Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.CHAPTER 31
1. The home-going of the nation (Jeremiah 31:1-9)
2. The joy of salvation (Jeremiah 31:10-14)
3. The preceding tribulation, sorrow and repentance (Jeremiah 31:15-21)
4. Assurance (Jeremiah 31:22-26)
5. The new covenant (Jeremiah 31:27-34)
6. The everlasting nation (Jeremiah 31:35-40)
Jeremiah 31:1-9. Sovereign grace will bring them back and give them the songs of salvation. It is true of Israel “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee”; --it is equally true of us. What a day of joy it will be when they go back home once more, never to leave the old homeland again! Then the watchmen on mount Ephraim cry, “Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.” Can there be anything more touching and beautiful than Jeremiah 31:8-9?
Jeremiah 31:10-14. The nations are addressed. oh! that the great nations of today might have an ear to hear this message, “He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.” His promises made to Israel will not fail. The nations should understand, as they do not, that Israel will yet become the head of all the nations of the earth. What singing that will be in that day of which the prophet speaks (verse 12). What rejoicing after their sorrow! What fullness will be theirs!
Jeremiah 31:15-21. Rachel weeping for her children (Jeremiah 31:5) is quoted in Matthew 2:1-23 in connection with the killing of the boys in Bethlehem. It has also a future fulfillment, when once more Satan will manifest his power as the murderer during the tribulation. But the promise, “They shall come again from the land of the enemy” and “Thy children shall come again to their own border,” clearly shows that captivity is likewise meant from which Rachel’s children (Joseph and Benjamin, i.e., Ephraim) shall return after the final tribulation and weeping. Physical resurrection is not in view here. Therefore, the next verse speaks of Ephraim moaning and in repentance. Then God’s gracious answer “Is Ephraim my dear son?--I will surely have mercy upon him.”
Jeremiah 31:22-26. Backsliding Israel is exhorted and the assurance is given, “A woman shall compass a man.” It refers to Israel as the woman, the timid, weak, forsaken one, who now will compass a man: that is have power given unto her to become the ruler. (Some have translated this difficult passage, “The woman shall be turned into a man.”) Then follows the promise of assurance.
Jeremiah 31:27-34. In the preceding verse we read that Jeremiah awoke, so that this message must have come to him in a vision by night, and sweet was his sleep. How refreshing must have been to his troubled soul this wonderful prophecy! The great prediction in these verses is the one concerning the new covenant. This covenant is not made with Gentiles, nor even with the church as so often erroneously stated. It is the new covenant to be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This is fully confirmed in the Epistle to Hebrews Hebrews 8:8-13. The old covenant is the law-covenant, which the Lord did not make with Gentiles, but with Israel exclusively. The new covenant is of grace. The ground of this new covenant is the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ, His blood, as we learn from His own words when He instituted the supper. He died for that nation, and therefore all Israel will yet receive the promised blessing of this new covenant. This prophecy is therefore still unfulfilled, for Israel does not enjoy this new covenant now. In the meantime, while Israel has not yet the blessings of this new covenant, Gentiles, who by nature are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, believing in Christ, possess the blessings of this new covenant to the full. In that coming day of Israel’s return, the nation, Israel and Judah, will be born again, know the Lord, and their sins will be remembered no more.
Jeremiah 31:35-40. This word of Jehovah is a complete answer to those in Christendom who think that God has cast away Israel, that they are no longer the chosen people. The Lord makes a condition, “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 they have done saith the LORD.” Neither has heaven been measured, neither has the depth of the earth been searched out, nor will this ever be accomplished. What a faithful covenant-keeping God He is! Jeremiah 31:38-40 have never been fulfilled in the past.