“In those days, at that time,” declares the Lord, “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces towards it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.” Jeremiah 50:4–5
These few lines of prophecy about the Israelites come in the midst of a greater warning from the prophet Jeremiah to the people of Babylon. At this time, the Israelites had split into the northern and southern kingdoms, and thus lived in a state of disunity. Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet because his words from the Lord often speak of impending destruction.
The prophecy here tells of God’s people who have turned away from him. No longer are they eager to follow his laws and decrees. A series of corrupt kings has added to the debauchery. But Jeremiah heralds a time when the people of both kingdoms will bow their knees and return to the Lord. With tears they will seek the way of Zion.
We might find the book of Jeremiah depressing, but verses such as these – tucked away in the midst of prophecies of doom – bring hope. Our pilgrimages are often filled with wrong or missed turnings, whether through sins of omission or commission. But when we seek the Lord, he will extend to us his everlasting covenant.
The Lord doesn’t demand that we come to him with weeping before he will forgive us. But tears of remorse are often a sign of true repentance. Sometimes when I’m having to discipline my children, I see them move from being somewhat sorry to being deeply so – perhaps because of the stronger consequences I have to enact. Eventually, they show true sorrow over the infraction. What will it take for us to repent?
Prayer: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1–2).