march12 returning to the lord

Returning To The LORD

Jeremiah 4:1 (ESV) – “If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver…”

Imagine for a moment a husband that walked out on his wife. He packed his bags, got in his car, and left without warning. For the sake of the example, let’s say the cause is he’s developed feelings for someone from an online relationship. He leaves and goes away for a few months, but then calls home and says he wants to return home. The wife would have valid reasons to hesitate to receive him back, but if she did, the expectation would not be that he was simply returning to the residence, but returning to her. He must return to faithfulness, commitment, and love. 

Our passage today shows God speaking in this very way about Israel, if she repents from her rebellion. We read in Jeremiah 4:1, “If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver…” God speaks to Israel, and the principle applies to us as well. If you return, return to the LORD.

What does this mean? God is not interested in Israel repenting simply for the sake of receiving comfort or relief from their afflictions. Their actions had caused misery, as our sin does as well. But repentance is not simply turning away from sinful rebellion, it is a turning to God. God says, “If you return, to me you should return.” He is the object of our turning. Repentance is about turning to God, to restore communion with Him. 

How often do people repent of sin today because they want relief from the consequences? How many times have you seen people make bad decisions, get themselves in hot water, and they are willing to make changes if the consequences of their sins are mitigated. But biblical repentance isn’t just a desire for relief of our guilt or consequences. It is a seeking after God. It recognizes that God is the One offended by our sins. He is the One we seek to please in our returning. 

Turn to the LORD today. Make your confession of sin and repentance a returning to Him. He ought to be the aim of our repentance. Knowing Him is the goal. Walking with Him is the reward.

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Remove all detestable things from your life so you can have closeness with Him.

Reflection & Journal: 
- Why is repentance a turning to God, not just a turning from our sins?
- What does this passage say to correct what many people often misunderstand about repentance?
- How does this passage challenge you? What take-away can you apply in your life?

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