Jeremiah 31

Israel's return to their own country

1 ‘When that time comes’, says the LORD, ‘I will be the God of every family in Israel. And they will be my people.’

2 The LORD says,

‘I was kind in the desert to the people who did not die.

That was when Israel's people wanted to rest.’

3 Before now, the LORD showed himself to us. He said,

‘I have loved you with a love that has no end.

So I am showing my love to you so that you will move towards me.

4 I will build you up again.

You will again make music together,

and you will dance a happy dance.

5 You will again plant vines on the hills in Samaria.

Farmers will plant vines and they will enjoy their fruit.

6 In a future day men who watch

will shout from the hills of Ephraim.

They will say, “Let us go up to Zion,

to the LORD our God.” ’

7 The LORD says,

‘Sing and be happy for Jacob (Israel).

Shout for your great country.

Let the LORD hear you while you praise him.

Say, “LORD, save your people.

LORD, save the few people from Israel who are still alive.”

8 Look, I will bring them from the country in the north.

I will bring them from the ends of the earth.

They will bring with them those who cannot see.

And I will bring also those who cannot walk well.

Women who will soon have babies will come.

And those who will very soon give birth will come.

A very big crowd of my people will return here.

9 They will be crying as they come.

They will pray while I am bringing them back.

I will lead them along by streams of water.

They will walk along flat paths so that they will not fall.

I will do that because I am Israel's father.

And Ephraim (Israel) is my oldest son.

10 People in many countries, you must hear the LORD's message.

Shout it by the coasts of countries that are far away.

“He who pushed Israel's people away will fetch them back.

And he will watch them as a shepherd watches his sheep.”

11 The LORD will buy back Jacob (Israel).

He will take them away from the people who were stronger than them.

12 They will come and they will shout on the top of Mount Zion.

They will shout because they are very happy.

They will be happy with all the good things that the LORD gives to them.

He will give bread, new wine and oil to them.

The sheep and cows will have young ones.

Israel will grow like a garden that has much water.

Its people will not still be sad.

13 Girls will dance and they will be happy.

The young men and the old men will dance too.

I will make them happy and they will not be sad.

I will do things for them that will help them to feel better.

Their faces will smile and they will not be sad.

14 I will give plenty of good things to the priests.

And I will give to my people plenty of good things. They will have more than they need’, says the LORD.

15 The LORD says,

‘You will hear a voice in Ramah,

a loud voice that cries sadly.

It is the voice of Rachel (Israel's people). She is crying for her children.

Nobody can stop her crying,

because her children are dead.’

31:15Ramah was about 5 miles (8 kilometres) from Bethlehem. Rachel's grave was there. Rachel was Jacob's wife. And she was the mother of Joseph. Joseph's two children were Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 41:50-51)

16 The LORD says,

‘Stop the loud noise of your voice,

and stop your eyes from crying.

I will be happy about the work that you do’, says the LORD.

‘Your children will return from the country of your enemies.

17 You are right to believe that your future days will be better’,

says the LORD.

‘Your children will return to their own country.

18 I have certainly heard my people when they were crying.

“You have punished me.

I feel like an animal that does not obey”, they said.

“And you did punish me.

Bring me back, and I will return.

I will come back because you are the LORD, my God.

19 After I had gone away from you, I became very sorry.

After you helped me to understand, I felt pain inside.

I was ashamed and I felt very small.

I had done wrong things when I was young.

I became ashamed of those things.”

20 But Ephraim (Israel) is the son that I love.

He is like a child that gives pleasure to me.

I may often say that he is doing wrong things.

But while I have been speaking against him, I have always remembered him.

So I want very much to see him again.

I love him very much.

And I will certainly be merciful to him’, says the LORD.

21 ‘Put up signs along the roads,

to show people the way.

Return, Israel, the people that I love. Return to your towns.

22 You have been away from me for a long time.

You are like a daughter who loved another man.

The LORD will do a new thing.

A woman will keep a man safe.’

23 The great and powerful LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘I will bring my people back from the country where they are prisoners. Then the people in Judah and in its towns will again say, “We pray that the LORD will be good to the holy mountain. It is the special place where he lives!” 24 People will live together in the towns in Judah. Farmers and shepherds will work in the fields. 25 I will make the tired people feel less tired. I will make the weak ones strong.’

31:25The holy mountain in verse 23 is the hill at Jerusalem where the temple is.

26 Then I woke from my dream. My sleep had been good.

27 ‘There will be a time’, says the LORD, ‘when I will be like a gardener to my people. Young men and animals will be like plants that I will plant. I will put young men and animals in the nations called Judah and Israel. 28 Before now, I pulled up the roots of those “plants” to bring them down and to destroy them. Now I will plant them and I will watch over them. I want to cause them to grow’, says the LORD. 29 ‘When that happens, people will not say, “The fathers have eaten sour fruit but the children's mouths will taste bad.”

30 Instead, the mouth of anyone who eats sour fruit will taste bad. I will punish everyone for his own sin.’

31 ‘A time is coming’, says the LORD,

‘when I will make a new covenant.

I will make it with Israel's people and with Judah's people.

32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors.

When I took them to lead them out of Egypt,

I was like a husband to them.

But they did not obey the rules in my covenant’, says the LORD.

33 ‘This is the covenant that I will make with Israel.

I will make it when that time comes’, says the LORD.

‘I will put my law in their minds,

and they will always remember it.

I will be their God, and they will be my people.

34 A man will not teach his friend then.

And he will not teach his brother how to know the LORD.

That will be because they will all know me.

From the least of them to the greatest of them, they will all know me.’

The LORD says,

‘I will forgive all the wrong things that they have done.

I will not continue to remember their sins.’

35 The LORD is the God who causes the sun to shine in the day.

He causes the moon and the stars to shine at night.

He causes the sea to move and to make a loud sound.

He is the great, powerful LORD. That is his name.

And he says,

36 ‘I will never stop watching over Israel's children.

They will always be a nation

unless I forget those laws (about the sun, moon, stars and sea) completely.’

37 The LORD says,

‘I will leave the children of Israel alone only if these things happen.

I will leave if men can measure the sky above.

Men can try to find the rock that I built the earth on.

I will leave if they can find that rock.

Then I will leave the children of Israel alone

because of all the things that they have done’, says the LORD.

31:37Because none of these things will happen, the LORD will never leave his people alone.

38 ‘At a future time’, says the LORD,

‘you will build this city again. You will build it for me from the tower of Hananel to the corner gate. 39 The wall will go straight from there to Gareb. Then you must turn and cause it to go to Goah. 40 The whole valley will be holy to the LORD. It will include the place where they throw dead bodies. They throw things that they have burnt there. And it will include all the big steps to the east of the Kidron valley. It will end at the corner of the Horse Gate. I will never again destroy the city and I will never again take away its people.’