Isaiah 31:6 Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.

Jeremiah 3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.

13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.

14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

Jeremiah 8:6 I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Zechariah 1:3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?


MEMORY VERSE: For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.  —I Thessalonians 1:9


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Repentance means a change of direction; a turning around from following our own ways and thoughts and serving idols, to wholly following God and serving Him.




Isaiah 31:6 “Revolted”: turning away; apostasy; defection; rebellion.

Jeremiah 3:13 “Hast scattered thy ways”: left traces everywhere. “Every green tree”: the familiar places of idol worship.




The verse we quote from Isaiah was addressed to the Israelites in the time of Hezekiah, when the king of Assyria (Sargon, or Sennacherib) was coming against them. Isaiah had prophesied of Assyria’s march against Egypt and Ethiopia, and the folly of Israel in going down into Egypt for help and asylum. Here again he predicts the fall of Sennacherib and exhorts His people to put their trust in the Lord and turn away from their idols. The Assyrians certainly fell by a super-human sword (II Kings 19:35, II Chronicles 32:21, and Isaiah 37:36), when God’s angel smote 185,000 soldiers.

Jeremiah’s words in chapter 3 were directed to the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel, who were carried away captive by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser, in the ninth year of King Hoshea, to the lands north of Judah—Assyria, Media and Mesopotamia. Jeremiah was giving them God’s words of mercy and forgiveness, if they would return to Him with their whole heart and walk no more after their wicked imaginations. “I will heal your backslidings” is a blessed promise in verse 22, and the prophet encourages the response, “Behold, we come unto thee.”

In the 8th chapter, the Lord is lamenting the lack of repentance and remorse on the part of His people; this time directing His mournful dirge toward the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The chapter ends with the tragic cry, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved,” and the sorrowful question, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Both cries have inspired songs which apply to the impenitent sinner today.

Zechariah, a priest as well as a prophet, accurately foretold the siege of Babylon by the Persian king Darius, of which Isaiah and Jeremiah had also forewarned the Jews, “Remove out of the midst of Babylon.” It is probable that they took heed and went back to their own country before the city was taken. Darius was the king “spoken of in Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah, as the king who renewed the permission to rebuild the temple, given to the Jews by Cyrus and afterwards recalled” (ATS Bible Dictionary).

Two months before Zechariah’s prophecy, which admonished the Jews to seek the Lord and not fall back into the sins of their fathers, the prophet Haggai had encouraged the Jews to resume the rebuilding of the temple. The two prophets worked together to encourage God’s people in this great work.

Malachi, last of the minor prophets and writer of the last book of the Old Testament, reproved the priests and people of Judah during a time of great disorder, sometime after the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah.

The memory verse is taken from Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians, in his testimony of the conversion of the brethren in that place, whose faith and reception of the gospel was an example to all the believers in Macedonia, Achaia, and beyond.

—Angela Gellenbeck


  1. In Isaiah, what term did God apply to Israel’s forsaking God and going after idols?
  2. Jeremiah’s plea was for backsliding Israel to return, because God was ___________ to them.
  3. In Jeremiah, for what question did God listen that should be asked by someone who is repenting? What did the Israelites do instead?
  4. What was the promise given by God through both Zechariah and Malachi?
  5. Turning away from idols to serve the living God describes the actions of what New Testament church?




It is a common human tendency to gloss over the condition described by God as “deeply revolting” or “lost,” or make excuses for it. People get defensive and angry when someone even suggests that they are not right with God. “Wherein shall we return?”

Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. Our ways fall short of His ways. When we turn to our own ways, we are actually no better than the “heathen” man who falls on his knees before his idols. We can even do this and call it worship, or ministry, or missionary work.

God’s call is to “Return.” How do we do this? We can begin by asking the question, Lord, what have I done? Shine Your light upon my actions and weigh my motives. Have I just gone my own way? Did I replace Your Spirit’s leading for thoughts of my own?

We can ask God to show us how we, like the Israelites, have scattered our ways, or left traces of our self-will and pride everywhere. Lord, examine everything I’ve done. Open my eyes to what YOU see about me. Have I made an idol out of my own opinions or desires? Have I mistaken the dust of my endeavors for the smoke of Your fire?

God has promised that if we return unto Him, He will return to us. What hope is offered in these promises!

—Angela Gellenbeck



There is a tendency in mankind to gravitate towards the earthly (things we see, feel, taste) and neglect the spiritual. When earthly things take on an elevated sense of importance in our lives and the Lord becomes secondary, we become guilty of idolatry. Thankfully, God’s Spirit is calling, through our inner conscience and the circumstances of our life, for our return into holiness which means being separated from the world unto Him.

A while back, I had an experience where I had been busy, feeling tired and inwardly thinking that today would be a good day to seek the Lord through prayer and study. However, I had planned earlier in the week to go somewhere that day. I got into my truck and endeavored to start the truck, but the battery was dead. After two or three attempts at charging the battery, I finally got the truck running. I got into the truck, ready to go, and moved the gear shift to reverse but it didn’t shift the transmission. At that point, I surrendered, turned off my truck and made my way to my prayer closet.

Some might think that was a coincidence—not me! I believe the Lord works with us to help us. Lamentations 3:39-41 puts it so well. “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.”

—Bob Wilson