Jeremiah 3:6-7, I thought she would return but she did not.

by Matt Slick

"Then the Lord said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. 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," (Jer. 3:6-7).

What we see here is an anthropomorphic expression (God using human terms, forms, and means) from God about Israel.  God speaks to Israel as a husband speaks to his wife.  John Frame sums it up beautifully:

"In Jeremiah 3, God interacts with Israel as a husband with his unfaithful wife....this passage deals with God's relation to Israel in history, not his eternal decrees and eternal foreknowledge.  The thrust of the passage is that recent history should have motivated the repentance of Israel and Judah, but in fact they continued their spiritual adultery.  As their husband, God had hoped (this hope being an expression of his preceptive will) for something better."1

For clarification, the term Mr. Frame used, "preceptive will," is a theological term denoting the will of God that is contrasted with His decretive will.  In God's decretive will, He ordains certain things to occur, and they will occur.  In God's preceptive will, He allows certain things to occur (like the fall, sin, rebellion, sickness, etc.) that are not in His decretive will.  Another way to look at it is to say that it is God's "permissive" will; that is, He permits sinful things to occur even though sin is contrary to His perfect will.

Nevertheless, this passage demonstrates the manner in which God relates to His people in human terms.  Therefore, we should expect human type statements.

  • 1. Frame, John, No Other God: A Response to Open Theism, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2001, p. 196.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.