The Wages of the Harlot1 “ . . . If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him to marry another, can he ever return to her? Would not such a land be completely defiled? But you have played the harlot with many lovers— and you would return to Me?” declares the LORD. 2 “Lift up your eyes to the barren heights and see. Is there any place where you have not been violated? You sat waiting for [your lovers] beside the highways, like a nomad in the desert. You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refused to be ashamed. 4 Have you not just called to Me, ‘My Father, You [are] my friend from youth. 5 Will He be angry forever? Will He be indignant to the end?’ This you have spoken, but you keep doing all the evil you can.”
Judah Follows Israel’s Example6 Now in the days of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every green tree to prostitute herself there. 7 I thought that after she had done all these things, she would return to Me. But she did not return, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it . 8 Because faithless Israel had committed adultery, I gave her a certificate of divorce [and] sent her away. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear and prostituted herself [as well] . 9 Indifferent to her immorality, [Israel had] defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 Yet in spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the LORD.
Invitation to Repentance11 And the LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: ‘Return, O faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will no longer look on you with anger, for I [am] merciful,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you have rebelled against the LORD your God. You have scattered your favors to foreign [gods] under every green tree and have not obeyed My voice,’” declares the LORD. 14 “Return, O faithless children,” declares the LORD, “for I am your master, and I will take you— one from a city and two from a family— and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when you multiply and increase in the land,” declares the LORD, “no longer will they say, ‘The ark of the LORD’s covenant.’ It will never come to mind, and no one will remember it or miss it, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time Jerusalem will be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations will be gathered in Jerusalem to [honor] the name of the LORD. They will no longer follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land I have given your ancestors as an inheritance. 19 Then I said, ‘How I long to make you My sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations.’ I thought you would call Me ‘Father’ and never turn away from following Me. 20 But as a woman may betray her husband, so you have betrayed Me, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD. 21 A voice is heard on the barren heights, the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy, because they have perverted their ways [and] forgotten the LORD their God. 22 “Return, O faithless children, [and] I will heal your faithlessness.” “Here we are. We come to You, for You are the LORD our God. 23 Surely deception [comes from] the hills, commotion from the mountains, but surely the salvation of Israel is in the LORD our God. 24 From our youth, that shameful [god] has consumed what our fathers have worked for— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. 25 Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers; from our youth even to this day we have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.”
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