Jeremiah 24:7 Robert Alter’s translation:

And I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD. And they shall be a people for Me, and I Myself will be God for them, for they shall turn back to Me with all their heart.

What does God mean when He says He will give Israel “a heart to know [Him]”? Was He witholding this heart before, resulting in their disobedience and destruction, if it was His to give?

  • One has to be careful as which 'Israel' is being referred to in the prophetic books : natural Israel, the oft disobedient natural seed of Abraham or the true Israel, obedient sons of God. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 12:28

4 Answers 4


Romans 11:36

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen".

Short answer: Yes God gives and withholds grace, He gives or withholds hearts to love Him and heaven and hell are the outcomes of how He made us. All things are from Him.

Long answer: You use the word "choice" in your question but you do not define it. Can we define our terms?

The Bible uses the word "choose/choice". Joshua 24:15 "choose for yourselves whom you will serve". But what does it mean?

When someone "chooses" to praise God because the love of God is ruling in their life then yes , they make a choice in that they follow a particular pattern of behaviour, but is it them or a force beyond themselves that is carrying them along?

When someone "chooses" to "obey unrighteousness" [Romans 2:8] they also may be said to be making a "choice".

For both of the above scenarios I have used the word "choice", but I have not differentiated between "free choice" and "determined choice".

One definition of "free choice" might be: "Free will is free". Free of cause and effect; free of logic and rational. Being free of everything which might tie it down it is random and meaningless. Even if it selects the "right" answer that would be a fluke and therefore meaningless.

"Determined choice": "I am choosing what to write now" but it is only an outworking of how God made me. We choose; we choose on the basis of who we are; we do not choose who we are because we do not create ourselves. Our choices reflect how God made us. [I didn't choose the DNA or circumstances that I was born into, or when I was born again or that I was born again. John 3:7].

The trouble with "determined choice" is that some [e.g. Loraine Boettner and other compatibilists] think that if God was ultimately responsible for evil that that would make God evil. But we can ask if that is true.

If God, who is holy and only ever holy [1 Peter 1:15-16] creates something which is not himself and proves to that thing that it is not perfect of itself, that the created thing is not all knowing; that it is not all powerful; that it is not self-dependant; that it is not eternal; that it is not Him. Then if God can do that for a holy motive it means that God can sustain the existence of Adam when Adam fell without compromising His own holiness.

John 1:3

"All things were made through Him, and without Him was nothing made that was made".

Adam was made by God. If there is a exact relationship between how God made Adam and Adam's behaviour, then God is ultimately responsible for Adam's behaviour. If no relationship exists then Adam is free, but free of cause and effect, free to behave in a way which denies how he was made and who he is, that denies the nature he was given.

I have tried to look at some of the issues that lie behind "choose", "ultimate responsibility" and God giving and withholding. These sorts of discussions have been around for a long time.

Acts 2:17

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;".

God withholds before the last days, but when He does give His Spirit, people are given a heart to know Him.


First, let be very clear, God's grace is extended to ALL people; in this sense, salvation is universal. It is NOT universal in the sense that not all will respond and will be excluded from eternal life. See appendix below.

Second, all people are sinners (Rom 3:10-18), without exception. All are sinners and desperately wicked and do NOT seek God (Jer 17:9).

Thus, if anyone is to come to salvation, God must draw them to Himself.

  • Jer 24:7 - I will also give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me wholeheartedly.
  • Phil 2:13 - For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose.
  • John 6:44 - “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day
  • Rom 2:4 - Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?
  • John 12:32 - And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself."
  • 1 Cor 12:3 - Therefore I inform you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

That is, God, via the Holy Spirit, draws all people to know, understand and seek God, but not all accept that invitation.

APPENDIX - God wants all to be saved.

  • John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
  • John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave …”
  • John 12:32, “I [Jesus] … will draw all people to myself.”
  • John 12:47, “… for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • Rom 3:23, 24, “… for all have sinned … and all are freely forgiven...”
  • Rom 5:8, 10, “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … if, while were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of His Son, …”
  • Rom 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s [Adam’s] offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to the many.” [Note the same word, “many” applies to all people.]
  • Rom 5:18, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all people, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all people, resulting in justification of life.”
  • Rom 11:32, “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
  • 2 Cor 5:14, “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
  • 2 Cor 5:18, 19, “…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ …”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • 1 Tim 4:10, For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • 1 John 2:2, “He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours [Christians to whom John writes] only but also for the whole world.”
  • Isa 53:6, “We all like sheep have gone astray … and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

God's love is steadfast and faithful, a theme repeated many times in the OT scripture. God does not withhold this love, nor does God prevent a reciprocal response by humans. The statement that "I will give them a heart to know Me" is an expression of God's hope that is to be fulfilled based on Israel's response. A similar idea is found in Isaiah 55:

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 12 For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

God's promise will be fulfilled, but humans have a role in the timing or season of it. So the promise of Isaiah 55 is prefaced by the following:

Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him.

In other words, the fulfillment of God' promise is predicated on the response of human beings. And God is always near. This is true not only in Isaiah, but is also expressed quite directly in Jeremiah itself:

7 At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. 9 Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; 10 if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. (Jer. 18)

Applying this passage from Jer. 18 to the promise of Jer. 24 mentioned in the OP, it means that God lives in hope of the people's response. When humans do not respond it appears that that God turns away or withholds. But in fact God always stands ready to receive us when we turn to Him.


The first OP question is not exactly correct. The audience was not 'Israel', but the exile who took captive to Babylon in 597BC, who symbolised as the 'good figs'; those who left in Jerusalem was the 'bad figs', who met their destruction in 587BC. (Jer 24:5)

The second question is worth for discussion. Did the returned exile really had the heart from God? If so, why would the rebuilding work of the 2nd temple got delay? Why would the teachers of the law didn't receive Jesus? Why would Jerusalem be destructed once again in 70AD?

Israelites did have their choice of disobedience, so are we. Earlier in Jeremiah 18, the story of the potter and the clay is an allegory of the creation rebelled his creator; that the rebelled Israelites chose to reject God's grace

11 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’

12 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’” (Jeremiah 18:11-12 NIV)

Paul wrote in his book of Romans

Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. (Romans 9:27 NIV)

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. (Romans 11:5 NIV)

This is the revelation. The audience of Jeremiah 24:7 were the remnant, whom the Lord had saved them by captive to Babylon. Those who did not value the God's grace would choose their own destruction.

The same apply today, only the remnant, those who keep His grace will be saved.

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