A Faithless Israel, A Faithful God

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“If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the LORD.

Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been ravished? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile whoredom. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed. Have you not just now called to me, ‘My father, you are the friend of my youth— will he be angry forever, will he be indignant to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken, but you have done all the evil that you could.”

The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.”

And the LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown 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 on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD. Return, O faithless children, declares the LORD; for I am your master; 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 after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.”

(Jeremiah 3:1-18 ESV)

“When God calls you to salvation in Jesus Christ, he does not just yell down the block; he scoops you up, plants you on his shoulders, and marches you all the way home.

Someone might object, “But what about my rights? What about my free choice in the matter?” But the truth is that if God did not come and put you on his shoulders, you would never come home. You do not know the way home without his call, and you do not want to come home without his electing grace. You need God’s sovereign grace to completely transform you and bring you back home. One by one and two by two, God brings each and every one of his children home.”

– Phil Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope. (Crossway, 2001). p. 58

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