Updated: Feb 5
Thus says the Lord:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
“Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.”
See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here.
With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 25. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in an Episcopal church by a reader on Sunday October 28, 2018. It is important because God spoke to His people through the prophet Jeremiah telling His children He is their Father.
It is important to see in these three verses of Jeremiah 31 how pain and suffering are what draws children closer to their Father. As an alternate Old Testament reading choice other than the story of Job, the message of rejoicing is the same. The pain of defeat, unjustly brought upon the ignorant masses, will test their love of Yahweh and tell Him they despise their plight and repent their failures. Thus, as was the lesson of Job, where Elihu spoke from within Job telling his friends that God will allow the righteous to be persecuted to prevent sins, God spoke the same promise to the scattered remnant of Israel.
When Jeremiah wrote, “among them the blind and the lame,” this links this reading to the Gospel story of Jesus healing the blind beggar Bartimaeus. That story then becomes an example of this prophecy of Jeremiah being fulfilled (among other examples). The same presence of the Holy Spirit within one’s soul is required, just as Job realized that presence had kept him from capitulating to the pressures of evil. The remnant of Israel that maintained its faith in exile was like a blind beggar crying out for forgiveness. These verses offer the promise of redemption.
In the last verse, where it is written: “I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn,” the name Ephraim is significant. In Hebrew the name means, “Two-Fold Increase” or “Doubly Fruitful.” This matches the story told in Job 42, where Job’s rejection of himself and his repentance was rewarded by God, such that “the Lord restored [Job’s] fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Rather than Ephraim representing a physical gain for the remnant of Israel, it represents a prophecy of Jesus and his Christ Spirit joining with those who will maintain faith in God. As the Son of God is His firstborn, God will “become the father to Israel” through their receipt of the Holy Spirit, being resurrections of the Son of Man.
Twins are a two-fold increase of physical cells, as two souls. One soul merged with the Holy Spirit becomes like twins within the same flesh, becoming doubly fruitful.
As an optional Old Testament reading for the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for the LORD should be underway – one has cried out praises to God for Salvation – the message here is to be reborn as Jesus Christ, so one has “twice as much as one had before.” Rather than being only oneself, one needs to be reborn as Ephraim, with a “Two-Fold Increase.” One must be adopted in the holy family that is only Apostles and Saints as brothers and sisters of Jesus.
In verse seven, where rejoicing and gladness are to be raised as “shouts for the chief of the nations,” one should see this as expressions of faith in the midst of persecutions. This makes the Gospel story of Bartimaeus stand out as one who praised God, even when the people largely shunned him. He cried out to Jesus, despite having been told to shut up.
Today, the concept of “democracy” and “republics” are proposing to give power to the people [“nations,” from the Hebrew “hag·gō·w·yim,” rooted in “goy”], when the power is always in the hands of revolving chiefs. Those leaders constantly persecute the faithful by giving away their rights (as the majority), so the minority will is assuaged. Regardless of this insult, the faithful have the power of God within them, which causes them to scream out praises to Yahweh, no matter how many silently pray to false and lesser gods.
All Hail the minority. It is patriotic to kill all faith in that which is against us.
While this short reading squarely places focus on the Israelites that were scattered across the face of the earth, it should be realized that the living humans thousands of years ago are no longer the same living humans. Those have died in the flesh, but their souls have always remained. Those souls of faith in the One God and His Son Jesus Christ are now called Christians, as a religious statement. Christians must be seen as the remnant of Israel, to whom God spoke, through the prophet Jeremiah.
Especially today, as the Age of Faith is winding down and being absorbed in the coming Age of Technology [worship of the god for the Big Brain], Christians are a remnant. The birth and swell that spread the “Good News” via Apostles and Saints has now dwindled as did the strength of numbers the faithful had before the fall of Israel and Judah. We see the end coming, but our faith keeps us praying that end will be averted. However, as the years pass by, the faithful pass away and the new souls filling human flesh are bound and determined to end religion (of all kinds), further tattering the remnant to shreds.
True Christians are blind to the low threshold the world has developed, relative to pain and suffering. Christians, like Job and Bartimaeus, suffer unjustly without losing faith. Modern human beings cower at the thought of being unsightly. They step on and over the homeless in the streets, seeing them as valueless in societies that worship value in things. True Christians are vastly outnumbered by the throngs and masses of heathen hearts.
He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
As difficult as it seems, when so much news on television endlessly presents the images of turbulence and tumult, making it seem the norm, one needs to “walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which [one] shall not stumble.” This is inner peace; and inner peace comes from the love of God, the protection of the Holy Spirit, and the adoption as the Son of God.”