Going “BACK-to-the-BASICS” with GENUINE REPENTANCE: Therefore thus says the Lord: "If you return, then I will bring you back; you shall stand before Me; if you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, but you must not return to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; and they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you," says the Lord. "I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible." (Jer. 15:19-21)
Even the great prophet Jeremiah could miss God’s way. Self-pity is forbidden because it accomplishes no good. Jeremiah was spiritually facing the wrong direction through self-pity (vv. 15–18) and it was necessary that he must voluntarily “repent” (Jer. 3:1, 7, 12), after which God would restore him to his prophetic position as God’s spokesman. “Stand before” means “to serve”, so we can infer that genuine repentance is necessary to serve God faithfully.
The Hebrew term translated “return” can be rendered “to repent.” Therefore, the challenge implies more than a mere return to a former position; it indicates instead a new moral and spiritual direction of life. Jeremiah was faced with the options of either repentance for his doubting God’s love and wisdom, or dismissal from his prophetic office. The Lord teaches Jeremiah two important lessons about repentance: (1) it is necessary and volitional; and (2) God must work this repentance (“I will bring you back”). If Jeremiah will return to his work, his words will continue to have divine authority. Only then will Jeremiah be restored to his prophetic task.
Let us always remember that when we fail, God will confront us (v. 19), but He will also encourage us. Rebuking Jeremiah for his doubt and self-pity, God told him to remain steadfast. God then restated the promises He made when He commissioned Jeremiah as a prophet (v. 20). Though opposition would come, God promised to keep Jeremiah safe from his enemies (v. 21).
Sometimes God will take us “back-to-the-basics” to remind us what He has promised us during His initial call into His ministry in order that we may “repent” and return back to Him. For prophet Jeremiah too, God was taking him “back-to-the-basics” to remind him what He had promised when He had initially called him into the ministry (compare vv. 20-21 to 1:18-19) so that Jeremiah will genuinely “repent” and return back to his place in ministry.
"For behold, I have made you this day a fortified city and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land--against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you," says the Lord, "to deliver you." (Jer. 1:18-19)