JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 31 - The New Covenant


Tuesday Morning Bible Study 7/13/21

Pastor Carolyn Sissom




Year after year, Jeremiah has had to prophecy pronouncements of doom.  Now in chapter 31, this same prophet speaks one word of comfort after another, one tender promise after another, as gracious consolation and comfort is released to the people of God.  It is the voice of a loving father pouring out his heart to his beloved. 


31: 1: “At the same time,” says the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.


At that timemeans those latter days of chapter 30 (the time of Jesus’ reign over His people) and it specifically addresses Ephraim (the House of Israel).


30:22-24: You shall be My people, and I will be your God.  Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goes forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind.  It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart.


In the latter days you will consider it.


These things are coming to pass during these latter-day times.


30:2: (NIV):  This is what the LORD says: The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert.  I will come to give rest to Israel.


The desert here serves as a prophetic picture of all the lands in which the people of Israel were scattered through the ages. 


31: 3-6: (KJV):   The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.  Therefore, with lovingkindness, I have drawn you.  Again, I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel!  You shall again be adorned with your tambourines.  You shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.  You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria.  The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food.  For there shall be a day when the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim.  Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.


The Hebrew says, “Yahweh appeared to me.”  The prophet receives the word as the representative and embodiment of the people of Israel as a whole.  The LORD’s love for Israel will outlast the shame, reproach, destruction, and judgment, in those ancient days and again in the future.  Past and future, He will draw them with loving kindness. Because it is the LORD who will rebuild them, they will be rebuilt and firmly established in the land, stable and secure.



The planting of vines in Samaria is a sure and symbolic approval of the Israel-people.   The return will be huge and God will “lead them.”  


31: 7-8:  For thus says the LORD:  Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations.  Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O’ LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.’  Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame.  The woman with child and the one who labors with child, together, a great throng shall return there.


God’s salvation of his people is a cause for celebration and proclamation throughout the whole world.  The nations are instructed to sing and rejoice on Jacob’s behalf.  It is cause for great rejoicing when Jerusalem is again established as the spiritual capitol of the nation. 


These verses are reminder of the importance of Israel’s redemption---the LORD’s people.  They will be recognized as “chief of the nations” by the nations of the world. NIV reads “foremost of the nations.” This is confirmed by Paul’s teaching that Israel’s salvation means “life from the dead” for the entire world (Ro. 11:15).


Jer. 31:9-11 (NKJV):  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, in which they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.  Hear the word of the LORD, O’ nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.  For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.


Israel, like Judah, was initially exiled to the north, Israel by Assyria, Judah by Babylon.  Israel, like Judah, was ultimately scattered throughout the nations, leading to the legend of the Ten Lost Tribes.  Notice a regathering from all the nations references Israel, not Judah. 


The ultimate fulfillment of these verses is clearly Messianic and has to do with the latter days.


The nations are called on to hear what God is saying concerning his people and then to announce it to the coastlands.  This underscores the unique role Israel plays among the nations.  God has a special relationship with Jacob, and he will carefully shepherd his flock watching over them as they return home. 


Jacob’s return to the land is an act of spiritual restoration as much as it is an act of physical restoration.  That is why it was such an important spiritual action when Donald John Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel and moved the American embassy there. 


God’s people, let alone human beings in general cannot save themselves, either from their enemies or their sis.  Only God can deliver!


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 anymore 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.  I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, says the LORD.


Jeremiah is given the honor of seeing the glory of the LORD and the glory of Jesus’ Kingdom on earth as the redeemed go to the heights of Zion.   “Zion is where the Throne of God is eternally established and sure against all attacks of an enemy.  Zion is the dwelling-place of God, where He is gloriously praise, where His doings are known.  Zion is the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Zion is the source of continual salvation.  Those who discover Zion know the fullness of salvation, and yet learn day by day more of an increasing fulness.  Zion is the joy of the whole earth, experienced already by many, anticipated by others, travailed after by all.  Zion is the source of strength and support for the people of God, especially in the day of trouble.  Zion is known, not traced out with a boundary.   Zion is experienced.  Zion is a place of being in God.  Zion is the government of God in the earth.  Zion is a people.  Zion has a King who reigns forever in a Kingdom which extends to all generations.  He is alive in God’s sons.  Zion is the place of rejoicing in the judgments of God, for in Zion men come to know a true perspective of God’s judgment and righteousness. Zion is where the Lord is known in His greatness” (Kelly Varner – Principles of Present Truth).


In verse 14, it is the priests who are singled out for blessing.  I will satiate the souls of the priests with fatness.  This is because of the abundance of the sacrifices from the rebuilt temple. Isa. 61:6a: “you will be called priests of the LORD.”   This is a promise to the people as a whole finally fulfilling their destiny in accordance with Exodus 19:6: “you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”


31:15-17: Thus says the LORD, a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.  Thus says the LORD; “Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears.  For your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD.  And they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the LORD, that your children shall come back to their own border.


For the present time, however, the sounds of joy, just prophesied, are not heard.  Instead, there is the sound of weeping.  Rachel, beloved wife of Jacob and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin represents the northern and southern kingdoms.  Rachel once said to her husband, “Give me children or I’ll die!” (Gen. 30:1).  Rachel actually died giving birth to Benjamin (Gen. 35:16-19).


Centuries later Matthew prophetically recorded Jeremiah’s words over her Bethlehem babies being slaughtered by Herod (Mt. 2:16-18).  Genesis 35:12 locates Rachel’s death at Bethlehem, death and/or gravesite.  Both Jeremiah and Matthew associate Rachel’s weeping with the place of her death.  In both cases, a poetic figure is being used, with Rachel crying out from her grave, representing the weeping mothers in Israel.  In that sense, Rachel has lifted her voice many times since, and it is appropriate that Christian authors and activists have utilizes the metaphor of Rachel’s weeping in their battle for the lives of the unborn.


