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Jeremiah 31 The Voice (VOICE)

31 1-3 This is what the Eternal has to say:

Eternal One: There will come a time when I will be the God of all the clans and families of Israel, and they will be My people. This is what I, the Eternal One, declare to you:

    My people who survived the sword
        found grace as they wandered in the wilderness;
    When Israel went in search of rest,
        I appeared to them from far away and said:
    “I have loved you with an everlasting love—
        out of faithfulness I have drawn you close.
    And so it shall be again, My virgin Israel;
        I will build you up, and you will be rebuilt.
    You will again take up the tambourine
        and join with those who are dancing for joy.
    You will again plant vineyards
        on the hillsides of Samaria;
    Your farmers will plant them,
        and you will enjoy the fruit yourselves.
    The day will come when those who guard the land
        will cry out from the hills of Ephraim,
    ‘Get up! Let us go to Zion, dear Jerusalem,
        and worship the Eternal our God.’”

    Sing a song of joy for Jacob; shout for this greatest of nations.
        Shout it out with praise in your hearts:
    “O Eternal, save Your people—
        rescue the remnant of Israel.”
    Watch now, as I bring them from the land to the north,
        as I gather My people from the ends of the earth.
    Look who is among those returning home: the blind and the lame,
        expectant mothers and even those giving birth—
    All of these together in the multitude on its way home.
    Listen, as they come home weeping and repenting,
        praying for direction, pleading for mercy as I bring them back.
    In that day I will lead them beside quiet streams of water
        and take them upon a straight path where they will not stumble.
    Why? Because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is My firstborn son.

10 Listen to the word of the Eternal, you nations of the earth;
    take this story to distant shores and make it known:
The One who scattered Israel will now gather His people
    and watch over His flock as a shepherd.
11 For the Eternal has rescued Jacob
    and redeemed him from people who are too strong for him.
12 The redeemed will return home and shout for joy from the top of Mount Zion;
    they will shine with the sheer goodness of the Eternal—
The harvests of grain, wine, and oil; the healthy flocks and herds.
    Their lives will be like a lush, well-watered garden.
From that day on, they will never know sorrow.

13 Eternal One: Young women will dance for joy;
        young men will join them, old ones too.
    For I will turn their mourning into joy.
        I will comfort My people and replace their sorrow with gladness.
14     From the overflow of sacrifices,
        I will satisfy My priests;
    All My people will feast on My goodness.

The people now cling to this promise as they struggle with exile. Jeremiah returns the focus to the heartbreak of a people being deported to a foreign land.

This is what the Eternal declares!

15 Eternal One: A voice rises from Ramah—
        mourning and bitter weeping are heard day and night.
    The voice is Rachel’s; she’s weeping for her children.
        She will not be comforted,
        for her children are no more.[a]

The setting is Ramah, a village a few miles north of Jerusalem, where exiles are assembled before the long march to Babylon. Later the prophet himself will spend time in this refugee camp awaiting his own exile (40:1). For now, he paints the picture of Rachel, one of the matriarchs of this nation, weeping for her children as they head off into captivity.

16 But listen to what the Eternal says:

Eternal One: Do not weep, Rachel—wipe the tears from your eyes—
        for I promise I will reward you for what you have done.
    Your children will return from this exile;
        they will come back home from this enemy land.
17     There is hope for your future, I promise.
        Your children will come home to their own land.
18     I have heard the cries of Ephraim, groaning, “You have disciplined me.
        I was like an unruly calf, but You disciplined me.
    Bring me back, so I can return home,
        for You are my God, the Eternal.
19     After I had turned away from You, I repented.
        I turned back toward You when I understood what I had done;
    I slapped my thigh in shame and regret
        for the disgraceful things I did when I was young.”
20     So I, the Eternal One, asked:
        “Is this not Ephraim, My beloved son, My darling child?
    As often as I speak against him, I have never forgotten him.
        Even now, My heart longs for him;
    I will surely show him mercy!”

21     Set up markers along the road;
        put up guideposts so you can find your way home.
    Pay attention to the highway, the road you take into exile.
        Return by the same way, My virgin Israel;
        return to your cities and villages.

22     How long will you drift this way and that,
        My renegade daughter?
    Take heart—for now the Eternal will do a new thing on the earth:
        a woman will surround a man.[b]

23 This is what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, has to say:

Eternal One: When I bring them back from exile, people throughout the land and villages of Judah will speak these familiar words:

    May the Eternal bless you, home of righteousness,
        O sacred mountain!

24 In those days of restoration, farmers and herders all across Judah will live together in peace alongside those who live in the cities. 25 I will satisfy those who are weary, and I will refresh every soul in the grips of sorrow.

