Understanding Jeremiah?

Yesterday, my wife and I went to a communal penance service. One of the Scripture readings consisted of the following:

Jeremiah 31: 33 “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord.”

My wife asked me if the teaching in Jeremiah is literally true and was this Old Testament Biblical teachings just for the people of Israel and not for the people of today? Or does it apply in some special way to the Jews and Christians of today?

First off, the point you’re interested in is actually Jeremiah 31:34.

Here’s a more literal translation of it:

“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying: ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them even to the greatest,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31 is talking about the people coming back from Babylon. So in this case, every Jew will personally know what the Lord has done, because they’ll have had their collective sins as a people forgiven and they’ll have been brought back to the Promised Land. (That’s why it says earlier that a man will only die for his own iniquity.)

There are some bits talking about the Messianic stuff to come (“A woman shall compass a man”, which is about Mary giving birth to Jesus), but mostly it’s about coming back from Babylon.

Now, in the future when Jesus comes again, we also won’t have to tell each other to know the Lord, because He’ll be right there and we’ll all know all about Him. He will bring us home to His Home, so Jeremiah 31 does have some future application as well as the historical and prophetic literal reading.

But that time is not yet, so we do have to talk to our neighbors and our brethren about the Lord.

It refers to coming back from Babylon, but also another meaning in that we “know” the Lord directly, in the Eucharist. We come into physical contact and receive God Himself into our bodies. It also refers to the final judgment when Jesus will come again and we will be with Him.

The Haydock commentary in the Douay Rheims on 31:34 and following says, " Lord. Christ himself came to instruct mankind. The true God was better known than ever, even by the illiterate. Yet God requires us to have recourse to men, in order to know his truths, as St. Paul was sent to Hananias, and the eunuch to Philip. [Acts viii., and ix.] (Haydock) — The apostles were enlightened by the Holy Ghost, (John vi. 45.; St. Augustine, de Spir.; Calmet) who still guides the flock by his pastors. The private spirit is too fanatical and delusive. (Haydock) — The most ignorant shall easily become acquainted with the truths of salvation. External preaching is requisite, though of little use unless grace touch the mind and the heart. (Tirinus) — All will hear successively, (Haydock) or embrace the gospel at the same time, for several years before the last day. (Houbigant, pref. in Prop. 356) (Isaias xi. 9., and xlv. 23., and Sophonias iii. 9., &c.) (Haydock) "

You can also check Bibliaclarus.org., a Vatican sponsored site.



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