The second and final prophecy given during Josiah’s reign: A shocking appeal to the House of Israel during the reign of Josiah! My reader, when was the last time this happened? Yes, Jeremiah prophesied to the House of Israel from the Land of Judah during the reign of Josiah! Think of it, my reader. Since Jeremiah was ordained as a Prophet at the 13th year of Josiah’s reign, this was the second and final prophecy given the whole duration of Josiah’s reign. This means that for an 18-year period there were only two prophecies given to Jeremiah.
The first was an introductory prophecy which revealed the cause of justice which had been increasing in momentum for generations, finding relevance in the reign of Jehoiakim and irrelevance in the reign of Josiah (because Josiah found grace in the eyes of the Lord). Therefore, notably, this prophecy (the second prophecy) was primarily given to the children of Israel, not Judah. For good reason! Because of the King of Judah, named Josiah, the people of Judah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; and, because of the King of Judah, named Josiah, the people of Israel were finding opportunity to discover grace in the eyes of the Lord. At such a time the people of Israel NEEDED to hear the merciful voice of God!
By this time, the children of Israel had been nearly annihilated and then dispersed by the Assyrians, whom the Lord graciously turned away from the neck of Judah during the reign of Hezekiah, and being thus judged by God Almighty, Israel was moved to “weeping and supplications” before the Lord, with many vows (Jer. 3:21-25). Not only this, but, the Israelite people’s prayers for mercy were all the more significant because Josiah, the King of Judah, was traversing across the Land of Israel to eradicate idolatry for the first time in hundreds of years! So, of course, because Jeremiah was a companion of Josiah during this time, which means that he certainly knew what Josiah was doing and why he was doing it – lo, and behold, at timely word from the LORD came unto Jeremiah for the people among whom Josiah traversed! Furthermore, the people of Israel were compelled into the audience of Josiah (and more importantly, the LORD) when they kept the Passover Feast at Josiah’s compulsion. Remember, Josiah compelled Israel to return to the edicts of the Law so as to worship God at the Temple in Jerusalem according to the scriptures (Deut. 16:1-8), an event which hadn’t happened for hundreds of years! Therefore, it was amidst these very peculiar and relevant circumstances, the Lord said, “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” (Jer. 3:12). The Lord spoke the word of hope in a needed hour, saying, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings” (Jer. 3:22). What a Glory!
Cohesively, Jeremiah 3:6-11 effectually introduces the warrant of mercy made available to the House of Israel in light of the sins of Judah that were committed by the sons of Hezekiah who reigned long before Josiah did, especially the sins of Manasseh. Very specifically, doomsday was irrevocably made imminent on account of Manasseh’s unspeakable wickedness (2 Kings 21:2-18, 24:3-4, Jer. 15:1-9)! In the wake of a revival that Israel wasn’t privileged to experience (transpiring in the days of Hezekiah), Manasseh made Judah to sin against greater light and thereby they “justified” God’s appeal of mercy to Israel (Jer. 3:11). Thus, verses 6-11 are a justifying introduction to the pathetic appeals of mercy and redemption given to Israel when, of recent, Judah had acted so treacherously from a superior point of privilege, though not during Josiah’s reign.