3 “Now a man might divorce his wife. And she might leave him and marry another man. Should her first husband come back to her again? If he went back to her, the land would become completely unclean. But you have acted like a prostitute with many lovers. And now you want to come back to me?” says the Lord. 2 “Look up to the bare hilltops, Judah. Is there any place where you have not been a prostitute? You have sat by the road waiting for lovers. You sat there like an Arab in the desert. You made the land unclean. This was because you did evil and were like a prostitute. 3 So the rain has not come. There have not been any spring rains. But your face still looks like the face of a prostitute. You refuse even to be ashamed of what you did. 4 But now you are calling to me. You say, ‘My father, you have been my friend since I was young. 5 Will you always be angry at me? Will your anger last forever?’ Judah, you say this, but you do as much evil as you can!”
Judah and Israel Are like Sisters
6 When King Josiah was ruling Judah, the Lord spoke to me. He said: “Jeremiah, you saw what unfaithful Israel did. She was guilty of adultery. She had idols on every hill and under every green tree. 7 I said to myself, ‘Israel will come back to me after she does this evil.’ But she didn’t come back to me. And Israel’s wicked sister Judah saw what Israel did. 8 Unfaithful Israel knew that I divorced her because of her adultery. But that didn’t make her wicked sister Judah afraid. She also went out and acted like a prostitute! 9 And she didn’t care that she was acting like a prostitute. So she made her country unclean. She was guilty of adultery. This was because she worshiped idols made of stone and wood. 10 Israel’s wicked sister didn’t come back to me with her whole heart. She only pretended to come back to me,” says the Lord.
11 The Lord said to me, “Unfaithful Israel had a better excuse than wicked Judah. 12 Go and speak this message toward the north:
‘Come back, unfaithful people of Israel,’ says the Lord. ‘I will stop frowning at you. I am full of mercy,’ says the Lord. ‘I will not be angry with you forever. 13 All you have to do is admit your sin. You turned against the Lord your God. You worshiped the false gods of other nations. You worshiped them under every green tree. You didn’t obey me,’” says the Lord.
14 “Come back to me, you unfaithful people,” says the Lord. “I am your husband. I will take one person from every city. And I will take two people from every family group. And I will bring you to Jerusalem. 15 Then I will give you new rulers. They will be faithful to me. They will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days there will be many of you in the land,” says the Lord. “At that time people will no longer say, ‘I remember the Ark of the Covenant.’ They won’t even think about the Ark of the Covenant anymore. They won’t even remember or miss it or make another one. 17 At that time Jerusalem will be called The Throne of the Lord. All nations will come together in Jerusalem to show respect to the Lord. They will not follow their stubborn, evil hearts anymore. 18 In those days the family of Judah will join the family of Israel. They will come together from a land in the north. They will come to the land I gave to their ancestors.
19 “I, the Lord, said,
‘How happy I would be to treat you as sons! I would be glad to give you a pleasant land. It’s a land more beautiful than that of any other nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from me. 20 But like a woman who is unfaithful to her husband, family of Israel, you have been unfaithful to me,” says the Lord.
21 You can hear crying on the bare hilltops. The people of Israel are crying and praying for mercy. They have become very evil. They have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 “Come back to me, you unfaithful people of Israel. Come back, and I will forgive you for being unfaithful.”
“Yes, we will come to you. You are the Lord our God. 23 It was foolish to worship idols on the hills. All the loud noises on the mountains were a lie. Surely the salvation of Israel comes from the Lord our God. 24 Since we were young, shameful gods have eaten up in sacrifice everything our fathers worked for. The shameful gods have taken our fathers’ sheep and cattle. They have taken our fathers’ sons and daughters. 25 Let us lie down in our shame. And let our shame cover us like a blanket. We have sinned against the Lord our God. Both we and our fathers have sinned. Since we were children and until now, we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”
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