There are a few ways to understand Jer 31:4-6, but here are four reasons from the context to think it is describing the kingdom of Christ as the final return from exile:
- “At that time” in Jer 31:1 refers to the time of Christ’s kingdom (c.f. Jeremiah 30:1-11 and the Last Kingdom and Jeremiah 30:12-24 and the Lord’s Loving Vengeance)
- “I will be the God of all the clans of Israel” (Jer 31:1) is a summary of the longer description given in this passage (c.f. Jer 31:6).
- “I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:1) is classic covenental language pointing to a new covenant (c.f. Jer 31:33).
- Jesus connects the “drawing” of Jer 31:3 with the new covenant (c.f. Jeremiah 31:1-3 and the Final Wilderness Journey).
Even though you’re now thoroughly persuaded that I’m right, you might still have trouble explaining some of the imagery of this passage. Do not fear! That’s why this post has only just begun.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel!
The nation of Israel will be rebuilt. In Jer 30, the restoration of national sovereignty comes when God raises up a king from the family of David (Jer 30:8-9), a ruler who will be invited into God’s presence (Jer 30:18-21). Today, Jesus has already been appointed as king over the world, and the capital of his kingdom is in a new, heavenly Jerusalem. He is gathering his people from all over the world, bringing them to Zion (Heb 12:22).
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
In the old testament, tambourines are used to celebrate military victories and to praise God. In light of Jer 31:2, this is probably a reference to the celebration after God drowned the pursuing Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exod 15:20). Today, the church always praises God for salvation and victory through Jesus Christ.
Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit.
Vineyards are a blessing enjoyed in times of peace and security. In the old testament, a newly planted vine’s fruit could not be lawfully enjoyed until the fourth year, when it would be used as an offering of praise to God (Lev 19:23-25). One day we will literally drink wine with Jesus in his kingdom (Matt 26:29) as the consummation of the blessings and security that have already been given to us.
The mention of Samaria is important because it shows the unity of Christ’s kingdom. From the time of Solomon’s son Rehoboam until the exile, the north and south were divided into two kingdoms. In the time Jesus walked the earth, there was a sharp division between Jews and Samaritans. This wall of hostility is broken down by Christ’s death and resurrection, so that even Samaritans and Gentiles are welcome in Zion. As for the geographical location of Samaria, Christ’s kingdom has been spreading throughout the whole earth for nearly 2000 years, and will fill the whole earth when he returns.
For there shall be a day when the watchman will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.”
The northern kingdom of Israel (a.k.a. Ephraim) was cut off from the temple and from the house of David. It constantly fell into idolatry, and God had already exiled them before Jeremiah was born. But in Christ’s kingdom, all twelve tribes are united in praising God. But we do not have to go on a pilgrimage to worship in the temple; the Spirit of God lives in us, and we gather together to worship God.
God is rebuilding Israel bigger and better, and all nations get to be a part of it. We’ve been welcomed into a kindom of eternal peace, security, and blessings. We’ve been invited to frequently worship God in His temple. We join in what God is doing when we gather to praise Him for His works of salvation, and when we invite others to do the same. The first step in setting the world right is building a kingdom where God is worshipped.