When I was 10, my mom and dad got divorced. There were many reasons, of course - some I was painfully aware of and others I'm sure I knew nothing about. When Dad moved out, it wasn't a surprise because my mom had told my brothers and me what was going to happen, but it still changed my life in ways I couldn't have imagined at the time.
Maybe you have treasured memories of your dad as you grew up. Memories of him playing with you, spending time with you or protecting and caring for you in other ways. I don't have many memories like that. Just a couple of them, actually. The memories I have of my dad are more sobering; more disappointing.
For example, I can only remember Dad being at two football games even though I played for 5 years in school. I only saw him at a handful of baseball games even though I played for at least 8 summers. He missed my high school graduation and my college graduation. He did make it to my wedding, however.
I don't ever remember being angry with him about all the moments he missed, though. I was frustrated, for sure; especially when he promised he would be somewhere and then failed to show up...again. I was frustrated, but not angry. At least not that I can remember. My mom might tell a different story...
Just like any child, I just wanted to share life with my dad and have him share his life with me. I missed him and longed to hear him say, "I love you" and, "I'm proud of you."
O land, land, land, hear the words of the Lord!
God Wants a Relationship
Throughout the Old Testament, God longs for the same thing with His people that I longed for with my dad. The verse above is just one of many, many examples of Him pleading with the Israelites. Just read Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, or the rest of Jeremiah and you'll see the same thing over and over again.
What does God want from Judah and Israel? What is He pleading for throughout the Old Testament?
He longs for them to return to their first love and to the covenant relationship he established with them so many years ago. Just like I longed to have a devoted, loving relationship with my dad, God wanted a devoted, loving relationship with his people. He missed the intimacy of their past relationship and knew that having a restored relationship with Him would pull them out of the trouble they were in.
God tells Jeremiah to repeat "land" three times for emphasis.
When my kids were little and were being unruly, I remember my wife and I both pleading with them, "please, please, please stop hitting your brother," or "listen, listen, listen to what I'm saying." God is using the same linguistic device in hopes Judah people will stop what they're doing and truly listen to Him.
What does God want? What is He pleading for? That lost people would come home & enter an unbroken, devoted relationship.
God's greatest desire was for His people to hear his words and return to Him. And God doesn't change. His greatest desire is still that His lost people would come home and enter an unbroken, devoted relationship with their Father in Heaven because He knows that is the only thing we truly need to pull us out of the troubles we have.