Do not commit adultery (Dt. 5:18)
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the LORD. 11 The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the LORD,
‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the LORD your God,.. “‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. 20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the LORD. 21 A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the LORD their God. 22 “Return, faithless people;
I will cure you of backsliding.” (Jeremiah 3:6-13, 19b-22)
(Fall of Jerusalem by David Roberts 1850)
Thoughts: We can learn a lesson today from the fall of Israel and Judah. The fall of those two nations (about 240 years apart) was blamed here not on poor political decisions (though there were many), or poor weather, or poor foresight, but on spiritual decisions. Secular historians simply speak of a land stuck between two empires (Egypt and Mesopotamian powers). But scripture mentions a link between being faithless to God and God's forsaking his people.
Jeremiah (also Hosea and Isaiah) use the image of adultery as what the people of God did with their own God. They became faithless to the faithful God. They were enticed by novelty, sensuality, greed, the forsaking of the poor, and the indenturing of their own people to elevate themselves. Truth is, there is no excuse for adultery. There is also no excuse for leaving God.
In the last ten years our country has purposefully forsaken God in the name of freedom of religion. An example that happened yesterday was the U.S. Air Force forbidding chaplains to teach a biblically based Bible study (http://blog.beliefnet.com/on_the_front_lines_of_the_culture_wars/?p=2438). We can no longer pray out loud in our schools and there is pressure everywhere to give up everything Christian in our nation. At the same time the number who claim to be Christians has decreased sharply in America since 2001- about 10% in ten years. Attendance in church has plummeted. We have forsaken the idea of keeping a Sabbath as a culture (it's one of the busiest shopping days for many- and we are a weary, tired people). Over half of our young people move in before (or instead of marrying). Laws are placed on the books of many states that only Sodom and Gomorrah could love. If we wonder why we are in this pickle, how did we get in this mess? Is there not a spiritual side to things? Is there not a God who cares what we do? Has He not told us in scripture what we ought to do, and have we shut our ears?
Jeremiah (and God) begs the people to turn back, and that even now God would welcome them. There is always hope in repentance. There is no hope for those who are going down the dark path away from God.
Prayer: May we, O Lord, turn back to you with our whole heart. May we quit our selfishness, our greed, our forsaking you and turn to you with our whole hearts.