Jeremiah 23, 30&31

The Long Road to Repentance

In this chronological study of the Bible we have spent over two months reading prophesies calling the ten tribes of Israel and the nation of Judah to repent. Repent means to turn back, to turn away from what they are doing which is a result of what they have believed. The message of John the Baptist, Jesus, His disciples, and the Church is repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. The message in these prophesies to Israel and Judah is repent. Turn back to the one who has loved you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3

Clearly from our study this is easier said than done. Man has free will and that free will is stubborn and strong.

John the Baptist told the people who came to him to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Luke 3:8 

In Isaiah 5 we read that the Lord built a vineyard and placed Israel and Judah in it to be fruitful by bringing the Law of God to the world. But instead of being an influence on the world the world became an influence on them. God removed the protection from them in order to let them experience the consequences of following a world that does not love them or us for that matter. It has been a long hard journey for them.

The struggle to come to the place of repentance is illustrated in Genesis 32:22-30 where we read of Jacob wrestling with God.  Jacob wants his own way but God has a different plan for Jacob. God can easily overpower Jacob but Jacob also has free will. God rendered Jacob powerless to defend himself against brother Esau who had said he would kill Jacob after their father died. The decisions Jacob made early in life forced him to leave his home land. Isaac, the father of Esau and Jacob, thought he was close to death years earlier and was setting his house in order. His plan was to bless his first born Esau. Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright and tricked his father out of the blessing Isaac wanted to bestow on Esau. As a result Jacob spent many years away from his homeland until he wore out his welcome and again was forced to return to his homeland. Close to home he received word that Esau and 400 of his men were on his way to meet Jacob. Afraid of what might happen the next day he spent the night wrestling with God.  Jacob had a plan to get everything for himself and so he did. Esau had a plan as well, but Isaac was still alive even after all these years.  God also had a plan and His plan overruled their plans. Jacob’s plan led him down a hard road in life for many years before he repented. He was stubborn and determined just like Israel, Judah, and us.

God’s plan for His children is to build up His children and make them fruitful and joyful we read in verses 4&5. The verses that follow show how much God wants Israel and Judah to repent and return to Him. If they will make that decision from the heart God will take it from there. He will lead them where they can flourish. He will do for them what they cannot do for themselves. He is calling them to return and has set up sign posts to show the way, but just as they uprooted themselves from what they had when God planted them in the Promised Land, they must uproot themselves from what they have believed and trusted in that nearly destroyed them.

No matter how hard they try or whatever they do to save themselves, it is clear that nothing is going to change until they have a change of heart and repent and return.

Let me illustrate what I am saying with this example. In late spring I took my Datsun 280Z out of winter storage. It started right up but after a few minutes it was belching smoke and would hardly run at all. Then it quit running all together. I thought the problem was old gas so I drained it and put in new. There was no change, I had the same problem. I then thought the injectors were stuck from the old gas so I replaced them. Again there was no change. So I went to Google and found that there was a lot of advice but no matter what I tried there was no change. I did however, stumble on a website that talked about the Fuel Injection Bible but I couldn’t find anything under that name so I tried some other things I read about, all to no avail. I was considering replacing the whole fuel injection system but that was going to be costly. I was extremely frustrated and doubting I could fix this myself because I did not understand fuel injection. So again, I searched for the Fuel Injection Bible and again, I couldn’t find anything with that name. I did find a PDF file on Electronic Fuel Injection so I downloaded it in desperation. As it turned out this was the book. I read all 72 pages. What was once a great mystery and complex became simple and easy to understand. I didn’t even need special tools to check everything. Turns out there were two corroded wiring connections to sensors. After I cleaned them it has run fine. All I had to do was search out and follow the manufactures instructions.

The same is true for us. God created us and placed us in this world. If we are going to survive and thrive we need to connect with Him and follow His instruction book the Bible.

How much of the pain in life do we experience as a result of our stubborn pride and/or poor decisions we have made? How many times do we repeat the same things over and over expecting different results? Are we guilty of rejecting God’s offer of salvation and restoration because we think we can’t live up to His expectations? Are we afraid that we will not have any fun if we become a Christian? Are we really having any fun yet on our journey?  Things will change for the better the minute the decision to repent is made.

The time we have spent reading the prophets should tell us how much God loves His children and wants them to return to the place where He can bless them. The pain they were going through should have been a warning to them to make a change. That is the definition of repent. It means stop, turn around, and return to the Lord.

Beginning in verse 31 we read that God wants to make a New Covenant with those who repent. No longer will the Law of God be written in stone. The Holy Spirit will write the Law on their heart. God will be their God and they will be His people and their sins will be forgiven. Jesus has done it. He has paid the price for sin, the sins of the whole world. God the Father has sent the Holy Spirit. Everything is in place. The old hard journey ends and the new one begins with the decision to repent.

Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!

Pastor Dave