Let’s read that interesting and important portion. Jeremiah 3:1-5 says, “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. 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. 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. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth? 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.”

How merciful are the words of the Lord in the latter part of verse 1, “Return again to me, saith the LORD.” Israel, indeed, had “played the harlot with many lovers.” This chosen nation had been unfaithful to the Lord, seeking other gods and worshipping them. The question was asked, “If a man puts his wife away and she goes to another man, would he ever take her back?” Under the Law, a man was forbidden to take his wife back in such a situation. We read in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, MAY NOT TAKE HER AGAIN TO BE HIS WIFE, after that she is defiled…” The Lord points out to Israel that she is that unfaithful wife. She was a harlot. She had been continually unfaithful to her loving and faithful husband. Yet, the Lord seeks to draw her back to Himself…despite the fact she had been polluted. The Lord pleads in the riches of His mercy for His people to return unto Him and offers them forgiveness.

There must be true repentance before there can be true restoration. In verse 2, the Lord calls for Israel to consider all her sins, all her unfaithfulness. The fact that Israel “sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness” shows that her actions were deliberate. They had DETERMINED to be unfaithful to the Lord. So, the Lord affirms that Israel had “polluted the land”. They were guilty and must acknowledge, confess, and repent of their sins.

In verse 3, the Lord points out the obvious. They were under judgment because of their unfaithfulness to Him. The Lord had warned them about their sin in Leviticus 26:18-20, “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” Realizing the lack of the latter rain, which was so crucial for the growing and harvesting of the crops, they still did not repent. They refused to be ashamed of their sin.

Having reminded them of their sinfulness, and having reproved them greatly for it, the Lord now kindly encourages them to repent. “Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?” (Verse 4) What about you, my dear reader? Have you ‘played the harlot’ before the Lord? Have you been unfaithful by placing things in your life above the Lord? Have you polluted yourself with the things of the world? The Lord calls you to repentance. He desires to have you restored to Himself. Let’s close by considering the words of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (278.2)