Lord, open my heart to what You want to speak to me today.
Read Jeremiah 3:6—4:4
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the Lord.
11 The Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:
“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord,
‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord,
‘I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,’”
declares the Lord.
14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the Lord, “people will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.
19 “I myself said,
“‘How gladly would I treat you like my children
and give you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’
I thought you would call me ‘Father’
and not turn away from following me.
20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband,
so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,”
declares the Lord.
21 A cry is heard on the barren heights,
the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel,
because they have perverted their ways
and have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 “Return, faithless people;
I will cure you of backsliding.”
“Yes, we will come to you,
for you are the Lord our God.
23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills
and mountains is a deception;
surely in the Lord our God
is the salvation of Israel.
24 From our youth shameful gods have consumed
the fruits of our ancestors’ labor—
their flocks and herds,
their sons and daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame,
and let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors;
from our youth till this day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”
4 “If you, Israel, will return,
then return to me,”
declares the Lord.
“If you put your detestable idols out of my sight
and no longer go astray,
2 and if in a truthful, just and righteous way
you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
then the nations will invoke blessings by him
and in him they will boast.”
3 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem:
“Break up your unplowed ground
and do not sow among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
circumcise your hearts,
you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done—
burn with no one to quench it.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectI will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26b).
There was a sham repentance in Judah. The first part of Jeremiah’s ministry took place during the reforming reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 22,23). Josiah found the Book of the Law (it had been lost!) during Temple restoration works, and the elders of Israel recommitted themselves to the covenant (2 Kings 23:3). Shrines and altars of idol worship across Israel were destroyed under Josiah (2 Kings 23:7). And so Judah thought itself superior to Israel (2 Kings 17:34–41). The Lord, however, disagreed (11); the repentance was in action only and not from the heart (3:10; 4:4). All your heart, soul, mind and strength—that’s the standard of love that God requires from his people (Mark 12:30).
Return, then, to the Lord with all your heart (3:22). But how can faithless people change their deepest desires? “I will do it,” declares the Lord (3:14), “I will cure you” (3:22).
There are many of these notes of hope among the judgments of Jeremiah. There is hope for sinful people because true repentance is what God is in the business of producing. His purposes are to choose from the nations a people for himself to love and worship him forever (3:14,17). One day he will do it.
Read James 4:7–10 and consider true repentance.
Father, turn my heart toward You in true repentance and holy reverence.
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