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Return to Me

“‘“Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever”’” (Jeremiah 3:12).

The prophet Jeremiah had a difficult job. God called him to be a prophet when he was a young man during the reign of King Josiah, and from the beginning, he foretold the fast-approaching doom of Judah. Captivity was coming. Josiah had repented and led the people back to God, but it wasn’t enough to save the nation. His faithfulness only postponed the judgment. God’s wrath would soon fall upon this wayward people, and there would be no escape.

But in the middle of these dire warnings, God still demonstrated His unfailing love for Israel. They were His people, and no amount of unfaithfulness on their part would change that. He still called out to them, promising mercy if they would only turn away from their destructive rebellion and submit to God and His will. He held out His hand to them, ready to bring them back with rejoicing. It was their choice. If only they would accept Him!

These messages revealed God’s heart. His justice demanded that He punish the people of Judah, but His mercy would continue to hold out a way of escape for them. Even when the punishment came, He would spare those who were faithful to Him. He would preserve a remnant.

It would have been perfectly just for God to completely wipe out Judah. They had deliberately rebelled against Him for generations, basically spitting in His face as they chose the gods of the nations around them over the God who had made them His own nation. But the very fact that Jeremiah urged the people to repent showed that God was not done with them yet. If there had been no hope, Jeremiah could have remained silent. But God continued to warn His people and reach out to them because He was not ready to give them up.

They were His people.

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