Jeremiah 50:20 “’In those days and at that time’, declares the Lord, ‘search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I shall pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.’”

Observation: What a wonderful thought, that at the end of exile, when Judah’s captivity in Babylon came to an end, none of her past iniquity or sins would be found. Diligent search will be made, but it would be fruitless because of God’s pardon. This was Good News indeed, for any man or woman who has received a pardon from God is truly set free of their past sin.

Application: This is not to make the claim that sin and error have not been committed; we have abundant evidence of how richly deserved was Judah’s discipline by her seventy-year captivity in Babylon. But when the time comes that the heart is truly repentant, when there is finally a determination to go and sin no more, then the end of exile is near. In that moment the pardon of God wipes the slate clean and erring people are restored. Discipline has worked its divine purpose, and the exiled one is restored to full relationship.

This is a perfect foreshadowing of how our Savior, the righteous one, works in our lives today. Why do I stubbornly resist the truth of this promise? Part of the answer lies in the fact that I am surrounded by examples of counterfeit pardons, pardons granted prematurely where no repentance was manifest, pardons granted for unrighteousness’ sake. Such easy pardons, unearned and undeserved, cause outrage to rise in the heart of the righteous. Those pardons are offensive precisely because they fare so poorly when compared to a just and righteous pardon that follows true repentance.

In the instant of my sorrowful cry of repentance, everything changes. The Lord Jesus Christ intervenes. In the moment when the reality of my sorry condition brings abject confession of sin, Jesus writes, “Paid In Full” over the charges that had rightly condemned me, and I am free. Sin is defeated, no longer holding the power to condemn me. And like Israel emerging from Babylon, I am metamorphosed into a wholly new creation.

Prayer: Father, the exile I have found myself in has been of my own making. It was the appropriate consequence of my darkened heart. Thank You that true repentance brings the end of exile and restoration of fellowship with You and with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You for freedom only You can provide.