AN EXPOSITION OF JEREMIAH 3:1-5

When Grace Supersedes the Law

1 THEY say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.

The prophet concludes his first oracle by reminding the people of what was being said about divorce, based on Deuteronomy 24:1-4. The Law instructed a man who divorced his wife, not to be intimate with her again if she remarried, and become free again. Perhaps the reason for the divorce was that his wife had played the harlot with many lovers, just like Judah had played with the idols of foreign gods. Judah had committed spiritual adultery. Yet, unlike the Law which forbade a return to the husband, the Lord is inviting Judah to return to Him. A divine principle is established. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. There are times when grace will supersede the Law.

“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

Julia H. Johnson

2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.

While speaking outdoors, Jeremiah looked to the hills of the land where the Phallic Cult was practiced and told the people of Judah to show him a place where the women have not been ravished. There was not a place where the Jews had not “sat for them”, or waited to co-habituate, just like an Arab, or a Bedouin in the desert would do. Jeremiah accused the people of Judah of polluting the land with acts of fornication and other forms of wickedness, resulting in climate change as a form of Divine discipline.

3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.

Because of the immorality of the people, the showers have been held back from falling by divine design, and there was no latter rain, a reference to the early and latter rain that falls in Eastern lands at seedtime and harvest.

In the religious vernacular of the 21st century,  the “latter rain” is a term used in the Charismatic Movement to describe a special endowment of God’s Holy Spirit on Christ’s church just before the coming of Jesus, based on an arbitrary interpretation of Joel 2:23. “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”

The reference to a “whore’s forehead” indicates that the act of fornication was so common to the Hebrew women they could engage in any illicit sexual act without any sign of ecstasy, or anguish of conscience. There is a brazen look associated with the prostitute. There is also a brazen look associated with those who go to worship the Lord with sin in their heart. It is a lie. Much of what passes for worship, is simply religious ritualism without any corresponding spiritual reality. The heart is far from the Lord, who cannot be fooled. The Lord can read the countenance, and He knows the heart.

4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?

In matchless grace, the Lord invites Judah, as unfaithful and as morally defiled as they were to call out to Him at this time. The Lord even tells them how to pray, and what to say. Let the people call out to God and say, “My Father, Thou art the guide of my youth.” As John taught his disciples to pray, as Jesus instructed His disciples in prayer upon their request, so the Lord God of Judah taught the people to pray because sin causes a person to forget how to talk to God. When people act morally badly they want nothing to do with the Lord.

Of course, the prayer that is uttered, even if it is formulaic, is to be offered with a sincere heart. The religious Jew would not offer this prayer. They would keep their spiritual whore’s forehead of deceit. However, the regenerate Jew would offer this prayer, which reaffirms faith in the God they knew by covenant blessing from their youth.

This is a prayer that the generation known as the Millennialist, in the twenty-first century, could, and should pray. Many have grown up in the Church, but learned to cultivate a whore’s forehead. They are religious, but not really interested in the Lord, or Church, or spiritual matters. They long to be free of all restraint be it political, cultural, social, or religious, and especially parental control. For the few who are becoming sick of sin, rebellion, and political correctness, there is a way to return to the Lord. It begins with a divinely ordained prayer. It involves understanding God to be Father, and the Lord of life. There must be a submission to the Father’s will.

5 Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.

Having told the people how to pray, Jeremiah anticipates the response of some. Many will deliberately misunderstand God’s call for repentance, and returning to Him, as some form of anger. They ask Jeremiah about the Lord. “Will God always bear a grudge?” “Will the Lord continue to be angry forever?”

This is a manufactured outrage against the goodness of God. This is a form of deliberate misunderstanding of the heart. Rather than humble themselves and be grateful, the Lord wants them to have fellowship with Him, despite their gross sins, the people of Judah used the call to repentance to complain about the essence of God, and to say, “Why is God angry with us?” “Is He always going to be angry?”

The idea is that an angry God is not loving, and not worthy of being honored. In fact, such a God should be totally ignored, and done away with, through sexual sublimation, and rationalism that expresses itself in humanism, agnosticism, and atheism.

If totally dismissing God is not acceptable to all, then there is another option, and that is to recreate God so that He loves people just as they are, so that no one needs to change. Even the very worse person will be loved by God, and all shall be redeemed. Such is the belief of Universalism.

It is understandable why Jeremiah began to weep over the people. He pitied them in their obstinate stupidity. God invited them to fellowship with Him, and the people manufactured a reason to continue in sin. There is always a rationale for sin. There is always a way to justify covetousness, keeping what really belongs to someone else, violating the Sabbath, not paying our debts, or the use of profanity.

There is always a reason why children do not have to obey their parents in the Lord, or why it is permissible to reject the orthodox faith. The capacity of fallen man to turn the table on the most gracious invitation extended by God is a wonder to behold. And it is all done in the blink of an eye.

Rather than repent, rather than pray, the people of Judah made the character of God a false issue. It is a practice the Christian should not want to immolate. 

Let those who need to pray, offer to the Lord a sinner’s prayer according to His counsel. Let the repentant heart call upon the Lord and say: “My Father, who art in heaven, Thou art the guide of my youth. I bow now before you. Take me. Use me. Forgive me. Amen.”

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