6 During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.
7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to Me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it.
8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.
9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood.
10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the Lord.
Today we begin looking at heart issues in the book of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet (believed to be the author of Lamentations) and in doing so we look upon the status of the northern kingdom – Kingdom of Israel – and the southern kingdom – Kingdom of Judah – and specifically the heart of the Kingdom of Judah.
However, before going much deeper, let’s discuss the terms faithless, adultery, unfaithful, and immorality used in the verses above and in many other sections of the Bible (see especially Hosea). The Lord our God often uses terms we associate with sex to make His points and make them personal because it is personal with Him.
Thus when He tells us Israel committed adultery with stone and wood it was personally offensive to Him as He is speaking of idols and the worship of them which violates the first two commandments He gave to us:
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:3-6 – ESV
So our Creator, because of all her adulteries, gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away. Notice it was because of all her adulteries He divorced her and sent her away. The Lord gave the Kingdom of Israel many chances to return to Him, but she continued in her adulteries so He sent her away – into captivity.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. 2 Kings 17:6
So what did the Kingdom of Judah do upon witnessing this? She too became adulterous and worshipped idols under Manasseh who did his best to undo what good Hezekiah had done.
He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 2 Chronicles 33:3
Still there was an apparent solid move back to worship the one true God under Josiah where he
Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. 2 Chronicles 34:32
But it did not last as just months after Josiah’s death, Jehoahaz became king of Judah and
He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his predecessors had done. 2 Kings 23:32
Thus God knew Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but only in pretense which was/is a great sin against Him. I wonder if the pretense of worshiping God is worse than the sins as it shows a real corruption of the heart towards God. Nonetheless, He remains a God of incredible forgiveness as noted many time in the Old Testament and especially in the New Testament with free Gift of Grace we have available to us through His Son Jesus the Christ.
It’s Friday and I hope you have a Great Weekend and Go to Church opening your heart fully to prayer, worship, praise, and study of and about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.