THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Jeremiah: Prophet Of Judgment Followed By Blessing
Part IX: God's Picture Of True Repentance
A. In calling for His people to repent of their sin, and in seeking to elicit true and not artificial repentance, God expressed through His prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 3:19-25 what He sought in terms of genuine repentance.
B. We view that passage for guidance in understanding what God actually seeks in our repentance from sin:
II. God's Picture Of True Repentance, Jeremiah 3:19-25.
A. The Lord claimed that He desired His people to call Him, "My Father," that they would then not turn from following Him so that He could treat them as His sons and give them a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage most favored among the nations of the world, Jeremiah 3:19.
B. However, like a treacherous wife who leaves her husband, the people of Judah had been unfaithful to the Lord, turning away from Him to follow after false pagan gods, Jeremiah 3:20.
C. The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, p. 1135 claims, "It is possible in these verses" of Jeremiah 3:21-25 that "Jeremiah was painting an idealistic picture of the people of Israel" as truly repenting, Ibid. Thus, the description of repentance in these verses is worth viewing closely for our insight (as follows):
1. God longed to hear a voice crying convulsively on the bare heights where His people had gone to worship false gods, but where they had come to realize the dreadful error and futility of their way so as to grieve convulsively for having perverted their way in turning to idol worship and forgetting the Lord, Jer. 3:21.
2. In response, God would urge His faithless people to return to Him, to following Him, and He would then even heal their faithlessness itself, Jeremiah 3:22a. This was an incredibly gracious offer by the Lord, that of rectifying His people's waywardness if they only acknowledged their helplessness in their sin!
3. In true repentance, God longed for His people to address Him, claiming that they were returning to Him because He as opposed to the false idols they had followed was the Lord their God, Jeremiah 3:22b.
4. The repentant would acknowledge that the many hills where they had worshiped idols, the hills being put figuratively for the false gods they worshipped there, were but a deception, that they were vain gods who could not help amid all the idolatrous commotion that was involved in false worship, Jeremiah 3:23a NIV.
5. In contrast to this false trust in many false idols, the people would acknowledge that truly only in the Lord their God was the salvation of the nation Israel, Jeremiah 3:23b.
6. The people would acknowledge the fact that from their youth, the shameful thing of idols had devoured all for which their fathers had labored, their flocks, herds, sons and daughters having been offered to these vain gods in futile sacrifices, Jeremiah 3:24 NIV.
7. In lying down in their shame of committing heinous adulterous acts in pagan idol worship to fertility gods so that their disgrace covered them, the people of God would have realized that they had sinned against the Lord their God, they and their fathers from their youth until that day, that they had not obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, Jeremiah 3:25 NIV.
Lesson: God's picture of true repentance is that of a man who, in the act of practicing his sin, comes to his senses to realize the great depth of his depravity so as to weep convulsively over his sin and neglect of heeding the Lord. True repentance then involves addressing God as one's Father versus false idols, the realization that one's wayward way was a futile, false, empty way versus the only true and fulfilling God revealed in the Bible. True repentance would acknowledge the dreadful waste of a life of sin, the awful shame of it all that began as a form of waywardness from the Lord. With such realizations, God would not only forgive, but work to cause His people to gain victory over their faithlessness.
Application: (1) We must realize that true repentance involves far more than feeling mildly uncomfortable over our sins, but of FACING the FULL IMPACT of the DREADFUL cost, shame and vanity of our sin to where it grips us deeply and we cry out to God for His blessed intervention, only to see Him graciously not only forgive us, but deliver us from our tendency to go wayward as He rectifies our unfaithfulness. (2) Thus, in helping others come to repentance, we can lead them to view the full impact of a wayward life in terms of its cost, its shame and its vanity so that they will be utterly appalled at their sin and earnestly seek God's help. In so doing, the Lord will not only receive them, but He will even heal their waywardness in His infinite grace!