Study from God’s Word… Jeremiah, Chapters 3 – 5: 13 … Passage for Reflection: Jeremiah 3: 11, 19-20, 22a … NIV The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah.” … 19 "I myself said, " 'How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.' I thought you would call me 'Father' and not turn away from following me. 20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O House of Israel. … 22 "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding."
Also NKJV translation: Jeremiah 3: 11 … 11 Then the LORD said to me, “Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
Word Study from Jer. 3: 11:
Faithless/backsliding (Israel) – Hebrew – “meshuwbah” [pron. “meshu –vah”]
Unfaithful/treacherous (Judah) – Hebrew – “bagad” [pron. “by-gad”]
My Journal for Today: In today’s reading from the Chronological Bible in Jeremiah 3 – 5, and in Dr. Smith’s devotional today from the verses cited above, things got a little complex on me. Hence my little word study from my online Blue Letter Bible website on two Hebrew concepts which are used as comparisons in Jer. 3: 11 … that of “faithless” versus “unfaithful.” I’m no Hebrew scholar, for sure; but this study helped me to realize that I needed more than on version of Scripture to help me see what Dr. Smith was exposing in his devotional.
When I hear those two terms, “faithless” and “unfaithful,” my immediate interpretation may be in comparing a faith-LESS atheist, i.e., one who has no faith in God, to an UN-faithful believer, i.e., one who has faith but who has turned away from that they know to be truth. That’s the reason it’s a good idea at times to read God’s word in more than one version, which is why I’ve quoted the NKJV above as well as the NIV for Jer. 3: 11 [the primary target verse of Dr. Smith’s devotional]. And in doing so, you’ll see that the edge on meaning and application seems to take on a slightly different color as you go from the NIV to the NKJV.
Obviously God grieves over the FAITHLESS one or backslider, which was personified through the ten Northern tribes of Israel during Jeremiah’s prophetic times. But God also grieves over the degree of unfaithfulness (also called “treachery”) of the two tribes in Judah. So, how do we take away some application from this comparison? And Dr. Smith, the author of my devotional today, asks a pointed self-appraisal question to help us do that. He asks: ”Do I censure my own unfaithfulness (as a Christian believer) as strongly as I condemn the faithlessness of unbelievers?” And that my friends is worthy of some serious self-examination.
I’m afraid there are times, upon conviction, when I look at my sinfulness by saying something like, “Well, at least I’m not an atheist anymore.” That, my friends, is pride personified. And that was the attitude of the Pharisees, which Jesus hated so vigorously. So, today’s study helps me to realize that God most certainly grieves over those who do not choose to follow His ways and fall prey to selfishness and sin, … the atheists who mock God or reject Him outright. But maybe God grieves even more deeply for those believer fools, like me at times, who know – and believe – God’s ways, but turn away anyway.
Let me repeat Dr. LaGard Smith’s self exam today; and let’s deal with it within our own hearts: ”Do I censure my own unfaithfulness (as a Christian believer) as strongly as I condemn the faithlessness of unbelievers?”
My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to be sensitive to my own sin and convicted to confess and be cleansed of it just as much as I’m sensitive to the lost who need to find You for eternity. Amen