1 “If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife,
he may not take her back again.
Doing that would utterly defile the land.
But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods.
So what makes you think you can return to me?”
says the Lord.
2 “Look up at the hilltops and consider this.
You have had sex with other gods on every one of them.
You waited for those gods like a thief lying in wait in the desert.
You defiled the land by your wicked prostitution to other gods.
3 That is why the rains have been withheld,
and the spring rains have not come.
Yet in spite of this you are obstinate as a prostitute.
You refuse to be ashamed of what you have done.
4 Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father!
You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young.
5 You will not always be angry with me, will you?
You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’
That is what you say,
but you continually do all the evil that you can.”
6 When Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done. You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods. 7 Yet even after she had done all that, I thought that she might come back to me. But she did not. Her sister, unfaithful Judah, saw what she did. 8 She also saw that I gave wayward Israel her divorce papers and sent her away because of her adulterous worship of other gods. Even after her unfaithful sister Judah had seen this, she still was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods. 9 Because she took her prostitution so lightly, she defiled the land through her adulterous worship of gods made of wood and stone. 10 In spite of all this, Israel’s sister, unfaithful Judah, has not turned back to me with any sincerity; she has only pretended to do so,” says the Lord. 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Under the circumstances, wayward Israel could even be considered less guilty than unfaithful Judah.
The Lord Calls on Israel and Judah to Repent
12 “Go and shout this message to my people in the countries in the north. Tell them,
‘Come back to me, wayward Israel,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not continue to look on you with displeasure.
For I am merciful,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not be angry with you forever.
13 However, you must confess that you have done wrong,
and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You must confess that you have given yourself to foreign gods under every green tree,
and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the Lord.
14 “Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master. If you do, I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. 15 I will give you leaders who will be faithful to me. They will lead you with knowledge and insight. 16 In those days, your population will greatly increase in the land. At that time,” says the Lord, “people will no longer talk about having the ark that contains the Lord’s covenant with us. They will not call it to mind, remember it, or miss it. No, that will not be done any more! 17 At that time the city of Jerusalem will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honour the Lord’s name. They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. 18 At that time the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited. Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession. ”
19 “I thought to myself,
‘Oh what a joy it would be for me to treat you like a son!
What a joy it would be for me to give you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful piece of property there is in all the world!’
I thought you would call me, ‘Father’
and would never cease being loyal to me.
20 But, you have been unfaithful to me, nation of Israel,
like an unfaithful wife who has left her husband,”
says the Lord.
21 “A noise is heard on the hilltops.
It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods.
Indeed they have followed sinful ways;
they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God.
22 Come back to me, you wayward people.
I want to cure your waywardness.
Say, ‘Here we are. We come to you
because you are the Lord our God.
23 We know our noisy worship of false gods
on the hills and mountains did not help us.
We know that the Lord our God
is the only one who can deliver Israel.
24 From earliest times our worship of that shameful god, Baal,
has taken away all that our ancestors worked for.
It has taken away our flocks and our herds,
and even our sons and daughters.
25 Let us acknowledge our shame.
Let us bear the disgrace that we deserve.
For we have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors.
From earliest times to this very day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.’