Bible Study, Commentary

Jeremiah 3 – Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos

Jeremiah 3

January 10, 2024 3:30 PM
Solitary Man


(Please refer to the Preface and Introduction sections found in the Jeremiah Chapter 1 commentary for some general information about this chapter by chapter study of Jeremiah).

Chapter 3

Jer 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.

The law in question is found in Dt 24:4. The recent discovery of the book of the law in Josiah’s day (2 Ki 22:8-11) may of brought this particular law back into current prominence. Although that law stated that to do such a thing is an abomination, Hosea 1:2-3 and 3:1-3 held out the possibility that Jehovah could forgive Judah (yet return again to me, saith the Lord), as he told Hosea to retrieve his wayward wife, as an eternal example of the possibility of God’s infinite mercy. Note that although Gomer played the harlot, she did not become another man’s wife, so Hosea was not breaking the law of Dt 24:4 when he bought her back.

Jer 3:2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.

Judah had lain in wait to commit adultery with every wicked nation that passed by, even as the Arabians lay in wait in the desert for every caravan to rob. How many of us, when we were nominal Christians, looked everywhere else to get our needs met before we turned to God. We trusted our doctors, our favourite politician, our conservative news channel, our policeman, and look where that has gotten us today.

Jer 3:3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.

A whore’s forehead meant that this woman went uncovered and without any shame – she flaunted the social customs of the day and felt no conviction over her impudence and brazenness. How this Laodicean church age fails to reflect on some of the blatantly carnal practices that occur in our worship services, thinking that there is absolutely nothing wrong going on there. We confidently assert that we will be the generation that will experience the latter rain, yet it never comes and we wonder why. There is no revival for us in these end times because we refuse to fully renounce our sin and apostasy.

Let me digress for a minute here on this topic. I hear so many preachers confidently call out that we are the generation that will see the final fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy of the latter rain. The book of Acts contained the former, we are supposed to be the latter. Personally, that has never witnessed in my heart. If this was so, then why does the last generation that enters the final tribulation have several scriptures in Daniel and Revelation that speaks of martyrdom and temporary defeat? We are said to have a little power, but are worn down by the beast, and many, if not most, end up being martyred.

I personally believe the key is found in the words of Jesus when he says that the last days will be like the days of Noah. Even as Noah was told 120 years would be given to man before the end came (Gen 6:3), so we have been given 120 years of revival (latter rain), beginning in 1900 with the Azusa street revival. This was followed by the various Pentecostal denominations rising, the era of tent evangelism by Billy Graham and others, the healing revival led by Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, and others, the Catholic charismatic renewal, and the Jesus movement. Then all began morphing into the Laodicean church age, which began to produce the counterfeit revivals like the word of faith movement, the prosperity gospel, the hyper-grace movement, the various aberrant flareups like the Toronto blessing, the laughing revivals, where weird manifestations predominated, rather than repentance and/or evangelism. Then when the 120 years were up, we came to 2020, and the covid deception, which truly heralded the beginning of the end.

Now I know that some of you may of taken a little bit of offence if I happened to of listed one of these latter movements as false. Perhaps you were greatly blessed through one of these. I do not deny that God can bless an individual in spite of what or who they were sitting under. God is sovereign. He responds to hungry hearts, sincerely seeking him. As adults, let us be mature enough to prayerfully entertain one another’s opinions, and receive whatever the Lord quickens in our hearts, and put the rest aside if it is not for you at this time. In this way we maintain the unity of the body and allow ourselves to grow into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Jer 3:4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide (friend) of my youth?
Jer 3:5 Will he reserve (keep a grudge) his anger for ever? will he keep (preserve, guard) it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.

Once judgment begins to fall and prosperity vanishes into thin air, do you think you can just come up to God and act like he’s your best friend, when you have spent years giving him lip service? The people of Judah began to presume on God’s grace and forgiveness. Our pastors have taught us all about God’s forgiveness. If God was angry, surely he’s gotten over it by now! This attitude of presuming on God’s grace is a sure sign that you really have no idea what it means to follow Jesus. How can we ever take for granted God’s grace? Any attitude that makes light of sin will ensure that we will never really find that real intimacy of God that we now desire.

Jer 3:6 The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
Jer 3:7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jer 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Jer 3:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
Jer 3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
Jer 3:11 And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.

Josiah ruled from 640-609 BC. The northern kingdom, known as Israel, was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC. A final deportation had occurred around 670 BC. Judah would be destroyed in 586 BC.

Jeremiah received this word around 100 years after Israel fell. Note how God had not forgotten the event. He wants us to recall our history, to learn from it. For their complete treachery in creating a whole new system of worship centering around the golden calves of Jeroboam, God is said to of divorced her. It is verses like Jer 3:8 that gave rise to replacement theology, taking one verse by itself while ignoring many others that paint a more comprehensive picture of God’s relationship with the tribes of Jacob.

