“I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown” (2:2b, ESV).
To understand clearly what follows in Jeremiah 2 and 3 requires me to break precedent and sneak a peek at the very end of the Bible, where the Lord’s bride is mentioned again by the Apostle John:
“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:9b).
The metaphor of the bride in Revelation is the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven after all evil is defeated. But the true bride and wife of the Lamb is all who believe in the risen Jesus:
“But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).
So early in Genesis, there is a wedding when God chooses Israel as its bride. At the end of time in Revelation, Jesus the Lamb of God has a new bride – joyously celebrating in perfect unity.
In between, as horrendously described by Jeremiah 2 and 3, is an ugly divorce of Israel from God. Back in 1946, C. S. Lewis called this the “Great Divorce” of heaven from hell.
The shocking thing to me is the dark, sexually explicit language God uses in Jeremiah to describe Israel’s rejection of him as a loving husband abandoned by a wanton wife. Look below at the multiple dimensions of disunity felt so passionately by God. Then compare them to modern America locked in disunity, and to the Christian church, for centuries in disunity while paradoxically trying to implement the commands of Jesus from opposing perspectives:
- “What wrong did your fathers find in me…and became worthless” (2:5)?
- “I brought you into a plentiful land…you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination” (2:7).
- “Those who handle the law did not know me…the prophets prophesied by [gods that were not God]” (2:8)
- “Has a nation [other than Israel ever] changed its gods, even though they are no gods…be appalled O heavens” (2:11-12)?
- “…my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn out…broken cisterns that can hold no water…” (2:13).
- “Is Israel a slave?...Why then has he become a prey” (2:14)?
- “Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God, when he led you in the way” (2:17)?
- “Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you…” (2:18b).
- “…I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine” (2:21)?
- [I have intentionally left out the sexually explicit metaphors in the first nine verses of Chapter 3; read them, however, and see how painfully ashamed God can be of us.]
- “Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense…” (3:10).
Until Jesus returns and takes us to the New Jerusalem, shouldn’t we be proclaiming the way out of trouble to those who could endure horrible judgment because of unbelief? Jeremiah says:
“Go and proclaim these words…”Return, faithless Israel…I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever” (3:12).
Take a moment now and read how God lays out the repentance needed in Jeremiah 3:13-25 and get serious about leading the way back from disunity to perfect unity with God – before it is too late for those whose names are not yet written in the Book of Life.