Sin and Shame
1 The Lord said to the people of Israel:

If a divorced woman marries,
can her first husband
ever marry her again?
No, because this
would pollute the land.
But you have more gods
than a prostitute has lovers.
Why should I take you back?
2 Just try to find one hilltop
where you haven't gone
to worship other gods
by having sex.
You sat beside the road
like a robber in ambush,
except you offered yourself
to every passerby.
Your sins of unfaithfulness
have polluted the land.
3 So I, the Lord, refused
to let the spring rains fall.
But just like a prostitute,
you still have no shame
for what you have done.
4 You call me your father
or your long-lost friend;
5 you beg me to stop being angry,
but you won't stop sinning.
The Lord Asks Israel To Come Back to Him
6 When Josiah was king, the Lord said:
Jeremiah, the kingdom of Israel was like an unfaithful wife who became a prostitute on the hilltops and in the shade of large trees. 7-8 I knew that the kingdom of Israel had been unfaithful and committed many sins, yet I still hoped she might come back to me. But she didn't, so I divorced her and sent her away.
Her sister, the kingdom of Judah, saw what happened, but she wasn't worried in the least, and I watched her become unfaithful like her sister. 9 The kingdom of Judah wasn't sorry for being a prostitute, and she didn't care that she had made both herself and the land unclean by worshiping idols of stone and wood. 10 And worst of all, the people of Judah pretended to come back to me. 11 Even the people of Israel were honest enough not to pretend.
12 Jeremiah, shout toward the north:

Israel, I am your Lord
come back to me!
You were unfaithful
and made me furious,
but I am merciful,
and so I will forgive you.
13 Just admit that you rebelled
and worshiped foreign gods
under large trees everywhere.
14 You are unfaithful children,
but you belong to me.
Come home!
I'll take one or two of you
from each town and clan
and bring you to Zion.
15 Then I'll appoint wise rulers
who will obey me,
and they will care for you
like shepherds.

16 You will increase in numbers,
and there will be no need
to remember the sacred chest
or to make a new one.
17 The whole city of Jerusalem
will be my throne.
All nations will come here
to worship me,
and they will no longer follow
their stubborn, evil hearts.
18 Then, in countries to the north,
you people of Judah and Israel
will be reunited,
and you will return to the land
I gave your ancestors.
19 I have always wanted
to treat you as my children
and give you the best land,
the most beautiful on earth.
I wanted you to call me “Father”
and not turn from me.
20 But instead, you are like a wife
who broke her wedding vows.
You have been unfaithful to me.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
The People Confess Their Sins
The Lord said:

21 Listen to the noise
on the hilltops!
It's the people of Israel,
weeping and begging me
to answer their prayers.
They forgot about me
and chose the wrong path.
22 I will tell them, “Come back,
and I will cure you
of your unfaithfulness.”

They will answer,
“We will come back, because you
are the Lord our God.
23 On hilltops, we worshiped idols
and made loud noises,
but it was all for nothing—
only you can save us.
24 Since the days of our ancestors
when our nation was young,
that shameful god Baal has taken
our crops and livestock,
our sons and daughters.
25 We have rebelled against you
just like our ancestors,
and we are ashamed of our sins.”