“‘Return to Me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you.’” Zechariah 1:3 –

The Old Testament prophets were spokesmen for God… inspired by His Spirit and anointed with His words. This was their message to God’s people… if only they would return to the Lord, He would return to them.

Throughout Israel’s history, God had been with His people. He had carried them through their trials… protected them from their enemies… provided for their every need. Yet they strayed. They turned away from their Jehovah God… their Shepherd, their Deliverer, their Provider.

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.”  Hosea 14:1

Time and again, God’s people rebelled against Him, turning away from Him… following their evil ways… and hardening their hearts to the God who had created them. They replaced worship of their Jehovah God with worship of idols of their own creation. They abandoned their all-powerful God for the powerless gods fashioned by their own hands.

Time and again, God sent prophets to warn His people of His impending judgment for their lives of sin. Their unrepentant hearts had blinded them to sin’s devastating consequences. They had been lured off God’s path… and instead followed the world and its enticing ways.

“‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart.’”  Joel 2:12

The call of God to return to Him has echoed down through the ages. His message spoken by the prophets long ago rings true for us today. He calls us to repent of our sins and return to Him. He is jealous for us. He desires our loyal hearts… our undivided love.

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”  Isaiah 44:22

Jesus is our Redeemer. His thoughts were of us when He faced the cross. He knew before we were born of the sins we would commit… how we would desperately need a Savior. He came to earth to pay the ransom for our sins with His holy, perfect life.

Sins cherished in our hearts act as a wall between us and God. Since God is perfectly holy, He cannot tolerate or excuse our sin. That is why He sent His Son to be our Savior. When we rebel, we step out from under the divine grace and favor of our Lord. We no longer sense His loving presence with us. Prayers seem to go unheard and unanswered.

We find ourselves living our own way rather than God’s way… thereby impeding His will and purpose for our lives. Like Israel, God may give us our rebellious heart’s desires — to live in our own counsel… to follow our own light… to blaze our own trails. Yet in so doing, we endanger ourselves… and reap the consequences of our sins.

“Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”  Micah 7:18-19

God, in His great mercy, continues to call us back to Him. Our repentance tears down the wall that keeps us from our gracious God. Repentance is a true turning away from sin. Perhaps we feel sorrow for our sins, yet still remain unrepentant. God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. If we secretly intend to return to our sins, we will only be fooling ourselves. He will discern our insincerity.

When we truly repent, we do not return to our sins, we return to the Lord. We forsake our sins and follow our Savior. We tap into His power to help us overcome all sin in our lives. At times we may stray… we may wander… we may rebel.  Yet we can never let our sin keep us from the One who treasures us. He is always ready to forgive.

“Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” – Acts 3:19

The atoning work of Jesus our Redeemer is complete. Only He can defeat the sin in our lives. We cannot do it on our own. When we repent, we are made holy and blameless in the sight of God. Our sins are cast forever into the depths of the sea… never again to be held against us. We share in the glorious inheritance of the saints… and live in the peace and blessing of God.

God delights in His children. He longs for us to remain close to Him. When we repent and return to Him, He promises His favor… His rest… His restoration. He looks not at who we have been but who we will become. He puts our past in the past and draws us back home to Him… into the comfort of His love and blessing.