The lesson of Israel was meant to keep Judah from going down the same path. Yet even with increased knowledge and understanding, they threw themselves into idolatrous demon worship even more so than her apostate sister to the north. This backsliding culminated in the reign of Manasseh (697-642 BC), a uniquely wicked king whose actions were so heinous, that the generation of Jeremiah could not escape the consequences of his actions (Jer 15:4). See also 2 Ki 23:26-30. In that passage, even though Josiah had instituted many great and wonderful reforms, God could not forget the abominations that Manasseh had wrought in the land. The people still had to pay a price for his wickedness. While a king like Josiah could delay the inevitable judgment, they could not remove it completely. Of course, some would say the Trump delayed the inevitable judgment on America for 4 years, but perhaps our guilt is so extreme that he would not allow him to have another 4 years, because very little evidence of true repentance was found in the land. Instead, most Christians thought that they were in the clear, just like Judah. God’s anger must be over, we all said. How wrong we were.

When Josiah came along, he became known as the greatest king since David. His love of and adherence to the law became legendary. He used his authority as king to cleanse the land of idolatry, reinstitute the biblical feasts, reinstate the priesthood and proper worship, and generally tried to undo the damage that Manassah had done. Yet as Jer 3:10 states, there is only so much one can do without a real heart change, and that could only take place with the new birth that Christ offers. Josiah’s forced reformation, while laudable, cannot by itself change a person’s heart. You may see an outward show of piety (v10), but that may be why God removed Josiah prematurely and immediately poured out his wrath on Judah, as their repentance was not sincere. This was proven to be the case because as soon as Josiah’s son Jehoahaz took the throne, the bible says that he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and only reigned 3 months (2 Ki 23:31-32). There is something extremely dangerous about the church that has the most revelation and falls back into wilful sin.

Jer 3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
Jer 3:13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
Jer 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family (tribe), and I will bring you to Zion:

What is stunning is that these words were proclaimed about 100 years after the destruction of Israel, yet God was still reaching out to the tiny remnant who were left in the land. God is saying that he will still take a remnant out of the land which he had just said that he has divorced (v8). Even if its only one from a city, or two from a family or a tribe, God does not forget his people. Sometimes it feels as if the true church has been shrunk to this miniscule number, yet God knows his own and where they are.

Even after the greatest of backslidings, there was still hope (v13,14). Yet God has to plead for them to admit their sin. Why is it so hard for us to acknowledge our sin and our disobedience? Why do we mock the preachers of judgment, who only want you to be reconciled to God? Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? Why try to justify yourself? If God is speaking to you about some thing in your life, get real and honest with him, and repent.

Jer 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

What a wonderful promise! Note that it is only the tiny remnant that responds to God’s wooing with true repentance, and not feigned worship that God will lead to those few teachers that will rightly divide the word so that you may survive and even thrive in these difficult days.

Jer 3:16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit (miss) it; neither shall that be done any more.

Here is a strong hint that a new covenant is coming.

Jer 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

The language now switches to primarily indicate the time of the Millenium. Note how Jerusalem will always be the focal point in the earth.

Jer 3:18 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 for an inheritance unto your fathers.

So much for the 10 tribes utterly disappearing, or that the church has replaced Israel. A second meaning may be inferred that all the grafted in Gentiles will one day worship God together with the Hebrew people, but the verse clearly states that the great Hebrew division in Rehoboam’s day will one day be completely healed.

Jer 3:19 But I said (And I said), How shall I put (appoint) thee among the children (a son?), and give thee a pleasant (delightsome, precious) land, a goodly (prominent, splendid) heritage (inheritance) of the hosts (mass) of nations (goyee – Gentiles)? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.

With the possible alternate meanings of several words from the Strong’s concordance, it appears there may be something a little deeper to be mined out of this verse. Perhaps one sense could be that God is making reference to giving Israel a son (Jesus), which would be a delightsome inheritance, one that the Gentiles will somehow be a part of. Because of this, you will end up calling me father in a more real sense, and you will never again turn away from me.

Jer 3:20 Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.

Yet God has to remind them of their history, a broken record of continual departures from the one and only living God.

Jer 3:21 A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children (bane – son) of Israel: for they have perverted (made crooked) their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.

Finally these backsliders are feeling sorrow for their evil ways. Yet why are they crying our from the high places? Should they of not abandoned the false places of worship if they truly want God to hear them? Do we need to abandon a false place of worship for God to be able to truly hear us?

Jer 3:22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God.

God speaks yet one more time to the Laodicean church. Finally, perhaps because the situation has become so dire, these Laodicean believers choose to return to him who gave them life. It is a wondrous truth to ponder that if we turn even one degree toward God instead of one degree away from him, God will respond, as he did when the prodigal son chose to return back home to the father, and was a long way off when the father went out to meet him.

Jer 3:23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
Jer 3:24 For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
Jer 3:25 We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.

Now we finally see the evidence of true repentance. Your language goes a long way to reveal what is truly in your heart, whether you ‘get it’ or not. First they realize that all other sources of hope are useless. Then they acknowledge that the only hope of salvation (rescue) is from him and him alone.

They continue by confessing that our ways and our decisions have only led to shame, disgrace and reproach. Everything of true worth has been devoured because it was obtained by unrighteous means. The one thing we must do is to acknowledge that we have sinned against God. Not against others, or ourself, but God. Not only ourselves, but all of our ancestors and our people. We see people like Solomon and Daniel confess the sin of the people as their own, totally identifying with their tribe and with their nation. There is something crucial in that action. I believe it fosters the correct attitude of humility and contriteness in our souls, and a humble and contrite heart is a heart that God can work with and do wondrous things.

Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos


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