1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.
An analogy of what people in Jeremiah's day say compares a divorce and then adultery to (?) people's spiritual adultery, or idolatry, yet the Lord will take them back as his wife if they will return.
Another translation poses this as a question. Which mirrors the question in the analogy. Can you return to me?
2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
The charges against them are whoredoms and wickedness. The Lord compares them to a prostitute and asks them to look and see if there is anywhere they have not had made love with their lovers. They waited on the road like bandits to ensnare their lovers and commit debauchery.
Then when it didn't rain because of covenant curses they acted like a whore and were not ashamed. They couldn't see their behavior led to a curse.
4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?
5 Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.
But now they cry to the Lord and say My father, you are my youthful companion. Will his anger against them be forever will he rage until the end. However God says, you had your way and spoke as did evil as often as you could. The punishment is just.
6 The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
The Lord speaks to his prophet and refers to Israel as backsliding or rebellious. She went up to every mountain literally and nation symbolically and under every tree or with anyone she could find and acted like a prostitute.
God said afterwards, return to me, but she would not, and Judah saw her behavior.
8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
11 And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
Israel historically rebelled and those tribes were lost. The Lord gave them a bill of divorce. Judah saw this and did not respect God but went into a state of rebellion also and committed adultery with idols and nations thereby breaking the covenant. The stones and stocks symbolize idols and nations, (I believe).
For all these charges the Lord brings against Judah they only half halfheartedly turn to him, they have some semblance of religious practices but their hearts are not turned toward God.
Then the Lord calls Judah treacherous, strong words, and they are in line with breaking a formal agreement.
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
A command is given for the prophet to go and speak his words towards the North, tell them to Return, rebellious Israel, and he will subdue his anger because He is merciful. He answers the questioned posed earlier, He will not be angry for ever. He only asks for them to admit their iniquity or wrong doing and how they have spread their favors with strangers and have not heard or obeyed His voice.
14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, 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 any more.
17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more 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 out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.
19 But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.
A transition to an eschatological frame or end time scenario begins with rebellious children, that is those who were in a covenant relationship with God but are not honoring that covenant. The Lord uses marriage as a type of his agreement with them. Then offers an unconditional covenant in the end times or latter days he will take one from a city and two from a family and bring them to Zion.
He will give them good teachers or pastors as His heart wants to, and they will feed his children with knowledge and understanding. Then when his children are increased and have posterity, in those days, the ark of the covenant of the Lord will be a thing of the past. This represents a millennial time frame.
Also, they will call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all nations will go to Jerusalem, in the name the Lord, they will no longer commit adultery or worship idols by following their own evil imaginations.
Israel and Judah will walk together out of the land of the North back to their promised inheritance. This was his plan all along, He wanted to adopt them as His children, given them a pleasant land, and a heritage of all the nations. He thought they would call him Father, (In ancient times a wife would call her husband Father meaning The Man or the One in Charge,) and they would be loyal to Him forever.
20 Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith 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 they have forgotten the LORD their God.
22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God.
Instead the house of Israel rebelled like a wife leaves her husband. A voice is heard, not the Lords voice, but of weeping and supplications. The LORD admonishes them to return or repent and he will heal their afflictions. Paralleled with the millennial context the LORD's people come unto him and call him the LORD our God, renewing the covenant relationship.
23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
24 For shame hath devoured the labour 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 covereth us: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.
Then the LORD's people pray with awareness and admit that trusting in other nations is vain and only the LORD GOD is the salvation of Israel. Recognition comes that shame came upon their fathers and all their works. A covenant curse on their heards and children.