If Jeremiah 30 was the turning point, Jeremiah 31 is the confirmation of a new world.

From the cries of repentance called out by the Lord to His people in the beginning of the book of Jeremiah, the story has gone on to share about how the Israelites, particularly those in Judah and Jerusalem, about how they would lie and deceive their friends, brothers and neighbours. The vivid examples recorded in the scripture also talked about the atrocity of adulterers and without inhibitions disregarded everything their forefathers were taught to do as they went on to destroy the good name of the Lord, His temple and His people.

From the Lord’s wrath, these rebels were dealt the greatest blows when they were left in Judah and Jerusalem to face the onslaught permitted as part of God’s punishment. They were to face, as mentioned repeatedly in the Bible – sword, famine and plague. So whether they were in the comfort of their own home, palace, the open squares, vineyards or farms, they were treated with the biggest lesson when God decided to bring destruction on those who have turned their backs on Him. But just as Jeremiah 30 talked about the Lord’s restoration, Jeremiah 31 continued with His declaration of a new covenant upon the return of His people. But why a new covenant? Because the old one no longer works.

Jeremiah 31 (New International Version)

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,

    “when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel

    and with the people of Judah.

32 It will not be like the covenant

    I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand

    to lead them out of Egypt,

because they broke my covenant,

    though I was a husband to them,”

declares the Lord.

When they returned to this freshly rejuvenated world, restored to pristine order by God, they would’ve arrived with joy and gladness. So elated they were that both the ladies and men were spotted dancing openly according to the scriptures. Celebrations were also held on the streets as people worshipped the Lord freely because in contrast to the past, everyone has already come to know who the Lord is, no longer needing a neighbour or a friend to teach them about God anymore. 

3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

4 I will build you up again,

    and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.

Again you will take up your timbrels

    and go out to dance with the joyful.

5 Again you will plant vineyards

    on the hills of Samaria;

the farmers will plant them

    and enjoy their fruit.

13 Then young women will dance and be glad,

    young men and old as well.

I will turn their mourning into gladness;

    I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance,

    and my people will be filled with my bounty,”

declares the Lord.

33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel

    after that time,” declares the Lord.

“I will put my law in their minds

    and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be my people.

34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,

    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’

because they will all know me,

    from the least of them to the greatest,”

declares the Lord.

I am very encouraged by this at a moment when the Covid-19 pandemic has reached dizzying heights. Already more than 1 million people have been classified positive with no end in sight except maybe China, Jeremiah 31 hence presents a genuine hope to the pain and anguish-filled hearts clouded by fear (originally written on 7 April 2020). 

Seeing the numbers on the screen, and although only about 5% have perished from the infected, it is still overwhelming as nurses and doctors continue to plead with the people to stay home. Hospitals and staff have been so inundated that medical retirees too were drafted back to give a helping hand. But unfortunately the weary few have caved in to the pressure and cried for help, leaving the less depleted ones standing although much can be credited still to their spirit as they go on encouraging their colleagues to press on and fight. 

If you’ve watched how patients and medical caregivers are all suffering together, you will know that the world is in trouble and only God can help us.

Jeremiah 31 Comes as a Testament to God’s Unwavering Love for Us

He declared His love for us in this part of the scripture and reminded us that in spite of all that had happened, He hasn’t forgotten us. He also did not mince His words when He said He will remember our sins no more. This coming from our Abba Father who didn’t actually need to make the effort to convince us about His love but did so anyway despite the overarching sinful nature of the people back in the day. Why? 

3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

34“For I will forgive their wickedness

    and will remember their sins no more.”

I believe God has more than just love for us because in wanting to discipline our behaviours and to re-designate our future with a new covenant, it speaks volumes of His relationship with us because as the Almighty God of our lives, with pre-existing knowledge about how each of our lives will turn out to be, it actually makes little sense that a new covenant is ever needed at all. Even more mind boggling is the fact that God was ready to clean up the entire city just so His children can relocate back again some years later. What does that tell you about who we are to God? 

18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning:

    ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf,

    and I have been disciplined.

Restore me, and I will return,

    because you are the Lord my God.

19 After I strayed,

    I repented;

after I came to understand,

    I beat my breast.

I was ashamed and humiliated

    because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’

20 Is not Ephraim my dear son,

    the child in whom I delight?

Though I often speak against him,

    I still remember him.

Therefore my heart yearns for him;

    I have great compassion for him,”

declares the Lord.

That’s right and if indeed we are all that important to Him, what other evidence and motivation do we need still to hurry our steps and follow Him? Because honestly, this could be our real chance to re-establish our paths so our worship can focus solely on Him and no one else; just like the original calling He had for the people when they were liberated from slavery in Egypt.

Brothers and sisters, there is truly no better time than now to draw near to Him but the main question is how long will it take before this endearing fact sinks into our hearts and resonates with our reality? 

21 “Set up road signs;

    put up guideposts.

Take note of the highway,

    the road that you take.

Return, Virgin Israel,

    return to your towns.

22 How long will you wander,

    unfaithful Daughter Israel?

The Lord will create a new thing on earth—

    the woman will return to the man.”

I believe it will be as soon as we find ourselves accepting Him as the Lord again and recognising our past as part of the reasons why the world is what it is today. Once we have come to this point, and as surely as the sun rises from the east, our lives too will experience an upward trajectory from then on. Sure we will still have to undergo a strict regime to reshape and remould our posture but it will be well worth it. And just to add to this point, when we do climb out of this mired mess, the preceded journey would resemble nothing but the overcoming of The Great Depression of our era, one that has been brought on through a pandemic but victoriously lifted out of the troubles thanks to our faith in Him and more importantly so – His love for us.

23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me.

27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. 

Jeremiah 31 concluded positively with cities rebuilt when the Lord’s wrath has finally subsided. This is nothing short of a merciful demonstration of God’s love, from the one who cherishes us, disciplines us and still holds back the full extent of His punishment so we can live to see and taste His goodness. This is the kind of God we must come to know and love, not the ones who bring prosperity but strikes fear into our hearts as soon as we fail in our pledge. 

7 This is what the Lord says:

“Sing with joy for Jacob;

    shout for the foremost of the nations.

Make your praises heard, and say,

    ‘Lord, save your people,

    the remnant of Israel.’

8 See, I will bring them from the land of the north

    and gather them from the ends of the earth.

Among them will be the blind and the lame,

    expectant mothers and women in labor;

    a great throng will return.

9 They will come with weeping;

    they will pray as I bring them back.

I will lead them beside streams of water

    on a level path where they will not stumble,

because I am Israel’s father,

    and Ephraim is my firstborn son.

10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations;

    proclaim it in distant coastlands:

‘He who scattered Israel will gather them

    and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’

11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob

    and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.

12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;

    they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—

the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,

    the young of the flocks and herds.

They will be like a well-watered garden,

    and they will sorrow no more.

38 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.”

Our God is merciful and magnanimous. His everlasting presence in our lives is the perfect embodiment of how a life should truly be led – to always be readily present and available for our loved ones whenever we can. Now isn’t this the kind of legacy we can pass on after any great depressions? Isn’t such a legacy noble enough for us to practise and remember when we survive past this pandemic?

May you find peace in this season of Covid-19 and may you and your loved ones be shielded from this frightening virus. I pray that you will come to see what the Lord has in store for us after this episode because I truly believe, it will be the best time ever, in the name of Jesus, Amen!

Bible reference from www.biblegateway.com

Photo by J E W E L M I T CH E L L on Unsplash