So – where Jeremiah 2 opened with a positive spin on the metaphor of marriage and the love of a bride, chapter 3 quickly has us skimming through divorce, whores and adultery. False and faithless are popular word choices here too! It’s getting bleaker by the minute – what a great message for Jeremiah to have to speak out and share with people who don’t want to hear a word of it – you’ve got to be feeling his pain and discomfort by now! It’s not exactly a great advert for discerning and following God’s call in our own lives, is it?
And yet, in spite of his faithless children, God remains faithful and continues to call his wayward people to return – offering a shepherd after God’s own heart to guide them in gaining knowledge and understanding. And the picture of the future that could be is still rosy, but the people have to take the first step and return to God if they are to enjoy the vision we read in verses 16-18.
Return, O faithless children, I will heal your faithlessness.
I find myself particularly struck by two repetitions of the same accusation: you have not obeyed my voice (v13 and v25). In what we read here, there seems to have been wilful, intentional disobedience. Yet I wonder if many of us are less guilty of deliberately disobeying, but rather have failed either to listen and therefore hear in the first place, or have perhaps simply not heard because God’s voice does not always ring out loud and clear to us. I come away from this reading challenged to listen better for God’s voice in the clamour of the world all around me, and then to be obedient to the voice I hear.