First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-9

Jeremiah's Message of Hope to the Diaspora

7 For thus says YHWH, Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout for the chief of the nations: publish, praise, and say, YHWH, save your people, the remnant of Israel. 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth, along with the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her who travails with child together: a great company shall they return here. 9 They shall come with weeping; and with petitions will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

World English Bible

Imagine living in Germany from the beginning of the 20th century through World War II. The nation was at its cultural and economic height, only to fall to the great loss of its population and its economic stability, only to fall into the evils of Nazism. If you can imagine such a life, you can walk for a few moments in the shoes of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was born in the time of the last true reform kings, Josiah. At the end of his life, the nation was is ruins from the Babylonian invasion. He was forced into exile and died on foreign soil. But his writings rose above cynicism and despair. Even though he would not see the day, Jeremiah saw rays of hope in the darkness.

In Chapter 31, Jeremiah wrote that God would save Judah from Babylon and restore his people's glory. The small people would brag with the great; the small portion of the population (i.e., the "remnant") would go home [7].

Even though Babylon was due east, the people would return home from the north, via the Fertile Crescent [8] (the land directly east is desert). Others would return, primarily from the west (Egypt and the Mediterranean). (Why were Jews spread out throughout the known world? By this time, Judah was a merchant nation, importing and exporting between the north and Egypt, between the east and the Mediterranean world. Many Jews settled in foreign lands to watch over their economic interests.) Those who did return would become one with the weak and marginal who stayed behind. The returning would find peace [9], for God was their father.

We live in times of rapid change; tomorrow is no more certain than yesterday. The message we need for this world is hope in God. He will see us through these times with his gift of peace.

How does God bring you hope, even in the dark times?