Jeremiah Chapter 31: Jacob’s Trouble, Holy Remnant, New Covenant

Nov 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Jeremiah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jeremiah Chapter 31: Jacob’s Trouble, Holy Remnant, New Covenant

Jer. 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.

“At the same time” would be the end of the Gospel Age. Since the previous chapter was a prophecy of the future, verse 1 refers not only to the same time but also to that future time when God will “be the God of all the families of Israel,” i.e., the God of all 12 tribes.

Jer. 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.

The trouble will purge Israel. Those left will be cleansed. This verse is a flashback to the wilderness wanderings. In Jacob’s Trouble, only those whom God protects will survive. The destruction will be so great that the land (Israel) will be like a “wilderness” (and will thus need rebuilding). Ezekiel 20:33-37 reads, “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.”

Comment: The NIV uses the future tense: “The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert; I will come to give rest to Israel.”

Reply: The NIV takes that liberty, which is the proper thought.

For the word “rest,” see Jeremiah 30:10, “Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; … for, lo, I will save thee from afar, … and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.” God will cause Israel to rest after the trouble. None will ever again make the nation afraid.

Jer. 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.

Verse 3 sounds like the Song of Solomon, where terms of endearment are spoken to the Church. Here Jehovah tenderly addressed natural Israel, i.e., the Holy Remnant. This verse is the nearest the Old Testament gets to speaking of God like a father who manifests compassion toward a child. This mood continues on into the chapter.

“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting [abiding] love.” God will have the same abiding love for Israel in the future that He had in the past. The word “abiding” contains emotion and feeling, showing the love will persist. There is a tenderness here.

“Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” God was referring back to His previous love for Israel when the nation was in Egypt: “The abiding love that I had for you in the past I still have, and now I have drawn thee.” After Jacob’s Trouble, this sentiment will go forth. In other words, verse 3 is a prophecy that mixes in Old Testament happenings and dealings with Israel and brings them into the future, indicating there will be a reoccurrence of this affection.

Jer. 31:4 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.

“Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel.” This statement is startling,  but the “virgin” is the Holy Remnant—the holy, purged, contrite element. Many would ask, “How can God call Israel a virgin?” but the Holy Remnant will be considered such because they will be a screened and tried class whom God recognizes. Being repentant, they will want to consecrate under the new conditions of that age.

“Thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.” In this scene of happiness and rejoicing, what are “tabrets”? Certainly sound is associated, and the Holy Remnant will be “adorned” with them. In principle, the hem of the high priest’s robe was adorned with blue, purple, and scarlet pomegranates alternating with golden bells (Exod. 28:31-34). When the high priest went into the Most Holy on the Day of Atonement, the people in the Court could not see him, but they knew he was alive (and thus did not die at the critical moment) when they heard the sound of the bells as he moved (compare Heb. 9:27). The sound of the bells indicated that all was well. Of course the occasion before us in verse 4 is one of holy joy (not solemnity as on the Day of Atonement), and that joy and the movement of the body in “dances” are accompanied with the sound of tabrets. In our day, the nearest hand instrument to a tabret is a tambourine, which is like a small one-headed drum with loose metallic disks at the sides that are played by shaking or striking with the hand.

The mood of David when he “danced before the LORD” as the Ark of the Covenant was being brought to Jerusalem is comparable to the joy being manifested here (2 Sam. 6:14).

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

“Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria … and shall eat them as common things.” Under the Law, firstborn animals and firstfruits were given to God. After this token recognition went to the Lord, the subsequent fruits, grains, etc., were “common” in that the people could eat them. Similarly, a handful of grain was first thrown on the altar. The principle was to first give thanks to God.

However, the firstfruits of the vines were inferior for the first three years, being sour and/or immature. In the fourth year, the fruit was good, so at that time, the people made an offering to the Lord before they ate. Once the people could eat, the fruit was considered “common”; that is, it was publicly available. The requirement under the Law was as follows. “And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal. And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 19:23-25).

Verse 5 is saying that the Holy Remnant will not have to go through all this ritual because they will have already shown, by their repentance and conversion, that they are accepted by God as a “virgin” class (verse 4). Thus they will be in a fit mood to participate without going through a formal act of conversion. In Israel today, the ultra Orthodox have insisted that converted Jews who came to Israel after manifesting years of devotion in Ethiopia and other places had to go through a formal ceremony, like a catechism. But when the Lord recognizes the Holy Remnant in the future, not only would it be anticlimactic for them to go through such a ritual, but also it would show a lack of appreciation for His miraculous deliverance of them. Previously God will have recognized the Holy Remnant as being dear to Him because they are Jews who reacted favorably to His judgments. Therefore, because the Holy Remnant will already be acceptable to Him, they shall plant and eat without having to go through the formality of the third, fourth, and fifth years. Historically speaking, familiarity with the customs and the reasons for the customs helps to give an in-depth perspective of the Kingdom prophecies of the future.

Q: Why was Samaria mentioned?

A: In verse 1, Jehovah said, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel.” Although Samaria is not “all Israel,” it includes all ten tribes because that term was used for the northern kingdom. “Ephraim,” too, pictured the ten tribes because of the multitude of Jews who lived there.

Q: Even though we look for a full fulfillment in the future, has a partial agricultural fulfillment taken place since Israel became a nation in 1948?

A: No, for this verse is associated with the identity of the Holy Remnant. Jews are living today who will be alive when Jacob’s Trouble comes, but whether they survive the purging that takes place at that time is the question. However, those who are saved out of Jacob’s Trouble will have already passed the test. The very fact they are alive at that time will be the proof. We believe the Jews will have a very crucial time not only during Jacob’s Trouble in Israel, which will be center stage, but also in the other countries. The Scriptures indicate that on a worldwide basis, only Jews who pass the test will live through the Time of Trouble, and the children will also be favored with life because of their parents. The same principle is stated for the Christian: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). Hence there will be a lot of children in the Kingdom because of their recognition through the parent(s).

From another perspective, verse 5 is a picture of permanent security. The surviving Jews will plant vines and eat the fruit thereof.

Jer. 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.

This reference to Ephraim is a little unusual because Jeremiah was in Judah, yet as the Lord’s mouthpiece, he expressed this extraordinary future redemption of a remnant of Israel. As the people in Judah heard these words and identified them with the northern kingdom, they would have thought, “What about us? What about Judah and Benjamin?” God knew this was Judah’s thinking each time Ephraim was mentioned in this context, and we can be sure those of Judah and Benjamin were listening.

When verse 1 indicates that “all the families of Israel” will be saved, that statement can be misunderstood initially but not when we finish the context, because not all will be saved.

Romans 11:25,26 says that after the “fulness of the Gentiles be come in, … all Israel shall be saved,” but the “all” who are saved will be all of the living Holy Remnant and their children, not the unbelieving Jews, the unregenerate, at that time. Why not? The reason is that Jerusalem is to be the capital of the world, and the Kingdom will start with a holy nucleus of not only the Church in the heavenly realm and the Ancient Worthies in the earthly realm but even the people. The Ancient Worthies and the Holy Remnant will be so visible that the Gentiles will “take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew” and say, “We have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:23). When the Gentiles take hold of that skirt, will they be in Jerusalem? No! They will take hold of the skirt of the Jew who survives the Time of Trouble in their own land. They will associate God with the Jew in their midst, wherever they are—Europe, the United States, etc. The Gentiles will then regard the Jew not in an anti-Semitic sense but with favor. There will be no Canaanite in the land of Israel, the government, or the Temple (Zech. 14:21). The Old Testament is packed with information of this nature. The living Bible speaks with POWER!

