Day 20 Jeremiah 31:12-34 ... No Dead End

Trained as a priest, Jeremiah learned at an early age the story of the covenant between God and his chosen people. Yet he also knew the more recent history of ten Israelite tribes being dispersed by the Assyrians. Suddenly he learned - and was order to prophesy - that the two surviving tribes in Judah would desecrate the holy city of Jerusalem and take captive many more Israelites.

Has God abandoned the covenant? Has he cast aside his chosen people? Every generation of Jews since Jeremiahâs day has asked those very question. (For an example, see the Apostle Paulâs passionate discussion in Romans 9-11.) In this chapter, Jeremiah receives a dream sequence that hints at an answer.

Jeremiah saw that a "remnant" would survive the Babylonian invasion. God had not permanently rejected his people, but was allowing them to go through a time of temporary punishment for the sake of purging. More, God promised that the future of the Israelites would be far grander than anything in the past.

Bible interpreters disagree on the full meaning of these promises. Some things are clear: For example, God promised a "new covenant" to replace and improve on the old, broken one. Hebrews 8 quotes a key passage from this chapter in Jeremiah and applies the prophecy to Jesus, who made possible the new covenant and its grand forgiveness.

But what of the predictions that seem to apply, geographically, to the land of Palestine? Some of the exiled Israelites, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, did eventually return from captivity in Babylon, but that sparse resettlement of a devastated land hardly calls to mind the glorious new society described here. Jewish scholars disagree on the meaning: some point to the modern-day state of Israel as a direct fulfillment of this prophecy, while others violently disagree. And some Christian theologians believe that these promises, under the new covenant, apply to the Church in a more general sense, and not to the Jewish race and its settlement of the land.

Jeremiah didn't get a detailed blueprint of future history. He got a resounding confirmation of how God feels about his people.

Point to Ponder: Does God have a "covenant" with us today? What does it promise?