The Repentance of Israel

I have selected various verses from Jeremiah 30-31 which highlight The Time of Jacob’s Trouble and some which highlight The New Covenant Blessings. Thus far we have seen that The Time of Jacob’s Trouble will end which will lead into the nation of Israel experiencing The New Covenant Blessings. Now I’d like to highlight those verses which foretell the hinge point upon which that transition is made, namely the repentance of Israel. I’m using this approach (of pulling out sections and focusing on different subjects) because the prophets did not see things in story form like many of us 20th century thinkers wish they would have. They saw visions of future events that were all related, but sometimes separated by hundreds and even thousands of years. In examining each subject separately, it is not my intention to take scriptures out of context, but to break each subject down individually in order to understand them better. Then when we read through this very interesting oracle, we will not feel so overwhelmed when the subject changes from verse to verse.

30:6 Ask now, and see,

Can a man bear a child?

Why then do I see every man

With his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?

Why has every face turned pale?

7 Alas! That day is so great

There is none like it;

It is the time of distress for Jacob;

Yet he shall be saved out of it.

Here I want to focus on the men of Israel being portrayed like women in labor. This time of distress is like labor set to intensify as the time of delivery draws near. The word “saved” in verse 7 has the idea of being delivered. This same word is used in Jeremiah 2:27, 28, 4:14, 8:20, 11:12, 14:8-9, 15:20, 17:14, 23:6, 30:7, 30:10, 11, 31:7, 33:16, 42:11, 46:27. Many of these instances have end times applications for the deliverance that occurs. What I’d like to point out here is the fact that there is a specific point in time for the delivery of Jacob (Israel) out of this time of distress.

30:11b I will discipline you in just measure,

And I will by no means leave you unpunished.

This verse reveals why Israel is in such distress during this present time. It is not a haphazard time period. God is methodically bringing Israel to a place of repentance through disciplinary measures.

30:14b For I have dealt you the blow of an enemy,

the punishment of a merciless foe,

because your guilt is great,

because your sins are flagrant.

15 Why do you cry out over your hurt?

Your pain is incurable.

Because your guilt is great,

because your sins are flagrant,

I have done these things to you.

17 For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal,

declares the LORD,

because they have called you an outcast:

‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’

Here is more of the mind of God as He deals with the nation of Israel. Here God uses other nations, enemies of Israel, to bring Israel to that point of crying out to Him over their hurt. It is a situation that Israel simply cannot recover from. God puts Israel in a position that only He can rescue the nation from. Then God restores health to an otherwise incurable wound. God’s reason for doing so is because those enemies of Israel made the mistake of thinking that no one cared for her. So God initiates the great reversal. Instead of using Israel’s enemies against her, now God uses Israel against her enemies. What made God change His mind? The repentance of Israel did.

31:2 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.

This passage uncovers God’s great, unchanging love for the nation of Israel. Because of that love, God continues to be faithful. Here the remnant are viewed as obtaining mercy in the wilderness as they sought for that promised-land rest. The correlation is simple. The projection to an end times remnant in the wilderness seeking for the promised-land rest is in view here. The same everlasting love of God is what will motivate the LORD to bring Israel to that place of correction so that the nation repents. So at the time when Israel is delivered out from the time of Jacob’s trouble, we can expect that there will be a believing remnant of Israelites in the wilderness which will find grace in God’s sight, Revelation 12:6, 14.

31:9 With weeping they shall come,

And with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,

Notice the change of heart within Israel. Earlier in the oracle we saw Israel pained with labor due to the distress they were going through. This was God’s discipline for them. Now as God is regathering them, they are weeping and crying out for mercy to God. There has obviously been a change of heart. This change of heart within Israel has caused the LORD to change His heart to a heart of tenderness toward them. Now in 31:16-20 we will see deeper into the repentance of Israel.

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 repented,

and after I was instructed, I slapped 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 yearns for him;

I will surely have mercy on him,

declares the LORD.

This section here holds the key, specifically verses 18-19. I am following ESV, but I prefer the Hebrew word nacham be translated as repented rather than relented. Every other translation translates the word as repented. (That’s it, I’m going up there and changing it, no offense ESV.) The context here seems pretty clear. Ephraim is seen grieving, grieving for his state of rebellion against God. In the midst of that grief, Ephraim (representative of the house of Israel) cries out to God. Remember that God is disciplining Israel throughout this whole period of Jacob’s trouble. Now at some point, Ephraim finally cries out to God and admits that it is God who has been responsible for these disciplinary measures.

The content of Ephraim’s cry to God is that of an admission. “You disciplined me, God, because I was like an untrained calf.” Ephraim admits that he needed disciplining. “I was the one who went astray.” Now after that admission, Ephraim cries out for God to restore him. “Bring me back that I may be restored.” Here is a plea to God for restoration after the admission that the time of discipline was needed because of Ephraim’s sinfulness which caused him to go astray like an untrained calf. Ephraim admits that it was he who turned away from God in the first place. But now, after that turning away, Ephraim declares his repentance. “After I had turned away, I repented.” Ephraim slaps himself being ashamed, disgraced, and confounded (this word, kalam, has the idea of insulted, shamed, and humiliated). Finally, Israel responds in humility to the discipline.

The LORD’s response is one of tenderness. God addresses Ephraim as His dear son. Sometimes Israel is spoken of as a female, the bride of the LORD; and sometimes Israel is spoken of as male, the son of the LORD. Here is an instance where Ephraim seems like the one and only son of the LORD. The word for “dear” means rare, and that word is rare only being used one time in the OT. The LORD speaks of Ephraim as an object of delight. Even though the LORD speaks against Him, it is proof that He remembers His precious son. This time of discipline shows that God’s heart yearns for the nation of Israel to repent that God might have mercy upon him.

This section opened with a call for the weeping to cease in 31:16. There are two places where weeping was mentioned previous to that. In verse 9, the nation of Israel weeps with a changed heart as they are regathered by the LORD. But the other instance is Rachel weeping for her children as they suffer all throughout the time of Jacob’s trouble. The nation of Israel is not yet done suffering and Rachel is not yet done weeping. God fully intends to bring this time to a close though. As we draw closer to the time of delivery, the labor pains will grow sharper. The disciplinary measure will become more severe. Yet when the nation of Israel cries out in repentance to God (31:18-19) God will call for the weeping to cease. He will point to the reward, the return to the land, and hope for the future, 31:16-17. The weeping of Israel enduring the humility at the hands of enemies, and the weeping due to a repentant heart; both will be brought to a finish.

Hopefully now you can read through Jeremiah 30-31 and pick out the three major themes: The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, The Repentance of Israel, and The New Covenant Blessings. Even though all three are intertwined throughout the passage, we can see that they happen in that precise order, The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, then The Repentance of Israel, then Israel experiences The New Covenant Blessings. From here I will be moving to the next oracle, Jeremiah 32, which foretells the everlasting covenant. I am not done examining the new covenant, but before I move to the New Testament scriptures (New Covenant scriptures) I want to tie in both Jeremiah 32 (the everlasting covenant) and Jeremiah 33 (the Davidic Covenant).

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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One Response to The Repentance of Israel

  1. Pingback: Jeremiah’s Covenant Revelation ~ Links | The Orange Mailman

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