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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 31:4-5

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, May 12, 2015

4 I will build you again,
     and you will be built, O Virgin Israel.

When God called Jeremiah as a prophet, he said, “Today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms… to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). Now God shows that Jeremiah is simply the instrument; the tool. God is the one who truly builds and plants.

“Virgin Israel” (sometimes “virgin daughter”) is used by Jeremiah, Isaiah and some other prophets to depict the nation as an unspoiled, pure and sinless people (Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 14:17, 18:13, 31:21; Amos 5:2). This is not to say that a wife who was a virgin until her wedding night and has remained faithful to her husband is in some way spoiled or no longer pure. Not at all—she is the noble wife praised by the Holy Spirit (Proverbs 31:10-31). But the prophets are comparing Virgin Israel with Fallen Israel. Fallen Israel prostituted herself to many false gods, and brought God’s judgment on themselves: “My people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways and in the ancient paths” (Jeremiah 18:15). Now, through the atoning work of Christ, their idolatry is forgiven, and once again they are given the pure and innocent status that they had before they sinned. This is what it means to be forgiven by God.

You will pick up your tambourines again
  and you will go out to dance with the joyful.
5 Again you will plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria.
     The planters will plant,
     and will enjoy its fruit.

All the actions of a people blessed by God will return to the true nation of Israel. This means that those who trust in God for Christ’s forgiveness will have every blessing given through God’s grace. The sound of music and dancing will return to the villages. Dancing is joy and music combined, and it pleases God. In the past, there have been Christians who forbade dancing of any kind, or except for one or two certain forms. Forbidding what God allows is a sin against the first commandment. It is another form of idolatry, and it demonstrates mistrust in God and in those who want to dance. It is exactly the same sin that Prohibition was, and exactly the same sin we so frequently condemn the Pharisees and Sadducees for committing when they added so many extra laws to keep people from getting near any temptation, such as never using the name of the LORD so that people would not use it in vain.

Praise God for the blessings he gives. Use his name to praise him. Drink a toast to the repeal of Prohibition and the proper, God-pleasing use of alcohol that does not abuse it (Proverbs 31:4-7). And don’t be afraid to dance a dance that will show your love of God’s creation and your affection for your spouse, or, if you are not married, open your heart to the one you trust and love, and pray that God will awaken love at just the right time (Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). This, too, is a blessing from the hand of the One who loves us all.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.