Jeremiah 31
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
Religion in the Family

Jeremiah 31:1

What constitutes a godly home? The acknowledgment of God in all things. Making His will the governing principle. There can be no godly household where that is not done.

I. Where the will of God is placed first there will be order—an inestimable blessing in a home. God is not the God of confusion in the home or the Church. A man or woman who truly walks with God will soon become ashamed of disorder and slovenliness. And where God is the God of the family, and not merely the God of the Church, there will be order. The father and mother will take their proper place at the head of the household, and govern it and administer it as a trust for God. There will be no tyranny, no caprice; but there will be firm order, and an insistence upon it, and a constant striving after it.

II. There will be unselfishness. Not every one doing that which is right in his own eyes, but every one asking, 'What is the will of God?' And there will be a perpetual and relentless war upon selfishness. Care for others will be supreme. Consideration of others will prevail. Kindness will be paramount, and it will be a happy service to render it.

III. Where God is the God of the family, His will will govern the whole policy of the home. Such matters as the education of the children, the treatment of servants, such matters as dress and evening parties, as books and games, are sadly in want of a Christian standard. They are matters about which some Christian people think, or seem to think, that there is no will of God, and they simply follow the fashion, that is, the fashion of the world, and sometimes money dominates, and sometimes your neighbour's custom. And we shall not get right in any of these matters until we recognize that there is a will of God in them, and it is not a question of what my neighbour practises, and allows or condemns. Not my narrow neighbour on the one hand, nor my broad neighbour on the other, but 'What is the Christian standard? what is the will of God? 'and I must be brave enough to follow that.

IV. And there is another side to this fair and lovely picture. It is suggested by the last line in the verse. Wherever you have a number of people set on doing God's will and placing that will first, there you have most surely God's protection and safe keeping.

—C. Brown, Light and Life, p. 137.

References.—XXXI. 1.—C. Brown, God and Man, p. 95. XXXI. 1-26.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvii. No. 2726. XXXI. 3.—Ibid. vol. xxxii. No. 1914; vol. xxxvi. No. 2149; vol. 1. No. 2880. J. S. Maver, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. 1900, p. 109. J. Tulloch, Sundays at Balmoral, p. 18. S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Sermons, p. 61. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. ii. p. 253. G. Brett, Fellowship With God, p. 132. XXXI. 10, 11.—John Clifford, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 161. XXXI. 14.—H. W. Webb-Peploe, Calls to Holiness, p. 53. XXXI. 14 and 25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvii. No. 2726. XXXI. 18.—Ibid, vol. xiii. No. 743. XXXI. 18-20.—Ibid. vol. xxxv. No. 2104. XXXI. 31-34.—Ibid. vol. xlviii. No. 2762. H. P. Liddon, Christmastide in St. Paul's, p. 38. A. Ramsay, Studies in Jeremiah, p. 261. XXXI. 33. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No. 93; vol. xxviii. No. 1687; vol. lii. No. 2992. XXXI. 34.—Ibid. vol. xxviii. No. 1685; vol. xxxiv. No. 2006. E. Griffith-Jones, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxii. 1907, p. 282. XXXI. 36.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureIsaiah and Jeremiah, p. 332. XXXI. 37.—Ibid. p. 336. XXXII. 1-27.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvi. No. 2675. XXXII. 8-10.—A. Ramsay, Studies in Jeremiah, p. 241.

Jeremiah 31:34

Man's cry and God's answer, that is our subject; man's cry—for pardon, renewal, restoration; God's answer—willingness and power both to forgive and forget.

I. Man's Cry for Pardon.—What is this sense of sin that pursues man so persistently, and of which the cry of the Psalmist is a proof that we can neither get away from it nor forget it without help from above? It is at once a proof of man's grandeur and of his impotence. God and Nature seen at strife within us. That which we should be and might have been rises upon us in clear tormenting vision; then that which we are gives this the lie and torments us still more. And so that strange sentiment, or experience, or quality of our nature rises in power within us—remorse, which is the feeling engendered by the changelessness of an ill-spent past, in whole or in part. Memory may sleep, but it never dies. We can bear many memories if we think they are our own, safely locked up in our bosoms. But there is another consciousness than our own, other than that of the whole human race; a consciousness universal as being, pure and retentive as the light, holy as holiness itself can be; which holds all that ever was, that has ever happened to us and within us, in its unfailing, unfading grasp, and which never forgets. It is the thought of this tremendous cosmic memory which is the ultimate bar of judgment at which all good and evil must receive their verdict, the ultimate correction of an easy-going optimism as regards the issue of wrongdoing. There is no escape from God's knowledge of the present, nor from His memory of the past.

II. The Transformation of Memory.—We shall not come into any satisfying faith in the forgiveness and forgetfulness of God till we realize that all reality of sin remains and must remain for ever; and yet that forgiveness and forgetfulness are both real. The Cross of Christ is the furthermost point in the journey of heavenly love in seeking to bring back the lost; a love that bent all the Divine attributes (like the earth under the stresses that carry it round the sun) into a perfect circle of reconciliation. And so when man, recognizing this miracle of atoning love, repents and is reconciled to God as a dear child, the result is a moral forgiveness, which is also a moral forgetfulness.

—E. Griffith-Jones.

References.—LXXIX. 15.—J. H. Hitchens, Catholic Sermons, vol. ii. p. 73. LXXIX.—International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 197. LXXX. 1.—J. Parsons, Penny Pulpit, No. 1702, p. 655.

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.
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