A saying: ‘Look, if a man divorces his wife,
and she goes from him and she becomes another man’s wife,
will he return to her again?’
Will not that land be greatly defiled?
And you have prostituted yourself with many lovers,
would you now return to me?” declares Yahweh.
2 “Lift up your eyes at the barren heights,
and see where you have not been ravished.
Beside the roads you sat for them like an Arab in the desert,
and you have defiled the land
with your fornication
and with your wickedness.
3 Therefore rain showers have been withheld,
and the spring rain has not come.
Yet you have the forehead of a woman prostitute,
you refuse to be ashamed.
4 Have you not just now called to me,
‘My father, you are the close friend of my youth?
5 Will he be angry forever?
Will he maintain it always’?
Look, you have spoken,
but you have done all the evil that you could.”
Yahweh Gives Israel a Letter of Divorce
6 Then Yahweh said to me in the days of Josiah, the king, “Have you seen what apostate Israel has done? She has gone on every high hill and under every leafy tree and she has prostituted herself there. 7 And I thought, ‘After her doing all these things to me she will return,’ but she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 And I saw that for this very reason, that on account of apostate Israel committing adultery I divorced her and gave the letter of divorce to her. Yet her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid and she went and prostituted herself also. 9 And it was because of the frivolity of her fornication that she defiled the land and committed adultery with the stone and with the tree. 10 Yet even in all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares Yahweh.
A Call for Repentance
11 Then Yahweh said to me, “Apostate Israel has proved herself more upright than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say,
‘Return, apostate Israel,’ declares Yahweh.
‘I will not cause my anger to fall on you.
For I am loyal,’ declares Yahweh.
‘I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt,
that against Yahweh your God you have rebelled,
and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every leafy tree,
and you have not obeyed my voice,’ declares Yahweh.”
14 “Return, apostate children,” declares Yahweh. “For I am your master, and I will take you one from a city and two from a clan, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart and they will feed you knowledge and insight. 16 And it will be when you have multiplied and become fruitful in the land in those days,” declares Yahweh, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of Yahweh.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of Yahweh,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of Yahweh, to Jerusalem, and they will no longer go after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk along with the house of Israel and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave as an inheritance to your ancestors.
19 Then I thought, ‘How I would set you among the children,
and I would give you a land of desire,
an inheritance of the glory of the hosts of nations.’
And I thought, ‘You would call me, “My father,”
and you would not turn back from behind me.’
20 However, as a wife departs treacherously from her lover,
so you have dealt treacherously with me,
O house of Israel,” declares Yahweh.
21 “A voice is heard on the barren heights,
the weeping of the pleas for mercy of the children of Israel,
because they have perverted their way,
they have forgotten Yahweh their God.
22 Return, O apostate children,
I will heal your backsliding.
‘Look, we come to you,
for you are Yahweh our God.
23 Surely, an illusion comes from the hills,
the turmoil on the mountains.
Surely, in Yahweh our God
is the salvation of Israel.
24 But the shameful thing has devoured
the labor of our ancestors from our youth,
their flocks, and their cattle,
their sons and their daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame,
and let our disgrace cover us.
For against Yahweh our God we have sinned,
we and our ancestors,
from our youth and until this day.
and we have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God.’
4 If you return, O Israel,” declares Yahweh,
“you return to me.
And if you remove your abominations from my presence,
and you do not wander,
2 and you swear, ‘As Yahweh lives,’
in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then nations will be blessed by him,
and in him they will boast.”
3 For thus says Yahweh
to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem,
“Break up for yourselves prepared virgin soil,
and you must not sow among thornbushes.
4 Circumcise yourselves to Yahweh,
and remove the foreskins of your hearts,
men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
lest my wrath goes forth like the fire and burns,
and there is no one who extinguishes it,
because of the evil of your deeds.”
An Invasion from the North
5 Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say,
“Blow a horn through the land,
call with a loud voice and say,
‘Be gathered and let us go into the fortified cities.’
6 Lift up a signal toward Zion,
bring yourselves to safety; you must not remain standing,
for I am bringing evil from the north,
and a great destruction.
7 A lion has gone up from his thicket,
and a destroyer of nations has set out.
He has gone out from his place to make your land as a horror,
your cities will go to ruin without inhabitant.
8 Because of this gird yourselves with sackcloth, lament and wail,
for the burning anger of Yahweh has not turned back from us.
9 And then on that day,” declares Yahweh,
“the heart of the king and the heart of the officials will be destroyed,
and the priests will be appalled,
and the prophets will be astonished.”