The prevailing or common view is that the startling miracles when God saves Israel and defeats Gog will convert both unregenerate Jews and those who have responded earlier. However, many Scriptures show to the contrary, for the Jews will have to “pass under the rod” to the Lord, meaning that only the holy minority will survive at that time (Ezek. 20:37). Isaiah 4:2-4 talks about the survivors. “In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” The Jews will be screened, and only those who pass the test will remain. The language of the Isaiah text could not be more emphatic, but over the years, it has been read quickly with no particular force. The purging is said over and over and over. This conversion will be REAL, just like the person who, during the Gospel Age, falls on his face before God, admitting he is a sinner, and wants to change his course and come to Him through Jesus. The Holy Remnant will do the same thing, and God sees this condition in His people before they take the step. That is why their names are written in a book. How interesting that sometime before the very end of the age, the names of the people living who will pass the test are already written in God’s book! The names are written in advance not only to show God’s foreknowledge of those who will pass the test but also to guarantee that they will not die in Jacob’s Trouble. No fallen angels or fallen men can harm one member of the Holy Remnant because their names are in the book. Thus the purpose of writing the names is not just the magnification of God’s prescience but also necessity. The guardian angels have a task in front of them, for they are responsible for the safety of the Holy Remnant and their dependent family members.

Q: What is the background of Ephraim?

A: Ephraim is another name for Samaria. Being such a numerous tribe, Ephraim represented all ten tribes. Both Jews and Gentiles were in Samaria, for when the ten tribes were taken captive, Gentiles were brought in. In the Kingdom as well, both Jews and Gentiles will be there. The “watchmen” are some who will watch the goings on when God delivers Israel and then blesses the survivors. Recognizing that God is the God of Israel, they will have a change of heart and cry, “Let us go up to Zion.” At this point, the remnant of all 12 tribes will be of one mind.

Back in Israel’s history, the transplanted Gentiles in Samaria, who observed some of the Jewish religious practices, were looked down on by the Jews. In the future, the Samaritans will recognize God’s dealing with Israel and Jerusalem and will then cease to worship at Samaria (their mountain). Hence there will be a change of heart with them too.

Jer. 31:7 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.

In considering verse 7, we will read verse 6 again: “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.”

“Zion” is natural here, for the Holy Remnant are a natural class. The message, “Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God,” will affect the Holy Remnant. Notice verse 7, which is a comment: “For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob.” “Jacob” is usually associated with just the northern kingdom, but inherent in Jacob is the inclusion of Judah. First, “Mount Ephraim” applied to only the ten-tribe kingdom, but the gears are now shifting with the mention of “Jacob,” for he was the father of the two-tribe kingdom as well.

In this prophecy, God will encourage the “watchmen” to “sing with gladness for Jacob.” The watchmen are a class who are in between Jehovah and the Holy Remnant. God is the original speaker. Then the watchmen will become spokesmen to the Holy Remnant. They will say, “O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.” In other words, an encouraging message will go forth to the Holy Remnant to the effect that no matter what the signs are at the time, God will intervene on their behalf. The signs will be gloomy, but the message will proclaim that God promises to save His people, Israel.

Q: Why does the account say, “Shout among the chief of the nations”?

A: With “Jacob” being a name for natural Israel, verse 7 refers to the regathering of the spared portion of the Holy Remnant in other nations. The spared Jews in Israel will invite the others to come “home.” This invitation to return to Israel will go out to the chief ones, to the anointed ones, to the surviving Jews, who will be in nations such as Russia. It will behoove them to pick up their baggage and return to Israel after Jacob’s Trouble and the Kingdom Age is opened up.

Therefore, a regathering takes place prior to Jacob’s Trouble, then Jacob’s Trouble occurs, and finally there will be this second influx into Israel of the Holy Remnant from other nations.

Jer. 31:8 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.

Jer. 31:9 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.

“Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth.” A “great company” of Jews will return from Russia, the “north country.” Also, they will come from all outlying regions and from across oceans, that is, from the east, south, and west.

Of course the Holy Remnant will be a minority of the Jews, but because the portion from Gentile countries will outnumber those in Israel, it will seem like a great company.

It is said that there are 2.5 million Jews in Russia, but that number is only an estimate because many have hidden their identity. Hence there is no accurate census of the Jewish population, but among those Jews, certainly some will be of the Holy Remnant. In addition, Jews will return from America, England, and other countries. In fact, with “north” being brought out as a compass point in verse 8, the indication is that most of the Jews comprising the Holy Remnant will come from the north. Similarly with Gog from the land of Magog, the bulk of the enemy forces of Jacob’s Trouble will come from the north.

“Behold, I will bring … with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together.” The Jews will return from other countries in all conditions— lame, pregnant, blind, etc.—outnumbering the Holy Remnant spared in Israel. Thus the fulfillment of verses 8 and 9 is still future. The encouraging message is that this second regathering will happen in time, for all Jews will go back to Israel except the Ancient Worthies.

“They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them.” The surviving Jews will return with weeping and “supplications,” that is, with remorse and contrition and also with gifts as when the Israelites left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. The Egyptians told Pharaoh in effect, “Do you want all of us to perish because of your obstinacy?” and they gave donations to assist the Israelites. Thus the future supplications will be twofold: (1) the Israelites themselves will supplicate, and (2) Gentiles who give gifts and want the Jews to go back to Israel will supplicate. The Gentiles will point out, “What are you doing here? If your God is the God of Israel and has done all these things for you, we are happy to provide transportation.”

“I am a father to Israel.” The term “father,” rarely used for God in the Old Testament, shows that while the Israelites were cast off, they will be grafted back into the Abrahamic olive tree in a real sense (Rom. 11:17-24 ). When they were cut off, Gentiles were brought in, but Paul mentioned that the Gentiles should not get high-minded because of the ease with which the Jews, the natural branches, could be grafted back into the tree root.

“Ephraim is my firstborn.” Verse 9 reminds us of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Most Jews who have lived in exile for the last 2,000 years have been from the ten tribes. Hence it will be like saying to the spared Jews in other lands, “Israel is my firstborn.” “Firstborn,” an endearing term, applies to all spared, purged Jews. God will cause the regathered Jews to “walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way.” Pure instructions will come from The Christ, and the spared Jews will walk in harmony with them.

Why is Ephraim mentioned when Manasseh was the firstborn? With Abraham, second-born Isaac was his darling, and with Isaac, second-born Jacob got the birthright. Therefore, the comparisons should not be examined too technically, either with these first- and second-born personalities or with the ten tribes and the two tribes. We think that, numerically speaking, the great majority of the Holy Remnant who come from other nations will be of the ten tribes because they were taken to the large Assyrian Empire and then dispersed in all the earth, whereas those of Judah and Benjamin were just taken to Babylon. The statement “Ephraim is my firstborn” does not negate Judah but simply means that Ephraim is among those whom God recognizes as His firstborn. Since very few of the ten-tribe kingdom went back to Israel from Babylon, those who believe in the Anglo-Israelite theory accurately trace the ten-tribe kingdom through Europe. However, they miss the point with some of the terms. Also, there are distinctions between the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi Jews.

