Jeremiah 3 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Jeremiah 3)

Verse 1

[1] 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.

Shall be — He cannot take her again according to the law, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Yet I am ready to be reconciled to you.

Polluted — Would not so great a sin greatly pollute a nation? Many - Not with one only, but many idols.

Verse 2

[2] 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.

Lien with — Where there are not the footsteps of thy idolaters.

Sat — To assure passengers.

As the Arabian — An allusion to the custom of that people, who were wont to pitch their tents by the way-sides, that they might meet with their customers to trade, as they passed along.

Wickedness — Not only thy idolatries, but other wicked courses.

Verse 3

[3] 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.

A whore's forehead — For all this, thou didst still remain obstinate, as ashamed of nothing.

Verse 4

[4] Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?

My father — Wilt thou not as a child call upon me, whom thou hast thus greatly provoked.

The guide — I have been brought up by thee.

Verse 5

[5] 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.

Will he — Will he not be reconciled?

Verse 6

[6] The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.

Israel — The ten tribes who fell off from Judah.

Verse 8

[8] And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

Given a bill — Delivered her up into the hands of the Assyrian, where God took from her the title of being his church, 2 Kings 17:5,6.

Verse 10

[10] And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.

And yet — Though God saw what she did, and though she saw the shameful idolatry of Israel, and what she had suffered.

Verse 12

[12] Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.

The north — To Assyria and Media, that lay northward from Judea, whither the ten tribes were carried by Tiglath-pileser, and Salmanezer.

Verse 13

[13] Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.

Strangers — To other gods, or to idols, running here and there up and down.

Verse 14

[14] Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

I am married — I am in covenant with you, and this covenant notwithstanding all your unfaithfulness, I am ready to renew with you.

Family — This word is taken frequently for a country or nation, and this may partly respect the fewness of those that will return. But chiefly it respects God's exact care of them, that being now married to them, there shall not be one in a city, or two in a country or tribe, but he will find them out.

Zion — The ten tribes did never return into their own land, therefore this must be understood of a spiritual going up to Zion, when all Israel shall be saved, Romans 11:26.

Verse 16

[16] And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.

Multiplied — After the growth of the church under the Messiah.

The ark — That whole worship with all the rites and ceremonies belonging to it shall cease, Christ being come, who was the substance of what the ark, and all other rites shadowed.

Covenant — Called also the ark of the testimony, because the two tables of the law, which were the testimony, or witness of the covenant were in it.

Any more — It shall be no more in use; neither shall men trouble their thoughts about it, or mention it.

Verse 17

[17] At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

The throne — Instead of the ark, the church typified by Jerusalem, shall be the place of God's residence, where by his spirit he will rule and act in his word and ordinances.

Jerusalem — Dwelling in Jerusalem, or where the Lord placed his name, of old in Jerusalem, but now in the church.

Neither — Both Jews and Gentiles shall now conform themselves to the will of God.

Verse 18

[18] In 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 have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.

Judah — The two kingdoms shall become one.

Shall come — Of their captivity, a promise of their enjoying again their ancient possession at their last conversion.

Verse 19

[19] But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.

Put — Esteem thee as my child, 'till thou give some proof, of thy repentance.

Give thee — How shall I put thee into possession of that pleasant land.

Of nations — Great hosts and multitudes of nations, or Gentiles, that shall be joined to them in the gospel church.

Thou shalt — On this condition, that thou wilt own me, and not return any more to idols.

Verse 21

[21] A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.

A voice — Here the prophet seems to express Israel's repentance.

Forgotten — This expresses, rather the matter or their prayer, than the cause of it.

Verse 23

[23] Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.

The hills — From idols which were worshipped upon hills.

Mountains — The multitude of sacrifices, which they offer in the mountains.

Verse 24

[24] For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.

Shame — Sin, which causes shame, for that brought shame first into the world.

Devoured — This hath been the fruit of our labour.

Verse 25

[25] We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.

Lie down — An expression to set forth the greatness of their repentance and sorrow in great perplexity, not knowing what to do, throws himself down upon his couch or bed.