Wednesday after Misericordias Domini
Scripture: Jeremiah 3:11-19 (NKJV)
3:11 Then the Lord said to me, “Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:
‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the Lord.
14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
16 “Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the Lord, “that they will say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.
17 “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.
18 “In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.
19 “But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’
“And I said: ‘You shall call Me, “My Father,” and not turn away from Me.’”
God’s people were divided into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The prophet Jeremiah primarily spoke to the northern kingdom in order to announce their exile in 721 B.C. and to call them to repentance. Although confession is the act of man, it is produced by the working of the Law of God. The Law reveals our offenses against God and neighbor. The Law works in us contrition—sorrow over sin—and leads us to acknowledge our iniquity.
There are many who see confession as failure. They fight against it with all their strength. What we learn through the Word is that confession is not only good for the soul, but that God actually desires to hear our confession. In order to encourage our confession, the Triune God tells us, “For I am merciful…I will not remain angry forever.” Our God desires to forgive. He sends pastors to preach the promise of the Gospel and the absolution of sins for the sake of His dear Son. That good news works the gift of faith in us.
Through confession and absolution, our God wins the victory! God uses the power of the Gospel to change us. Those who fear and love God do not “follow the dictates of their evil hearts.” Rather than backsliding, there is the Christian life of confession and absolution. Jeremiah says, “You shall call Me, ‘Father,’ and not turn away from Me.” Luther says in A Brief Exhortation to Confession, “We have the advantage of knowing how to use confession beneficially for the comforting and strengthening of our conscience” (4).
We pray: Father, according to Your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.