Listen to today’s reading in Jeremiah 3-5
(if you are reading along it you will pick up at Jeremiah 3:6-5:13)
In today’sLent reading, We see two sisters being presented in the scriptures. We see 1st, Israel, which God calls unfaithful like a prostitute and the 2nd is Judah, who He calls Israel’s treacherous sister.
King David reigned over a large territory and his son Solomon over an even larger one. After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom was divided in two. The southern kingdom consisted only of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and thus became the kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital. The northern kingdom consisted of the remaining tribes and was called Israel.
God had lifted his hand a favor off of Israel and you would have thought for sure that Judah would not follow after Israel’s ways but Judah was not afraid, and also “prostituted herself.” The really sad part about this whole section of scripture is how many times the Lord says, “return to Me.” The problem was far deeper than just being disobedient to the Lord, the problem was their hearts. In Jeremiah 310 it says, “yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to me with all her heart – only in pretense.” This means that Judah and Israel said and claimed that they belonged to the One True God but this was a false statement and something that was proved as not true by their deeds. Even still the Lord would say, “I am unfailing in my love. I will not be angry forever.” Yet, they continued to follow after the stubbornness of their evil hearts.
Return, you faithless children.
I will heal your unfaithfulness.
“Here we are, coming to you,
for you are the Lord our God.Jeremiah 3:22
Over, and over, the Lord gave them a choice saying, “if you return, if you remove your idols, then you can swear, ‘as the Lord lives’ in truth, in justice, in righteousness, and the nations will be blessed.” God called for them to circumcise themselves saying, “to remove the foreskin of their hearts.” As I read this, over, and over, I think in my mind about times when I had said, “I am following the Lord!” I had said, even to myself, that I was obeying Him, but in my heart, I was far from Him. My selfish desires and wanting my way was the focus of my heart, not the Lord. This is the picture of Israel and Judah, these two sisters, and what they had become. I think it deeply hurt the heart of the Lord to have to say to them, “your way and your actions have brought this upon you, this is your punishment. It is very bitter because it has reached your heart.” One of the hardest parts about Lent is the journey step of acknowledgement of our condition. Yes, I understand that in Christ we are not just sinners. We are holy and acceptable. The point of Lent is to remind us of what we are without Christ. It’s humbling. It’s not just our actions or what we are saying. It’s not just about behaviors, it’s the fact of the matter that our hearts had become dark and wicked.
God was deeply concerned because they were even teaching their children to follow after idols. He says in Jeremiah 4:22, “they are skilled at doing what is evil but they do not know how to do what is good.”
There is another place in scripture where there are two siblings. Jesus tells a story about the prodigal son. If you dig a little deeper you will notice something about these brothers. You will find that both of these brothers’ hearts were far from their father’s. Both of them just wanted the benefits of what the father had but didn’t want a real relationship with their father. I find it amazing that in this book of Jeremiah, we read about these two sisters, then when Jesus would come, He would talk about brothers. The parallels we see are astonishing and show that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He loves us, and in both accounts, we can see the heart of the Father, who wants to love His children and have them do good, act justly, and pursue faithfulness! He is not willing to leave us in our sin, so Jesus, His Son, went to the cross for us, as us, to secure our forgiveness and salvation. What is left to be said except, Thank you Lord.
Thanks for Listening,