Here is a passionate and jealous God! God sees that, in their exile, Israel has begun to adopt the idols and faith practices of their captors. Though they believed God had divorced them, the point is made – would such a husband (God) return to a wife (Israel) that had laid with another man (idols)? Certainly not! But God is also forgiving and loving. God’s passion for Israel burns hot even as she betrays God. God wants Israel back and will fight for her fiercely.
God wants us, too. God is passionate and jealous, forgiving and loving even today. Whether we consider money, power, success, media, drugs, or other things that pull us from God, idols or simply distractions, it is clear we do not always put God first. We do not always love God with the passion and zeal that God loves us. But God is a patient and forgiving God. There is nothing we can do that will make God abandon us, divorce us, or punish us. Despite our human failings, we are loved by a divine God, and that will never change.
Jeremiah 3:1-5, 4:1-4
If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not such a land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? says the Lord. Look up to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been lain with? By the waysides you have sat waiting for lovers, like a nomad in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your whoring and wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore, you refuse to be ashamed. Have you not just now called to me, “My Father, you are the friend of my youth— will he be angry forever, will he be indignant to the end?” This is how you have spoken, but you have done all the evil that you could.
If you return, O Israel, says the Lord, if you return to me, if you remove your abominations from my presence, and do not waver, and if you swear, “As the Lord lives!” in truth, in justice, and in uprightness, then nations shall be blessed by him, and by him they shall boast.
For thus says the Lord to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, remove the foreskin of your hearts, O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else my wrath will go forth like fire, and burn with no one to quench it, because of the evil of your doings.