The fathers have eaten sour grapes and children’s teeth are set on edge

The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. Jeremiah 31:29b

God used Jeremiah the prophet to warn of God’s judgment against the Israelites or Jewish people. There were very few people who listened to him or took him seriously. Even King Zedekiah did not listen or heed God’s warnings; he chose to throw the message into the fire on the hearth. God’s judgment was about to come on the Jewish people if they did not repent. That judgment would include 70 years of captivity before the people would return to rebuild Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, Ezra 2:1.

In Jeremiah chapter 30, God began to reveal His plans to bless and restore the Jewish nation. In Jeremiah 31:29 it says, “In those days they shall say no more: the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” So how was God going to do away with this proverb?

God was referring to a future day of blessing when the old covenant would be replaced by a new covenant of grace. In the old covenant that God had made with His people, He reserved the right to visit the iniquity of the fathers unto the children to the third and fourth generations. That’s what the proverb of the sour grapes is referring to in Jeremiah 31:29. God’s judgment for the sins of the fathers could extend to the fourth generation. The fathers were the ones who ate the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth were set on edge. That proverb is mentioned in Exodus 20:5, Numbers 14:18, Exodus 34:6-7, and Deuteronomy 5:9 as well as other places.

In Jeremiah 31:30 God says, “But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.” In verse 30, God was speaking of a new day that would be coming, when He would introduce a new covenant. Under this new covenant, everyone would be held accountable for their own sin. If you choose to live in disobedience to God and His law, you are the one who will be called to give an account. To simplify the whole thing, we could say, “you reap what you sow.” I believe this has at least a double fulfillment or application.

1- If you choose to disobey God and live a life of wickedness, it will come down upon your own head in this life.

A- “Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same, Job 4:8.

B- Hosea 8:7, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”

C- Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

2- If we choose to reject God and His Word in this life, we will suffer His wrath and condemnation in the life to come.

A- Galatians 6:8, “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

B- John 3:18b, “But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

So, when did God put this new covenant in place and supersede the old? In Matthew 14:22-25, Jesus introduced the new covenant; “And He said unto them, this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” The new covenant brought with it the “age of grace.” We now live our lives to glorify our Heavenly Father through righteous living day by day. Not because we must, according to God’s law, but out of love and gratitude because of what Christ has done for us. And also, that we might attain a better resurrection, and our heavenly rewards will be greater. Are you glorifying God through a righteous life each day?

Comments or questions, contact me at: thoughtsonword@gmail.com


Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published three books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and “Eye of a Needle” in 2017 and “Common Thoughts on The Word II” in 2019. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.


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