Good morning! Yesterday we recounted the history that led up to Jerusalem being captured by the Babylonians, and the Judean people taken mournfully into exile to Babylon. Today we jump ahead to a time seen by this same Jeremiah (or another seer in his name) of freedom from captivity and the Hebrew return to Jerusalem. Both chapters 31 and 32 contain descriptions of hope, God’s promises that will withstand even the most terrible calamities.
Jeremiah has a vision in chapter 31 of a joyful return home from exile for the Hebrew people, after generations (seventy years) of only knowing Babylon and only dreaming of Jerusalem. He envisions a glorious restoration to the best of the past, promising that despite the agony of exile, disconsolate weeping is not the last word on the Jewish people. The coming time will be marked by justice, where children do not suffer for the sins of their parents.
In a famous section of Jeremiah 31, we read the promise of a new covenant between God and the people. This is based on the metaphor of the old covenant of Ten Commandments and the Law, an understanding between God and humanity about what makes for good living. But this time, the covenant will not rely on stone tablets as memorials. Instead, this new covenant will be within, written on human hearts, and every person will know God directly. Even though there has been hardship and pain (supposedly by divine will), God’s eternal favor is promised for as long as heaven and earth endure.
Chapter 32 jumps back to the siege of Jerusalem, with the Jeremiah who has been haranguing King Zedekiah and everyone else about the coming destruction that the Babylonians will visit on Jerusalem. Yet Jeremiah hears God commanding him to buy a parcel of land that is apparently overrun forever by Babylon. He then gives deeds to the purchased land to be hidden and preserved, a sign of confidence that one day the land would be back in Hebrew possession. Jeremiah doesn’t understand why God has commanded this, but it’s a sign-act demonstrating God’s determination to not let evil and exile be the final thing we hear about Israel and Judah. Indeed, it most certainly is not. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Jeremiah 33-35. Thanks for reading!