Jeremiah’s words for the nation are harsh, befitting the people’s terrible sinfulness: “Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the Lord. A voice on the bare heights is heard, the weeping and pleading of Israel's sons because they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the Lord their God” (3:20,21). Still, God cried out to the nation: “O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved” (4:14). But they would not and, so, God was announcing the end of the nation, which would come with hard judgment at the hands of the Babylonians.
Jeremiah often struggled with announcing this news, and we can understand why. For forty years, he had to announce the end. To demonstrate to the prophet the necessity of such discipline, the Lord sent him to school, so to speak. He commanded Jeremiah: “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her” (5:1). Though he surveyed the great and the poor, Jeremiah’s conclusion? “But they all alike had broken the yoke; they had burst the bonds” (5:5). How haughty the people had become, and they said of God, “He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine” (5:12).
It’s just hard to believe how far the people had gone from the Lord! What hope was there? It is amazing how little we sometimes regard our God and how we roam far from him! What is our hope? It is this! God’s timeless promise stands!
Return to God with all your heart, the source of grace and mercy;
come seek the tender faithfulness of God.
Now the time of grace has come, the day of salvation;
come and learn now the way of our God. –Marty Haugen