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CHAPTER 3 Ju1. 13 
Israel and Judah Likened to an Unfaithful Wife
They say, ‘If a man puts away his wife and she goes from him and become another man’s, should he return to her again?’. Wouldn’t that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the prostitute with many lovers; yet return again to Me, says Yahweh. 2Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been lain with? You have sat for them by the ways, as an Arabian in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and with your wickedness. 3Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain; yet you have a prostitute’s forehead, you refused to be ashamed. 4Will you not from this time cry to Me, ‘My Father, You are the guide of my youth?’. 5‘Will He retain His anger forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and have done evil things, and have had your way. 6Moreover, Yahweh said to me in the days of Josiah the king, Have you seen that which backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there has played the prostitute. 7I said after she had done all these things, ‘She will return to Me;’ but she didn’t return; and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8I saw, when, for the very reason of committing adultery that I had put away and given a bill of divorce to backsliding Israel, then treacherous Judah her sister didn’t fear; but likewise went and played the prostitute. 9It happened through the lightness of her prostitution, that the land was polluted, and she committed adultery with stones and with stocks. 10Yet for all this her treacherous sister, Judah, has not returned to Me with her whole heart, but only in pretence, says Yahweh.
God Wants Israel to Return to Him
11Yahweh said to me, Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12Go, and proclaim these words towards the north, and say, ‘Return, you backsliding Israel’, says Yahweh; ‘I will not look in anger on you; for I am merciful’, says Yahweh. ‘I will not keep anger forever. 13Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against Yahweh your God, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed My voice’, says Yahweh. 14Return, backsliding children, says Yahweh; for I am a husband to you. I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16It shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says Yahweh, they shall say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of Yahweh!’ neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they miss it; neither shall it be made any more. 17At that time they shall call Jerusalem ‘The throne of Yahweh;’ and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of Yahweh, to Jerusalem. Neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18In 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 gave for an inheritance to your fathers. 19But I thought how I would set you among My children, and give you a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the armies of the nations; and I thought you would call Me My Father, and would not turn away from following Me’. 20Surely as a wife faithlessly departs from her husband, so you have dealt treacherously with Me, house of Israel, says Yahweh. 21A voice is heard on the bare heights, the weeping and the petitions of the children of Israel; because they have perverted their way, they have forgotten Yahweh their God. 22Return, you backsliding children, I will heal your backsliding. Behold, we have come to You; for You are Yahweh our God. 23Truly in vain is help from the hills, the tumult on the mountains. Truly the salvation of Israel is in Yahweh our God. 24But the shameful thing has devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25Let us lie down in our shame, and let our confusion cover us; for we have sinned against Yahweh our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God.


3:1 God’s own law had forbidden a man to do this, calling it an abomination (Dt. 24:4). And yet God was willing to do so. Thus He demonstrates that His grace and love for His people goes even beyond the limits of His own word, and may even in a way contradict it; such is the greatness of His grace. He isn’t indifferently waiting for us to return to Him; He is willing to debase Himself and commit what He considers abomination in order to be back together with us. In similar vein, God speaks as if His expectation that Israel would return to Him had been as it were proved wrong (:7). Again, He speaks as if His foreknowledge was as it were limited compared to the power of the hopefulness of His love and grace; for we are made after God’s image, and true love has the quality of desperate hopefulness against our better knowledge. Such is God’s passion for us His people.
3:14 I am a husband to you- Although divorced from Israel (:8), God still considered Himself her husband. These contradictory feelings within God are expressed in His word, in that some passages protest His eternal love and relationship with Israel whatever, whilst others declare them no longer His people.
3:19,20 Although God presents Himself to us as having a memory which functions not unlike our memories, who are made in His image, there is with God the capacity for total recall of history; and hence His pain is far greater than ours, not least because He knows, with all the power of infinite analysis of possibilities, 'what might have been'. And it is the 'what might have been' syndrome which is one of the greatest sources of our emotional pain. His pain and hurt is therefore and thereby so much greater than ours. Hence the pain, the pain which comes from understanding and the potential of total recall, behind these words which reflect how Israel could have been sons which made Him proud. Because of His capacity to imagine, to see possible futures to some extent, God feels rejected both by His children and by His wife at the same time. It's as if He could see the potentially happy future which they could've had stretching out before Him. Yet now He has chosen us as His wife and children; and we are to do our uttermost to be His faithful woman, loyal children.
3:22-25 This was God’s fantasy about Israel, how one day they would say such words of repentance and return to Him. True love includes fantasy, imagining the object of our love speaking or acting in the way we dream of. And God’s passionate love for His people is no different. True repentance is such a thrill to God; it fulfils what He has dreamt of for us. Hence all the Angels rejoice when one sinner repents.