Lectionary Year B
January 5, 2003
Jeremiah 31:7-14

Step IV: Cross-Section

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) Saving from sinfulness is one of Christ's main parts of His job description the early believers in Him focused on trustingly, see especially Matthew 16:25, Acts 2:47, Romans 8:24 and 11:26 and I Timothy 1:15 and II Timothy 4:18. Singing and praising God are also popular activities in the New Testament Church as well as they were in the First Testament. For example, when Paul was struggling with the practice of glossolalia in I Corinthians 14, especially verses 15ff, he concludes that the best thing to do is to pray thanksgiving and to sing "with the mind". Returning of dispersed peoples in the New Testament refers mostly to the unconverted. Attending to God's Word is a big topic in the early church, too, see, perhaps John's prologue. Some of the panorama of the New Creation in our Old Testament lection (Jeremiah 31:12-14) might be seen in such portraits in the Book of Revelation, for instance.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) Isaiah 35:5-10 also describes newness in God's returning the exiles with such picturesque images as singing for joy, waters in the wilderness and streams in the desert, the blind and the lame will travel the even terrain back home as gladness replaces mourning with nary a ravenous beast to interfere. God's leading the Homecoming parade might also be imagined from Psalm 23:2 and 3. The new world without boundaries might be what Psalm 72:10f and Isaiah 41:1 and 5 describe. Also, the "bountiful produce of the land will mark the new age of well-being," in our text's last (14th) is prefigured in Isaiah 58:11, according to the NRSV's footnotes. Furthermore, the images of gathering and shepherding are mentioned in Ezekiel 34:7-16. Then Jubilees (2nd century BCE) quotes God's promise to restore Israel (1:22-25) and have them repent and get the Spirit and the data of the faithful faith and become God's people, totally after their sinfulness has run its course - a very complete description of such restoration. And, in 2:20 of that same work, God names Jacob as the chosen among many options and promises to give him/them the Sabbath for proper worship.

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) When these dispersed thinkers cogitate on these paragraphs, they might well be focusing on such impressions from Jeremiah 31:7-14 as remnants, even and perhaps especially as unlikely groups working in tandem, the scattered and the re-gathering of the scattered, the picto-graphics of nature and the singing and rejoicing and even dancing to celebrate some of the eventualities promised in these expressive paragraphs.

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