Scripture Text – Jeremiah 31:22b and Jeremiah 31:31-34
Speaking of the coming of Christianity into the world, Jeremiah got a word from the Lord.
“The Lord will create a new thing on earth- a woman will surround a man.” (KJV)
In the Hebrew language this sentence has a double meaning;
A. The created “new thing on the earth” would be a Messiah (Savior) that would be in the womb of a woman.
B. The created “new thing on the earth” would be a people who would replace the adulterous and divorced Israel.
This interpretation is hard to see until we analyze the Hebrew words and their context. The key word in the verse is “surround.” This Hebrew word is “cabob.” It’s root meaning is “to revolve around.” There is another Hebrew word which means to surround in order to protect. This word is “ezer.” Sounds nothing like “cabob” does it? So, this verse, in context, is saying that God has decided to create a new entity on earth to supersede a rebellious and inadequate Israel. How do we know that the context is this? If we back up in Holy Scripture a few chapters, we will see that God says, “Thy bruise is incurable and thy wound is grievous.” (30:12) This means that Israel will be sent into captivity and, after a time, will be brought back into the land, BUT they will be brought back for one purpose; to bring forth the “new thing on the earth.”
This new thing will be the new people of God, – Christians under the rule and guidance of the Messiah. We see the prediction of this in Jeremiah 31:31-34 as God continues His word to Jeremiah and explains further this saying, “a woman will surround a man.” By this point in Scripture, we have seen that Israel has often been related to as the “wife” of God, but she has been adulterous time and again, disavowing the marriage relationship. This “wife”, though loved, can never bring total healing, because “she” would not have it. God bemoans this but gives her over to her enemies. A new people will now be “wed” to God for the purpose of bringing to the earth new offspring who will be God’s chosen children. As in any new marriage, a new covenant is stated for these people in relation to God, our Husband.
“The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV)
God is the only personage Who can truly “forgive and forget.” When He says that He will forgive this people’s wickedness, the Hebrew word in the text is translated, “iniquity” which means something is “twisted” so that no proper use for it can be had. He is talking about what we call the human condition of “The Fall.” This state of human condition as a “twisted people” was not able to be overcome by the Israelites as a people. They had forfeited their designation as a holy priesthood, separated for God’s purposes. So, a new people would now get the designation. What would be their sign of holy priesthood? It is given in the text. The law, the agreements of the New Covenant, will be written on their hearts and they will desire to be God’s royal priesthood, following the love in their hearts given by Messiah. This requires just a bit more interpretation about the human condition of “twistedness.”
The state of existence in the human condition means that we are on a constant search for a way to enter into the process of our redemption. We know, in our hearts, that we are iniquitous, twisted to the point of no proper use and our spirits desperately want to be of proper use. We are on a constant search for a way to enter into the process of our redemption (our straightening out before God). All the world’s religions are witnesses to this. But the religious of the world are in something of a catch-22 or conundrum. Our human condition causes us to fail to see the simple reality that God has already provided the great “Straightener,” Jesus, the Messiah. So, we strive and strain to attain our own redemption through good works, religious status, co-dependent relationships, crystals, etc.
However, the only way to proper use of US is to gain a redemptive relationship before God. The Bible tells us, and shows us, over and over that the only way to do this is to give up our struggle and accept His free gift of redemption through Jesus Christ, His Son sent for this purpose. And, precisely here is where we must go back to the original verse in Jeremiah 31:22 where we have the picture of something God “cooked up.” The verse specifically says, “woman shall surround man.” If we can translate that “woman” means the new wife (people) of the new covenant and the “man” is “geber,” a valiant man or warrior who is God’s mighty man; then, once again, this word in the middle becomes key. We have already seen that the word “surround” in this verse means to revolve around. The word “cabob” brings forth the picture of what we, today, would call a “shish-Kabob.” The “proper use” of meat on a shish-Kabob is to place it on the skewer and revolve it around the heat that cooks and purifies it for proper consumption. The new verse, therefore, means,
“My new people will revolve around (be rotated over the heat and light of) My Valiant Warrior, until well-done (sanctified).” Brings a whole new meaning to the saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” doesn’t it.
As we, Christians, revolve around Jesus and fulfill the Great Commission, to go into all the world under His authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded, we will have Him with us, His law will be on our hearts, He will be our God and we will be His people; a proper use indeed.