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CHAPTER 31 Aug. 10 
God Will Rebuild Israel
At that time, says Yahweh, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people. 2Thus says Yahweh, The people who were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. 3Yahweh appeared of old to me saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you. 4Again will I build you, and you shall be built, O virgin of Israel: again you shall be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who make merry. 5Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy its fruit. 6For there shall be a day when the watchmen on the hills of Ephraim shall cry, Arise, and let us go up to Zion to Yahweh our God. 7For thus says Yahweh, Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout for the chief of the nations: publish, praise, and say, Yahweh, save Your people, the remnant of Israel. 8Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth, along with the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her who travails with child together: a great company shall they return here. 9They shall come with weeping; and with petitions will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My first born. 10Hear the word of Yahweh, you nations, and declare it in the islands afar off; and say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd does his flock. 11For Yahweh has ransomed Jacob, and redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he. 12They shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow to the goodness of Yahweh, to the grain, and to the new wine, and to the oil, and to 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. 13Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old together; for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. 14I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says Yahweh.
God Offers Hope
15Thus says Yahweh: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. 16Thus says Yahweh: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says Yahweh; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. 17There is hope for your latter end, says Yahweh; and your children shall come again to their own border. 18I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, You have chastised me, and I was chastised, as an untrained calf: turn me, and I shall be turned; for You are Yahweh my God. 19Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I struck on my thigh: I was ashamed, yes, even confounded, because I bore the reproach of my youth. 20Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says Yahweh. 21Set up road signs, make guideposts; set your heart towards the highway, even the way by which you went: turn again, virgin of Israel, turn again to these your cities. 22How long will you go here and there, you backsliding daughter? For Yahweh has created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall follow after a man. 23Thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, Yet again shall they use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I shall bring again their captivity: Yahweh bless you, habitation of righteousness, mountain of holiness. 24Judah and all its cities shall dwell therein together, the farmers, and those who go about with flocks. 25For I have satiated the weary soul, and every sorrowful soul have I replenished. 26On this I awakened, and saw; and my sleep was sweet to me. 27Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of animal. 28It shall happen that like as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down and to overthrow and to destroy and to afflict, so will I watch over them to build and to plant, says Yahweh. 29In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. 30But each one shall die for his own iniquity: every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
God Makes a New Covenant with the People
31Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32not 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 broke, although I was a husband to them, says Yahweh. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people: 34and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother saying, Know Yahweh; for they shall all know Me, from their least to their greatest, says Yahweh: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more. 35Thus says Yahweh, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar; Yahweh of Armies is His name: 36If these ordinances depart from before Me, says Yahweh, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. 37Thus says Yahweh: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says Yahweh. 38Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that the city shall be built to Yahweh from the tower of Hananel to the gate of the corner. 39The measuring line shall go out further straight onward to the hill Gareb, and shall turn about to Goah. 40The whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields to the brook Kidron, to the corner of the horse gate towards the east, shall be holy to Yahweh; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more forever.


31:13 This is what shall happen after Rachel weeps for her slain children (:15) and she enters the new covenant (:31). She will be as a virgin who takes her tambourine in hand and dances, entering a new covenant with her ba'al, her Lord, her husband, who has obliterated the memory of all her sins in a way that only a Divine being could do (:13). Women in love are stereotypically associated with emotions of giddiness, hysteria, excitement, joy... and this is the language applied to the once weeping Rachel, who wept over the children God had taken from her. And yet... according to the New Testament quotations and expositions of :31, this is the very same 'new covenant' into which we enter in baptism (Heb. 8:8,13; 12:24). This is God's joy over us, and it should be ours over Him. The damage of sin can at times seem so permanent that we can feel that nothing whatever can change things for us now, as Rachel weeping for her children. But the dramatic transformation really can happen when we enter into the new covenant. It’s hard to put together how God will slay Rachel’s children with thirst, forget them and show them no pity (Hos. 2:3,4; 4:6; 9:12), leave her weeping for them, and then dry her eyes and speak of a new covenant and new relationship with her. But the point of it all is that this is indeed how radical the cycle of sin, judgment and repentance really is in the lives of each of us. If a movie were to be made of all this, none of us would be able to resist it. The story of how through love gone sour, estrangement, anger and battery, a couple triumph in love and true, eternal intimacy. But this is the wonder and power of true repentance. And it is also a powerful window into the consequence and nature of human sin. The whole story, the images and ideas… surely leave us knowing once and for all that our religion and relationship with God simply can never be merely abstract contemplation of Biblical ideas, devoid of commitment and passion in response to God’s love. All these wonderful ideas come down to us through reading and reflection upon Scripture. But Bible reading, understood and felt as it should be, can from now on for us surely never again be a passive, neutral, private experience. If we truly are in covenant relationship with this wondrous God, it demands our all. Our failures, forgiven as they are, will haunt us for their awfulness; and the wonder of His love will never cease to move us to real tears in the midst of this passionless, too busy, postmodern world.
31:22 A woman shall follow after a man- It was unheard of for a woman to take the initiative in starting a romance leading towards marriage; the man always chose his woman. Hence Ruth and Naomi’s outstanding initiative regarding Boaz. Our repentance is presented here as a woman taking the initiative to as it were woo God Almighty; who as it happens has a heart that yearns for her anyway (:20). This is the strange romance of repentance, a mutual attraction that lasts for eternity. And the grace of it all is that this initiative of Judah for God, this new thing in the earth, was created by Him.