July 12, 2021
"There is hope for your future – this is the Lord’s declaration – and your children will return to their own territory. I have heard Ephraim moaning..."
“There is hope for your future – this is the Lord’s declaration – and your children will return to their own territory. I have heard Ephraim moaning: ‘You have disciplined me and I have been disciplined like an untrained calf. Restore me, and I will return, for You, Lord, are my God. After I returned, I repented; After I was instructed, I struck my thigh in grief. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ Isn’t Ephraim a precious son to Me, a delightful child? Whenever I speak against him, I certainly still think about him. Therefore, my inner being yearns for him: I will truly have compassion on him. This is the Lord’s declaration.” Jeremiah 31:17-20
In the days of Joshua, Israel had received her inheritance: The blessing of the Lord, which included the privilege of worshipping Him rightly and living in the land of Canaan. But, beginning with the generation which arose after Joshua’s generation, the young nation of Israel began a long, multi-generational downtrend of moral and spiritual depravity.
Because of Israel’s idolatry, which had eventually saturated every household, the Lord banished them from His blessing and from their land. (Yet, they were never banished from His heart.) After having squandered its inheritance and having found itself bankrupt and enslaved in a foreign nation, eventually, Israel (called “Ephraim” in today’s chapter, because “Ephraim” was the name of the Israelite tribal region where idolatry was most highly concentrated) cried-out to the Lord for His grace and mercy, repented of their idolatry and were restored to rightness with God. That included their restoration to the land of Canaan. It is precisely the correlation Jesus was assigning when He told the parable we know as the “prodigal son”. Keep in mind the “two sons” represent Judah and Israel, and Israel (Ephraim) was first to embrace idolatry, hence, first to be deported.
“He also said: ‘A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.” So, he distributed the assets to them. Not many days later, the younger gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my Father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to Him, ‘I have sinned against heaven in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’” So, he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.’” Luke 15:11-20
Has your sin led you down a self-destructive dead-end street? Return and repent. The Lord will run to greet you with compassionate, open arms, tears, and kisses. (Matthew 11:28)