Sunday, December 18, 2022

“I Have Loved You With An Everlasting Love” [Matt's Message]

“I Have Loved You With An Everlasting Love”
Uprooted - The Words of Jeremiah
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
December 18, 2022 :: Jeremiah 31:1-26

This is probably the most important chapter in the 
whole book of Jeremiah. Especially the part we’re going to get to next time. The part about the New Covenant. Jesus talked about it in the Upper Room on the night He was betrayed. The letter to the Hebrews has the longest quotation in the New Testament from the Old Testament. And it’s from Jeremiah 31. This is a really important text to get into our hearts and minds! 

But today, Lord-willing, we’re just going to get up through verse 26 of chapter 31.

This may be the most Christmas-y chapter in the whole Book of Jeremiah! I love it that the Lord has landed us on this chapter on this Sunday in this month of this year.  Look what he says at the end of verse 13. It’s most clear in the NIV translation.

Here’s what the LORD promises to His people. “I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”

Comfort and joy! A hope and a future!

This chapter is full of “tidings of comfort and joy.”

How much more Christmas-y can you get?!

Of course, as we read it, we will also see that it reflects some of the darkest and saddest parts of the Christmas story, as well.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start back at verse 1.

This is really a continuation of chapter 30. There is no big break between the chapters. It’s supposed to go together with what we studied last week. It’s all about the restoration of God’s people. That’s the theme of chapters 30 through 33. It’s the hope and the future predicted in chapter 29. God says that the people of Israel and Judah were going to be rescued from exile, brought back from a distant land and prosper and flourish and live securely under the new king from the line of David.

Listen to the first two verses. Jeremiah 31:1&2.

“‘At that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert; I will come to give rest to Israel.’”

You can easily see that this a prophecy of the future. The word “will” is repeated over and over again. This rescue and rest will come at a later date. When?

He says, “At that time.” Last week, He said, “The days are coming.” That’s the theme of our Advent Season this year. “The days are coming.” They aren’t here yet, but they are on the way.

And we said last week that it’s important to understand that Old Testament prophecies are often fulfilled in stages. Like the glass we filled up over the course of the sermon last week. Or like the mountain ranges where the mountains might look the same height from a distance, but you actually reach the shorter ones first and then the bigger ones later. Or like when we say something is going to happen “at Christmastime,” but we’re not clear which Christmastime. Might be this one or one or more in the future. 

And that was true of what we saw in chapter 30, and it’s true of what we’re looking at today in chapter 31.

Some of this was fulfilled 70 years from the start of the exile. Some of it was fulfilled at the first Christmastime. And some of it is still being fulfilled today in this room and will be fully fulfilled, filled-to-overflowing at the Second Advent, when Jeuss Christ returns.

I think we’ll see more of that clearly as we walk down through it. So far, in verse 1, the LORD has promised to restore His people (All twelve tribes! Not just the Southern Kingdom of Judah, but the Northern Kingdom of Israel, also called “Ephraim.” All twelve tribes, which foreshadows the whole people of God. Every last one of us.). He has promised to restore His people to be His people. To be in a covenant relationship with Him. “I will be their God and they will be my people.”

And He is going to just LOVE them!

He says, “I will come (advent!) to give rest to Israel.”

And that’s because of His great love. Look with me at verse 3, and see where we get our sermon title for today. Verse 3.

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

How is that for a tiding of comfort and joy?!

Well, it might not have felt very true to them at that exact moment. Remember, they were either in exile (chapter 29) or headed into exile (chapter 30). And that was going to be an horrible experience. Verse 2 said that the people who “survived the sword” would find favor with the LORD. 

Many were not going to survive the sword! Jerusalem will be assaulted. The temple will be destroyed. The people of Israel have already been drug off into exile by the Assyrians. And so have a few of the people of Judah already been exiled to Babylon. Many more will follow.

It might SEEM like the LORD has STOPPED loving them.

But that’s not what He said. He said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” And more than that. He said, “I have drawn you [to Himself] with loving-kindness.” That’s our beloved Hebrew word, “hesed.” Loyal-love. Faithful-love. Unfailing-faithfulness. Gracious-steadfast-love.

“His steadfast love endures forever.”
“His hesed endures forever.”

