The Lord allowed Babylon to overtake Judah as punishment for the people’s constant and consistent disobedience. However, God never intended for the nation of Babylon to remain in power over his people. This chapter describes the Lord’s judgment on Babylon that would eventually come. Verses 4–5 speak of when the people of Israel and Judah together would seek the Lord and “come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant.” Though this could refer to a remnant from both nations returning to the land of Judah after the Babylonian captivity, the ultimate fulfillment will be found in the Messianic age when God’s divided people will be brought together and live in righteousness, peace and unity.
In verse 6, Jeremiah compares his people to a flock of sheep that had wandered and been led astray. The false prophets and false gods acted as irresponsible and evil shepherds to the flock of Israel, and they caused the people to wander away from God and to forget from where they had come. The sheep of Israel needed to return to the one true Shepherd (Jn 10:11; Heb 13:20). In Luke 15:1–7, Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep and explained how a good shepherd will do everything within his power to keep his flock together. Even if 99 sheep are accounted for and one is missing, a good shepherd will go after the missing one and bring it back to the flock. Jeremiah pointed out that God, the Shepherd of the Israelites, was working to bring his flock back to him again.
These verses in Jeremiah provide great encouragement for believers today, for no matter how far someone may have wandered away from God, they are never fully out of his reach. The Israelites had wandered very far away from him, yet God continued to mercifully call for them to return to him. Psalm 51:17 says, “A broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” God has a strong desire for his followers to stay near him, but even if they wander away, a broken heart of true repentance can always bring them back.
Jesus, thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for not giving up on those I love who are still wandering and lost. Soften their hearts, and call them to you. Amen.
Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible