Summary: The way back to God after having sinned against Him is to offer Him a contrite and broken heart. God disciplines those He loves out of mercy in order to bring us back into a faithful relationship with Him.
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
We are told in Scripture to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all your soul and with all our mind (Matthew 22:37). One of the criteria in becoming a born-again believer is to surrender and make Jesus Christ the Lord of one’s life. We demonstrate not only our allegiance but also our love for God by following His commands (1 John 5:3). So, what happens to a Christian when their allegiance shifts back towards a love of self and of this world (Ephesians 4:22)? While God is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love;” one cannot expect Him to forever ignore one’s sins. When God removes blessings or disciplines those He loves (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6), how does one get His anger and wrath to subside? Is it not as simple as confessing one’s sins to be cleansed and forgiven? In examining Jeremiah’s words to Judah, we are going to find out that approaching a holy God and asking to be forgiven with a heart that brazenly prostitutes itself with a love of this world, will be sharply denied. Only when we seek true repentance that comes from offering a broken and contrite heart will God forgive and restore us!
To understand the words of Jeremiah one must first understand why God was angry with Judah. Before God’s people were to take the promised land, they were told to not intermarry with foreigners. Taking an unbelieving spouse as a partner would entice them to serve other gods and as a result the Lord’s anger would burn against them (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). On Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal Moses warned the Israelites to remain faithful to God by outlining His promised blessings and curses for obeying or disobeying His word (Deuteronomy 28). For their obedience God promised to bless them with more children, an abundance of crops and livestock and peace in their lands; while their disobedience would lead to a curses put on their wombs, crops and herds in the form of plagues, diseases and defeat before their enemies.
Israel soon found that this “Theology of Immediate Retribution,” was not just some abstract principle but was serious for each time a king came to power and did evil in God’s sight the nation of Israel was severely punished until a king after God’s heart arrived and encouraged them to repent, renew and revitalize their covenant commitment to God. For example, David's failure to recognize the nature of the ark (1 Chronicles 13), Solomon's heavy yoke (2 Chronicles 10:3, 9-11, 14), Joash's turn to idolatry (2 Chronicles 24:17-27), Hezekiah's pride (2 Chronicles 32:25, 31) and Manasseh's abominations (2 Chronicles 33:2) resulted in God's anger and punishment in the form of death, division of the monarchy, defeat by foreign armies, illness and exile from the Promised Land. By outlining the wicked behavior of both the good and bad kings of Judah, God announced His intention in advance: God would not tolerate His people serving any other God but Him (Exodus 20:5, 34:14)!
Now that we know the history concerning God’s warning to His covenant partner, lets turn our attention to the subject of our passage. Jeremiah began his ministry at a time when judgement was about to fall upon Judah. In 639 Josiah came to the throne at the tender age of eight. Unlike his father Amon who was wicked in God’s sight, Josiah was righteous and helped Judah renew her covenant relationship with God. The nation’s faithfulness was short lived for once Jehoiakim came to power Judah slides back into worshipping multiple gods. From 626 to 621 the prophet Jeremiah called the people to repent and warned them of imminent invasion from the north. Because of their wickedness in forsaking God and burning incense to other gods (1:16), Jeremiah told them that God had raised up a nation, the Babylonians, that were so fierce that not even the Egyptians or Assyrians can withstand their might. Jeremiah told the people of Judah to repent so that when the Babylonians conquered them they might show some mercy. Even though Judah pleaded with God to relent of His anger and decision to destroy them, in 587 Babylon conquered Jerusalem, plucked out the king’s eyes and took them off as their captives into exile. Let’s now examine Jeremiah 3:3-5 to find out why God rejected their pleas.
Reason Judah’s Plea was Rejected
3aTherefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen.
When the nation was a faithful covenant partner, God promised to give them rain in autumn and spring (5:24) so that their harvest might be plentiful (Deuteronomy 11:14). The fact that the rain was withheld from Judah was a sign of God’s disfavor towards them for it was one of the covenantal curses mentioned in Deuteronomy 28 (verses 22-24). Since no rains had fallen either in the fall or spring of the year, in chapter 14 we are told that the ground cracked, does deserted their fawns because there was no grass, and donkeys stood on barren heights and panted like jackals (1-8). Standing in these dry parched lands was a constant reminder to Judah that they were not in a right relationship with their covenant partner. Would not the words of king Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple now haunt them? Did he not say that they would not fail to have a king on the throne as long as their descendants walked before God according to His law (2 Chronicles 6:16)? Did Solomon not some 350 years earlier predict this day would come when the heavens would be shut up and there would be no more rain (6:26)? The accusation was clear: Judah had sinned, and God’s mercy has now to turned to wrath!