Jeremiah 4 has the prophet giving some direction on restoration and repentance. He calls them to do three things:
- “If you return
- If you remove
- if you swear”
Then God says “nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory”. God’s people have wandered far away. They have moved out from His blessing. Jeremiah makes it clear they can return to Him, but they have to take action. God calls us to Himself but we have to come. The formula is pretty simple.
We need to return and stop our backsliding ways and come back to having Him as Lord of our lives. We need to remove and get rid of idols and disobedience and make God the One we love and serve. And we need to swear or claim the promise that God is faithful and will bless us. We need to hang onto His goodness and tell the world that He is God. Those things bring about restoration – “then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory”. We get right with God and receive His blessings and share in His presence and focus on giving Him glory. Other versions of this verse say the people shall not be moved – we’re secure in Him when we are restored in Him! We will experience His true, good, righteous character, and His blessing to the nations.
Part of restoration involves change. In this case, the people were hardened against God. Jeremiah tells them to:
- “Break up your fallow ground
- sow not among thorns
- Circumcise yourselves to the Lord
- Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem
- Raise a standard toward Zion
- flee for safety
- put on sackcloth
- lament and wail”
He starts by getting to the heart of the matter – their hard and unwilling hearts. Fallow ground is ground that has not been worked for some time.
- Fallow ground implies prior fruitfulness
- Fallow ground needs some hard work to break up the soil and make it useful
- Fallow ground implies some resistance
- Fallow ground must be broken and worked before it will bear any harvest
God requires us to break up our hardness and open our hearts to Him. That’s what repentance is all about, and it is the foundation of restoration.
Why the long list from Jeremiah. It started with getting hardness out of the way, but as you progress it becomes clear that judgment is coming. That was true then, and it is true today. God’s judgment is on the way. We will stand before Him and give account. His analysis of us is pretty sobering. “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not”. We need to get focused on the things that matter to God. We’ll stand before Him, and without repentance and restoration, we’ll have an outcome that isn’t what we want. Jesus is the only way to prepare for the coming judgment. He alone can deal with the evil in our lives and set us free from the consequences of that sin. We have to make Him our own. We have to receive His free gift of salvation. Are you ready?