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

And if He could say that to the twelve tribes of Israel in rebellion then, how much more is He saying something just like that to you and me today, for whom His Own Beloved Son has died?!

He is saying this to you today: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

We all might have thought that we had reached the end of God’s love.

And certainly, we should not presume upon it or sin all the more so that hesed may abound.

But the LORD’s great love is unfathomable. 

It’s just so wonderful. It’s everlasting. The Hebrew word for that is “olam.” It’s the word we translate “forever” in the “His steadfast love endures forever [olam.]” It’s a forever kind of love. A love that never ends.

The rest of what we’re going to look at this morning is like one word picture after another about this everlasting love and what it’s like. And what it does in the hearts and lives of God’s people.

I’ve got 5 things I want to point out that God’s everlasting love does according to these verses. And they all start with the same letter.


God’s love restores. Look at verse 4.

“The LORD says, ‘I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit. There will be a day when watchmen cry out on the hills of Ephraim, 'Come, let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God'’ (vv.4-6).

Do you see the restoration? 

The key word is “again.” 

Again rebuilt.
Again dancing.
Again planting.
Again going off to worship in Jerusalem.

What’s really interesting is that these words are directed toward the Northern Kingdom of Israel (“Ephraim”). They have been in exile already for a century!

But the LORD promises them restoration. That’s how much He loves them! He is going to restore them.

And, again, Jeremiah is getting to do “the good part” for a change. Remember what He was given as a mission at His commissioning? Chapter 1, verse 10.

"See, today I [Yahweh] appoint you [Jeremiah] over nations and kingdoms to [6 things:] uproot and tear down (seen a lot of that), to destroy and overthrow (that’s on the way), to build and to plant."

What do you hear in verse 4? “I will BUILD you up again and you will be REBUILT.” And verse 5, “You will PLANT vineyards again and enjoy their fruit.”

The LORD’s everlasting love restores. 

For the exiles, it will restore them to their land once more. Look at verse 7.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, 'O 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.”

Do you hear the words of love there? A Father’s love for His beloved boy? “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

And that love is going to bring you home.

Home from Assyria.
Home for the remnant.
Home for the “good figs.”
Home for the weak and the vulnerable, not just the survival of the fittest.
Home for the repentant. “They will come with weeping.”

Doesn’t He sound not just like a loving father but a loving Shepherd?

Verse 9 there. “I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble.” Sounds like the 23rd Psalm to me! Israel was going to be restored.

And that’s just a tiny picture of how God’s people are restored. “He restores my soul” right? Can you say that this morning? “He restores my soul.”

“The LORD is my [loving] shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Ps. 23:1-3 NIVO).

And it’s not just a restoration. It’s a full-on redemption.


Look at verse 10. “‘Hear the word of the LORD, O 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 ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they” (vv.10-11).

Jeremiah is supposed to tell the nations, tell the distant coastlands, to go tell it on the mountain that the One who scattered them (because of their unrepentant sin) will be re-gathering them and re-shepherding them.

Himself! That’s the LORD and His Messiah, isn’t it? And how is He going to do it? Through ransom and redemption. He’s going to rescue His people out of bondage. He is going to free them. He is going to pay their very debt to release them! That’s what ransom and redemption is. A payment to free someone. A payment to secure someone’s release, often paid for by a close family member.

What is this reminding you of?

The Cross, of course. Remember when Jesus said that He did not “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a [WHAT? a] ransom for many" (Mk. 10:45 NIVO)?

That’s an everlasting love!!

Have you put your faith in that love? In that ransom? In that redemption?

Jesus Christ, Jesus the Messiah died on the Cross to pay for the sins of all who will come to Him. That’s whey He came that first Christmas.

“God rest you merry, gentlemen,
let nothing you dismay;
remember Christ, our Savior
was born on Christmas Day
to save us all from Satan's pow'r
when we were gone astray.”

V.11 “To redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.”

Restoration and Redemption.

“O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy!”

An joy! That’s number three. This everlasting love leads to rejoicing. How could it not?!


In verse 4, the LORD said that they should take up their tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. 

When the LORD restores and redeems His people, they will be led to rejoice. Look at verse 12.

“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 oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.”

What a day of rejoicing that will be! It will be like a Christmas Feast!

