If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, her first husband shouldn’t go back to her again. The land would become thoroughly polluted. “You have acted like a prostitute who has many lovers. And now you want to come back to me!” declares the Lord.
2 “Look at the bare hills, and see. You have had sex with men in every place. You sat by the roadside waiting for them like a nomad in the desert. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and wickedness. 3 So the rain has been withheld, and there have been no spring showers. Yet, you have the shameless look of a prostitute, and you refuse to blush. 4 But now you are calling to me. You say, ‘Father! You have been my companion ever since I was young. 5 He won’t hold a grudge forever. He won’t always be angry.’ You have said and done all the evil things that you could.”
The Lord Offers to Forgive the Ten Tribes of Israel Despite Their Idolatry
6 When Josiah was king, the Lord asked me, “Did you see what unfaithful Israel did? She went up every high mountain and under every large tree, and she acted like a prostitute there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this that she would come back to me. But she didn’t come back, and her treacherous sister Judah saw her. 8 Judah saw that I sent unfaithful Israel away because of her adultery and that I gave Israel her divorce papers. But treacherous Judah, her sister, wasn’t afraid. She also acted like a prostitute. 9 Because she wasn’t concerned about acting like a prostitute, she polluted the land and committed adultery with standing stones and wood pillars. 10 Even after all this, Israel’s treacherous sister Judah didn’t wholeheartedly come back to me. She was deceitful,” declares the Lord.
11 Then the Lord said to me, “Unfaithful Israel was less guilty than treacherous Judah. 12 Go and proclaim these things to the north:
“‘Come back, unfaithful Israel. It is the Lord speaking. I will no longer frown on you because I’m merciful,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will no longer be angry with you. 13 Admit that you’ve done wrong! You have rebelled against the Lord your God. You have given yourself to strangers under every large tree. You have not obeyed me,’ declares the Lord.
14 “Come back, you rebellious people,” declares the Lord. “I’m your husband. I will take you, one from every city and two from every family, and bring you to Zion. 15 I will give you shepherds after my own heart. They will be shepherds who feed you with knowledge and insight. 16 In those days you will be fertile, and your population will increase in the land,” declares the Lord. “People will no longer talk about the ark of the Lord’s promise. It will no longer come to mind. They won’t remember it, miss it, or make another one. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord. All nations will gather in Jerusalem because the name of the Lord will be found there. They will no longer follow their own stubborn, evil ways. 18 In those days the nation of Judah will live with the nation of Israel. They will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave their ancestors as their own property.
19 “I wanted to treat you like children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful property among the nations. I thought that you would call me Father and wouldn’t turn away from me. 20 But like a wife who betrays her husband, so you, nation of Israel, betrayed me,” declares the Lord.
21 The sound of crying is heard on the hills. It is the crying and the pleading of the people of Israel. They have become crooked and have forgotten the Lord their God. 22 “Come back, you rebellious people, and I will forgive you for being unfaithful.”
Here we are! We have come to you because you are the Lord our God. 23 Truly, the noise from the hills, from the mountains, is the noise of false worship. Truly, the Lord our God will rescue us. 24 Ever since we were young, the shameful worship of Baal has taken everything our ancestors worked for, their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. 25 We must lie down in our shame and be covered by our disgrace. Ever since we were young, we and our ancestors have sinned against the Lord our God. We haven’t obeyed the Lord our God.
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