Jer 3.1-25 discusses why the land is polluted and that Israel and Judah have been faithless.
v 1…God say, “If a husband divorces his wife, and goes from him, and belongs to another man, will he still return to her (the halakah is Deut 24.1-4 and the answer is “No.”)? Will not that land be completely polluted (by playing fast and loose with these rules)? But you are a harlot with many lovers (not just one); yet you turn to me,” declares the Lord (forsaking the other lovers. He divorces Judah in Jer 3.8 and Isa 50.1. If God did not divorce Israel and Judah why would he need to make a “reneewed” (new) covenant with them-Jer 31.31-33; Heb 8.7-13).
v 2…Lift up your eyes to the bare heights and see (where their idolatry was committed); where have you not been violated (in spiritual adultery by joining yourself to idols)? By the roads you have sat for them (like a harlot who goes there to meet lovers) like an Arab in the desert (who waits to attack and rob travelers), and you have polluted a land with your harlotry and with your wickedness.
v 3…Therefore the showers have been withheld (with a fall drought), and there has been no spring rain (their sins were why there was no spiritual blessings-Deut 11.17; Mal 3.10; Amos 4.7; 1 Kings 8.35). Yet you had a harlot’s forehead (obstinate and bold); you refused to be ashamed.
v 4…Have you not just now called to me, “My father, thou art the friend of my youth (trying to win him back)?
v 5…Will he be angry forever? Will he be indignant to the end? Behold, you have spoken and have done evil things, and you have had your way (instead of repentance, they continued in sin and evil, trying to get away with what they could).
v 6…The the Lord (Yehovah) said to me (this begins a new section of prophecy) in the day of Josiah the king (eschatologically, this alludes to the sixth year of the birth-pains and in his time Jeremiah began to prophesy), “Have you seen what faithless Israel did (the northern tribes)? She went up on every high hill (Bamot) and under every green tree (an Asherah), and she was a harlot there (evidently Josiah’s reforms didn’t last. The Bamot and Asherim were everywhere. Judah should have learned from Israel’s mistakes).
v 7…And I thought, ‘After she has done all these things, she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it (the spiritual adultery, breaking the wedding covenant).
v 8…And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away (divorced and carried away by Assyria) and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went as was a harlot also (remember, deut 24.1-4 is the halakah for these verses. In the betrothal stage one is considered married and the relationship can only be dissolved by a divorce. Israel and Judah have not reached the full marriage stage yet. As a result, he can “remarry” Israel and Judah again and that is why there is a renewed or restored covenant-Jer 31.31-34; Ezek 36.24-27).
v 9…And it came about because of the lightness of her harlotry (a light thing, it spread fast), that she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones (mazavot or sacred pillars) and trees (the Asherah and Asherim).
v 10…And yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but rather in deception (the revivals in Josiah’s day only had an outward reform, but not of the heart for the most part. Josiah turned to God but many of the people did not, it was a “show.” As soon as he died they will go right back into idolatry-2 Kings 22 and 23).
v 11…And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous that treacherous Judah (because Judah had more light to learn from. They were closer to the Temple and had more righteous kings).
v 12…Go and proclaim these words toward the north (to Assyria where the ten tribes were taken) and say, ‘Return faithless Israel (this was to cause Judah to be jealous),’ declares the Lord (Yehovah); I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever.
v 13…Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God and have scattered your favors to the strangers (other gods) under every green tree (the groves where the Asherah was), and you have not obeyed my voice,’ declares the Lord (Yehovah).
v 14…Return (repent), O faithless sons,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I am a master (“baalti”, husband in the covenant with you) to you, and I will take one from a city and two from a family (the few that would be delivered) and bring you to Zion.’
v 15…Then I will give you shepherds (kings, princes, governors-Ezek 37.24) after my own heart (because they knew the Torah and the Scriptures) who will feed you in knowledge and understanding (of the word of God-Heb 4.12, 5.11-14; Ezek 37.24).
v 16…And it shall be in those days (a term for when the Messiah comes in the Messianic Kingdom) when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the Lord , “they shall say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ And it shall not come to mind (to inquire of it-Exo 25.22), nor shall it be made again (can mean “to use” because Yeshua’s presence will overshadow the ark when it is there. It is possible, therefore, people will come to the Temple to see the king not the ark because the real throne of God will be there now).
v 17…At that time (when Messiah comes) they shall call Jerusalem ‘The throne of the Lord (Yehovah)’ and all nations will be gathered to it, for the name of the Lord (Yehovah) in Jerusalem; nor shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart (Jeremiah spoke specifically about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in his prophecies and this was “treason” to the people. They thought God would never destroy Jerusalem. They were smug and complacent. Jeremiah had to combat this illusion in Jer 7.4-15. Shiloh and the ark wasn’t protected because of their sin, and God abandoned Jerusalem and the Temple as well in Jer 12.7, and the city was not infallible or invincible. As a result, Jeremiah is clearly talking about the Messianic Kingdom when Messiah comes in v 17-18).
v 18…In those days (when Messiah comes) the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel (united in Torah observance to Yehovah-Ezek 37.15-28, and they will (future) come together from the land of the north (out of exile) to the land that I gave ytour fathers as an inheritance.
v 19…Then I said, ‘How I would (gladly) set you among my sons (adopting those who rebelled) and give you a pleasant land (Judah-Dan 8.9, 11.16, 11.45; Ezek 20.6), the most beautiful inheritance of the nations (Dan 11.37)!” And I said, “You shall call me, My father, and not turn away from following me (in the Torah).’
v 20…Surely, as a woman treacherously departs from her friend (husband), so you have dealt treacherously with me (spiritually), O house of Israel,” declares the Lord (Yehovah reminds them of what they had been).
v 21…A voice is heard (of repentance) on the bare heights (the scene of their idolatry), the weeping and the supplications of the sons of Israel; because they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the Lord their God (the old paths is what they were lamenting and now they were humbling themselves-Jer 6.16).
v 22…”Return (“shuv” or repent), O faithless (apostate) sons, I will heal your faithlessness (apostasies).” “Behold (see for yourself), we come to thee (obeying your call and invitation); for thou art the Lord (Yehovah) our God (Eloheynu).
v 23…Surely (truly), the hills (the idols there) are a deception (a lie), a tumult (“hamon” or the wild orgies that accompanied idol worship like in Exo 32.18 and Num 25.1-9) on the mountains. Surely (truly), in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel (idolatry was a lie and Yehovah is the true source of salvation).
v 24…But the shameful thing (the idols, Baals and Asherim) has consumed the labor of our fathers (they have not reaped the benefits of all their labors because sin has brought calamity) since our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
v 25…Let us lie down in our shame and let our humiliation cover us (they are overwhelmed with their iniquities); for we have sinned against the Lord (Yehovah) our God (Eloheynu), we and our fathers (because we have not kept the Torah), since our youth even to this day (many years). And we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God (confession is the first step of teshuvah, or repentance, but this will be shown to be hypocritical).”