Thursday 29 November 2012

Bible Book:

Jeremiah 31:18-26 Thursday 29 November 2012


It may help to read Luke 15 to capture the remarkable tone ofverses 18-22. The gospel passage begins with two short stories, inparallel. The first is written around a male (a shepherd (Luke15:1-7)); the second around a female (a woman at home (Luke15:8-10)). The same pattern appears in our passage.

Verses 18-20 tell of a son (Ephraim, representing the northernkingdom of Israel) who turns away from God and God's ways.Eventually he acknowledges his shame, repents and pleads to return.Who could fail to note a connection between these themes and themajor story in Luke 15, about the prodigal son (Luke15:11-32)? And in both Bible passages the returning prodigal ismet by God's unshakable love and mercy (verse 20).

Then, in verses 21-22, the same theme is addressed through thestory of a wayward daughter. Just before her marriage, she hasabsconded. Next comes a development in the story which, in theancient world, would have been considered astonishing andscandalous. Of her own initiative she makes her way back,unaccompanied, to her future husband's home, to become his bride.The story is about God's people, coming to their senses, andreturning to Palestine after their exile in Babylon.

The final section of today's passage (verses 23-25) repeats afamiliar theme in Jeremiah's vision of the future. Israel will notonly be brought back to the Holy Land, but will live a peaceful andprosperous life there. This will be particularly good news for theweary and faint. And everyone will owe their good life to God'sincalculable blessings.

Verse 26 is a footnote. It gives a rare glimpse into the originof Jeremiah's visionary power. He sees what God has in store forIsrael in a dream sequence while he sleeps contentedly.

To Ponder

  • Reflect on the roles played by women and men, and the relationbetween them, in your local church. Has the full power of theChristian vision on gender issues yet come to pass?
  • How important to you in grasping the wonder of God's love aredreams; or daydreams; or flights of imagination in, say, meditativeprayer?
  • In what practical ways can you offer support and encouragementto the weary, the dejected and the sad?
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