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©Michael Player

Chapter 3:1-5 (ESV)

Posted on June 14, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:1-5 (ESV) - “If a man divorces his wife
    and she goes from him
and becomes another man's wife,
    will he return to her?
Would not that land be greatly polluted?
You have played the whore with many lovers;
    and would you return to me?
declares the LORD.
Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see!
    Where have you not been ravished?
By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers
    like an Arab in the wilderness.
You have polluted the land
    with your vile whoredom.
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.
Have you not just now called to me,
    ‘My father, you are the friend of my youth—
will he be angry forever,
    will he be indignant to the end?’
Behold, you have spoken,
    but you have done all the evil that you could.”

Question to consider: Why was Israel set apart to be holy unto the LORD?

This is probably one of those passages that doesn’t get a lot of air time in churches or synagogues. I’ve searched through scripture indexes of lectionaries, and it is nowhere to be found. People want an idealized view of Israel— the apple of God’s eye. There is a rather large contingency of Christians who believe that the regathering of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948 was prophetic in nature and that eventually the temple will be reestablished for the atonement of sin. 

I know this is not going to be a popular statement, but this word of the LORD is just as true today as it was at the time it was given to Jeremiah. More than six hundred years after Jeremiah, Stephen, a deacon from the early church, also tried to emphasize the wicked heart of his brothers before he was killed, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53)

The LORD called the people of Judah to go up to a high rock and take a look around to see if they could identify a nation whose god they didn’t worship. Remarkably, they did this even though the LORD had already divorced the northern kingdom of Israel and let her be ravished by Assyria. The LORD always remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and always followed through on His promises, but Judah only called on the LORD in their time of need. The rest of the time, they did all the evil that they could. The LORD gave them a land flowing with milk and honey, and they polluted every inch of it even though they were supposed to be set apart unto God so that the nations could see the grace and mercy of the God of Israel and repent of their wickedness. Instead, Israel made a cuckold of God so that the other nations mocked and cursed His name.

Regardless of your personal view on eschatology (view of the end times), if you call yourself a Christian, you are living under the New Testament of Christ, inaugurated at the Last Supper and ratified on the cross. This makes you part of the church, the bride of Christ. Now instead of being a small country meant to be set apart as a light to the nations, you are now set apart as the body of Christ, bringing the gospel to people from every tribe and nation. Do you only call out to Jesus in times of trouble and otherwise worship the things of this world? Before we stand in judgment over Judah, we should receive this word from the LORD in the same way king Josiah did.


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.Against you, you only, have I sinned  and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;  wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Amen
(Psalm 51:1-12)