Return – Jeremiah 3:12-14

“Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD.
I will not look on you in anger,
for I am merciful, 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.”

Jeremiah 3:12-14

Our Lord shows such mercy. Here, we see that even after our great unfaithfulness, His desire is to restore us to Himself. Because our God loves His people, and He pursues us to bring us back to Him. Not to mete out punishment, but to forgive and fill us with Himself so that we will know the surpassing worth of knowing Him.

So He calls to us in the midst of our faithless actions, as we are running after idols and casting the Lord of heaven – the God who paid such a high price to save us – aside. He speaks to us of mercy, assuring us, “I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God…and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 3:12b-13). It is a call to turn away from our rebellion, whatever form it has taken in our lives. We may be in the minority, but as our Lord surrounds His remnant, He will take “one from a city and two from a family,” and bring us faithfully into His glorious presence where there is fullness of joy.

The sacrifice is worth it. It will hurt when we begin tearing ourselves away from those things which have rooted themselves in our heart, those things we have been enjoying and treasuring more than our God. But it is worth it. Because He is better than all of it. He is more satisfying. He is more constant. And He will never let us down.

“And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). When we choose to return to the Lord, He will faithfully provide others to come alongside us, who will encourage and build us up in the Lord, with whom and from whom we can learn more about who He is.

“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” (Jeremiah 3:16). The Ark of the Covenant held the words of the covenant that God had made with His people. It was the symbol of His presence. So to come into the presence of the Ark was to come into the presence of God. But in Christ, our God abides in us. He abides in His people. We are temples of the living God, filled with His Spirit, and He has written His Word on our heart (2 Corinthians 6:16; Jeremiah 31:33). We no longer need a physical symbol of His presence, because our God is with us always. We are able to come before the throne of grace, into the presence of the infinitely holy God, without fear, because Jesus Christ has made a way for us (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-22).

“Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness” (Jeremiah 3:22a). This is perhaps my favorite part of this passage. It shows that we are not called to clean ourselves up first. We are simply called to acknowledge our guilt and return to the Lord. He will take care of the rest. He will heal our faithlessness and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Only He is able to bring about such a transformation within us.

May the below verses be our humble prayer today, as we lay our hearts before Him and acknowledge any faithlessness He reveals to us. Let us not seek to justify our wrongdoing, but rather recognize our guilt and return to Him with a thankful heart.

“Behold, we come to you,
for you are the LORD our God…
Truly in the LORD our God
is the salvation of Israel.”
Jeremiah 3:22b-23

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