And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord;
‘I will not be angry forever. ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God and have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the Lord. ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the Lord; ‘For I am a master to you, and I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.’”
Israel knew all too well what it meant to stray from God. Even as His chosen, covenant people, time and time again they chose anything but God. In search for power, prestige, stability, and authority, Israel was unfaithful repeatedly. The prophet Jeremiah found himself continually calling the people to return in repentance because they were continually running away.
As we read throughout the Old Testament, it is easy to be critical of Israel. Their unfaithfulness is evident throughout history. The sin and idolatry seems obvious. But we shouldn’t be too quick to charge Israel with more egregious sin than our own. While Jeremiah certainly issued this call to the people of Israel, this call is for us as well, because we are just as unfaithful. We choose any number of things over God, be it success, family, religion, money, pleasure, status, . . . the list could go on forever. However, one thing remains the same.
God’s covenant faithfulness is as sure and steady for us today as it was for Israel then. It isn’t conditional. It won’t ever reach the end of its rope. However, God’s loyal love and faithfulness toward us should draw us toward repentance. God doesn’t ask for our perfection; He asks us to acknowledge our imperfection. Just as He offered Israel the opportunity to repent, turn from their sin, and follow Him, He calls us to do likewise. This is the message of the kingdom of God that Jesus came and preached: Repent and believe! In Christ, our sin doesn’t have to control us. His kindness (His covenant love) leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).
● How does this passage encourage you about God’s character? How does the nature of His steadfast love change the way you live? How does it lead you to turn from sin?
● Is repentance a regular part of your spiritual rhythms? If so, what does that look like? Are there any areas in your life where you need to repent?
● Take time to thank God for always keeping His covenant with us through Christ. Repent of sin you have not confessed or shame you have held onto for too long. Ask Him for the strength to daily turn away from your sin and turn toward Him.