Jeremiah 2:9 is one of the more debated verses in the Bible. The debate centers on the meaning of the Hebrew word that the English Standard Version and other versions translate as “contend.” The verse says, “Therefore I still contend with you, declares the LORD, and 24 gods lovewith your children’s children I will contend.” Some translations say what I have “against you.” Others say “legal charges.” The King James Version and some other translation say, “Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead.” There may not be a radical difference between the various translations but, and I hate to admit this, the KJV captures the thought in a way that pictures a loving father. It’s reminiscent of the father of the Prodigal son. The other translations to me seem to present harsher, less loving and caring approach by God to His children. This, to me, violates the key message of Jeremiah to a people in great suffering. That is recorded clearly in Jeremiah 31:3. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) translates this verse, “I love you with an everlasting love; this is why in my grace I draw you to me.”

Whatever translation you prefer of Jeremiah 2:9, hopefully you won’t miss the fact that God is speaking about all His children; past, present and future. It says “I still contend.” That refers to the fact that from the very fall of man in Genesis God has not given up on us. It says He contends with us. He has not given up on us. It says He will always contend with His children. God’s everlasting love will never stop. He will always deal with us according to our needs. He’s always loved us. He loves us now. He will always love us in the future. He promises this in spite of our tendency not to love Him back.

This truth has not been more powerfully presented to us than in the book of Hosea. Jeremiah speaks to us about an unfaithful bride, Hosea illustrates it for us. According to Shank, “Hosea describes the Lord as one who is faithful in the face of utter unfaithfulness. Even the punishments sent by the Lord on Israel are viewed as part of his faithfulness to his people. As Hosea builds a fence across the path that Gomer takes to her lover’s house, so the Lord’s discipline is a fence to turn Israel back to their first love. God will not give up on his people, no matter how many times they give up on him.”[1] Briley observes, “The church now bears the same awesome responsibility to reveal God’s glory to the world, but with the same reassurance that God will not give up on his people.”[2] Paul reminds us of this truth in Philippians 1:6; “…He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” I like what Richison says, “Many people are bedeviled by the idea that God may lose control of their situation. But God will not give up on us. He will let us go about as far as a dog on a leash. When we run from the Lord and come to the end of our leash we come to a terrible jerk.”[3]

[1] Harold Shank, Minor Prophets, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 2001–), 32.

[2] Terry R. Briley, Isaiah, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub., 2000–), 156.

[3] Grant Richison, Verse by Verse through the Book of Philippians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2006), Php 1:6.