Jeremiah 31:7-14 and Psalm 147:12-20
This is the first installment of “Missing Link Monday” which is devoted to viewing the OT and Psalm reading from the Revised Common Lectionary with the focus on the Christ. Recall again that Christ himself has proclaimed that the OT finds its fulfillment in him, and that the scriptures all point to him. It is incumbent upon us to approach all OT scripture with the presupposition that it indeed points to Christ.
Reading 1 – For thus says the LORD: "Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, 'O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.' Behold, I will bring them from the north country and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. "Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.' For the LORD has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the LORD." (Jeremiah 31:7-14 ESV)
This passage is pretty straight forward and does not require much time to make the connection. The clear line being “For the Lord has ransomed Jacob...” This language is clear of a price paid to set free the people of Israel. Moreover “...from hands too strong for him”, implies that this is a work entirely of God and therefore grace because Jacob was in the clutches of an enemy, sin, which he could not deliver himself from. He who scattered, will gather as a shepherd... again we see very Messianic language pointing to the One, Christ, who would gather the lost sheep of Israel. If you are looking through the lens of the Gospel, and knowing that Christ is the fulfillment of the prophets, and approaching this text with that in mind, it is nearly impossible to miss the fact that this reading screams of the Gospel and points with clarity to Christ.
Reading 2 - Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 147:12-20 ESV)
In this text we see the power of the Lord in the created realm, we see authority over the harvest, over peace, over the strength of a fortified city, over snow, and ice. We also see the power of His word and statutes. If you qualify this passage with Colossians 1:16 or the beginning of John 1 you begin to see who the authority figure that is doing the work in this passage is. It is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. This section of this Psalm should be preached so as to open a window into the character and mind of Christ. Notice the role of ‘his word’ in this passage and the power accompanied with it. Moreover notice the role of the Lord towards Israel, notice that he has dealt more thoroughly with them, he has come as one of them, for them, their rejection of him is nearly unthinkable, but it is that very rejection that opens the door for the gentiles to be grafted in.