He says the returned exiles will be like a “well-watered garden.” Isn’t that a beautiful image? It only began to be fulfilled in 538 when the exiles straggled back to Jerusalem. It was wonderful for them, and they wept and cried. Read Psalm 126 again this afternoon to hear about their songs of joy.

But it wasn’t the total end of their sorrow.

That began on that first Christmas, right? When the angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:10-11 NIVO).

And even that didn’t end their sorrow completely yet, did it? We’re still waiting for sorrow and sighing to flee away, aren’t we? Did anybody here cry this week? I’ll bet you did.

Again, this sounds like Revelation 21. That’s where the final fulfillment of this promise comes. That’s where the tallest of the mountain ranges. That’s the overflowing cup. Revelation 21, where the Lord promises, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4 NIVO).

Or Jeremiah 31:12, “...they will sorrow no more.”

Joy and only joy! And then more joy! And them more joy after that. V.13

“Then maidens 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” (vv.13-14).

I love that he says that the old men will dance! Everybody is going to dance! Heaven is dance party because of the LORD’s everlasting love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” So rejoice!

“I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”

But that’s in the future. It’s here (we can rejoice today), but it’s also still coming. Because right now there is not just rejoicing. There is weeping. And lots of it.

Jeremiah has wept and wept.
Jesus has wept and wept.
You and I have wept and will weep some more.

And Rachel has wept, as well. Look at verse 15. “This is what the LORD says: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.’”

Who is this Rachel?

Rachel was the favorite wife of Jacob, the patriarch in the book of Genesis. It was from Rachel that Jacob had two sons both very beloved–Joseph and Benjamin. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. Do know about where she was buried? Ramah. About 5 miles north of Jerusalem. Which was also on the exile route from Jerusalem to Babylon. One of the commentaries I read said that it was effectively a deportation center.

Rachel’s son Joseph had two sons–Ephraim and Manasseh. 

And the whole northern kingdom was nick-named “Ephraim” after him and his tribe. Rachel was the grandmother of the northern kingdom. And now they’re in exile. One by one, shipped off.

And so, metaphorically, this Rachel who tried so hard to have children (Read about who hard she worked at getting children in the book of Genesis!) weeps at the fate of her children lost to the enemy. It’s like her spirit watches them march off to death and exile. And she weeps inconsolably.

And do you know where Jeremiah 31:15 is quoted in the New Testament?

Matthew chapter 2, verse 18. Part of the Christmas story! The darkest, saddest part.

Matthew says, “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’” (Matt. 2:16-18 NIVO).

The quintessential expression of a mother’s grief over children lost to the enemy.

And those mothers were right to mourn and wail. Heather and I lost a child in April of 1999, and I wailed in that hospital room like I have seldom wailed before or since.

But the LORD also has another message for the metaphorical Rachel, and that is that her sorrow will one day be turned to joy.

Because He is going to (v.13 again), “turn their mourning into gladness...[He] will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Look at verse 16.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,’ declares the LORD. ‘They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future,’ declares the LORD. ‘Your children will return to their own land” (vv.16-17). 

“A hope for your future.” Does that sound familiar? It’s different words in the Hebrew, but it sounds a lot like 29:11 to me! “Hope and a future.”

They had reason to rejoice.

And so do we!

We have such a great future! We have every reason to rejoice.

We have reason to weep, and so it’s is right to do so. But not just weep. We also have every reason to rejoice.

And every reason to repent. That’s number four.


When we finally understand the LORD’s everlasting love, we finally wake up to our need for repentance. 

See how LORD says it in verse 18. “‘I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning: 'You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God. 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'” (vv.18-19).

Now, this is a prophecy. This is still down the line. Israel has not yet repented like this, but the LORD can hear it coming! "‘I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning!" It's going to happen!

And Ephraim will be like, “I was so dumb. I am so ashamed. I repent! Your discipline. The exile. The judgement that came through Assyria has worked its work on me, and I finally have woken up to repentance."

And how will LORD respond to that?

Will He say, “Sorry! Too late!” 

No, way. Look at verse 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.”

O, He loves Him! “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

He’s the Father in the story of the prodigal son. His heart is full of love. Everlasting love. That’s the heart of the Father for you and me. So, when we finally realize that, we finally wake up to repentance. Like the prodigal son, finally waking up and heading home.

