The Old Testament Lesson for this Easter Sunday is written in the book of the prophet Jeremiah. The text is Jeremiah 31:1-6 and provides us with an interesting text for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The text begins with, “At that time…,” which causes us to ask, “At what time?” This phrase connects what is coming to Jeremiah’s prophesy in 30:1-24. The theme in chapter 30 strongly focuses on restoration and freedom. The people of Israel will be freed from the yoke of their captives, freed from slavery and restored to the Promised Land. Jeremiah is speaking to the people as they are in exile in the land of Babylon and also concerning those who had previously been conquered by the Assyrians. They have all been separated from the Land, from the Holy City and from the Temple. In exile they struggle to know what the LORD God thinks of them, indeed, if He is even with them. Thus, Jeremiah’s words would have brought them comfort. It is interesting to note in chapter 31:2 the Exodus is used as a picture of their exile and the return to the Promised Land. As the LORD did for them when in Egypt, so also will He deliver them from Babylon.

In 30:9 we have a beautiful Messianic reference which helps to set up our pericope. Verse 9 reads, “They shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” Jesus is the new David riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday who is raised up from the dead on Easter Day.

So, we now see the context of our text and the connection to restoration to the Promised Land. This restoration is understood as a resurrection—restoration/return to the Land is equated with the resurrection to the courts of Heaven. Also note the language which reunites both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms in this restoration; verse 1, “…all the clans of Israel.” The language is very inclusive and suggests a return to what was intended from of old. One could safely say all the clans of Israel, while speaking directly to the Jews at that time, are also directed to all the nations of the earth as this Messiah will restore, reunite, rescue and return by His all availing sacrifice on the cross and His defeat of sin, death and Satan—resurrected and restored.

31:1 נְאֻם-יְהוָה> (ne-um Yah-weh) “declares the LORD” sometimes taken as “word of the LORD”

מִשְׁפְּחוֹת (mish-pe-Chot) “clans; tribes”

31:2 כֹּה, אָמַר יְהוָה (koh a-Mar Yah-weh) “thus says the LORD,” “this is what Yahweh has said”

חֵן (chen) “favor; grace; acceptance”

שְׂרִידֵי (se-Ri-dei) “survivor; refugee; someone fleeing”

לְהַרְגִּיעוֹ (le-har-gi-O) root: רגע (raw-gah) Hiphil: “to make peace; to give rest to”

3:3 מֵרָחוֹק (me-ra-Chok) “distant; afar; far (perhaps also, “long ago”)”

נִרְאָה (nir-Ah) Qal: “to show; to appear”

וְאַהֲבַת (ve-a-ha-Vat) “love”

מְשַׁכְתִּיךְ (me-shach-Tich) root: משׁך (maw-shak) Qal: “to prolong; to stretch; draw out at full length”

חָסֶד (Cha-sed) “steadfast love; covenantal faithfulness”

3:4 אֶבְנֵךְ וְנִבְנֵית (ev-neCh ve-niv-Neit) root: בנה (baw-naw) Qal: “I will build you so that you are built”

בְּתוּלַת. (be-tu-Lat) “virgin”

תַּעְדִּי; (ta-Di) root: עדה (aw-daw) Qal: “to adorn oneself; to deck oneself out; to put on something as an ornament”

תֻפַּיִךְ (tup-Pa-yich) “tambourine; hand drum; timbrel”

בִּמְחוֹל (bim-Chol) “dance; dance in a circle/ring”

מְשַׂחֲקִים. (me-sa-cha-Kim) root: שׂחק (saw-khak) Piel, participle: “to be merry; to play” “the ones who are merry; the merrymakers”

3:5 תִּטְּעִי (tit-te-l) root: נטע (naw-tah) Qal: “to plant”

כְרָמִים. (che-ra-Mim) from: כרם, (keh-rem) “vineyard”

3:6 נֹצְרִים (no-tze-Rim) root: נצר (naw-tsar) Qal: “to keep watch over; to guard; to watch”

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Jeremiah 31:1-6

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Jeremiah 31:1-6.