Thus “Ephraim” refers to the right-hearted Holy Remnant class. Paul even said with regard to the Christian that there is a distinction with the spiritual Israel of God, the Church. And so there is also a distinction with the natural Israel of God who are in heart sympathy with the promises of the Lord. For example, Esau was interested in the earthly seed and promises, and Jacob appreciated the spiritual seed and promises.

Jer. 31:10 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.

Verses 10-14 are God’s message to the Gentile nations after Jacob’s Trouble. Then, in turn, the Gentile nations are to inform “the isles,” that is, their auxiliary neighbors. In other words, an announcement will go forth to the other nations saying that God now recognizes His people and encourages them to come back. The nations who hear what God did with regard to Gog and Magog will urge the Jews to go back to Israel. This announcement to the Gentiles will give legitimacy to the Jews’ return to Israel after Jacob’s Trouble. As a result, they will prod the survivors to return to the homeland.

The God who scattered Israel will gather the Jews and keep them as a shepherd keeps his flock. In this compassionate approach, the door is left open for repentance and a return. The Heavenly Father, the Great Shepherd, will do this regathering after Jacob’s Trouble.

Comment: Isaiah 40:11 reads, “He [God] shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

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

“For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob … from the hand of him [Gog] that was stronger than he.” At this time, God will have redeemed Israel from the “stronger” Gog. Isaiah 40:1,2 will have more significance after Jacob’s Trouble than before. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” The main thrust of these two verses is after Jacob’s Trouble because then “her warfare” will be accomplished; it will be over. No longer will there be an anti-Semitic problem.

We believe the “double” in this Isaiah text has been overruled to have a current application so that it would inspire the Pastor in his pro-Zion feelings. This thinking was helpful at the beginning of the Harvest period, but the real fulfillment is future. Jeremiah 31:10, “He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock,” is similar to Isaiah 40:1,2, for the Jews will be welcomed home at that time. With Jacob’s Trouble still ahead, we cannot say at the present time that there will be no more warfare or trouble. In fact, we believe a false peace will be misconstrued as the real peace, whereas the false peace is the preface to Jacob’s Trouble. Israel has to go through one more holocaust, which will be a thorough purging, leaving behind the Holy Remnant.

Isaiah 40:1,2 can be used as a principle for current action, just as Jesus quoted a future prophecy when he cast out the money changers, saying, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matt. 21:13). Thus the Isaiah text can have a good influence in predisposing the Christian to look to Israel as God’s people and the place from which the word of the Lord will go forth in the Kingdom. But we should keep in mind that the real fulfillment is when Israel’s iniquity will be pardoned. And perhaps there is another mysterious “double” that has been overlooked. If so, it would end with the saving of the Holy Remnant out of Jacob’s Trouble.

Jer. 31:12 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.

Now we see interesting things. “They [Israel] shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD” (RSV). “Their soul shall be as a watered garden,” that is, a fertile ground that produces character fruitage. The heart has been likened to a flower garden in which seeds are planted.

Verse 12 is both literal and figurative. Blessings, blessings, and more blessings will be the experience of the people!

The mention of wheat, wine, oil, and the “young of the flock and of the herd” indicates that conditions will revert to an agrarian society in the Kingdom. With productive land, Israel will be self-supporting. We expect that the high-rise buildings will be leveled. The earthquake at the time of Jacob’s Trouble will level not only the Dome of the Rock but also tall buildings so that the people will go back to a more simple type of living where every man is under his own vine and fig tree. Without pollution, city lights, and the obscuration of vision with skyscrapers, the people will be able to see the stars at night. They will appreciate the glory of God’s heaven.

“They [the Holy Remnant] shall not sorrow any more at all.” The Jews who survive Jacob’s Trouble will be a purified lot, having been more or less tried and proven. Just as the holy angels will not die anymore because they passed their test by not materializing and leaving their first estate to stay down here prior to the Flood, so the Holy Remnant are a class who pass their test. Thus the Kingdom will start with a pure and holy nucleus in Israel. Therefore, it will be appropriate to say to that current generation after Jacob’s Trouble, “You will not sorrow anymore at all.” The situation will be a little different with those who come forth from the tomb in the general resurrection, for they have not been tested yet.

At the end of the Kingdom Age, fire will come down from heaven and destroy those who go up to the “camp of the saints” at Jerusalem, the number of whom is described as the “sand of the sea” (Rev. 20:8.9). This great number will include the incorrigible who go to embassies in the different countries to complain about the length of the Kingdom Age. Their attitude will be, “It is time for us to take over so that we can buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes and sell the refuse of the wheat, making the ephah small and the shekel great” (Amos 8:5,6). In spite of all the Kingdom blessings, a number of the formerly wealthy and powerful will want to revert to their previous dishonest practices. Physical violence and insubordination will not be tolerated either at that time or throughout the Kingdom Age. Those who merit Second Death will demonstrate, or manifest, their wrong heart condition by their action.

Others will then see that God is just and righteous in destroying them. Since God can read the heart, He could destroy the Second Death class quickly and peremptorily, but then His perfect judgment would not be so fully appreciated.

Jer. 31:13 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.

“Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together.” Old and young will dance in joy and purity. In this folk dancing, females will dance as a group with females, and males with males. In other words, there will be no body contact or suggestive movement. As an example, King David “danced before the LORD” (2 Sam. 6:14). A joyous scene is being pictured. The exuberance will be manifest, even with the old people. Our desire is to have such joy and to be made right, which is a process in the present life.

“I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.” There shall be overwhelming genuine joy for a formerly suppressed people. What a happy message for Jeremiah, the prophet of doom, to have the privilege of declaring at this period in his life!

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

God “will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness.” In the past, corrupt priests robbed the people, but at this future time, the priests will have success in helping the people. Verse 14 suggests a literal priesthood in the Kingdom. The people will be satisfied with God’s goodness.

An illegitimate desire at the present time is for priests to like to be treated with awe and reverence and to permit people to genuflect before them. However, the inner joy described here will vaporize such self-interest. The goodness of God will be so great that the priests will not even think along corrupt lines. In whatever capacity is assigned, they will feel honored to be used in a priesthood that represents God. David had the right attitude: “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house [Temple] of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness [to be at home and prosper with the ungodly]” (Psa. 84:10).

“My people shall be satisfied with my [wholesome] goodness,” saith Jehovah. There is much dissatisfaction today, some of which is justified. Many sorrows are legitimate, but whatever the basis of the sorrows, they will all be erased. The time of joy can be described as entering the “Beulah” land (Isa. 62:4).

Jer. 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.

Jer. 31:16 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.

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

Verses 15-17 are a separate expression but in the scenario of Jacob’s Trouble. “Rahel” is Rachel, who was Jacob’s wife and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin.

Matthew 2:17,18 quotes verses 15 and 16: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” When the wise men followed the guiding star, they were led to King Herod, who instructed them to come back and tell him the location of the newborn child destined to become the future King of Israel. Having ulterior motives, Herod wanted to kill this threat.

However, the wise men, being warned of God in a dream, departed for their own country by another route. In anger, Herod issued a decree that all children two years of age and under should be put to death in both Bethlehem and the surrounding area. The voice of lamentation was heard when Herod massacred those infants in trying to kill the Messiah.