The LORD tells His people to make sure they mark the way back home. Verse 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. [There’s that word “shuv” again. Repent! Come back. V.22.] How long will you wander, O unfaithful daughter?” (vv.21-22).

“Stop wandering. Stop vacillating. Stop fence-sitting and repent. Come back!"

If you are running from Him today, He’s saying this to you right now. His heart yearns for you. He has great compassion for you. Stop running. And return to Him. Run into His fatherly arms!

And be restored, redeemed, and...refreshed.


His everlasting love is so great that we who are His children will experience everlasting refreshment!

Look at the end of verse 22.

“The LORD will create a new thing on earth–a woman will surround a man.”

Now, I’m not sure what that means. And I don’t think that anybody else really knows either. It’s very hard to translate and interpret. Some people even see the virgin birth in that verse, and I guess that’s possible because many have seen it. I’m just not sure. It could be translated that a woman embraces or encircles or shelters or protects a man. It’s hard to translate, and it’s hard to understand.

My best guess is that it’s like a saying from the time that means something like, “Pigs are going fly. Wonders will never cease. ‘A woman will surround a man.’ We’re living in a time of miracles!”

What is clear to me is that the LORD is saying that He’s going to create a new thing on earth–a wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles.

And I think that He’s talking about the New Covenant that He’s just about to announce and the New Creation that comes from it.

How He’s going to give His people new hearts and eventually new bodies and a new world to live in! And how everything will be restored to how it was supposed to be in the first place and then even better! 

Look at verse 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.' People will live together in Judah and all its towns–farmers and those who move about with their flocks. I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.’ At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me.”

It turns out that this prophecy has come as a product of a prophetic dream.

Jeremiah wakes up and says, “Man, that was a good dream! I can’t wait for that dream to come true!”

When will this prophecy be fulfilled?

Well, verse 23 says, “When I bring them back from captivity.” And here’s He’s talking more to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. They will once again say, “The LORD bless you, O righteous dwelling, O sacred mountain.” The LORD bless Jerusalem. The LORD blessed the new temple. The LORD bless Mount Zion on which it was built.

And that happened in 538 and beyond when the exiles straggled back home after the Book of Daniel. After the Book of Esther. After Babylon. After the Medes and the Persians. During the book of Nehemiah.

But I think that that was just a prophetic foretaste of the refreshment to come. "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” I think that this is fully fulfilled in the One who was born on Christmas day.

The One said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29 NIVO).

Tidings of comfort and joy!

A hope and a future.


All because of the LORD’s everlasting love.

That’s the message of Christmas, isn’t it?

That “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16 NIVO).

He says to us today: 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "The Word of the LORD Came to Me" - Jeremiah 1:1-19
02. "I Bring Charges Against You" - Jeremiah 2:1-3:5
03. "Return to Me" - Jeremiah 3:6-4:4
04. “Oh My Anguish, My Anguish!” - Jeremiah 4:6-5:31
05. "Ask for the Ancient Paths" - Jeremiah 6:1-30
06. “This Is the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD!” - Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
07. "Is There No Balm in Gilead?" - Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
08. "Boast About This" - Jeremiah 9:23-24
09. "Like a Scarecrow in a Melon Patch" - Jeremiah 9:25-10:25
10. "Conspiracy" - Jeremiah 11:1-12:17
11. “My People For My Renown” - Jeremiah 13:1-27
12. "I Can No Longer Show Compassion" - Jeremiah 14:1-15:21
13. "I Have Withdrawn My Blessing, My Love and My Pity" - Jeremiah 16:1-21
14. "I the LORD Search the Heart" - Jeremiah 17:1-27
15. "Go Down to the Potter's House" - Jeremiah 18:1-19:15
16. “Insult and Reproach All Day Long” - Jeremiah 20:1-18
17. "Woe to the Shepherds" - Jeremiah 21:1-23:8
18. "I Did Not Send These Prophets" - Jeremiah 23:9-40
19. "“My Eyes Will Watch Over Them For Their Good” - Jeremiah 24:1-25:38
20. "This Man Should Be Sentenced to Death" - Jeremiah 26:1-24
21. “Under the Yoke” - Jeremiah 27:1-28:17
22. “I Know the Plans I Have for You” - Jeremiah 29:1-32