Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Jeremiah 31:31-40

31 “Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—my covenant that they broke even though I am their master” — the Lord’s declaration. 33 “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.

35 “This is what the Lord says:
The one who gives the sun for light by day, the fixed order of moon and stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea and makes its waves roar— the Lord of Armies is his name: 36 If this fixed order departs from before me— this is the Lord’s declaration— only then will Israel’s descendants cease to be a nation before me forever. 37 “This is what the Lord says: Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below explored, will I reject all of Israel’s descendants because of all they have done— this is the Lord’s declaration.

38 “Look, the days are coming”—the Lord’s declaration—“when the city from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate will be rebuilt for the Lord. 39 A measuring line will once again stretch out straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn toward Goah. 40 The whole valley—the corpses, the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Kidron Valley to the corner of the Horse Gate to the east—will be holy to the Lord. It will never be uprooted or demolished again.”

The Original Intent

1) Who were the “coming days” for, when would they arrive, and what would be the mark of these days? (verse 31)

God had handcrafted His people, birthing an entire nation, causing them to flourish and then waited 400 years while they both suffered and flourished as slaves in Egypt. (see Marietta’s Journey Study for the story of Puah and Shiphrah)

Though He birthed them, nurtured them, provided lavishly for them in miraculous ways, His people grew tired of loving Him and turned to “gods” they could manipulate as they desired. In His kindness, the Lord sent His people warnings through His mouthpieces, prophets (like Jeremiah and Ezekiel), so they might know He was the One True God (Ezekiel 7:1-4, Ezekiel 11:11-12). Still, they arrogantly rejected His pleas to return for hundreds of years.

Finally, the Lord proved true to His character of justice and allowed His people to be carried away from their homeland and scattered abroad. The heartbreak of God was intended to be felt by His people (Ezekiel 6:9-10) with the hope they would repent, turn from their awful sin of rejecting Him, and come Home to His Heart. (Hosea 6:1-3)

In the midst of these decades of punishment and exile in a foreign land without a place to corporately meet with or worship their Creator King, the Loving God used His mouthpiece-prophets to speak a wonderous word of Hope. Jeremiah 31 overflows with incredible promises that would one day be made manifest when the true King of Israel brought His people back to their land.

The people had broken their covenant (the Ten Commandments and all the laws in Leviticus) with God innumerable times. They needed much more a covenant renewal ceremony, they needed a whole new covenant, one that couldn’t be broken by their sin. In verse 31, the Lord spoke through Jeremiah of a coming day of restoration, a new era, marked by a new covenant.  

The Everyday Application

1) Who were the “coming days” for, when would they arrive, and what would be the mark of these days? (verse 31)

The history of God’s people is, by far, the most engaging, wild historical narrative I’ve ever encountered. If I had space, I would re-tell it all here, but I will invite you to do something better than read my words, read #HisWordsBeforeMine. Take the next few weeks and go on your own adventure through God’s narrative of beginnings!

Read Genesis and Exodus, then fast forward to Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but read them chronologically to avoid confusion. (here’s a chapter guide for timeline reading!) While many are reading narratives of Jesus’ birth leading up to Christmas, read the history of the people Christ came to save! See the devastation of their rebellion (Ezekiel 16) that eventually brought a radical, unheard of gift: God Himself wrapped in flesh.

I guarantee that these four books will bring a fresh understanding of Christmas like never before because we share a theme from Israel’s history in the telling of our own lives, and it’s an ugly one. Rebellion. A reviling of God’s laws and His ways that is as deep as the core of our soul and equally impossible to root out.

Just like Israel, we don’t need an “I promise to do better” ceremony for God, we need a gut-honest, fall-on-your-knees awakening before His throne. One where we realize with shocking clarity how desperately we too need a new covenant, one that cannot be broken by our perpetual affinity to sin against God.

Israel wanted to return to their homeland, and, deep inside, we want a place to call Home in the heart of God, which is precisely why Jesus came!

The Original Intent

2) What is meant by the distinction between the old and new covenant language in verses 31-34?

Ancient world covenants were a regular reality, but in the 21st century, we only have a vague idea of what was meant by cutting a covenant. Covenants were permanently binding upon the two parties; if one party broke their end of the covenant they relinquished rights of their very life to the other party, giving them full permission to execute the death penalty as a consequence. Again, this was common practice in the ancient world and did a decent job of maintaining justice and order.

The “old” covenant was the original “agreement”, to put it lightly, that Abraham had entered into with the Lord God, Yahweh, on behalf of his future offspring who would become the nation of Israel. (Genesis 15) The terms of the covenant were written and held binding at Mt. Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments on behalf of Israel.

Proving their rebellious hearts and their insatiable love affair with sin, Israel broke the covenant before Moses even came down the mountain carrying the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 32) Death to Israel for breaking the covenant was God’s right when Israel disobeyed His very first covenantal law right along with the second one, “Do not have other gods besides Me” and “Do not make an idol for yourself.” (Exodus 20:3-4) Death was their earned portion. 

