The Israelites of Judah had strayed away from God to such an extent that He called and sent Jeremiah to preach His message of repentance. In Jeremiah 2, God lays out His case against His people. God accuses the Israelites of becoming lukewarm (2:2), following worthless idols (2:5), creating their own gods (2:13), rebelling against God (2:20-21), loving their false gods (2:25), seeking God only when they are in trouble (2:27-28), failing to repent when corrected (2:30) and failure to even acknowledge their sin (2:35). Their sin had started out seemingly minor (being lukewarm), grew into following other idols, then creating idols, then open rebellion, then loving those created false gods, then seeking God only in times of trouble, then ignoring God’s correction and finally ignorance of their own sin. We can see this kind of pattern in our lives and our nation. Satan will take a mile when an inch is given up.
Even though God’s message through Jeremiah sounded bleak, God did not want to punish the Israelites and was willing to forgive them for their sins. God commanded the Israelites to change the direction that they were traveling and follow Him (3:12). If they returned to Him, God promised to remove his judgment from them because of his great mercy – many versions use “faithfulness” (3:12).
God told the Israelites that the first step to returning to Him is acknowledging their guilt/sin (3:13). Admitting our sin is the first step when coming to Christ to receive salvation – if we refuse to acknowledge our sin then we refuse to acknowledge a need for Christ. Acknowledgement of our sin is also the first step for those who are saved and have strayed from God. It doesn’t matter if we are an inch or a mile away from God, we need to acknowledge our sin if we want to return to a closer relationship with God.
We will be blessed by God if we remain close to Him. If we remain away from Him, we can expect discipline (this is not to say that those who are close to Christ will never experience pain and those away from Christ will never experience joy). God promised the Israelites good leaders (3:15), which was something the Israelites were in desperate need of. The Bible is full of blessings promised to us – blessings that we can only fully receive as we walk closer to Christ (The Beatitudes, Matt 5:3-12, are great examples of blessings, but by far not the only ones).
God tells the Israelites to turn from sin and acknowledge their guilt to accept blessings. But God still wants more. God wanted the Israelites (an us too) to be genuine. He wants us to walk with Him in a truthful, just and righteous way (4:2). He wants us to circumcise our hearts (4:4). He wants us to plow in new ground, not where we have before amongst the thorns (4:3). God wants not only our actions to change, but the motives within our hearts to change.
Stop giving up ground, even if it’s just an inch. Turn around. Acknowledge our sin. Accept blessings from God. Work to become genuine.