The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Lamentations 3:31

I want to make a thread on this verse which I’ve seen used on Universalim, as someone who’s still making up his mind on it.

“For the Lord will not cast off for ever”

The main objection to using this to support Universlaism would be that the context of Jeremiah talking about Israel as a nation, that God is not casting them off forever.

Beyond that however an Evangelical might argue this supports Eternal Security, when you’ve become a child of God He’ll never cast you off forever, but this does’t applies to those who never became His to begin with.

What are all your thoughts on it?

I’m not making the case for “universalism” per se, but I question whether this is an adequate objection given that ‘historical context’ doesn’t necessarily negate the broader principals of God, in this case the long sufferance of God. Not only that, but apply this with any consistency and many an evangelical mantra will fall flat… for instance:

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Thus according to the objection, such above cannot with any credence be trotted out as a general truth BECAUSE this applied wholly to those to whom it was written, i.e., this is no general principal or carte blanch truth, according to how it is often used.

Again consistency precludes this conclusion IF said “evangelical” is going to claim the first objection above; thus it becomes a moot point.

The way something is expressed has a lot to do if it’s just that context or a broader principle. I seeing nothing around this verse to suggest it’s intent to also say God never casts anyone off.

Jeremiah’s verse about the Wicked Heart seem more like a general statement in nature. But it’s also important to remember when your Saved God gives you a new Heart. However having that new Heart didn’t prevent Saul from falling into Sin.

Well you wouldn’t as it’s not stating that, so I’m not sure of your point. IF however in your quest to negate a verse as having relevance in a universalistic understanding and you do this by simply excusing it away as applying only to Israel as per immediate context then you need to jettison the whole passage with respect of having any relevance outside of OT Israel, IF you want to be consistent. Example, you can reject the likes of this as not worthy of applicability as it only applies to Israel…

I’m not convinced your criteria when held to a consistent line actually works.

So, my natural instinct is to ask… how do you know “God gives you a new Heart”? – I’m guessing for a specific or direct answer you might appeal to the likes of Ezek 36:26 or in a similar vein Jer 31:33… both of which according to context speak of Yahweh’s workings with Israel – thus less “general” and more “specific”. Again this just demonstrates that excusing away an apparent argument purely on the basis of textual context, as you have done in your opening comments, demands consistency; and I’m not sure this is what you’re doing.

They speak of his workings with Israel in terms of that the Law will replaced.

But we also see it quite literally demonstrated with Saul.

I have notes on the context and details of the whole chapter, which features a number of famous sayings (even found in hymns); but since my reply would involve discussing more than the verse I’ll probably post it as an ExCom entry.

My short answer in regard to the verse itself, is that if taken very particularly, it would apply to God restoring the specific people He has punished for their sins, even to death. But Jeremiah is applying a broader truth about God (He does not cast off forever) in order to be reassured about the particular situation. If God does not cast off forever (and His mercies are new every morning etc.), then God will not cast off punished Israel forever.

A more particular promise form would be “Great is Thy faithfulness”: God will be faithful to Israel even though Israel was so unfaithful to God that God dropped this ultra-punishment on them. It isn’t a question of God being faithful to righteous Israel, but of being faithful to unrighteous Israel. Probably the Abrahamic covenant is in view, which because YHWH stood in the place of Abraham in making the covenant with YHWH, no descendant of Abraham can break the covenant by being unfaithful to God: the covenant being to bring all Abraham’s descendants into being righteous at last.

Another brief reply: much of the basis for Jeremiah’s hope for punished rebel Israel, is that God can be inherently trusted to do better than what He is punishing created persons for doing. “This I will recall to mind, therefore I will have hope!”

Among the list of things the rebels are being punished for, is hopelessly crushing under their feet all the prisoners of the Earth. Consequently, we can expect God not to do that in regard to these prisoners, even the ones He has sent into the earth.

Ah, as it happens, I already posted those notes! :smiley: (Good, now I can go eat lunch sooner… :laughing: )

So for more details on how I’d reply, see here: JRP’s Exegetical Compilation: Lamentations 3

Not only do I regard it as direct testimony against punitive annihilation, and in pretty strong favor of post-mortem salvation, but I also reckon it as a warning against non-universalism in principle!

But I don’t count it, I think, as direct testimony for universal salvation. The scope of salvation is there, but the original intention to save is, at best, only sort-of implied.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the [h]rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
27 “This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but [k]from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32** For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.**

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him [m]that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory [n]forever. Amen.

I think Paul demonstrates in this portion, some things he states elsewhere(Eph 1:9-11, 1 Cor 15:22-28, Phil 2:9-11)- but uniquely here from the perspective of Israel’s correction and restoration.

In a sense Paul is using the way in which the Lord has dealt with Israel as an example of how He has dealt with all mankind. So in this I think the words from Jeremiah are very strong in a biblical universalist’s view.
Similarly, in Roman’s 8 there is a glimpse of this same method in which God has chosen to enlighten all men and eventually unify them with Himself through Jesus Christ.

Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. **For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. **22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

That’s a very good argument

True, in conjunction with other things like Rom 11, how God deals with rebel Israel is indicative of how He shall deal with all people. I was only saying I don’t think I can positively argue Lam 3 testifies to universal salvation in itself – it just comes as close as possible (practically as a warning against insisting on non-universalism).

Yea I agree its not a stand alone proof text. More like a visible confirmation once a person has the perspective from which to view it, like an open, honest, questioning mind about eternal judgment. :slight_smile:

According to the KJV Bible (& many others almost exactly the same):

Lam.3:31For the Lord will NOT cast off FOR EVER:
32But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
33For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve THE CHILDREN OF MEN. (KJV, emphasis mine)

Micah 7:18b he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. (KJV)

Isaiah 57:16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. (KJV)