John T. Willis

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Dilemma of God's Two Wives--Jeremiah 3:1-18

Using the same figure or metaphor of God as the husband and Israel as the wife, Jeremiah 3:1-18 further unfolds the story of the relationship of God's marriage with Israel. Jeremiah 3:1-18 falls into three segments: 3:1-5, 6-14, 15-18.

I. Yahweh's love for his wife surpasses Yahweh's law about divorce. Jeremiah 3:1-5.
a. The ONLY law in the entire Old Testament about divorce appears in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. The law is clear and specific. If a man marries a woman and later divorces his wife and his wife marries another man and then divorces her second husband, that man cannot marry his first wife a second time. But Yahweh declares that Israel [Judah] has left Yahweh and gone after "many lovers." 3:1-3.
b. Yahweh has punished Judah, so Judah cries out to Yahweh: "My Father the friend of my youth." This is what Judah SAYS, but she has DONE all the evil she could. We often SAY one thing, but DO something entirely different. 3:4-5.

II. North Israel's FAITHLESS wife is more pleasing to Yahweh than Judah's FALSE wife. Jeremiah 3:6-14.
a. Jeremiah compares North Israel and Judah with two wives of the same husband, in this case, Yahweh. Jeremiah originally delivered this message in the days of Josiah, probably after Hilkiah the priest discovered the law of Yahweh in the temple in 623 BCE. 3:6.
b. North Israel is like an unfaithful wife who openly and blatantly lives the life of a prostitute or whore. This is bad enough. But even worse, Judah is like a false wife who lives the life of a prostitute or whore secretly or in hiding. "Judah did not return to me WITH HER WHOLE HEART, but IN PRETENSE, says the Lord." The people of Judah go to church regularly, but during the rest of the week, they lives ungodly lives. The recurring phrase "on every high hill and under every green tree" appears frequently referring to the worship of Baal (see 2:20). 3:6-11. Yahweh declares that "Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah"
c. Yahweh now beseeches the people of Judah to "return" to Yahweh. Yahweh is "merciful." He will not be angry forever. Yahweh is Judah's "master," and Judah is supposed to be Yahweh's servant. 3:12-14.

III. Yahweh gives his people several promises about the future. Jeremiah 3:15-18.
a. Yahweh will give his people "shepherds" to give them food of knowledge and understanding. 3:15.
b. Jerusalem will be the throne of Yahweh. 3:16-17.
c. Yahweh will unite the house of North Israel and the house of Judah, and bring the exiles back home. 3:18. It is very important to realize that God will reunite the divided land of Israel.

There is a powerful message in Jeremiah 3:1-18. Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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