26 At this moment, I woke up from a wonderful sleep and looked around.

Jeremiah receives God’s messages in a variety of ways. In this dream-vision, he sees the future for his people. This is a sweet comfort and a welcomed contrast to other messages of doom and judgment. But as Jeremiah will see, God’s message of consolation is not only a hope of restoration for one rebellious nation, but a promise for all people. Jeremiah is perhaps best known as the prophet of the “new covenant.” According to the prophet, God is about to establish a new relationship with a new people. It will be unlike any earlier agreement. It will not be written on stone tablets that can be broken or on scrolls that can be lost or forgotten or even burned (36:23). No, this covenant between God and humanity is so intimate that it is to be written on the heart.

Eternal One: 27 Look! the days are coming when I will plant anew the house of Israel and the house of Judah. I will repopulate the land with people and animals. 28 Just as I watched over them in order to uproot and stamp out, to upend and destroy, and to bring disaster from the north, so now I will watch over them as I rebuild and replant them. This is what I, the Eternal One, declare. 29 In those coming days, people will no longer speak the proverb,

    Fathers have eaten sour grapes,
        and their children’s teeth are set on edge.

30 No, now it will be that each one will die for his own sins. If you eat sour grapes, then it is your own teeth that will be set on edge.

31 Look, the days are coming when I will bring about a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors long ago when I took them by the hand and led them out of slavery in Egypt. They did not remain faithful to that covenant—even though I loved and cared for them as a husband. 33 This is the kind of new covenant I will make with the people of Israel when those days are over. I will put My law within them. I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34 No longer will people have to teach each other or encourage their family members and say, “You must know the Eternal.” For all of them will know Me intimately themselves—from the least to the greatest of society. I will be merciful when they fail and forgive their wrongs. I will never call to mind or mention their sins again.

35 These are the words of the Eternal,

The One who orders the sun to give light to the day,
    the One who directs the moon and the stars to light the night,
The One who stirs up the sea so its waves churn and roar.
    The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, is His name.

36 Eternal One: Only if the natural order disintegrates before Me
        will the people of Israel cease to be a nation in covenant with Me.

37 This is what the Eternal says:

Eternal One: If the heavens above could ever be measured,
        or the depths below be fully explored,
    Only then would I disown the children of Israel
        because of everything they have done.

So says the Eternal.

Even as words of hope and consolation are offered, the stark reality of the present looms large. The Babylonian army is near. The siege of Jerusalem is now under way. It is a dark time in the land; there is much fear, and many have questions as the capture of the capital city is now a certainty. Again, Jeremiah must live out his faith in front of a people who have abandoned God. He is under arrest and being questioned by King Zedekiah. Though the details surrounding his imprisonment come in chapter 37, once again it is an unpopular message that makes Jeremiah a most unpopular prophet. But he willingly lives out his faith in an attempt to offer an unreceptive audience hope.

As strange as the other assignments given to Jeremiah may seem, this one may be the most difficult to understand. A rotting linen belt (chapter 13) and a shattered clay jar (chapter 19)—these were at least vivid pictures of the people’s rebellion and God’s judgment. But now, in the face of certain captivity and ruin, Jeremiah is instructed to do a most absurd thing: he is to purchase a piece of property with his money. Given its location, this plot of ground may even be under Babylon’s control. Why this apparent waste of money? To show the people that one day this land of promise will again be theirs.

Eternal One: 38 Look! The days are coming when I will rebuild Jerusalem for My own purpose and glory—from the tower of Hananel to the corner gate. 39 A measuring line will stretch out to the hill of Gareb and then sweep across to Goah. 40 The valley of Ben-hinnom where the dead bodies and ashes from the sacrifices were thrown, and all the terraced fields leading out to the Kidron Valley, and as far east as the corner of the horse gate—all of these most defiled and polluted areas will again be made holy to the Eternal. The city will never again be uprooted or destroyed.

Footnotes:

  1. 31:15 Matthew 2:18
  2. 31:22 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Jeremiah 31 New International Version (NIV)

31 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”

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.”

The Lord appeared to us in the past,[a] saying:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
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.
Again you will plant vineyards
    on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them
    and enjoy their fruit.
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.’”

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.’
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.
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,
    I repented;
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 return to[b] the man.”

23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity,[c] 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[d] them,[e]
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.”

Footnotes:

  1. Jeremiah 31:3 Or Lord has appeared to us from afar
  2. Jeremiah 31:22 Or will protect
  3. Jeremiah 31:23 Or I restore their fortunes
  4. Jeremiah 31:32 Hebrew; Septuagint and Syriac / and I turned away from
  5. Jeremiah 31:32 Or was their master
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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