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Jeremiah 31:1-6 – I Have Loved You with an Everlasting Love

Summary

God's love for Israel is everlasting, and God has continued God's faithfulness through thick and thin.

Analysis

God's love for Israel, strikingly imaged as a virgin bride (31:4), is everlasting and has persisted through the experienced judgment. There has been no point at which God's love for Israel has ceased; it is everlasting. God's faithfulness to Israel had remained steadfast through the time of Israel's infidelity and the consequent judgment. God was even now at work in death to bring new life.

This emphasis on divine love and faithfulness is used to ground God's renewed promises to Israel. Simply put: God will act in saving ways on Israel's behalf, because God loves Israel and God is faithful to ancient promises. Israel brings no words or deeds to this relationship that motivates God to make these salvific moves. God is doing what God is doing because of who God is. At the same time, God's action does not reduce Israel to passivity; the people will be caught up once again in seeing to their life in the land (31:5-6).

Jeremiah 31:1-6

The Joyful Return of the Exiles

31At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
2 Thus says the Lord:
The people who survived the sword
   found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
3   the Lord appeared to him* from far away.*
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
   therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
   O virgin Israel!
Again you shall take* your tambourines,
   and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
5 Again you shall plant vineyards
   on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant,
   and shall enjoy the fruit.
6 For there shall be a day when sentinels will call
   in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Come, let us go up to Zion,
   to the Lord our God.’

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10 February 2011

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