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Jeremiah 2:20-3:18 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

20 ‘Long ago you broke off your yoke
    and tore off your bonds;
    you said, “I will not serve you!”
Indeed, on every high hill
    and under every spreading tree
    you lay down as a prostitute.
21 I had planted you like a choice vine
    of sound and reliable stock.
How then did you turn against me
    into a corrupt, wild vine?
22 Although you wash yourself with soap
    and use an abundance of cleansing powder,
    the stain of your guilt is still before me,’
declares the Sovereign Lord.
23 ‘How can you say, “I am not defiled;
    I have not run after the Baals”?
See how you behaved in the valley;
    consider what you have done.
You are a swift she-camel
    running here and there,
24 a wild donkey accustomed to the desert,
    sniffing the wind in her craving –
    in her heat who can restrain her?
Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves;
    at mating time they will find her.
25 Do not run until your feet are bare
    and your throat is dry.
But you said, “It’s no use!
    I love foreign gods,
    and I must go after them.”

26 ‘As a thief is disgraced when he is caught,
    so the people of Israel are disgraced –
they, their kings and their officials,
    their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to wood, “You are my father,”
    and to stone, “You gave me birth.”
They have turned their backs to me
    and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
    “Come and save us!”
28 Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?
    Let them come if they can save you
    when you are in trouble!
For you, Judah, have as many gods
    as you have towns.

29 ‘Why do you bring charges against me?
    You have all rebelled against me,’
declares the Lord.
30 ‘In vain I punished your people;
    they did not respond to correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
    like a ravenous lion.

31 ‘You of this generation, consider the word of the Lord:

‘Have I been a desert to Israel
    or a land of great darkness?
Why do my people say, “We are free to roam;
    we will come to you no more”?
32 Does a young woman forget her jewellery,
    a bride her wedding ornaments?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
    days without number.
33 How skilled you are at pursuing love!
    Even the worst of women can learn from your ways.
34 On your clothes is found
    the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
    though you did not catch them breaking in.
Yet in spite of all this
35     you say, “I am innocent;
    he is not angry with me.”
But I will pass judgment on you
    because you say, “I have not sinned.”
36 Why do you go about so much,
    changing your ways?
You will be disappointed by Egypt
    as you were by Assyria.
37 You will also leave that place
    with your hands on your head,
for the Lord has rejected those you trust;
    you will not be helped by them.

‘If a man divorces his wife
    and she leaves him and marries another man,
should he return to her again?
    Would not the land be completely defiled?
But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers –
    would you now return to me?’
declares the Lord.
‘Look up to the barren heights and see.
    Is there any place where you have not been ravished?
By the roadside you sat waiting for lovers,
    sat like a nomad in the desert.
You have defiled the land
    with your prostitution and wickedness.
Therefore the showers have been withheld,
    and no spring rains have fallen.
Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute;
    you refuse to blush with shame.
Have you not just called to me:
    “My Father, my friend from my youth,
will you always be angry?
    Will your wrath continue for ever?”
This is how you talk,
    but you do all the evil you can.’

Unfaithful Israel

During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, ‘Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretence,’ declares the Lord.

11 The Lord said to me, ‘Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message towards the north:

‘“Return, faithless Israel,” declares the Lord,
    “I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,” declares the Lord,
    “I will not be angry for ever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt –
    you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favours to foreign gods
    under every spreading tree,
    and have not obeyed me,”’
declares the Lord.

14 ‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I am your husband. I will choose you – one from a town and two from a clan – and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘people will no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honour the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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