In 1988, Jimmy Swaggart was caught with a prostitute. He was famous. On television. Known worldwide as an evangelist and preacher. He was initially suspended for three months, then the Assemblies of God suspended him for two years. When he resumed preaching after three months, the Assemblies of God defrocked him.
In 1991 he was stopped by a police officer in California with a prostitute in the car. He told the church he continued to serve that the Lord told him it was none of their business and temporarily stepped down from ministry.
Jimmy Swaggart is famous, so a lot of people know about him. There are many ministers who fall into sexual sin. It is all too common for ministers who aren’t famous to fall out of ministry because of sexual sin. It is all too common for Christians who aren’t ministers to fall into sexual sin.
In Jeremiah 3 Jeremiah is warning the Southern Kingdom of Judah by pointing to what happened in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Jeremiah wants Judah to learn from what happened to Israel before it’s too late, before like Israel, Judah is destroyed. We want to learn from the sins of others before we commit them ourselves.
We need to see the consequence of sin and the rewards of repentance and faithfulness. We need to learn from the fall of other ministers before it’s too late in our case. People who fall into sexual sin accumulate a series of small transgressions that they don’t turn from, and the small sins build to big ones.
Jeremiah’s message in Jeremiah 3:6–4:4 is that Judah should look at what happened to the northern kingdom, Israel. Jeremiah is calling the southern kingdom, Judah, to repent of the little sins that will add up to the big exile.
This is a beautiful passage in which Yahweh promises to bless Israel if they repent. Specifically, in Jeremiah 3:22, the Lord declares that if they will return to him he will heal them.
Do you want the healing?
Healing full and free –
Won’t you come to Jesus?
Come the Savior see –
Do you want the freedom?
Loosed from all your chains –
Won’t you call upon him?
Speak the Savior’s name –
He will wash you fully.
Take away your stain –
Won’t you have the joy he
Showers where he reigns?
At several points in this passage Jeremiah alludes to the way that God saved Israel in the past to point to the way that he will save them in the future. Interesting to see the use of the OT in the OT (an OT author, Jeremiah, using earlier OT Scripture). You can hear all about it here: Jeremiah 3:6–4:4, Repent and Be Restored.