At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
I. Divine love is a fact; there can be no doubt of the teaching of the Scripture on this subject. The God of the Bible is a God of love, He is a Father in heaven. He cares for us, He watches over us, He guides us, He saves us. This attitude of Divine love is the very core of the Gospel. It may be said to encounter two obstacles within us: our fears at times, and then, what seems the very opposite, our pride and self-confidence. (1) The instinct of conscious guilt is fear, and when the sense of sin is strongly awakened we are apt to turn away from God, and to feel as if God must hate us. But God never hates us. He hates our sins and will punish those sins. But in the very hatred of those sins there is the reality of Divine love. (2) Not only does our fear sometimes turn us away from the thought of God, but our self-sufficiency. We feel as if the powers of nature were strong in us, and the sense of sin dies down; we feel as if God would overlook our sins, and that we are not so sinful after all; we feel as if we might trust to His goodness, as if it were, so to speak, good nature. But this is equally inconsistent with true spiritual experience. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
II. God not only loves us; He loves us everlastingly. The fact of Divine love is not only sure in itself, it is never uncertain in incidence. Whatever appearance there may seem to the contrary, it is still there. The voice of God is not still because man does not hear it, and the love of. God is not gone because man does not feel it. It is still crying to us; it abides as an everlasting fact. "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love."
III. The love of God is individual; it is personal; it is the love of one loving heart to another; it is no mere impersonal conception of supreme benevolence; it is the love of a father to a child, the love of a mother to a daughter; it would not be love otherwise, for it is a distinguishing idea of love that it discriminates its object. "With lovingkindness have I drawn thee."
J. Tulloch, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 209.
References: Jeremiah 31:3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiii., No. 1914; Ibid., Morning by Morning, pp. 60, 355; S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit, 5th series, No. vii.; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 153.
Jeremiah 31:12I. A watered garden suggests the idea of fragrant freshness. The prophet was contrasting the weary, dusty, withered aspect of Israel during the exile, with the fresh, bright, happy look of a recovered and ransomed nation. The characters and lives of the people of God ought to be marked by a similar freshness. Godliness tends to keep the soul from withering, and replenishes the springs of the deepest life. There is a perennial freshness in unselfish affections and unworldly aims. The "eternal life" never grows old. It is selfishness that fatigues the spirit, and robs it of its freshness; but so long as a human soul is pervaded by the love of God and the love of man, the human life cannot, for that soul, altogether lose its zest.
II. A "watered garden" suggests the idea of a varied beauty. In a well-kept garden there is beauty of colour and of form; beauty of order and of tasteful arrangement; beauty of stem and leaf and flower; and amongst the flowers themselves a varied beauty, resulting from manifold varieties of form and colour. And even so the characters and lives of the people of God ought to be marked by that which is attractive and sweet to look upon. There is need that men be attracted by the "beauty of holiness." There are times when a man may get more good from the flowers of the garden than even from its fruits. The lovelier features of the Christian character have their own peculiar charm and peculiar power.
III. A watered garden suggests the idea of a rich fruitfulness. A gardener generally expects, not only flower and blossom, but also fruit, as the outcome of his toil. And certainly the lives of God's people ought to be marked by a fruitfulness which ministers to the welfare and happiness of humanity. Israel was placed under a special culture for the glory of God, and for the benefit of the nations. And "herein," says Christ to His disciples, "is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit."
F. Campbell Finlayson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 72.
References: Jeremiah 31:12.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 276. Jeremiah 31:15, Jeremiah 31:16.—W. Walters, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii., No. 102. Jeremiah 31:16.—J. N. Norton, Golden Truths, p. 234.
Jeremiah 31:18Compunctious visitings and repentant resolutions.
I. I will not enter now into what we may call the more exceptional regrets and remorses of sinful souls. Our Lord touches a different and a more thrilling chord when He makes the wanderer in His utmost destitution, think of the plenty of his home; compare what he might have been with what he is; and say, as he comes to himself, only just this, "How many hired servants of my father's have had enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger?" This is the compunction which I would have to visit us.
II. The Resolution. "I will arise and go to my Father." (1) Mark first how the repentant resolution speaks of God. "My Father." Happy is he, who, in his remotest exile, in his uttermost destitution, still speaks, still thinks, of God as his Father. (2) "I will arise." There is need of exertion. Sit still and thou art bound; sorry, but not contrite; miserable, but not repentant. There is a journey, though it be but in the soul's going, and therefore there must be a rising, a rousing of the whole man, like that, which, in the days of the Son of God below, enabled one whose hand was withered, yet, at the Divine command, to stand forth and stretch it out. (3) "I will go." Whither and how? (a) In prayer. The soul must arise and pray. Say, Father, I have sinned. Say it: He hears, (b) Go in effort. We must not trifle with or mock God, and therefore he who would pray must endeavour too. In particular, we must give up resolutely known sins. Give up your sin, is the first word of Christ to those who would return to their Father. (c) Go in the use of all means. God has furnished us with various means and instruments of access to Him. His Holy Word, public worship, Holy Communion. (d) "I will arise and go to my Father." We must get to Him somehow. If we do not get to God Himself, we have done nothing after all.
C. J. Vaughan, Voices of the Prophets, p. 291.
Jeremiah 31:18I. Human life is established upon a disciplinary basis.
II. The value of discipline depends upon its right acceptance.
III. Application. (1) There is a yoke in sin. (2) There is a yoke in goodness. God helps the true yoke-bearer.
Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 369; see also Pulpit Notes, p. 177.
References: Jeremiah 31:18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii., No. 743. Jeremiah 31:29.—H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1645. Jeremiah 31:31-34.—A. B. Bruce, Expositor, 1st series, vol. x., p. 65.
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 LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
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.
Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
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.
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.
And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.
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.
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.
And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.
For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.
Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.
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.
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 those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge.
But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.
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.