“Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? Shall he turn away and not return? Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.”
The Lord’s people were guilty of “perpetual backsliding.” Though the word backsliding is not found in the New Testament, the tendency to slide back in our devotion and obedience continues to be a problem. From this passage, God provides language that vividly describes the condition of backsliding. They had fallen, turned away, and slidden back.
While they were in this state of spiritual backsliding and willful compromise, God told Jeremiah that He was listening to hear some evidence of repentance or confession, but heard none. “I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?” They “refuse to return” or repent. When His children stray from Him, God desires and requires sincere repentance and acknowledgment of transgressions. He will not ignore sin that is not dealt with properly. Sin that is covered up or hidden will result in God’s correction. The greatest problem in our text was not that the people of God had fallen. Of course that is serious, but the larger problem was that there was no attempt to arise, or correct their error. When we fall, God wants us to confess our sins and accept His forgiveness. When we sin, God wants to hear us say, “What have I done?”
How wonderful it is that the Lord desires our repentance! He wants to give mercy and forgiveness. He was waiting and listening for them to repent, to confess. It is clearly seen in this lesson that when we fall, we can arise. The enemy has convinced many that their sin is too great to be forgiven. Satan wants to make people feel that because they have fallen, there is no hope. These people had turned away, but God was inviting them to return.
God does not want us to sin; but when we do sin, we can repent and find mercy. God is just, and sin must be dealt with. But thank the Lord Jesus, He paid for our sins on the cross, and there is mercy and grace for those who confess and return to Him.