The initiatives of God are great!

Published 12:20 pm Monday, June 25, 2007

By Staff
In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, God is pursuing His people in a grand attempt to bring them back to Himself and to His blessing.
In Jeremiah, chapter 3, verse 11, in the New International Version (NIV), God refers to Israel as "faithless." Faithless would be that they not only were neglecting their Creator God, but they had abandoned Him. God said of Israel in verse 2, "… [they] have polluted the land with [their] harlotries and [their] wickedness."
Israel is the northern kingdom, the ten tribes that split off in the days following the reign of King Solomon. Israel had gone so far from God that He called them "faithless" or "backsliding" (NKJV).
God's main interest at this time was Judah, the southern kingdom. He called Israel "faithless," but He called Judah "unfaithful," that is, "treacherous." God's conclusion is in Jeremiah, chapter 3, verse 11, "Backsliding [faithless] Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous [unfaithful] Judah."
God called their idolatry harlotry. The people were following every false god imaginable and had forsaken the Living God of Heaven. God's message through His prophet Jeremiah was, "'Return, backsliding Israel,' says the LORD; 'I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,' says the LORD" (Jeremiah 3:12, emphasis mine).
God continued in verse 22: "Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings" (emphasis mine). God was taking the initiative. Neither Israel nor Judah was leaning His way at all. All God wanted them to do He stated in Jeremiah, chapter 3, verse 13: "Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God." The first step in "returning," God instructed them, is to agree that they have sinned, that they are going the wrong direction . . . our way versus God's way. God declared that He would heal their backslidings (Jeremiah 3:22).
What an offer! God was not asking them to buy their way back through some form of penitence but to confess they have sinned. After that, He would heal, He would restore, He would fix everything. We mistakenly conclude that if we drift from God, we must not only confess, but we must then work ourselves back into God's favor. The people in Jeremiah's time did not "get it," and sadly, they were destroyed as a nation and put into captivity.
The question is, Do we "get it"? In Jeremiah God called Israel faithless and Judah unfaithful. The call to repent was issued to both. God's mercy was waiting for them. All God desired was for them to say, "Yes, God, You are right and we are wrong."
Drag this scenario forward a few centuries to our day. One thing for sure, God has not changed (Malachi 3:6). Sadly, people have not changed either. There are still "faithless" and "unfaithful" people.
One huge event where God took great initiative on behalf of all people was the cross of Jesus Christ. In Jeremiah's day, God loved His people, sought their good, and continually pleaded with them to love and obey Him.
In our day, we have the advantage of the shed blood of Jesus Christ which totally paid the sin debt. Even with everything paved like a throughway for us to make our way to God, we continue to struggle just like Israel and Judah did.
Today there are people of faith, believers in Christ. There are people who are faithless, those who have not yet believed in Christ. The faithless people are doing what faithless people do-going their own way, oblivious to God. People of faith are in two camps: faithful and unfaithful. The faithful are few in number.
God's message has not changed. There is still the call to return to Him, acknowledge Him as God, acknowledge our sin, and cry out for mercy and grace.
God is initiator. He has provided everything. Our part is responder, and God will even enable that choice by His grace.
We must change our mind about God. He is loving and good, but He is also righteous. We need His righteousness which is provided completely and only through Jesus Christ.
All the people in Jeremiah's day had to say was "yes." That is all we need to say also.