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"Learn From Your Sister"
Jeremiah 3:6-4:4

Wednesday AM Bible Study
August 25, 2004

This morning, we begin a new section of Jeremiah; a specific prophetic word that begins at 3:6, and concludes at 6:30. In it, God clearly expresses His heart toward His disobedient and unfaithful people.

3:6 tells us that this prophecy was given in the days of Josiah, king of Judah. Josiah became king after the reigns of his wicked grandfather Manassah (who sinned horribly, but later repented while in captivity), and his father Amon (who sinned as his father had, but who did not learn the lessons of his father's captivity and repent). Josiah was a godly king, who came to the throne while very young. He led his people in a great revival and turned them back to the God of their fathers. But their return to him was only superficial. They, too, did not learn the lessons that had been put on display before them.

In this section, God calls His wayward people, Judah, to look to their wicked sister - the northern kingdom of Israel - and learn a few lessons from her. She had been taken captive by the Assyrians and had been dispersed; yet, if they would but repent, God would forgive them. He uses Israel as an object lesson to call Judah to repentance.

A. Israel had sinned in turning from God to idolatry (vv. 6-8). It was called "backsliding Israel" because it began with a departure from the one true God and was built upon idolatry (1 Kings 12:1-33).

B. Yet, for all that Judah saw in this, she herself did not repent - and thus stands with even greater guilt than backsliding Israel (vv. 9-11). Judah did not depart from God as Israel had at the time of Rehoboam; and was able to see God's punishment on Israel. Therefore, it's guilt was greater.

C. And so, God calls Israel back as an object lesson to Judah (vv. 12-25).

1. He calls her to return through the confession of her sin (vv. 12-13).

2. He promises that He will restore her (vv. 14-18). (Note that He even expresses that it is in His plan to reunite her to Judah. See Jer. 50:4; also Isaiah 11:11-13 and Ezek. 37:16-22).

3. He expresses His own readiness of heart to do this (vv. 19-22a).

4. He even "scripts" her repentance for her; teaching her what to say (vv. 22b-25).

A. God tells Israel, then, that if it will return to Him, it must return with repentance (vv. 1-2).

B. God tells them what their repentance must look like (vv. 3-4).

1. Breaking up the fallow ground of their hearts (becoming receptive to Him).

2. Circumcising their hearts (repentance of sin).

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