Jeremiah 31:1-26 (ESV)
The Lord Will Turn Mourning to Joy
31 “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans 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[a] 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 adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall 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 watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”
7 For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save your people,
the remnant of Israel.’
8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
9 With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.”
15 Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”
16 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
and your children shall come back to their own country.
18 I have heard Ephraim grieving,
‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined,
like an untrained calf;
bring me back that I may be restored,
for you are the Lord my God.
19 For after I had turned away, I relented,
and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh;
I was ashamed, and I was confounded,
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
20 Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he my darling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remember him still.
Therefore my heart[b] yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,
declares the Lord.
21 “Set up road markers for yourself;
make yourself guideposts;
consider well the highway,
the road by which you went.
Return, O virgin Israel,
return to these your cities.
22 How long will you waver,
O faithless daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth:
a woman encircles a man.”
23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes:
“‘The Lord bless you, O habitation of righteousness,
O holy hill!’
24 And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. 25 For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
26 At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.
Forgiveness is one of the major practices that we Christians
believe in. The Lord forgives us for our sins. But do we practice
forgiveness as we should? Admittedly, this is difficult for me in
some situations. I’m not speaking about the little things that
people do to us that may cause us a bit of upset. I’m talking
about the big “hurts,” the life-changing damage that we do to
one another. It can become a bit of a spiral. Someone “wrongs”
us, and we fight back. We want to hurt them as much as they
hurt us. And it goes on and on.
As I read today’s passage from Jeremiah, I was struck by the
everlasting love that God has for his people and his forgiveness.
During this period, the people of Israel had been unfaithful to
God, and despite that, God continued to love them
unconditionally. The passage details how God would bring
people from all parts of the nation and unite them, regardless of
their unfaithfulness. They sing and dance with joy upon their
How can I change my behavior to become a person who always
forgives others? There are many examples of amazing
forgiveness in today’s world. A few years ago, when the young
man entered the AME Church in the South and killed the church
members who had welcomed him into their Bible study class,
the survivors reached out to this young man and forgave him. I
recall at the time being totally astounded at their forgiveness.
But isn’t that what God calls us to do?
Loving and gracious God, you forgive our sins and welcome us
into your heavenly kingdom as your beloved children. Help us
love one another and genuinely forgive. In Jesus’ name we pray,
Written by Sue Hamilton
Director of Music Ministries