This is what tghe Lord says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘ Lord , save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son. “Hear the word of the Lord , you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’ For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord — the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the Lord . – Jeremiah 31:7-14
This is a very welcome return to the God of Grace with whom I am more familiar. I was getting a little depressed by the anger and consequences of the actions of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. God is caring for the remnant here, those who chose to return to Him. His care extends to those who return from exile in the north and those “from the ends of the earth”, which would include all of us “scraps of cloth” who currently follow God.
These people returning will be “damaged goods” — blind and lame, but God will accept them as they are when they return to Him. The people will be weeping and praying as they return to God. Their souls will be laid bare. In response, God will care for them as His people again. God will “lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble.” This sounds very much like the quiet waters described back in the psalms (Psalm 23:1-6). The One who scattered the Shepherds will become the shepherd to his flock.
God will “deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.” God will redeem His people, at least those who choose to return to Him. The remnant who returns will “rejoice in the bounty of the Lord — the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds.” God will make all things new and redeem His people. This sounds like a prophetic reference to the coming redeemer, Jesus. God is a God of new beginnings. He is willing to transform these stubborn, stiff-necked, flawed followers into “a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.”
This passage is describing a “happy ending” for God’s people after the extreme sorrow and destruction up to this point. Apparently sometimes the road we must walk to arrive at our destination is really hard and confusing. I am sure the people of Israel were feeling very confused and lost at times. The key is keeping God at the center through difficult and good times. God wants to carry us like a son or daughter, but it seems He is unwilling to carry us when our arms are full of idols and we insist on being carried in our own way.
Prayer: God thank You for carrying us when time are hard. Help us to make Your load lighter by releasing the idols we hold on to so dearly.