God has designed life’s struggles to make us all aware of our need for Him. Yet we often bristle at being so dependent and want to think of ourselves as wholly self-sufficient. But we’re not! When we have full stomachs and secure homes and excess resources, it’s very difficult 03 haughtyto maintain a sense of dependence on God. Furthermore, prosperity often leads to corruption. Then something happens to awaken our sense of dependence. Sometimes it doesn’t take much because so many things that matter most in life are outside of our control. When they go awry we’re reminded that we need God. Most people are humble enough to hear the call, see the signs, and turn away from their sin and back to the God who made them, but not God’s people Israel. The Prophet tells us in Jeremiah 3:3, “Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed.”

According to the UBS Handbook, “A harlot’s brow lends itself to two different interpretations: (1) it may refer to some distinguishing mark by which a woman was identified as a prostitute; or (2) it may symbolize stubbornness.”[1] The following phrase addressing her refusal to feel shame seems to support the second interpretation. It’s the look of pride and arrogance and refusal to acknowledge any wrong doing of any kind. Ryken says, “This verse reminds me of a painting by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, who wasted much of his time exploring the red-light district of Paris. The painting depicts a young prostitute. Her gaze is fixed straight forward without fear or modesty. Her chin is lifted in defiance, challenging anyone to pass judgment on her sins. She has ‘the brazen look of a prostitute.’”[2]

How does one break through that veneer? How do you love someone with that attitude towards you? But somehow God still loves them. Martens says, “God does not take lightly the defection of his people nor does he quickly write them off when they prove stubborn. God’s pleading with them has all the pain and urgency of an injured husband reasoning in the divorce court with the wife he still loves.”[3] When God’s love is unanswered, He took a bolder step. Romans 5:8 teaches us that while we were still sinners (shameless prostitutes), God demonstrated His love for us in this: Jesus died for our sins. Nothing else will ever break through the haughty pride of man.

[1] Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 95.

[2] Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 53.

[3] E. A. Martens, Jeremiah, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1986), 51.