Verses 15 and 16 are used to prove the resurrection, for as Rachel was weeping, she was told that her progeny would “come again from the land of the enemy,” that is, from death. Not only are babies not in heaven, but the dead are in the tomb until the time of the general resurrection, when they will come back to the same land (“to their own border”) at the same age as their death. Mothers will again have their babies. God was saying, “Do not weep anymore, Rachel, for your child will be resurrected.” Those in the tomb will come forth in the Kingdom Age.

Zechariah 12:7 states, “The LORD … shall save the tents of Judah first.” This verse talks about the villages surrounding Jerusalem, which God will save first, before He saves the inhabitants of the city itself. Genetically speaking, the inhabitants in the city, which are a mixed multitude, will experience a more miraculous deliverance than the tents of Judah, which are saved first.

The following is conjectural, but we believe there will be two miraculous deliverances of Israel. (1) With the first deliverance, the saving of the tents of Judah, the Jews in Judea will fight. Those Jews have no idea which tribe they come from because there are no birth records at the present time. (2) In the second deliverance, we think Israel will be forced to use the nuclear bomb, but even with a bomb, the critical timing will be miraculous.

Thus there will be two deliverances: (1) outside Jerusalem and (2) inside Jerusalem. The outside deliverance will occur first, and Jehovah alone will cause the second deliverance. That is the bottom-line lesson Israel has to learn. While those of Judah will realize God’s providence has spared them, they will be so happy that they will overlook the fact that the real deliverance is when Jehovah fights for His people as in days of old. The first deliverance will lead to a false sense of security in Israel, a false peace; the second deliverance will lead to the true peace.

God will save the Holy Remnant in surrounding villages before He saves those in Jerusalem. In the first miraculous deliverance, the “tents of Judah” (outside Jerusalem) will fight, and in the second deliverance, those in Jerusalem will be forced to use the nuclear bomb. But even with the nuclear bomb, the timing will be miraculous. Incidentally, radioactive aftereffects are minimal from a neutron bomb.

Today, genetically speaking, most of the Jews in Jerusalem and in other lands are of the tentribe kingdom. When the Kingdom is established with the living generation, it will be seen that very, very few are from the tribe of Judah. Thus the representation of the populace comprising the Holy Remnant will be almost entirely from the ten tribes. In fact, of the current living generation, there is little representation of Judah in the earth. It is possible to show how those of Judah disappeared from the scene by going through pogroms, particularly in Israel. This happened not merely at the time of Jeremiah but even more so subsequently. When the Kingdom is established, it will be recognized how few of Judah are in the saved Holy Remnant.

Rachel will be comforted in the sense that numerically speaking, that seed will come forth from the tomb. Jews will come out of the tomb where they died, and then they will go to Jerusalem.

“And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.” The Old Testament promise to Rachel that her work will be rewarded and her children will come again from the land of the enemy was given at the time of the Slaughter of the Innocents under Herod at our Lord’s First Advent. At that time, there occurred a great desecration of the progeny of Rachel.

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

This prophecy of the future repentance of Ephraim begins with past tense: “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke.” Repentance is a prerequisite for forgiveness and mercy.

Q: Does “Ephraim” represent all Israel?

A: Basically speaking, the ten-tribe kingdom went into Diaspora, so of the Jews, the ten tribes have been mostly on the scene down through history ever since 606 BC, when Judah went into captivity for 70 years and the land was made desolate. At the end of the 70 years, the Jews who did not go back to Israel were dispersed into other nations, so the majority of the living generation when this prophecy is fulfilled in the near future will be of the ten tribes. Stated another way, a great percentage of present Jewry is of the ten-tribe kingdom, even though they may not know what tribe they are from.

The Prophet Jeremiah was repeating what God instructed him to declare. God was saying, “Way down the road in the future, I can hear this change of heart condition.” In verses 18-21, we see a return, so these verses are primarily speaking to the Holy Remnant, who will be alive in the end-time period when the second regathering back to Israel takes place, that is, the regathering after Jacob’s Trouble. The sentiment at that time—“turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God”—shows true repentance. The chastisement of the  Holy Remnant is likened to either the training of a bullock that was unaccustomed to the yoke or the breaking of a wild horse that was never trained for domestic purposes.

Ephraim has bemoaned the troubles suffered in exile, but prior to and in the final trouble, the Holy Remnant will repent. Being unaccustomed to God’s yoke, the Jews have felt persecuted without searching for the reason. They do not see that they are out of line. At the end of the age, the Holy Remnant will say, “I am unaccustomed to the yoke, but please help me. Teach me. I want to know your ways, O God.”

Jer. 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.

Verse 19 expresses the sentiment of individuals who have gone astray in sin, but like the Prodigal Son, there eventually comes a point in time when they stop and reconsider their situation, realizing their undone condition and unworthiness (Luke 15:11-32). The younger son did not come to his senses until he had lost everything. Then he said, “What am I doing? I could not be any lower, for I am in the pigpen eating the food of the swine.” In reflecting on his former situation, he came to the point of decision making, which was the desire to come back into harmony with God. “I was turned” shows the willingness to be turned around and go in the other direction. Ephraim’s bemoaning himself suggests tears, and true repentance brings tears either internally or outwardly.

The process is interesting: stopping in one’s tracks, wanting to go back to the former condition, repenting for the past, and then having the desire for further instruction. A person who is lost in the world and then becomes a Christian, wanting to be in harmony with God, goes through this process.

“I repented; and after that I was instructed.” A drowning man grasps a raft because his present circumstance brings him to his senses. Some have called on the Lord in their dilemma, God has answered them, and then they forget. It can then take a long time for the experience to sink in.

When one does stop in his tracks and look to the Lord for guidance and is willing to turn around, he is given instruction, but what happens? He finds that his condition is even worse than he thought in the first place; that is, he sees that sin is more deeply ingrained than he realized. With many of us who have made the change, if we are honest at heart, we see that there will always be room for improvement. Even though we may have walked many years with the Lord, we find there are character defects to be weeded out. However, the repentance of the Holy Remnant will be done in a relatively short period of time.

“I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” Natural Israel does not even know its own history, but each Jew does know what he personally has done and the mess he has made of his own life. Following Jacob’s Trouble, the Holy Remnant will realize they have been miraculously spared. In the process of instruction, they will learn their own history, getting a crash course on their doings as a people.

Smiting the thigh indicates being doubled over with remorse and experiencing a form of deep chagrin. Collectively speaking, these reactions are all part of the process of instruction for the Holy Remnant: (1) repentance, (2) instruction, (3) smiting the thigh upon receiving more information, and (4) being ashamed, even confounded, “because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” The thought of bearing the reproach of their “youth” is that when the Holy Remnant are informed about their history (their past, the abnormalities, and things that have happened), they will also get the good news about Israel’s past relationship with God when the nation was in harmony with Him. They will get both sides of the coin—the bad news about their real condition as well as the good news about the future. By recognizing past wrongdoings, the Holy Remnant will be ashamed and truly repentant, and this attitude will keep them humble.

Q: Is smiting the thigh related to placing the hand on the thigh in making a covenant?

