Chapter thirty-one continues the promise of Israel’s future judgment and guaranteed restoration, the Tribulation and Messianic Kingdom. It is best to read chapters 30 and 31 together as one cohesive passage detailing the promises regarding Israel’s future restoration in the Messianic Kingdom.
The majority of this chapter does not automatically seem to refer to the future restoration of Israel; indeed, it could easily refer to restoration after the 70 years of exile. This is an example of “near-far prophecy.” Because it was unknown whether a prophecy was true or false until it did or did not come true (Jeremiah 28:9), these prophecies about a time far into the future could not be proven, so God had Jeremiah write them down (Jeremiah 30:1-2) and include detail of things that would happen in the near future. If the “near” prophecies came true, then the people could count on the “far” prophecies to come true as well. Since God had just promised far prophecies about the end times, he came back to things that would surely happen after the 70 years of captivity were through as well, to verify the future prophecies. Their cities and towns would be rebuilt; they would plant crops and vineyards again; they would return from the north (the direction of the highway between Israel and Babylon). All of these things would take place, even within the lifetime of some of the captives.
However, God promised to do something new, too. In fact, it would be so new that he compared it to a female giving protection to a strong man or soldier (Jeremiah 31:22). 1 This new thing would go far beyond the restoration of the Jewish people to their land in seventy years. One day they will be fully restored, satisfied, and refreshed in their land (Jeremiah 31:23-30). They will not suffer as casualties for someone else’s sin any longer; only their own personal sin will indict them.
In the greatest declaration of this new spiritual revival in Israel, God reveals the detail of the fourth part of the Abrahamic Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). 2 This “new covenant” guarantees that in the Messianic Kingdom, God himself will know the people intimately, and they will know him as well. This covenant will be made with both houses of Israel and Judah. It will be unconditional. Unlike the Mosaic Covenant that they broke, this one can never be broken or breached. It will include complete forgiveness of sin, and will come into full effect in Messiah’s Kingdom.
In case someone ever wanted to declare that Israel was no longer the people of God and was no longer in the position to receive these promises (which many theological systems today do insist), God gave only two instances in which he could ever reject Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-37). If the movement of the celestial bodies that he created ever stopped or if humans could ever completely explore the heights of heaven and the depths of the ocean, then God could reject Israel. Otherwise, they will always and forever be the chosen people of God. Because he will not reject them, he can promise that Jerusalem will one day be rebuilt, never to be torn down (Jeremiah 31:38-40).
- Rather than using “woman” and “man,” God said “female” and “mighty man.” The implication is that it was unheard of for soldiers (males) to be protected by females. This interesting comparison points out the distinctions made between males and females throughout human history and speaks to the modern American discussion of females serving in military combat operations. This phenomenon would never have been considered before. ↩
- Implicit in God’s covenant to make Abraham “a great nation” (Genesis 12:2) are four necessary elements: people, land, government, and religion. Every nation in Abraham’s day had all four of these. The detail regarding the people and land were given in Genesis 15:17-21. The Land Covenant was promised again with more detail in Deuteronomy 30:1-10. The government of the nation was detailed in the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16). This New Covenant guaranteed a national religion centered on Jehovah. ↩