Speaking of grace, I hope your day is as beautiful as it is here today! The sky is gorgeous and sunny! It is absolutely wonderful even though the cold has returned and it is a bit breezy. Alas, I do miss those seventy degree days; thankfully, Spring is near!
Today, our scripture portion on grace is found in Jeremiah 31:2 but we will look at a few other verses for context, and it is a bit longer than those we have looked at before. We will begin in verse one: “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 (chen) in the wilderness – Israel, when it went to find its rest.” The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness (checed). “Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers. “Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the planters will plant and will enjoy them. “For there will be a day when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim call out, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.’ “For thus says the LORD, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations ; Proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.’ “Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, and I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; a great company, they will return here. “With weeping they will come, and by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.” 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. “They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, and they will be radiant over the bounty of the LORD – Over the grain and the new wine and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; and their life will be like a watered garden, and they will never languish again. “Then the virgin will rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together, for I will turn their mourning into joy And will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow. “I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people will be satisfied with My goodness,” declares the LORD. 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.” Thus says the LORD, “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for your work will be rewarded,” declares the LORD, “And they will return from the land of the enemy. “There is hope for your future,” declares the LORD, “and your children will return to their own territory.” Jeremiah 31:1-17 NAS
Notice the highlighted words. The first, chen, is the Hebrew word that we have seen most so far and is translated most often grace or favor. The second, checed, is the Hebrew word for loving kindness, goodness, and faithfulness and it is also translated mercy in one hundred forty-nine scriptures. In this text Jeremiah is speaking to the people of Israel, the Hebrew people. They have had a long history with God already. They have shared times of great prosperity and times of captivity by other nations. In our text, we are at a time in history where they have been scattered and separated. They are dispersed among the nations. Jeremiah is a prophet to the Hebrew people and has spent much time warning them about their ways and urging them to turn back to God. Many commentators believe that this was a two-fold prophecy, one for the short-term when the Israelites would return from captivity to Judah and that the second fulfillment would come much later in the end times.
A remnant of the Jewish people did return and the walls of Jerusalem, the city and the temple was rebuilt. This began during the reign of Cyrus and rebuilding the temple took many years to complete because of those who continually tried to stop the progress. It was the early fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah. Eventually their land and the city of Jerusalem came under Roman control. The temple stood until AD 70, when it was once again destroyed and the surviving Jewish people were once again dispersed and displaced no longer having a country of their own. This continued to be true until Israel became a nation in May 14 of 1948. Also, in 1967 Israel fought the Six Day war and recaptured Jerusalem as their capital. I will post a couple of links below in case you would like some modern history pertaining to Israel’s rebirth.