Therefore also now, said the LORD, turn you even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:…
I. THAT TRUE REPENTANCE CONSISTS IN THE IMMEDIATE TURNING OF THE SOUL TO GOD, IN A MOOD OF DEEP SORROW FOR SIN. This turning to God must be —
1. Immediate. The prophet tells the people of Judah that they must turn "also now" to the Lord. These little words are full of emphasis, and signify that even though the people had so long abused the Divine forbearance, and although the opportunity of mercy was passing away, yet if they would at once pay heed to the words of warning they should be saved. There was no time for delay.
2. Sincere. The prophet says to the people of Judah, turn unto the Lord "with all your heart." They were not to simulate a repentance they did not truly feel; it was not to be half-hearted. They were to turn to God in their thoughts, in their affections, in their wills, and in every faculty and capability of their souls,
3. Inward. The prophet says to the people of Judah, "Rend your heart, and not your garments." Sin is an inward thing, and so must be the repentance which puts it away.
4. Sorrowful. The people of Judah were to turn to the Lord "with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning." A true turning of the soul to God is always accompanied by intense sorrow because the law of God has been broken, because the soul has been injured by sin, because time has been lost in which good might have been done, because it has enfeebled the moral manhood, and because it has moved the anger of God.
II. THAT TRUE REPENTANCE IS ENCOURAGED BY OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE NATURE, AND BY A HOPE OF THE DIVINE BLESSING. "And turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him?" Here we have the greatest encouragements to repentance —
1. From our knowledge of the Divine character. The prophet here gives a very beautiful revelation of the nature and character of God to the inhabitants of Judah, which they would perhaps hardly regard as consistent with His previous threats of judgment. And we have throughout the Bible such a revelation of the Divine mercy as should be an encouragement to the penitent. It is natural for God to have mercy upon the repentant soul, even as it is natural for fire to burn.
2. From our hope of the Divine blessing. It seems as though the prophet wished to leave the Jews in some uncertainty as to whether God would "return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him, in order that he might not weaken any impression which his former denunciations had made. God often leaves behind Him a blessing in the repentant soul, even a joy unspeakable and full of glory.Lessons —
1. That men should turn to God with full purpose of heart.
2. That they should do so while it is called to-day.
3. That they should thus seek His mercy and expect His blessing.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: