"If a man divorces a woman and she marries someone else, he is not to take her back again, for that would surely corrupt the land. But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers, says the LORD. Yet I am still calling you to come back to me.
"Look all around you. Is there anywhere in the entire land where you have not been defiled by your adulteries? You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a client. You sit alone like a nomad in the desert. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and wickedness.
That is why even the spring rains have failed. For you are a prostitute and are completely unashamed.
Yet you say to me, 'Father, you have been my guide since the days of my youth.
Surely you won't be angry about such a little thing! Surely you can forget it!' So you talk, and keep right on doing all the evil you can."
During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, "Have you seen what fickle Israel does? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree.
I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me. But she did not come back. And though her faithless sister Judah saw this,
she paid no attention. She saw that I had divorced faithless Israel and sent her away. But now Judah, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution.
Israel treated it all so lightly -- she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been greatly defiled.
But in spite of all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry," says the LORD.
Then the LORD said to me, "Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah!
Therefore, go and say these words to Israel, a 'This is what the LORD says: O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the LORD your God and committed adultery against him by worshiping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to follow me. I, the LORD, have spoken!'"
"Return home, you wayward children," says the LORD, "for I am your husband. I will bring you again to the land of Israel b -- one from here and two from there, from wherever you are scattered.
And I will give you leaders after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.
"And when your land is once more filled with people," says the LORD, "you will no longer wish for 'the good old days' when you possessed the Ark of the LORD's covenant. Those days will not be missed or even thought about, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark.
In that day Jerusalem will be known as The Throne of the LORD. All nations will come there to honor the LORD. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires.
In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave their ancestors as an inheritance forever.
"I thought to myself, 'I would love to treat you as my own children!' I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land -- the finest inheritance in the world. I looked forward to your calling me 'Father,' and I thought you would never turn away from me again.
But you have betrayed me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband," says the LORD.
Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains, the weeping and pleading of Israel's people. For they have forgotten the LORD their God and wandered far from his ways.
"My wayward children," says the LORD, "come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.""Yes, we will come," the people reply, "for you are the LORD our God.
Our worship of idols and our religious orgies on the hills and mountains are completely false. Only in the LORD our God will Israel ever find salvation.
From childhood we have watched as everything our ancestors worked for -- their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters -- was squandered on a delusion.
Let us now lie down in shame and dishonor, for we and our ancestors have always sinned against the LORD our God. We have never obeyed him."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)