The Everyday Application

2) What is meant by the distinction between the old and new covenant language in verses 31-34?

God is a God of Justice. (Job 37:23, Psalm 9:7-8) He would be unfair and unjust to “look the other way” and “pretend” Israel had not broken the covenant between themselves and the God of the Universe.

So, why didn’t God immediately put an end to Israel? Did the Lord sin? Is He unjust? No; absolutely not! What lavish kindness displayed in the heart of God as He so graciously delayed His justice. He knew His people would never be able to keep the law of the covenant, so He provided an intermediary payment system to paint a picture of the high price tag of sin: death. (Romans 6:23)

Through the sacrificial system, innocent animals were slain in place of people for their sin. Still, the Lord knew this wasn’t justice “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.” (Hebrews 10:4) For generations, He delayed, but not without purpose. He delayed payment, so the full cup of God’s just wrath (Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 49:12) could be poured out at one time on His Son, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 20:22)

Only One could drink this cup and survive: the wholly innocent God who had divinely become fully man while maintaining His deity. Christmas, Sisters, where God wrapped Himself in humanity and humbly confined Himself within wrinkly, infant skin that He might die in our place thirty-three years later, tortured to death on a cross where He was unjustly slain for the sins of the world so that, ironically, justice might be perfectly fulfilled.

Through this willful shedding of innocent blood, a new covenant was established. (Matthew 26:28) Here was a covenant of mercy, undeserved forgiveness, and lavish grace. A covenant that could no longer be broken by our sin, for all sin was paid for in one, perfectly satisfying sacrifice.

The Day came where the New covenant replaced the Old and justice was eternally satisfied. Christ’s death brought a new portion for all who believe in Him: Eternal Life!

The Original Intent

3) Why the Lord’s name of “Yahweh Sabaoth” used as an anchoring point for the remainder of this chapter on hope? (verse 35)

We read His name in our English Bibles as “LORD of Hosts” or “LORD of Armies”. Take note of LORD with all capital letters and you’ll discover something you won’t want to forget!

English Bible translators render the Hebrew name of YHWH, which is the deeply personal, intimate name God shared with Moses at the burning bush. God intended this Name to be the doorway for His people, Israel, to truly know Him.

Another helpful side note, when you read “know” in the Old Testament regarding a relationship, it means “knowing by having personal experience with”, which provides us with a much richer understanding of the text! Apply this understanding to God giving His Name YHWH to Moses as the first thing His people should experientially know about Him, and we are left with breathless wonder!

The Lord Of All desired to be deeply known by His creation and He invited them to call Him by His personal Name which notes both His sovereignty and His personal familiarity. To know the Lord as the God of Armies, we must begin by understanding, and personally experiencing Him, as Sovereign Ruler and Intimate Friend.

The word translated “armies” or “hosts” in English is “Sabaoth” in Hebrew. He is Victor, He is Warrior King, He is Undefeatable. This is the Lord who fights for His Beloved ones. (Exodus 14:14)

So, why bring this particular Name of God into this prophetic portion to Israel? To remind them to Hope. To help them look beyond their pain, their heartache, and sense of hopeless defeat to see the faithful God whose character never changes.

The same God who birthed them, nurtured them, and, yes, exiled them, would bring them Home. 

The Everyday Application

3) Why the Lord’s name of “Yahweh Sabaoth” used as an anchoring point for the remainder of this chapter on hope? (verse 35)

I think of a child whimpering not fully awake, not fully asleep, yet emotionally distraught, “Mama is here. Mama loves you.” Mama repeats her name in the child’s ear, hearkening them to calm, to return to truth, bringing them back to reality despite fear. This is the picture we see of the Lord as He speaks to Jeremiah.

It’s challenging to hold onto truth in the face of grief, disappointment, and hopelessness, isn’t it? In the darkest night of the soul, the Lord calls to our hearts, singing over us of His Name, Yahweh, the Great I Am, the Sovereign One.

Jeremiah uses the landscape of Israel’s broken reality to set the backdrop for the glory yet to come. Their current stage was one of death, destruction, and a loss so great it seemed impossible to rebuild. (verses 38-40) But, when the God of Armies fights for you, what is impossible with man is not too difficult for God! (Genesis 18:14)

Jeremiah effectively says, “Look out at your ruin, take in the sight of death and destruction and be reminded that the God of All Victory fights for you.” When the “Day” of Christ’s death would come, ushering in the New Covenant, it would mean an end to Death’s victory for Christ would conquer it with His resurrected Life! The God of creation (verses 35 and 37) was more than enough to bring life from death, and just as He had been faithful to hold creation together since He breathed life into it, so He would be faithful to slay death forever.

One day, for all who have trusted Christ as their Savior, we will see our Victor face to face. Death will be no more, tears will vanish, and Hope will reign forever. (Revelation 21:1-4) Whatever griefs tear at your heart, whatever hopeless situations threaten you, look around and acknowledge the reality, then take that reality to the faithful character of Yahweh Sabaoth and let Hope redefine your reality!

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