10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord Yahweh, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It will be peace for you,’ while the sword reaches up to the throat.”
11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem,
“A hot wind from the barren heights in the desert,
in the direction of the daughter of my people,
not to winnow and not to cleanse,
12 a wind too strong for these will come for me,
now also I speak judgments against them.”
13 Look, he comes up like the clouds,
and his chariots are like the whirlwind,
his horses are swifter than eagles,
woe to us, for we are devastated.
14 Cleanse your heart from wickedness, O Jerusalem,
so that you may be saved.
How long will your thoughts of mischief
dwell in your inner part?
15 For a voice is declaring from Dan,
and is proclaiming disaster from the mountain of Ephraim.
16 “Report to the nations, ‘Here they are!’
Proclaim against Jerusalem,
‘Besiegers are coming from a distant land,
and they raise their voice against the cities of Judah.’
17 Like watchers of a field they were against her from all around,
because she has rebelled against me,” declares Yahweh.
18 “You obtained this for yourself
because of your way and your deeds.
This is your doom, for it is bitter,
yes, it has reached up to your heart.”
15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, 16 because all things in the heavens and on the earth were created by him, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers, all things were created through him and for him, 17 and he himself is before all things, and in him all things are held together, 18 and he himself is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he himself may become first in everything, 19 because he was well pleased for all the fullness to dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself, by making peace through the blood of his cross, through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and enemies in attitude, because of your evil deeds, 22 but now you have been reconciled by his physical body through death, to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you remain in the faith, established and steadfast and not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Paul’s Suffering and Stewardship
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings on behalf of you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ, on behalf of his body which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister, according to God’s stewardship which was given to me for you, to complete the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but has now been revealed to his saints, 27 to whom God wanted to make known what is the glorious wealth of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, 28 whom we proclaim, by admonishing every person and teaching every person with all wisdom, in order that we may present every person mature in Christ, 29 for which purpose also I labor, striving according to his working which is at work powerfully in me.
Christ, the Mystery of God
2 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on behalf of you, and those in Laodicea, and all those who have not seen my face in person, 2 so that their hearts may be encouraged, united in love and into all the wealth of the full assurance of insight into the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, 3 in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. 4 I say this in order that no one will deceive you with persuasive speech, 5 for even if I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing and seeing your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
Balances of deceit are an abomination of Yahweh,
but an accurate weight delights him.
2 Pride comes, then disgrace comes,
but wisdom is with the humble.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
4 Wealth does not profit on the day of wrath,
but righteousness will deliver from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless will keep his ways straight,
but the wicked will fall by his wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright will save them,
but by a scheme the treacherous will be taken captive.
7 With the death of a wicked person, hope will die,
and the expectation of the godless perishes.
8 The righteous is delivered from trouble,
but the wicked enters into it.
9 With a mouth, the godless shall destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
10 When good is with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and with the perishing of the wicked, jubilation.
11 By the blessing of the upright, a city will be exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked, it will be overthrown.
12 He who lacks sense belittles his neighbor,
but a person of intelligence will remain silent.
“God wanted to make known what is the glorious wealth of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).
Paul’s use of the word “mystery” in this passage may strike us as a bit strange. How is the person and work of Christ shrouded in secrecy? And why would Paul present Christ as a mystery if his point is that God wanted to make Christ known?
The answer is found in the culture of early Colossae, a city known for its infatuation with magic and the occult. Among the Gentile cults, “mystery” was often associated with a secret ritual that people must perform to create a relationship with a god. False teachers in the community at Colossae were promoting alternative ways to get to God—secret rituals that would lead to special knowledge for a select few.
Paul contextualizes the gospel for the Colossians. He adopts this “mystery” language to show that Christ is the only way to God. The mystical path presented to the Colossians was a farce—a shell of what the Colossian believers had in Christ. It’s in Him that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” (Col 2:3).
Paul wisely draws on language and tradition familiar to his audience to make the “mystery” of Christ known to all—not just a select few. Paul says he proclaims Christ so that “by admonishing every person and teaching every person with all wisdom … we may present every person mature in Christ” (Col 1:28).
Because he was familiar with the culture of Colossae, Paul was able to acknowledge the challenges the believers faced, and then present the gospel as they needed to hear it: Christ is the only way. How are you resting in Christ as the only way to God? How are you thoughtfully revealing this “mystery” to those in your church and community?
Do you look for other ways to get to God, like your own goodness or your own ability to earn favor?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.