By quoting this passage from Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew injects hope into the otherwise dismal account of the brutal slaughter of innocent children by jealous King Herod. As the prophet Jeremiah declared long ago, though God chastises His people severely, He does not abandon them. The land of Israel was bereft of her children by the exile to Babylon, but hear these words of promise:
Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; …. Their children also shall be as before… Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love… Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion… And they shall sorrow no more at all… For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow… There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border. Jeremiah 30:19, 20; 31:3, 12, 13, 17
True to His promise, God did bring the people of Israel back from Babylon into the Promised Land. Why would God not utterly forsake wayward Israel? Because God loves His erring child:
Is Ephraim My dear Son? Is he a pleasant child?... Therefore My heart years for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD. Jeremiah 31:20
In our next meditation, we shall see the connection with Christ, Bethlehem, and ourselves.