Another sound is heard, a welcome one.


31:18-20 (NKJV):   I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself.  You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained bull.  Restore me, and I will return.  For you are the LORD my God.  Surely after my turning, I repented.  After I was instructed, yes, even humiliated.  Because I bore the reproach of my youth.  Is Ephraim My dear son?  Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still.  Therefore, My heart yearns for him.  I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD.


(31:9: For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.)


Along with Hosea 11: 8-9, there is not more tender verses in God’s word than God the father acknowledging the repentance of His Beloved Son and recognizing Ephraim as a son.  The LORD has referred to Israel as His first born, Ephraim as his firstborn and Jesus Christ as his firstborn.  I cannot explain that.  I will not believe that it is incorrectly translated.  It is a mystery and perhaps it will suit the LORD to reveal it or perhaps it is not necessary.  Perhaps like Jesus, they were firstborn in their dispensation.  Israel birthed a nation.  Ephraim was a son of a tribe that established that nation in the promised land.  Jesus Christ birthed the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.   


The important thing is the joy of the father’s heart at the true repentance of Ephraim.  The discipline of dispersion and judgment finally succeeded.  Ephraim confesses aloud.  You disciplined me, and I have been disciplined.” 


The Lord’s broken heart at Ephraim’s backsliding is expressed in Hosea 11: 8-9:

How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, Israel?  How can I make you like Admah?”  How can I set you like Zeboiim?”  My heart churns within Me.  My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger.  I will not again destroy Ephraim.  For I am God, and not man.  The Holy One in your midst.  And I will not come with terror.


(Hosea prophesied 100 years before Jeremiah).



Jer. 21-26: (NKJV):  Set up signposts.  Make landmarks.  Set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went.  Turn back, O’ virgin of Israel.  Turn back to these your cities.  How long will you gad about, O’ you backsliding daughter?  For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall encompass a man.  Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:  they shall again use this speech in the land of Judah and its cities, when I bring back their captivity.  The LORD bless you, O’ home of justice, and mountain of holiness!  There shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all its cities together, farmers and those going out with flock.  For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.  After this I awoke and looked around, and my sleep was sweet to me.


This word came to Jeremiah through a dream.  He wakes up and is glad to not be in the middle of another reproof.  Israel is still undecided and unstable, still going here and there and is called a backsliding daughter.  They have not submitted to God and the same path by which they go to Babylon, they will have to come back the same way.  I relate it to the old adage, “be careful how you treat people on your way up, because you will meet those same people on your way down.”


None of the commentators that I reviewed gave an interpretation for the “new, strange thing” that a woman will encompass as man.  Whatever it means, it is the LORD who does this “new thing.”  So, I don’t think we can take it to the feminist movement or the transgender movement because God does not do anything which does not come into agreement with His Holiness.


Jer. 27-30: Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.  It shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to thrown down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD.  In those days they shall say no more: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”  But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.


The Lord will sow and repopulate both Israel and Judah with man and beast.  If the Lord sows, then it will be His harvest, and it will be good.  Just as he oversaw his people’s destruction, He will oversee their restoration.  Before Jeremiah prophesies the New Covenant in the next verses, the LORD is revealing that he will also break the curses that the sins of the fathers will be passed from generation to generation.  Righteous children will not be punished for the sins of their unrighteous fathers.  Instead, there will be immediate retribution for sin.  This is a blessing!  There is much teaching on repenting of the sins of the fathers and certainly the present race wars want us to repent of something our fathers did 200 years ago.  No! I have received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  I have broken the curse off my life for my sins.  I have prayed to break the curse from my children and their children.  The curse was broken at the Cross under the New Covenant.



Now Jeremiah is given the honor of prophesying the glorious New Covenant! Last week (teaching on Jer. 30), I quoted Jer. 31: 31-34 from Hebrews 8.  He took away the first covenant that He might establish the second covenant.


The divine announcement is momentous.   


Jeremiah 31: 31-34:  Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when 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 lead them out of the land of Egypt; My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.  I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my People.  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, ad every man his brother, saying, “know the Lord, for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” says the LORD.  For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.



The New Covenant replaced the old one made at Sinai which Judah had broken.  This time God will remake them from within, giving them the power to do His will (Rom 8: 1-6; 11 Cor. 5: 17-21).


Jesus confirms the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in Luke 22:20:  likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “this cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”


Jeremiah prophesies the new covenant out of which this new peace and security would grow.  It would no longer be like the external one made with the fathers, but spiritual and internal; and based upon an intimate knowledge of Jehovah. 



Hebrews 10:9: Then said He, lo, I come to do your will, O God.  He takes away the first that he may establish the second.  By the which, we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From hereafter expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.  For by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified.  Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord.  I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them (Jeremiah 31:33.)  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.



The last movement of the Song consists of the prophet’s statement of the oath of restoration in which Jehovah appealed to the signs in the heavens and repeated His promise of deliverance.


31: 35-40:  Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (the LORD of Hosts is His name): If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever, thus says 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, says the Lord. Behold, the days comes, says the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel (God Grace) as the gate of the corner.


Taught by:  Carolyn Sissom

Scripture from K.J.V.

I entered into the labors of Principles of Present Truth by:  Kelly Varner; the Road to Captivity by: Dr. C. R.  Oliver; Commentary on Jeremiah by Michael L. Brown.   

Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to express the views of those who I entered into their labors.

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