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©Michael Player

Chapter 3:6-11 (ESV)

Posted on June 15, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:6-11 (ESV) - The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.”

And the LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.”

Question to consider: Do you think Jeremiah was pleased to share this word with King Josiah? Why or why not?

The prophet, Jeremiah, mentioned King Josiah not only to let us know when he received it, but because the role of the prophet was to give God’s direct revelation to the king himself. We don’t know whether Jeremiah had even met King Josiah before or knew anything about him. I think it is important to keep in mind the note Jeremiah gave at the beginning of this book that the word he received from the LORD during Josiah’s reign came to him about thirteen years into it.

At this point during his reign, Josiah was twenty-one years old and basically grew up without a father since his dad was murdered when he was eight. What little memory he may have had of his father and grandfather was of their power and wealth, and the chroniclers noted their celebration of other gods. If his father and grandfather worshiped other gods, they most likely took wives who did the same.

The prophet, Zephaniah, may have been related to Josiah through Hezekiah, and therefore could have been a spiritual influence on him at that time. However, that would be one lone voice in the midst of a myriad of others who would have advised Josiah to maintain relationships with the surrounding nations to keep the peace.

If I were in Jeremiah’s shoes, I’m pretty sure I would be asking the LORD whether I heard Him correctly that I was to compare Josiah and the kingdom of Judah to a treacherous whore that was even more unrighteous than the faithless northern kingdom of Israel. This would not have been a fun message to give.

Implicit in it was an accusation that Josiah should have known better even though he was not raised by faithful people. Once the northern kingdom of Israel was judged for her idolatry, Judah should have taken the opportunity to repent and return to the LORD. They pretended to do this, but the LORD said their repentance was not sincere.

We know from history that Josiah listened to Jeremiah and tried to reform Judah. Perhaps the consistency of the word from Jeremiah with that of Zephaniah was what cut through the false prophets and priests of his day. Perhaps it was because Jeremiah was a son of a priest and not a professional prophet like those who were his political counselors.


Dear heavenly Father, we know that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Help us to be like King Josiah and recognize how far short we have fallen to Your word. May we turn back to You without pretense and receive the righteousness You have freely given to us through Christ. Thank You for Your mercy. Amen.