Today the Lord likens Judah to an unfaithful bride and to her rebellious sister Israel who never learned. The Lord calls out, “O generation, see the word of the Lord!” But the people ignore the word of God and claim to be innocent and free of sin as they walk in their evil ways and not in the ways of the Lord.
“They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? ‘But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me,’ says the Lord.”
According to the Book of the Law, the answer is no — a husband can not return to his wife who was with another man (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). However, the Lord in His mercy is still pursuing His unfaithful people – “‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever.’”
But the people refuse to repent and return to the Lord. Even after Judah watched the Lord put away and divorce her unfaithful sister Israel, Judah still did not fear the Lord and repent, making Judah worse off than Israel.
The Lord says to Judah – “‘Return, O backsliding children,’ says the Lord; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding… At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.’”
Jeremiah explains the type of repentance that is required – “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your hearts… O Jerusalem, wash your hearts from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?” The Lord does not want a mere outward change in appearance and behavior. He wants a deep inward change of the heart.
The Lord says the people are foolish because of their lack of wisdom of the knowledge of God – “For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” In their arrogance and ignorance of God, the people believe they are wise; but they are only wise in doing what the Lord calls evil.
The people refuse to receive correction from the Lord and lie about Him. Therefore, judgment is upon them – “Because you speak this word, behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them. Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar.”
The Lord is sending Babylon from the north to serve judgment against Judah. However, the Lord says, “l will not make a complete end of you. And it will be when you say, ‘Why does the Lord our God do all these things to us?’ then you shall answer them, ‘Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours.’”
God always leaves a remnant to fulfill His plan to bring the Messiah as the cure for the people’s deeply sick heart issue. We are all born with a sinful heart that is prone to idolatry. Therefore, we are all in need of a heart transplant by the Lord. In order to receive a new heart that is pleasing to the Lord, we must repent of our sins and trust in the final sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ. Out of love, Jesus will sacrifice Himself as a cure for our sin problem so that we may be deemed righteous – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Keep reading. (Jeremiah 2:23-5:19)