Today you should read: Jeremiah 3
Famed investor Warren Buffett said, “It’s good to learn from your mistake. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.”
Although I recognize not only the humor but the truth of those words, I often fail to live by them. Verbally or non-verbally I declare, “I will only learn from that which I myself fail.” This isn’t always true for any of us, but it’s often truer than we wished for most of us. Whereas the writer of Hebrews says, “Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us…” (Hebrews 12:1), implying that we must follow them, learn from them, and overcome their failings, we still manage to make the same mistakes they did.
Reading Jeremiah 3, I see that our error isn’t unique to us, but is thousands of years old. Two things stood out to me reading Jeremiah 3. The first is obviously the failure of Judah to learn from Israel’s sin, but the second, is that no matter how far people fall, God’s call is to return.
In verses 6–10, the Lord stated clearly, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did?… she did not return…I sent her away… yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear.” Judah had seen the failure of Israel spiritually, and then physically. They remained unrepentant and were eventually overtaken by the nation of Assyria. And, although Judah escaped the clutches of the Assyrian war-machine, they cannot escape the judgment of the Lord. Israel’s destruction began with a spiritual failure. Yet, notice the words of the Lord. Even though they had turned their back on Him, He gave them time and opportunity to “return.”
In the NASB translation of Jeremiah 3, the word “return” occurs 7 times. Despite the harlotry of His people, God wants them back. That is the overwhelming message of Hosea, written to Israel before its destruction. Israel did not listen, now Judah is falling into the same trap.
If you know your Bible, you know that Jeremiah’s message of repentance falls on deaf ears, and Judah is taken into exile by the nation of Babylon. It is in the Babylonian Exile that we understand the words from Deuteronomy 30,
“So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the Lord your God will restore you…”
What we see in Jeremiah 3, and more importantly, a major theme of Scripture is God’s love of repentance. Despite our capacity (or lack thereof) to learn from mistakes, God provides ample opportunity for restoration.
Christian history contains thousands of years of victories and mistakes from which we can learn. Many are included within the pages of Scripture. While spiritual failure may lead to destruction, repentance, and humility lead to restoration. This truth has been witnessed countless times over many years.
No matter where you find yourself today, it’s not too late—”Return!”
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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