A: With the making of a covenant, the hand was placed under the thigh, whereas this smiting will be done on the side of the thigh. The smiting of the thigh shows the recognition of having broken the Law Covenant.

When Jacob was smitten on the thigh, he became halt and lame. He carried that limp for the rest of his life, yet from that moment on, his name was changed to Israel (Gen. 32:24-28). The experience became a stepping-stone that served as a continual reminder of the past. It is helpful for us, as Christians, to think, “Where would I be if I had not consecrated—or if I do not remain consecrated?” In the latter case, we would be in a circumstance worse than our former situation, for if “the light that is in thee be[come] darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23).

We were comparing the smiting of the thigh to one who does not have a Christian background in his upbringing. God calls repentant sinners to the high calling, apprising them of the good news and the hope for the future. The hope of the high calling is not laid before a person until, first, he repents. Repentant sinners return home. Generally speaking, “turning” is not a head reaction but a heart (emotional) reaction when we start as babes. One who consecrates also thinks of the years he wasted prior to giving his life to the Lord: “Had I only known the Lord earlier and committed my life sooner, what better things would have been done.”

On the whole, the spared remnant will be a contemplative, relatively aged class because a little maturity is involved. For one who is among that remnant, even his family will be spared to a certain extent—as with Rahab the harlot. On the one hand, she is the one the Lord dealt with, but on the other hand, when she informed her family of God’s instruction to stay in the house, they exercised faith by remaining there and thus were saved too. But family members who are beyond this retrieval will not be spared. In other words, even the spared ones, whether children or relatively mature individuals, will be obedient to the situation.

Jer. 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.

“Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child?” When he repents, he becomes a “dear son” and a “pleasant child,” broken in spirit and lowly and contrite of heart. Contrition of the soul before the high and lofty One makes a person amenable to instruction and guidance.

“For since I [God] spake against him [in the past], I do earnestly remember him still.” These words, spoken in Jeremiah’s day, pertained to the ten-tribe kingdom in dispersion. Judah should have used the ten tribes as an example of what would also happen to them for continued disobedience. However, when Jeremiah spoke about the ten tribes in the past, Judah became self-righteous; their attitude was, “Look, we have the Temple and Jerusalem, and where are our other brethren, the black sheep of Israel?” Only the few honest-hearted asked, “Are we any better than those of the ten tribes?” Jeremiah would have answered no.

“For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him.” With regard to “bowels of mercy,” if we are sorry for ourself or for the condition of someone else with whom we are in full empathy, we double over and cannot stand erect (Col. 3:12). When the father saw the Prodigal Son coming home, we do not think the son was standing erect; the implication is that he was crushed and manifestly dejected, an obvious sign of repentance. “And he [the Prodigal Son] arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). The father ran to embrace the crestfallen son, who said right away, “Father, I have sinned against heaven [against God], and in thy sight [against you], and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” His posture would have indicated he was coming back for forgiveness. The older son could not understand the father’s mercy, but mercy should not be exercised unless there is repentance. This principle is lost sight of today, when everything is love and mercy. But principles must be met before the exercise of mercy.

Incidentally, the Reprints are very informative on the subject of “forgiveness,” for they include the modifying factor of repentance. On one occasion, we read a page of quotations from the Reprints as our discourse on forgiveness.

Here in Jeremiah 31, the conditions for forgiveness are being met. Ephraim is bemoaning himself, saying in effect, “Thou hast chastised me, and I am like a wild bullock that needed chastisement and experience.” God replied, “I will surely have mercy upon him [Ephraim]” because of his repentance. With the Heavenly Father’s prescience, He can see that the experience at the end of the age will change the Holy Remnant. If an individual’s heart is not right, the same experience will harden his conscience and embitter him.

Israel is God’s “dear son.” As often as He had to speak against Ephraim, He remembers them. This Holy Remnant class was previously wayward, but now would be repentant and trying to walk up the highway of holiness. A good father reproves a wayward child. Yes, God scolded Ephraim, but now He has good news of mercy for this class.

Jer. 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.

Verse 21 is a more difficult verse because of the principles. This verse is an instruction to the Holy Remnant to retrace their steps, to set goals and resolutions, and to go up the highway of holiness. They must exert effort and be determined. God wants them to come back to their former condition as a people, for Israel was originally a “virgin,” and she will be a virgin again.

In other words, where the Jews realize they made mistakes in the past, they should ask for forgiveness, learn the lesson, and retrace their steps to building a better character.

The Holy Remnant will realize what has happened and that there are obstacles in returning, but if they are truly repentant, they will progress and surmount the obstacles by God’s assisting grace. When one turns from his former state, the road is not easy. The call in the Kingdom Age is different from that of the Christian in the Gospel Age or even that of the true Jew, who is getting a training. The history of the Christian and the Jew is remarkably similar, although the New Creation is a different calling. The calling down here is somewhat the same, but it has natural rewards and honors. True natural Israel is a picture of true spiritual Israel.

Comment: For “high heaps,” the RSV has “guideposts.”

Reply: Yes, but these must be met. When one repents, certain habits and characteristics have to be changed. For instance, Joshua and Caleb said, “Yes, the inhabitants of the land are bigger in stature than we are, and the city walls are high. However, all things are possible with God, and He told us to enter the land.” They knew that difficulties lay ahead, but they had the faith to go on anyway, so they spoke with confidence and hope.

“Set thine heart toward the highway.” The Prodigal Son was on the main highway going into sin, so to return was more difficult. To turn around and go upstream is like going against the current. Therefore, those who are sincere make resolutions and guidelines on how to restructure their life, and minimum standards have to be met right away. For example, if a person has debts, the first thing to do is to pay them, even if menial work is the means of doing so. Thus when those who have gone astray come back, they know that certain things have to

be done as soon as possible. Then they have the rest of their life—however long or short in the Lord’s providence—to work out their salvation and obey the particulars of God’s Word as they are understood.

Q: Please explain the direction of the highway.

A: The highway to destruction is broad, and it is slanted downward. When one who is down wants to turn around, he finds a highway going up.

Q: Verse 21 is symbolic in the sense of saying that one’s heart and conduct have to be turned back toward God, but is it also a natural call to return to Israel?

A: Yes. After Jacob’s Trouble, the spared Jews in foreign lands, the portion of the Holy Remnant in Gentile countries, will be instructed to return to Israel, “to these thy cities.” Because they will then know their lineage, they will know where to go in the land, which will be partitioned with allotments for each of the 12 tribes (Ezek. 48:1-29). These Jews in the Diaspora will return to Israel, so the picture is natural. Of course the Jews who die in Israel will be resuscitated in the same land.

“Turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.” Why will God give this assurance to the Holy Remnant, who are dealt with and bemoan themselves in contrition and repentance? This portion of verse 21 refers to the new slate, the new will. God looks on the heart intent, not on the flesh, and that is why He selected the Holy Remnant; that is, He sees that under present and future troublous conditions, these individuals will be in a readily salvable condition. The others, both Jews and Gentiles who die in Jacob’s Trouble, will come forth in the general resurrection of the next age and be given stripes and punishments, but the Holy Remnant class will already have had their stripes. Now, like the father with the Prodigal Son, a changed person, the Heavenly Father will open His arms to the Holy Remnant, who will start as a “virgin” with pure heart intentions; He will welcome them home.

