The Before and After of Repentance (A Devo on Jeremiah 3:6-18)

Something caught my attention in Jeremiah 3:6-18. So far in Jeremiah, God has not held any punches about Israel and their unfaithfulness. Israel has no concern for God while they pursue false gods. So, God blatantly condemns them for their sin and their indifferent attitude toward their sin. Yet, in 3:11-12, God mercifully calls Israel to repentance – to turn from their sin and come back to Him in faith. God promises that if they do He will not look on them with anger, instead He will love them! This is true for us as well, no matter how deep in sin (or indifferent to it) we are God is merciful to love us when we turn back to Him. Let us be marked by repentance. 

What specifically caught my attention about God’s call to repentance was how He primed Israel to choose repentance. He does so in two ways, both are found in Jeremiah 3:6-18: First, God primes Israel by reminding them of His past judgments against their unrepentant sin. God recaps their history of spiritual adultery and how God has divorced them because of it. This is meant to shake Israel’s consciousness back to life and understand the consequences of their sin… then, with clear eyes, repent of their sin and return to God. 

Second, God primes Israel by detailing the restoration that their repentance would bring. God tells Israel that He will take care of them, He will provide shepherds to lead them in faithfulness, He will multiply them in the land, and he will personally dwell with them. These promised blessings help Israel compare and contrast their current state of destructive unfaithfulness with God’s promised state of blessing to those who covenant with Him. The necessity of repentance would be clear, no longer an option.

We give up on repentance because we do not share God’s before and after view of it – why we need it and what it leads to. We know the destructive ends of our sin because we have lived through them, yet in the heat of the moment we ignore our own painful history to get one more moment of selfishness in. We know the infinite blessing that God bestows on the faithful, yet we still willingly ignore them for lust, greed, irresponsibility, gluttony, laziness, selfishness, anger, gossip, and more… believing we can somehow bless ourselves more than God can bless us. God details the before and after of repentance to prime us to fight against present sin and repent of committed sin. Thankfully, because Christ is who He is and has done what He has done, we can trust that He is superior to sin and His promises are true and our restoration to God is only available through our repentance of sin and reliance on Him.

Here are some questions that I have been thinking through: Am I indifferent to my own sin? If so, why? How do my past experiences with sin’s destruction help me avoid sin now? How do God’s promises of restoration lead me to repent of my sin?

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