“Yes, we will come to you,
for you are the Lord our God.
23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills
and mountains is a deception;
surely in the Lord our God
is the salvation of Israel.
24 From our youth shameful gods have consumed
the fruits of our ancestors’ labor—
their flocks and herds,
their sons and daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame,
and let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors;
from our youth till this day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”
(Jeremiah 3:22b – 25 NIV)
Our last study ended with the Lord calling His bride to repentance and reconciliation (v. 22a). Today’s passage is the response of the people to the Lord in a broken-hearted confession of sin.
As we will see in our next study, the Lord will check to be sure their repentance is sincere and not merely pleasant words or an emotional outpouring. Genuine repentance must involve both a change in attitude and action for the Lord to accept their confession.
Some scholars debate as to whether this passage is the nation’s collective response to the Lord’s invitation to return to Him, or whether this passage is Jeremiah’s example prayer of penitent confession for the Hebrews to offer to the Lord. While both scenarios are plausible, it seems more probable that this passage is the bride’s response to her Bridegroom. This probability considers the context of the dialogue back and forth between the Lord and His people and the Lord’s response to His people in the next section.
Verse 22b is the affirmation of their reply – “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God.”
Verse 23 is the first element of the Hebrews’ confession. All the activities on the mountain tops (the worship of the Canaanite gods at the hilltop shrines) were just noise and commotion, with no redeeming value. The bride was confessing her deception – she allowed herself to be seduced by the activity and noise of the Canaanite worship, but in the end found futility and nothing of value there. Surely the Lord is the only God, her Bridegroom.
By saying that the Lord is her God, the bride agrees with God to be faithful to Him again, as God had asked her to do when He gave His commandments (Exodus 20:2-6).
A critical part of understanding verse 24 is the double meaning of the word “shame” (Hebrew “bosheth”). Besides its literal definition, this word was also used to refer to Baal, the false Canaanite god. The Hebrews were saying that since they were young, Baal had consumed (literally eaten or devoured) everything they had done, both in their labors to earn a living and their families.
Verse 25 is the central point of the Hebrews’ confession of sin- they and their ancestors had sinned against the Lord and had not obeyed Him. This sin was the cause of much shame and disgrace, both inwardly and outwardly.
As the Lord brings our sins before us, may we deal with them quickly, and not pass them down to future generations.
May we redeem our time and efforts on this earth for God’s glory, and not waste them chasing after what we want or think we need to provide for ourselves rather than trusting and obeying the Lord (Matthew 6:25-34).
And may our confession be genuine and heartfelt – capturing and changing both our inward souls and our outward actions.