Ezekiel gave a similar message. The change that will take place in the repentant Jews in Gentile countries will be so observable that all antipathy and anti-Semitic feelings will melt. The Gentiles will think, “These Jews are so changed that they do not seem like the same people.

God has done the seemingly impossible.” The Holy Remnant will be role models to a certain extent. Honest-hearted Gentiles will say, “If God can effect such a change in these Jews, then we would like the same thing to happen to us.” That will be especially true when Gentiles hear the report of how God fought for His people as “in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:3).

Jer. 31:22 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.

“How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter?” refers to Israel’s past history of disobedience. But what is the “new thing” that is created in the earth? “For the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.” There are two alternative interpretations, as follows:

1. A “woman” (Israel) will recognize or embrace a “man” (Jesus) as the Messiah. In this case, “man” is the Hebrew geber, meaning a “mighty man” or a “strong man.” The weak woman (Israel) will “compass” the strong man (Jesus).

2. Sometimes the Hebrew word geber is used in a negative context. If so, the weak woman (Israel) will surmount the mighty man (Gog). Previously Israel will be a strong, euphoric nation with nuclear weapons, but at the time of Jacob’s Trouble, it will be weak, defenseless, and unwalled. Evangelicals would probably interpret the strong man as Jesus, but it may be that the defenseless woman (natural Israel) will subdue, quiet, or still the strong man (Gog), especially with five sixths of them dying (Ezek. 39:1,2). Basically, “Gog” means “giant.” Gog’s coming down is alluded to with the Agagites.

Q: Is the “woman” specifically the Holy Remnant?

A: Yes.

We cannot be dogmatic on the interpretation of the strong man. The question is whether he is favorable or unfavorable. However, there is no problem in identifying the woman.

The horde of Gog will come down to annihilate Israel, but instead Gog will be annihilated except for a small remnant of survivors who will go back to the Gentile homelands and give an eyewitness account. The only suggestion of the number of Jews who survive Jacob’s Trouble in Israel is their passing “under the rod” (Ezek. 20:37). Based on the tithing system of animals under the Law, this terminology may indicate a one-tenth survival rate. Certainly passing under the rod shows a severe purging.

Q: Since verse 22 says that God will create a “new thing” in the earth, how would Israel’s surmounting great obstacles in defeating the enemy fit that description, for that nation had a number of astounding victories in the past? To embrace Messiah would truly be a “new thing.”

A: The interpretation is a toss-up, so we cannot be dogmatic. The words “all” and “every” are often used in a modified or qualified sense. Therefore, the word “new” may mean “new as far as being a contemporary event,” or it may mean “new historically.” In the latter sense, the strong man would be Jesus, for Israel has historically not accepted him as the Messiah.

Q: Is the thought that it would be unusual for a woman to go after a man? Israel as a repentant woman will go back to God by accepting Jesus.

A: That is a possibility. Usually geber is unfavorable, but literally the definition is “strong man” with the emphasis on strength. The Hebrew word enosh means a “frail or sinful man”; adam means “of the earth, red.” Thus the word “man” has multiple definitions, each with a particular slant.

When the Holy Remnant see Jesus on the Cross, two things will happen right away. (1) They will realize they sinned against the Son of God. Seeing that Jesus really is God’s Son, they will mourn for him as they mourned for King Josiah in the “valley of Megiddon” (Zech. 12:10,11).

(2) They will reason, “If Jesus is the Son of God, what have we done to God?” Amidst the cataclysms of nature cascading down on Israel, the hologram revealment will not happen immediately but will take place when the Mount of Olives is split by an earthquake. Moreover, conditions will stabilize following the earthquake so that the Holy Remnant can mourn as a class in quietness. Even the one-sixth survivors of Gog will be confounded and stopped in their tracks by the supernatural appearance of Jesus on the Cross.

Verse 22 is speaking of the Holy Remnant in Israel, who will turn to God and recognize Jesus at the time of Jacob’s Trouble. Hence the “woman” in this verse would be the spared Jews in  Israel, whereas “Ephraim” refers to the spared Jews in Diaspora, in Gentile countries. In other words, the scene changes from the situation of the remnant in exile to the setting of the remnant in Israel.

Right now we like both thoughts with regard to the strong “man”; both are a “new thing.” The miracles of the past such as Israel’s going through the Red Sea and the sun standing still in Joshua’s long day are considered fables by many. In the end-time period of Jacob’s Trouble, therefore, the whole society will be restructured by the miracles that happen there. Whether  the miracle of verse 22 is the conversion of Israel or God’s saving of Israel, both events will happen concurrently. The Jews do not want to hear about another holocaust, so they turn a deaf ear to the thought of Jacob’s Trouble. All down the Gospel Age, their history has been one of persecution and rejection, so the radical change after Jacob’s Trouble when they will be center stage and admired by the Gentiles will be a “new thing.” From being formerly downcast, weak, and unrecognized, they will be most prominently recognized. As to which of the two events is specifically referred to, we are not sure. Both the Holy Remnant’s acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah and God’s deliverance of Israel are a radical situation.

The Hebrew word sabab, rendered “compass” in the King James, does not necessarily mean “surround.” It has multiple meanings according to the root word. The thought of being “stilled” is there, especially if the Hebrew word is shabath, and “s” can be “sh” depending on the pointing, which was supplied in the tenth century. (The original Hebrew had no points.) Obviously, shabath is quite different from sabab.

Jer. 31:23 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.

The fulfillment of verse 23 is future. Although a process has already begun, the bringing again of “their captivity” is like a summation of something already completed. For instance, we see Jews returning to Israel, and one of the purposes of the Zionist movement was to encourage persecuted Jews to go back to a national homeland. But the cry “The LORD [Jehovah] bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness” is certainly future. The world does not currently look to Israel as the “habitation of justice,” and the Temple arrangement, the “holy oblation” in Jerusalem—whether from the priestly or the civil standpoint—will not be called the “mountain of holiness” until after Jacob’s Trouble (Ezek. 48:10,20,21).

Even the landmarks of Israel will be blessed. The government in Jerusalem will be so pure that both Jews and Gentiles will look to it as the capital of the world, as the epitome of justice, purity, holiness, and righteousness. Jerusalem, the city of peace, will be blessed by those who travel and visit there.

Jer. 31:24 And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.

Verse 24 is an astounding prophecy, for it shows that considerable changes will take place in Israel. We are prone to give figurative explanations to Scriptures such as Micah 4:4, “They shall sit every man under his [own] vine and under his [own] fig tree,” to show that everyone will have his own private dwelling, but verse 24 is literal. The people in Judah will “go forth with flocks” in an agrarian society. Thus a radical change will take place. The great earthquake that splits the Mount of Olives will cover an area of many square miles and level the buildings in Jerusalem. When the city is rebuilt on its ruins, the construction will be different, for Ezekiel 48:31-34 tells that not only will the number of gates change, but they will be spaced with regularity. Even the measurements are given in advance. God will level the present city and raise the land up high so that the Third Temple will be built on a plateau. Those who formerly lived in Judah will be resurrected back there under agrarian conditions.

Society will revert to an agrarian lifestyle, which is more wholesome than our present artificial way of life. As we age and look back at our youth, we realize that certain values in the past are impossible to have today. For example, cows were milked by hand, and it is hard to study the heavens in many places because city lights obscure the view.

