Yahweh says this:
Your wound is incurable,
your injury past healing.
There is no one to care for your sore,
no medicine to make you well again.
All your lovers have forgotten you,
they look for you no more.
Yes, I have struck you as an enemy strikes,
with harsh punishment
(so great is your guilt, so many your sins)
Why bother to complain about your wound?
Your pain is incurable.
So great is your guilt, so many your sins,
that I have done all this to you.
But all those who devoured you shall themselves be devoured,
all your oppressors go into captivity,
those who despoiled you shall be despoiled,
and all who preyed on you I will make into prey.
For they used to call you ‘The Outcast’,
‘Our booty whom no one cares about!’
But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds – it is Yahweh who speaks.
Yahweh says this:
Now I will restore the tents of Jacob,
and take pity on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt on its ruins,
the citadel restored on its site.
From them will come thanksgiving
and shouts of joy.
I will make them increase, and not diminish them,
make them honored, and not disdained.
Their sons will be as once they were,
their community fixed firm in my presence,
and I will punish all their oppressors.
Their prince will be one of their own,
their ruler come from their own people.
I will let him come freely into my presence and he can come close to me;
who else, indeed, would risk his life
by coming close to me – it is Yahweh who speaks.
And you shall be my people and I will be your God.
(taken from The Jerusalem Bible, copyright 1966)
In this beautiful passage, Jeremiah is prophesying to the nation of Israel. For a long time they have been immersed in sin, but God desires to restore them. He loved them tremendously — he loves us just as much! Just as Israel was immersed in sin, so were we before God saved us. He wants to restore us and bring us back to him.
In order to have this reconciliation with God, we must repent. The word “repent” means to turn around, turn away from sin, and change our mind in such a way that we change our heart and our behavior. We make an initial change, turning to God through Jesus Christ and, repenting of our sins, make him Lord of our life, but there is also the day-to-day wherein we pursue holiness. No one is perfect — we all make daily mistakes and poor choices. Sometimes we fall into sins we never meant to commit. We must seriously examine our motives and our hearts and repent of any sin. Lent is one of those times of examination when we take an honest look at our lives and make sure we are following God’s way and have not let secret sin into our hearts.
The second part of the passage is about restoration. God is all about restoration! Remember, the ultimate gift to ensure our restoration is Jesus and his death and resurrection, which we are looking toward as we move through Lent and on to Easter. God promises many wonderful things in this passage: homes and cities rebuilt, an increase of their numbers and blessings, thanksgiving instead of mourning and shouts of joy. He promises to make them honored and not disdained. Their sons will be lifted up into esteemed positions and he will punish their oppressors. As the body of Christ, we can claim these promises as our own, now! In Christ we are free from sin and free to live in this new inheritance.
Finally, my favorite verse: And you shall be my people and I will be your God. What a truly wonderful thing to be his, and he, mine! What a comfort in difficult times. What a joy in any time!
We are now in the second week of Lent. Maybe the newness has worn off and giving things up has become a little harder. But keep going, friends! God is pleased with our sacrifice and is happy to restore us in every way as his own.
These thoughts come from the scriptures in our Lenten discipline, Be Made New. You can still join in! Click the download button to download the PDF and read this post to find out how to participate.