In The Word
Read: Jeremiah 3:6-4:31
6 Then the Lord said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. 7 I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. 9 Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 Yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception,” declares the Lord.
God Invites Repentance
11 And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 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.
13 ‘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.
14 ‘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.’
15 “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. 16 It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the Lord, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the Lord,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.
19 “Then I said,
‘How I would set you among My sons
And give you a pleasant land,
The most beautiful inheritance of the nations!’
And I said, ‘You shall call Me, My Father,
And not turn away from following Me.’
20 “Surely, as a woman treacherously departs from her lover,
So you have dealt treacherously with Me,
O house of Israel,” declares the Lord.
21 A voice is heard on the bare heights,
The weeping and the supplications of the sons of Israel;
Because they have perverted their way,
They have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 “Return, O faithless sons,
I will heal your faithlessness.”
“Behold, we come to You;
For You are the Lord our God.
23 “Surely, the hills are a deception,
A tumult on the mountains.
Surely in the Lord our God
Is the salvation of Israel.
24 “But the shameful thing has consumed the labor of our fathers since our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our humiliation cover us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day. And we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.”
Judah Threatened with Invasion
4 “If you will return, O Israel,” declares the Lord,
“Then you should return to Me.
And if you will put away your detested things from My presence,
And will not waver,
2 And you will swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’
In truth, in justice and in righteousness;
Then the nations will bless themselves in Him,
And in Him they will glory.”
3 For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem,
“Break up your fallow ground,
And do not sow among thorns.
4 “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord
And remove the foreskins of your heart,
Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Or else My wrath will go forth like fire
And burn with none to quench it,
Because of the evil of your deeds.”
5 Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,
“Blow the trumpet in the land;
Cry aloud and say,
‘Assemble yourselves, and let us go
Into the fortified cities.’
6 “Lift up a standard toward Zion!
Seek refuge, do not stand still,
For I am bringing evil from the north,
And great destruction.
7 “A lion has gone up from his thicket,
And a destroyer of nations has set out;
He has gone out from his place
To make your land a waste.
Your cities will be ruins
8 “For this, put on sackcloth,
Lament and wail;
For the fierce anger of the Lord
Has not turned back from us.”
9 “It shall come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “that the heart of the king and the heart of the princes will fail; and the priests will be appalled and the prophets will be astounded.”
10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Surely You have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘You will have peace’; whereas a sword touches the throat.”
11 In that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A scorching wind from the bare heights in the wilderness in the direction of the daughter of My people—not to winnow and not to cleanse, 12 a wind too strong for this—will come at My command; now I will also pronounce judgments against them.
13 “Behold, he goes up like clouds,
And his chariots like the whirlwind;
His horses are swifter than eagles.
Woe to us, for we are ruined!”
14 Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem,
That you may be saved.
How long will your wicked thoughts
Lodge within you?
15 For a voice declares from Dan,
And proclaims wickedness from Mount Ephraim.
16 “Report it to the nations, now!
Proclaim over Jerusalem,
‘Besiegers come from a far country,
And lift their voices against the cities of Judah.
17 ‘Like watchmen of a field they are against her round about,
Because she has rebelled against Me,’ declares the Lord.
18 “Your ways and your deeds
Have brought these things to you.
This is your evil. How bitter!
How it has touched your heart!”
Lament over Judah’s Devastation
19 My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart!
My heart is pounding in me;
I cannot be silent,
Because you have heard, O my soul,
The sound of the trumpet,
The alarm of war.
20 Disaster on disaster is proclaimed,
For the whole land is devastated;
Suddenly my tents are devastated,
My curtains in an instant.
21 How long must I see the standard
And hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 “For My people are foolish,
They know Me not;
They are stupid children
And have no understanding.
They are shrewd to do evil,
But to do good they do not know.”
23 I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void;
And to the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking,
And all the hills moved to and fro.
25 I looked, and behold, there was no man,
And all the birds of the heavens had fled.
26 I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness,
And all its cities were pulled down
Before the Lord, before His fierce anger.
27 For thus says the Lord,
“The whole land shall be a desolation,
Yet I will not execute a complete destruction.
28 “For this the earth shall mourn
And the heavens above be dark,
Because I have spoken, I have purposed,
And I will not change My mind, nor will I turn from it.”
29 At the sound of the horseman and bowman every city flees;
They go into the thickets and climb among the rocks;
Every city is forsaken,
And no man dwells in them.
30 And you, O desolate one, what will you do?
Although you dress in scarlet,
Although you decorate yourself with ornaments of gold,
Although you enlarge your eyes with paint,
In vain you make yourself beautiful.
Your lovers despise you;
They seek your life.
31 For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
The anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
The cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
Stretching out her hands, saying,
“Ah, woe is me, for I faint before murderers.”
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
Today’s reading gives us an awesome bird’s-eye view of the heart of the Father towards us. In verse one, the people of God were compared to a wife that has chosen to sleep with other men. The Israelites were referred to as “harlots with many lovers.” In contrast to the commandment of Moses in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 that says a divorced woman who remarries can never be reunited with her first husband, the text shows that the tribe of Judah divorced the one true God and married other gods. According to the established law, God had every right not to take the wayward people back, but in His unrivaled mercy, He fought for them and was willing to take His people back.
You may be reading these scriptures and feel as if you can relate to the people of Israel. You may have walked away from God and attached yourself to someone or something else. When you carry out these adulterous acts, you can automatically feel disqualified from coming back to the Father. This is why it is important to study God’s Word, to understand His loving and forgiving nature. God so desires to redeem us back into fellowship with Him, that He gave us John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Come back to Him and receive His love.