Jer. 31:25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.

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

At this point, Jeremiah awoke. Hence this vision was a dream, and his sleep was sweet, not a nightmare. Chapters 30 and 31 are good news in contradistinction to earlier chapters.

“For I [God] have satiated [deeply satisfied] the weary soul.” The thought is of being drenched or overwhelmed with satisfaction, and such will be the experience of the “weary soul.” When we think of humanity with its wars, famines, pestilences, poverty, suffering, etc., how wonderful the Kingdom will be in satisfying the longings! People basically want simple things such as health, rest, and happiness. Those blessings will come when the “windows of heaven” are opened for mankind (Mal. 3:10).

“I [God] have replenished every sorrowful soul.” What a statement of blessings awaits their fulfillment in the Kingdom!

Verse after verse earlier in this chapter was about Israel for the benefit of the Jews in Diaspora.

Now Jeremiah was talking about Judah. We will repeat what Zechariah said about Judah in regard to the initial setting up of the Kingdom: “The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first” (Zech. 12:7). Once the authority of the Kingdom has been established, then everyone will go into his own bin, and Israel will be divided by tribe. We can be sure that if God goes into such detail with regard to Israel, including measurements, He also has a plan for the other nations, although the Bible does not provide this information. The Bible concentrates on God’s dealings with His natural people and with those who are spiritually called to a “land” above.

Jer. 31:27 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.

Jeremiah’s ministry was primarily to Judah, but now the message broadens to include the ten tribe kingdom. God promised to sow the land with “seed”; that is, He will multiply and fill the whole nation with the “seed of man.” In addition to the present regathering of Diaspora Jews to Israel to settle, there will be a second and more abundant regathering after Jacob’s Trouble.

How is seed “sown”? As the Apostle Paul said, a seed has to die before it brings forth. Those in the tomb have already died, and they will come up in the general resurrection—just as seed manifests itself eventually above ground (1 Cor. 15:35-40). Of course what happens in nature in weeks or months takes thousands of years for mankind in God’s plan. To God, a thousand years are as one day, but to us, a thousand years seem like an eternity (2 Pet. 3:8).

God will also sow the “seed of beast.” Flocks will multiply; cattle will be increased. In olden times, there were hundreds of thousands of sheep in Transjordan, and now that land is practically empty. Of our dozen or more trips to Israel, it was only on the last two or three trips that we began to see cows grazing on Mount Carmel and up near the Sea of Galilee region.

Q: Is verse 27 also hinting that children will be born at least in the beginning of the Kingdom?

Adam was told to multiply and fill the earth, so if a reasonable number of individuals do not get life in the Kingdom, would some be born as replacements?

A: Yes. Isaiah 65:23 speaks of the “seed of the blessed.” Also, Ezekiel 44:22 and 47:22 show that the priesthood in the Third Temple will marry and that children will be born for a short time in the Kingdom. Bro. Russell reasoned that reproduction would phase out gradually and that eventually mankind would become like Adam prior to the fall. The Scriptures seem to indicate that this will be the condition of mankind at the end of the Kingdom Age, with those who are resuscitated earlier reaching this condition sooner.

Jer. 31:28 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.

In the past, God watched over Israel “to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict,” but in the Kingdom, He will “watch over them, to build, and to plant.” Life in the Kingdom will be agrarian with fruit trees and vegetables. In the Garden of Eden, as far as we know, man lived just by the fruit of trees, and this will be true of those who enter the ages of ages beyond the Kingdom. Only then can man be trusted with leisure time because in fallen man, leisure time breeds sin, self-aggrandizement, inordinate pleasures, the accumulation of wealth, etc. At present, mankind cannot be trusted with everlasting life and health, so the Kingdom Age will be a pruning process and a purgatorial experience for some in cleansing them and making them right and fit to inherit everlasting life like the holy angels, who passed a severe test at the time of the Flood (Luke 20:35,36).

Comment: Jeremiah was appointed to tear down and to build up. “See, I [God] have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jer. 1:10).

Reply: Yes, God sent him as a spokesman, but very few benefited at that time. Like mankind, the majority of Judah were prone to evil. The path is downward, but in the Kingdom, the path will be upward. After the Kingdom Age, conditions will be quite different.

Jer. 31:29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.

Jer. 31:30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Verses 29 and 30 refer to the sin and weakness inherited through Adam. In the Kingdom, that will no longer be true. Then each one will be punished and die for his own sin. In other words, in the present life, mankind is not judged for life and death based on individual sins, for the sin of Adam has been the curse of the human race. Men die because Adam ate the sour grape, and consequently, his progeny never had the right to life with the exception of Jesus, who came from outside and was made flesh.

Verse 30 shows that there will be death in the Kingdom Age. Unfortunately, many have applied Scriptures that pertain to the age beyond the Kingdom to the Kingdom Age. There will be sorrow, death, and pain during the Kingdom, so Revelation 21:4 applies to after the Kingdom is finished. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” During the Kingdom, there will be plenty of deaths of those who prove unworthy of life. Thus the eating of the sour grape by individuals will take place either during or at the end of the Kingdom Age (compare Ezek. 18:2).

Jer. 31:31 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:

Jer. 31:32 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:

Verses 31-33 pertain to the New Covenant, which will be made with natural Israel (the house of Israel and the house of Judah), not the Church. The Church is not under the New Covenant but will be ministers of the New Covenant.

Comment: Some believe the Church is under the New Covenant in the present age.

Reply: To a certain extent, we can understand how some would say the Church is under the New Covenant. For us to have the proper thought, pertinent Scriptures have to sink down into our hearts and minds so that we will not be swayed by particular statements in the New Testament that could be misunderstood. Since the blood seals the New Covenant, it has to be separate from the New Covenant. At the time of the Memorial, many mistakenly think we are under the New Covenant because they misunderstand some plain statements of Jesus.

The Law Covenant was instituted with the Passover in Egypt, not at Mount Sinai. With the Passover being the first feature of the Law, the Israelites were told to select a lamb on the tenth day of Nisan and then to offer up the animal on the fourteenth day. The next day, the fifteenth, was a day of liberation. The Israelites were given simple rules of obedience in Egypt, whereas the subsequent giving of the Law to the nation at Mount Sinai consisted of moral instruction.

Thus the Law Covenant goes back to before the Exodus, and to a certain extent, it started with the first day of the first month because the calendar prior to Moses’ day began in the fall. When Moses appeared at the time of the Exodus with these new instructions, the year started in the spring, which was the true beginning of the year. The nearest thing to a civil year was the Day of Atonement. Hence the civil year began on the first day of the seventh month, and the Day of Atonement was observed on the tenth day of that month.

“Which my covenant they brake.” As recorded in the Pentateuch, the Israelites broke the Law Covenant ten times in a very serious form.

“I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD.” In what sense was God a husband to the nation of Israel? He was a husband in a collective sense, whereas the Church has a personal relationship as individuals. Otherwise, Israel’s covenant would be higher than the Church’s.

Jer. 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; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The New Covenant will be similar to the old Law Covenant but much more comprehensive. “I [God] 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 writing of God’s law in the hearts of the people will be a gradual work during the entire Kingdom. The world will have to become Israelitish in order to get a blessing and receive the required instruction. Not only will the Holy Spirit operate then too, but there will be a perfect Teacher, and the people’s minds will become clearer and clearer with better memory retention.

