God's great mercy in Judah's vile lewdness, 1-5. Judah is worse than Israel, 6-11. The promises of the gospel to the penitent, 12-19. Israel reproved and called by God, makes a solemn confession of their sins, 20-25.
1 They say, "If a man puts away his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man's, shall he return to her again? Shall that land not be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again to me," says the LORD.
2 "Lift up your eyes to the high places and see where you have not been lain with. In the roads you have sat for them as the Arabian in the wilderness, and you have polluted the land with your acts of lewdness and with your wickedness.
3 Therefore, the showers have been withheld and there has been no latter rain. And you had a harlot's forehead, you refused to be ashamed.
4 Will you not from this time cry to me, 'My father, you are the guide of my youth'?
5 'Will he retain his anger forever? Will he keep it to the end?' Behold, you have spoken and done evil things as you could."
6 The LORD also said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there has played the harlot. 7 And I said after she had done all these things, 'Turn to me.' But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 And I saw that for all the causes by which backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a bill of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. 9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her lewdness, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. 10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to me with her whole heart, but feignedly," says the LORD.
11 And the LORD said to me, "The backsliding Israel has justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, 'Return, you backsliding Israel,' says the LORD. 'And I will not cause my anger to fall upon you, for I am merciful,' says the LORD, 'and I will not keep anger forever.
13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and have not obeyed my voice,' says the LORD.
14 'Turn, O backsliding children,' says the LORD. 'For I am married to you. And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.'
15 "And I will give you pastors according to my heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days," says the LORD, "they shall no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD,' neither shall it come to mind, neither shall they remember it, neither shall they visit it, neither shall that be done anymore. 17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem, The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. They shall not walk anymore after the imagination of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together from the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance to your fathers.
19 "But I said, 'How shall I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?' And I said, 'You shall call me, My Father, and shall not turn away from me.'
20 Surely as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so you have dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel," says the LORD.
21 A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel, for they have perverted their way and have forgotten the LORD their God.
22 "Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings." "Behold, we come to you, for you are the LORD our God.
23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills and from the multitude of mountains. Truly the salvation of Israel is in the LORD our God.
24 "For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covers us, for we have sinned against the LORD our God—we and our fathers—from our youth even to this day and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God."
Matthew Henry Commentary - Jeremiah, Chapter 3[➚]