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Jeremiah 31:3 1
3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

clip_image095Background

The Book of Jeremiah, second of the Major Prophets or longer books of the prophetic collection of the Old Testament of the Bible, derives its name from the prophet Jeremiah who lived in Anathoth, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. His prophetic career ranged from about 626 BC, during the reign of Josiah, at least to the fall of Jerusalem (586 BC) and the deportation of the population; at this time Jeremiah was taken by the remaining Jewish community to Egypt, where he died. The career of Jeremiah embraced the period of Josiah’s reformation (626 – 622 BC); the years of resurgent Judaic nationalism (608 – 597 BC); the period leading to the final demise of Judah (597 – 586 BC); and the time in Egypt.

The message of Jeremiah was a call to moral reform to establish a personal relationship between God and humankind. He advocated resignation in the face of political and religious crisis and denounced sin as a perversion of creation. He called urgently for repentance so that turning to God might lead to a new creation; he thus prefigured the New Testament notion of the “new covenant.”

Biblical Truths

Jeremiah 31 is one of the most inspiring and hopeful chapters in the book of Jeremiah. Its teaching offer both theological and practical truths. It speaks to all believers about their relationship with God.

In 31:3, Jeremiah explains that our only true basis of hope is the eternal love of God. Jeremiah highlights two attributes of God – His love and His immutability (or, unchanging nature) – combined together in a very encouraging manner. The love God has for His people is an enduring and everlasting love. His love for them is everlasting.

The word drawn here is a word that can be used both literally and figuratively. The only other time Jeremiah uses it is in 38:13. There he tells us that he was rescued from a well when they “pulled” (or “drew”) up from it. The use of the word in 31:3 is more figurative in nature, but we understand the image very well. For Israel’s southern kingdom, God was going to pull them back from Babylonian captivity (31:8-9).

With His wonderful love, God draws people to Himself. It can be said that spiritually speaking, we are all in a well, and God lifts us up out of it through His demonstration of love at the cross (Romans 5:8).

Items for Discussion

  • What are the things you believe will still be around in 10 years? In 100 years? In 1,000 Years?
  • Can you comprehend beyond a 1,000 years what might still be here?
  • What could remove God from the earth so he is not here in 1,000 years?
  • Why do you believe that God never changes?
  • Why do you believe that God’s love endures?
  • How is it that we relate this set of beliefs to others?

Hebrews 10:19-25
19 After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ 20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD. 21 “Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return, O Virgin Israel, return to your towns. 22 How long will you wander, O unfaithful daughter? The LORD will create a new thing on earth—a woman will surround a man.” 23 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The LORD bless you, O righteous dwelling, O sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Background

The 21 New Testament epistles are generally divided into two groups:

  1. The Pauline Epistles (13) Romans – Philemon
  2. The General Epistles (8) Hebrews – Jude

The book of Hebrews is the riddle book of the New Testament. It contains the most perfect Greek of the Bible, yet it stands without telling us who the author is. It is as much a sermon as it is an epistle. In fact in the words of the author it is called a “word of exhortation” (or encouragement) in 13:22, which is what a sermon is called in Acts 13:15 [Barnabas was called “the son of exhortation” or son of encouragement.

There are those who believe that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews and would classify it with his epistles and there are others that would not assign this to Paul. However, we see several things the author apparently wanted to accomplish. First, he wanted to encourage faltering Jewish Christians not to drift away from the message which they have heard (2:1; 5:12-14; 12:1-2). Some seemed about to forsake Christ and the Gospel and go back to the Law of Moses. And second, he wanted to encourage them to grow in their faith and not become stagnant (5:12-6:1). Third, they should be prepared to endure persecution. Fourth, the author endeavors to show the absurdity of forsaking Christianity and returning to the Law system (8:6-23; 9:13-15; 10:1-4; Gal. 4:21).

Biblical Truths

The doctrine is applied to practical purposes in these verses. As believers had an open way to the presence of God, it was of no use to them if they did not take advantage of this privilege. The way and means by which Christians enjoy such privileges, is by the blood of Jesus, by the merit of that blood which he offered up as an atoning sacrifice. The agreement of infinite holiness with pardoning mercy was not clearly understood till the human nature of Christ, the Son of God, was wounded and bruised for our sins. Our way to heaven is by a crucified Savior; his death is to us the way of life and to those who believe this, Christ will be precious. Believers must draw near to God; it would be disrespectful of Christ to still to keep a distance from Him.

Believers are also to consider how they can be of service to each other, especially stirring up each other to the more vigorous and abundant exercise of love, and the practice of good works. The communion of saints is a great help and privilege, and a means of steadfastness and perseverance.

Items for Discussion

  • Describe how you met a very good friend and how the relationship grew over time. What were the special things that happened to deepen your friendship?
  • How would the examples you heard compare to a faith walk? That is, how would you expect these same experiences to build a relationship with God? With Christ?
  • How would you expect a relationship to be different with yourself between God? Between Christ?

Discussion Challenge

  • How should our church help create these relationships?
    • Within the congregation
    • Within the community
    • Within our mission opportunities

 

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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