We are reminded of Matthew 25:34, where in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus said, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” The Kingdom arrangement was thought out well in advance to bless not only the seed of Abraham but also those who would be blessed by that seed.

Although the New Covenant will be operative throughout the Kingdom, it will be sealed at the end. The role of a mediator is to bring two estranged parties together. Therefore, God will not judge the world directly during the Kingdom Age but will have His Son act as the Mediator instructing mankind. At the end of the Kingdom, after the Little Season, Jesus will remove himself, for then those who live on into the ages of ages will be in harmony, or at-one-ment, with God. The weeding out of the unfaithful must take place before Jesus hands the Kingdom over to the Father. In reality, only those of mankind who are in a salvable condition through obedience will get life. The New Covenant will start with the inauguration of the Kingdom, but Jesus’ role of bringing God and man together is a process.

Comment: Ezekiel 36:25-27 reads, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

Reply: Yes. Just as the writing of the gospel of Christ in our hearts in the Gospel Age is a process, so the writing of the “law” in the people’s hearts in the Kingdom will be a process.

Jer. 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.

Verse 34 is tied in with verses 31-33. The Ancient Worthies will be resurrected perfect in the flesh. Having been fully tested along the lines of obedience, they will get life but will need to learn certain lessons and features of truth.

National or Adamic sin will be forgiven. Some are more culpable than others in regard to Jesus’ crucifixion. Hence judgment will be discriminatory. What a man sows, he shall reap. Sins against the Holy Spirit—that is, sins against light—must receive stripes. Even Paul needed stripes, and he was stoned for his part in Stephen’s stoning. Anything done willfully must be expiated sooner or later. The nation of Israel was under special condemnation under the Law.

This national sin will be forgiven but not necessarily the sin for individuals. As for Old Testament forgiveness laws, there was no sacrifice for willful sins, only sacrifices for sins of ignorance.

Even sins of ignorance required “interest,” but willful sins needed expiation (punishment).

With instruction so available in the next age, the people will have no excuse for ignorance. All will know God “from the least of them unto the greatest of them.” With each being apprised of his own meanness, any high-mindedness will evaporate in those whose hearts are right. Such individuals will become amenable to instruction, and this attitude will lead to a changed life and bring salvation. There will be a weeding-out process during the Kingdom Age as well as in the test of the Little Season at the end, resulting in the goat class going into Second Death. In other words, the process will end with a definite period of time, even down to one day, when henceforth there will be no excuse for any errant or devious act. The sheep class, those who get life, will step across that time barrier into the ages of ages.

Jer. 31:35 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:

Jer. 31:36 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.

Jer. 31:37 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.

God used the stability of nature and its longevity as a comparison for what He will do for the saved, cleansed, and perfected seed of Israel. Notice that the name Israel, meaning the people of God, will be retained.

The title “LORD of hosts” signifies that God controls the heavenly bodies, the oceans, etc., as if they were living personalities. They obey Him perfectly. The principle in nature is law and order, regimentation. The sun shines by day; the moon and the stars give light by night. The proportion of the sun and the moon are the same because of the distance of the sun. The sun is much larger, but since it is farther away, it appears to be the same size as the moon.

God “divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar.” He divides the oceans despite the roaring of the waves. All the various seas have relatively fixed boundaries, even though the waves roar and there are tempests. Tiny man cannot change God’s laws. One law is that the moon controls the tides. An example of God’s control was when He divided the waters of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus. The primary thought is that the ocean boundaries or beds are fixed and enduring. It could be said that God made covenants with the heavenly bodies and the oceans.

The heavens are infinite from man’s standpoint but finite from God’s standpoint. Man cannot measure the heavens. Theoretically, if a bullet were shot hard enough out to the extremities of space, it would eventually return to the same spot.

The point is that God has determined to redeem Israel as a nation, to favor His typical people again—first the Holy Remnant, then the others who will be resurrected. There is no question about it! Israel will not cease to be a nation when reestablished.

Comment: If Israel really understood these promises, many would react differently. God was saying, “If the ordinances that I have established in nature could depart (and they cannot), then I would cast you off.” Therefore, God will not cast off Israel as a nation.

Reply: Yes. Not until the end of the Kingdom Age, when Israel is a saved people, will they fully realize they will never be cast off.

Jer. 31:38 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.

Jer. 31:39 And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.

Jer. 31:40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.

Verses 38-40 tell that Jerusalem will one day again be rebuilt. The boundaries will be sure in the Kingdom. The hills are not identifiable today, but the earthquake will enlarge these insignificant landmarks of Jeremiah’s day. There is disagreement over where the Tower of Hananeel was and Goath and the hill of Gareb. These names will not be used in the Kingdom, for radical topographical changes will occur and new names will be given. The “horse gate” is on the southeast corner of the city. These verses are another way of saying that Jerusalem will be built on its heaps (Jer. 30:18). The “valley of the dead bodies” is Hinnom.

“The city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.”

Since this tower no longer exists, God was saying to Jeremiah, “The tower of Hananeel and the gate of the corner, which you are familiar with, will be part of the boundary line of the future city of Jerusalem when it is rebuilt in the Kingdom.” The thought is not that the tower of Hananeel will be rebuilt; the account is just telling the area that will be involved. In other words, the city will be rebuilt upon its heaps, and relatively speaking, it will occupy the same terrain that it did in the fullness of its past glory.

The 513-year Period of the Kings in Israel extended from Saul to Zedekiah, who was dethroned in 606 BC. During that time, the boundaries of Jerusalem were more or less the same. The measurements for the future Jerusalem, as given in Ezekiel 48, are very precise. The city will be built on the same heaps, but the configuration will be quite different.

Of course no existing maps show with certainty the detail of these places mentioned in verses 38-40, but we can narrow down the unknown by looking at the known. For instance, verse 40 says, “And [on the east side] the whole valley of the dead bodies [the Valley of Hinnom], and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD.” These places are generally a description of the east side of the present city of Jerusalem. Therefore, verse 40 is describing the boundary line on the east side of the future rebuilt city. This statement is affirmed by the wording “unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east.” At one time, this was the highest corner of the city.

Verse 39 reads, “And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.” Now the north side of the future city is being described, generally speaking. And verse 38 adds, “The city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.” This tower had to be in one of two places: either the northwest or the southeast corner of the city. Which corner is being identified, we are not sure, but the city is described in a general way. What makes it hard to know are the hill of Gareb and Goath. We could get a much clearer understanding by using other Scriptures, but time does not permit searching out those references. At any rate, these two hills are relatively close together.

Comment: The description seems to be going backwards. By starting with the Valley of Hinnom and Kidron in verse 40, we are on the south going on a west-to-east line. Then the description goes up to the north side with the hill Gareb and Goath, which is going west again. And from the northwest corner, the description goes back down south to make the square.

Reply: Yes, that is correct, but boundary lines need to be demonstrated on paper. There is a sequence, but it is not entirely either clockwise or counterclockwise. From a point, the description goes in one direction, and then from that same point (without so indicating), the boundary line goes in the other direction. Thus the city is encompassed in its entirety.

Chapter 31 ends with a beautiful promise. When rebuilt in the Kingdom, “it [Jerusalem] shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.

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