rules on earth in his Millennial Kingdom.

Rachel was also the mother of Benjamin, and the tribe of Benjamin had joined with the tribe of Judah to form the nation of Judah. But the nation of Judah sinned against Yahweh too, just as Israel had, and so during Jeremiah’s ministry Judah had been conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (cp. Jer. 1:1; 2 Kings 24:1). Nebuchadnezzar carried away huge numbers of Judeans to Babylon, so “Rachel” is portrayed as weeping for her captive children of Benjamin as well as for her captive children from Joseph.

Rachel’s connection with the tribe of Benjamin and the nation of Judah also connected her to the territory of Judea under King Herod the Great, so when Herod murdered the babies in the area of Bethlehem, Rachel was said to be weeping (Matt. 2:18).

[For more on Israel being brought back to the land of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on Jer. 32:37. For more on the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].

Jer 31:16(top)
Jer 31:17(top)
Jer 31:18

“You have disciplined me.” Ephraim (Israel) begins speaking here and Jeremiah 31:18-19 are Ephraim speaking.

Jer 31:19

“Surely after I turned away, I repented.” Ephraim started speaking in Jeremiah 31:18 and is still speaking.

Jer 31:20

“my bowels!” In the biblical culture, the bowels and abdominal organs were the seat of emotion. Yahweh has deep feelings for his people even though they have sinned greatly.

Jer 31:21(top)
Jer 31:22(top)
Jer 31:23

“righteousness.” The emphasis of “righteousness” here is the relation of people to each other, which is why some versions translate it as “justice” (cp. CJB; DRA; ERV; GNV; KJV; NAB; NJB; NKJ). [For more on why “righteousness” would be translated “justice” in some versions, see commentary on Matt. 5:6 and Rom. 3:22].

Jer 31:24(top)
Jer 31:25(top)
Jer 31:26(top)
Jer 31:27(top)
Jer 31:28(top)
Jer 31:29(top)
Jer 31:30(top)
Jer 31:31

“new covenant.” The New Covenant is spoken of here, and in a number of other places in the Old Testament, often using different names. For example, in Jeremiah 32:40 it is called an “everlasting covenant.” In Isaiah 54:10 and Ezekiel 34:25 and 37:26 it is called a “covenant of peace.”

The New Covenant, which was future to Jeremiah, has now been ratified with Christ’s blood and death on the cross. However, covenant promises, such as the one in Jeremiah 32:39 (cp. Ezek. 11:19) about the people having one heart and one way of life, will not be fully realized until the Millennial Kingdom and First Resurrection, when Christ rules as king over the earth and the righteous believers are raised from the dead in their new everlasting bodies.

It is common with covenants that there is a period of time—sometimes a long time—between when a covenant is ratified and when the covenant promises are fulfilled. For example, God made a blood covenant with Abraham and promised that Abraham and his offspring would get the Promised Land. It has now been 4,000 years and that covenant promise has not been fulfilled, but it will be. Part of the reason that believers of all time have a secure hope for the future is that God is a God who keeps promises.

[For more on the New Covenant, see commentary on Jeremiah 32:39. For more on Christ’s reigning as king on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on the Rapture and resurrections, see commentary on Acts 24:15].

Jer 31:32(top)
Jer 31:33

“covenant.” This refers to the New Covenant, whereas the covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai was the “Old Covenant” (usually but mistakenly called the “Old Testament”). The Old Covenant was made with animal blood, while the New Covenant was made with Christ’s blood. There are many aspects to the New Covenant, one of them being that we will live on a restored earth. [For more on the restored earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].

Jer 31:34

“from the least of them to the greatest.” Under the New Covenant in Christ’s future kingdom there will still be a hierarchy among the people. Although it is unclear how this hierarchy will be established in the New Jerusalem and Everlasting Kingdom of Revelation 21 and 22, in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ it will certainly be based in large part upon what a person did for the Lord in their life on earth, and reigning with Christ in his earthly kingdom will be part of the reward that people receive for being faithful to God and Christ now.

Jesus’ apostles knew there would be different positions of authority in Christ’s kingdom, which is why Zebedee’s wife, the mother of James and John, came to Jesus and asked that her two sons sit next to Christ—one on the right and one on the left—when he reigns as king, and why the other apostles were angry at the request (Matt. 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-41).

Getting to reign with Christ in the future is just one reason that believers should be very serious about their walk with the Lord and serving him. The person who serves well will reign with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12), while if we ignore Christ or turn from him we may forfeit all our rewards in the Millennial Kingdom (1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 2:12).

[For more information on the future Millennial Kingdom on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth,” and also see commentary on Matt. 5:12; 6:1; 1 Cor. 9:26, 27. For more about rewards in the future Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on 2 Cor. 5:10, “good or evil.” For a much more complete explanation of the Millennial Kingdom and rewards in the future, see John Schoenheit; The Christian’s Hope: The Anchor of the Soul].

Jer 31:35(top)
Jer 31:36(top)
Jer 31:37(top)
Jer 31:38(top)
Jer 31:39(top)
Jer 31:40(top)

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