Jeremiah 3: Like Marriage
I think that we sometimes mistake the attention that God gives us as simply a passing interest. We picture God as kind of like our supervisor at work. He certainly has an interest in us, but that attention more or less stops when we leave the office. However, the language that we hear in Jeremiah 3 implies a much deeper relationship than that.
Jer 3:6 The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
Jer 3:7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jer 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Jer 3:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
Jer 3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
God is saying that the people of Israel and Judah were committing adultery with the idols. In other words, they were breaking the marriage that existed between God and His chosen people. It isn’t just a casual interest; the violation of adultery implies that there was a marriage there in the first place.
This also would have been a very loaded term in Jewish culture (and I wish it was in our culture). There are many prohibitions against adultery in the Torah, and by labeling the people with this crime, they would have understood the consequences that would happen if this human crime took place.
I think that the obvious take away here is that we need to recognize how God actually loves His people. Revelation carries on this imagery of a bride and groom, but sometimes we forget the seriousness of this relationship. Marriage is a commitment that should not be broken, and I think that if we treated our relationship with God in the same way, we would recognize that we need to stay committed to Him. We treat God like He applies part-time like our boss at work, but it really is a lot more than that.