Wednesday after Misericordias Domini
Scripture: Jeremiah 3:11-19 (NKJV)
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.'”
The Lord chides “backsliding Judah” as being far worse than “backsliding Israel.” By this the Lord means to awaken the Judeans from their sin-induced slumber and to startle them with the realization that their idolatries and evils are worse than the Northern Kingdom’s had been. Part of their backsliding was turning their ears away from Jeremiah and opening them to the false shepherds who proclaimed peace with God apart from repentance and faith. The Lord preaches this stern law so that He can preach His saving gospel to them. “Return” he says, “and I will not cause My anger to fall on you; for I am merciful” and “I will not remain angry forever.” He wants to give them repentance, but they refuse to acknowledge their sin. This will be their undoing, as the Lord will send them into exile.
The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As He was with Israel and Judah, so He is with humanity in every age of the world. He desires to give repentance to sinners so that they acknowledge their iniquities and transgressions. Like ancient Judah, so many are deceived by the false shepherds who preach peace with God without repentance and faith. To those who receive repentance, sorrow over their sin, and confess it to God in humble contrition, the Lord promises to show mercy. His mercy is demonstrated in Christ, Who acquires a perfect righteousness for all and applies that righteousness to all who believe the promise of the Gospel that God will be merciful to them in Christ.
Heavenly Father, grant us godly sorrow over our sins so that we lament them. Grant us also faith to run to Your Son as our mercy seat, the place where You promise to show mercy to the penitent. Amen.