Following the word “turn” (שוב) through Jeremiah’s prophecy.
“Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return [שוב], faithless
the LORD; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the
LORD; ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you
have transgressed against the LORD your God and have scattered your favors to
the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,’
declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 3:12,13). Israel
Jeremiah, in his continual use of “turn” (שוב), makes a play on words in his delivery of God’s command to a wayward people: “Return [שוב], faithless [משבה, from שוב] Israel.” They have turned away in apostasy, but God, in His great grace, commands them to turn to Him in repentance.
They must confess their sin. They must confess that they are sinners. Before the rebel can become the daughter, she must self-identify as a breaker of God’s Law. Before the enemy can become the son, he must plead “guilty” in before the righteous Judge of all the living and the dead. A people who have made a living death out of turning from God in every area of their lives must – in obedience to the command of the King – enter a real life by turning away from sin and to Him in humbleness.
Notice that the standard is God’s “voice.” This is the primary mark of God’s people – they have His Word and – together – seek to hear His voice in their midst by the proclamation of this Word. They individually and collectively submit to its power to “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,” so that they may be “equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Those who hear His voice and obey are His sheep (John 10:26,27). All who hear His voice and obey are those who truly love Him (Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:10; 7:9; 11:1,13; 30:16; Joshua 22:5; Nehemiah 1:5; Daniel 9:4; John 14:15,21; 15:10; 2 John 6).