This chapter is pretty hard to read. There is constant talk of Israel being the “whore”, and how the nation allowed itself to be used and sought out lovers from other cultures and those who worshipped other gods. Just a bit of clarity here. The terms Israel and Judah need to be defined. If you were following in the last 90 Day Challenge we were able to see the split of the nation of Israel after the reign of Solomon into two separate kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom, or Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, or Judah. Judah is where Jerusalem is located so the temple remained in the South.
So when Jeremiah speaks about Judah and how they also were not obedient to God, that is still God’s people, but they are now divided into north and south, Israel and Judah. Okay, back to Jeremiah and the analogy that he uses of a loose woman. We need to begin by saying that at least it is offensive and at worst, it is downright incendiary. But I think it is meant to be. The graphic language that Jeremiah uses catches the attention of the reader and allows the reader to understand the seriousness of the charges against the nation.
But notice the transition that we find in vs.12 where we read: “I will not be angry forever.” But the first step in receiving the grace of God is to: “only acknowledge your guilt.” That always is a hard step for any of us to admit that we are wrong, that we have hurt our families, that we have hurt our co-workers, that we have hurt our church. Whatever the group or individual may be that we have sinned against, we have a hard time approaching them and asking for forgiveness, to acknowledge our guilt. But that has to be the first step.
Don’t forget the theme that we find in vs.15 and following because it will pop up later as well. God is going to send shepherds to tend for the flock, for his people. They will be shepherds after God’s own heart. Jesus was a shepherd after God’s own heart.