A new covenant of loveⅠ Faithfulness?Jeremiah 31:1-40
Chapter 30-31 is the message of Jeremiah which was told by bundling rather than those were separated. This is the "message of hope", I mentioned it in Chapter 30. In Chapter 31, it will be clear finally. Those are thought the ones that Baruch with Jeremiah finished to scroll the message which collected fragmentary at a considerably later, and it was published. It would be good to say the climax of Jeremiah.
"'At that time,' declares the Lord, 'I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.' Thus says the Lord, 'The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness --- Israel, when it went to find its rest.'" (1-2) This part is the introduction clause, but it is said, "Israel". This message was a thing of early era of king Josiah, and it was made up as the message to Israel, to all the family also contained the northern kingdom. However, the expression "The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness---, Israel, when it went to find its rest.", would it be going to superimpose the hardship which the both north and south kingdom are facing now by Babylon and Assyria, to the hardship of Israel which came out of Egypt? No, it is not so. Because, descendants of the north kingdom could not come back, and the northern part of Israel had become a mixed race. "Found grace in the wilderness ---", it seems to be pointing to something completely different.
There is it, "I have loved you with everlasting love (sincere)" (3); but because God is the One who is faithfulness originally, He does not need to say it. Yet, it was told openly; because, this message was directed to those who have forgotten the "faithfulness". In particular, because they were a mixed race, descendants of the north kingdom who became a mixed ethnic would be far from the sincere. Verse 3 will begin "The Lord appeared to him from afar,"; for one thing, we must hear that it was told in that sense. "Faithfulness" should be asked only to us, human being, rather than God, because we are asking the grace of God. God is not in the distance, but a human is distant from God. Yet, God said, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.".
I want to investigate another meaning of "The Lord appeared to him from afar,". From many bible scholars, "from afar", it is said it would point to the events that took place within the framework of the old covenant (Sinai covenant). That old lore was held in the memory of the cult of Israel. Now, love of God is told new; it is appealing to the memory of the grace of God carved in the cult. Would it had been hoped to hear the message through the prophet, and to remember the grace of God?
Ⅱ As if it is overflowing
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.", this beautiful timeless word seems to show us a warm faith of Jeremiah and Baruch. Surely, this would be the words that they have continued to talk the many severe judgement of God, and have received God's warm consideration to Israel from there. Especially, I am charmed in secretary Baruch. I have tried to imagine. Baruch who was invited from the prophet Jeremiah who met by chance, was writing the words of the prophecy to the scroll; though he has heard it from the side of the people until now, however this time, he was trained to hear it from the side of Jeremiah, and became a scribe of the words of God. The scroll which has been written at a time had been burnt by anger of the king Jehoiakim (Chapter 36), but, in the place where it has been written again, there is it "He (Baruch) wrote on it at the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah and burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them." (36:32). Chapter 30-31 would apply to it. Through the whole, Jeremiah is filled with the words of severe judgement of God. Baruch wrote about those words too much enough. Even if he thought he does not want to hear anymore and he does not want to write it, it would not be strange. Chapter 45 is telling it eloquently. However, in Baruch who is troubled, there is also a prayer of Jeremiah, same faith with the prophet is growing up. He encountered the words of grace of God which is overflowing like this. As if a dam had broken, his pen does not stop. He heard that God will return the people of Judah to this Jerusalem once again. In the situation that destruction of Judah was clearly in his eyes also, it was a matter of time; however, would not have been this words of full grace of hope full within him? As if the overflowing words were spilling, he continued to write.
"Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare in the coastlands afar off, and say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he. And they shall come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the bounty of the Lors--- over the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, ...'" (10-14) Don't you feel the trust and honesty to the word of God? Really, will the message of hope of God which Baruch has written boil up again, and become praise to the Lord and joy of the people who have returned in the land of north kingdom and south kingdom which is trying destruction just now? Will Israel regain their faithfulness / trust to God which they have forgotten? I have said previously "The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness---", it seems to be pointing to something completely different. We must now decide about it.
Ⅲ A new covenant of love
The expression of "Jacob" came out here (7). It is meaning a "servant Jacob of Yahweh" (46:27); but last week, we have heard this is the declaration of Yahweh. "You are mine"; the word of "servant" in Hebrew means "those who work", it is considered synonymous with "child ", and it has no meaning of contempt of "slave" like Do~urosu of Greek; it is to be servant = worshiper of Yahweh, because he is loved by Yahweh. God and Israel are connected with father and child; and such love is not virtually thing canceled by stupidity of Israel. Probably, "the return" would be one of that love. However, in Chapter 31, it seems to have been told in more different level. "Found grace in the wilderness---Israel, when it went to find its rest." (2), 新共同訳 Version has translated this, as "safe haven"; but, it is an expression which could not be seen even when the south kingdom and the north kingdom have flourished. I can hear that the invitation to Paradise / the kingdom of God is talking there. "I have loved you with an everlasting love;" (3), it also seems to support it. God leads them to everlasting country by His "everlasting love" (3). It is not superimposed on the old covenant from Egypt to Canaan anymore.
It is said as "new covenant" (31), but it will be good to say as a "covenant of love". And, its "new covenant of love" is not only for Israel. Baruch has written, "Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, ... and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness," (10-14). The Lord of Israel, He is also the Lord of people all over the world. Unfortunately, Israel could not understand it, and even when supposed to return to Judea under King Cyrus of Persia, they could not also respond its love. While intense struggle was developed, the confusion of Israel became severe more than ever before. Under such circumstances, Messiah faith would be spread to Judea. There is patience of God, and it will be the nativity of Jesus. "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; ..." (15); this is known as Messiah prophecy. "New covenant" was established by Jesus. "And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take eat; this is My body.' And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.'" (Matthew 26:26-29) However, modern we are far away from the Bible; and is it not at all like Israel which forgot faithfulness to God? We must remember once again a cross of Jesus was for what. Don't you also want to attend in the seat of this Holy Supper?