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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 2: Israel has forsaken God


[Preliminary Comment: Substantial prophecies are often difficult to take in and so to help the reader, we have not only used one line synopses and group comments, but have also sought to being clarification by short headings that seek to cover the next block as follows:

•  Instruction v.1,2
•  Remembrance v.3-7
•  Failure v.8
•  Accusation v.9-13
•  Demeaned in subjugation v.14-19
•  Guilt v.20-26
•  Helpless v.27-30
•  Reflection on the past v.31-34
•  Coming Judgement v.35-37




v.1,2a Jeremiah's first instruction: go and speak this in Jerusalem

v.1  The word of the Lord came to me:

v.2  ‘Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:


[Comment: Locations are important so the target here is the people of Jerusalem.]




v.2b,3 The people are called to remember their origins

‘This is what the Lord says:

‘“ I remember the devotion of your youth,
    how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
    through a land not sown.
v.3  Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the firstfruits of his harvest;
all who devoured her were held guilty,
    and disaster overtook them,”'
declares the Lord.


[Comment: The call is to remember their past, how they survived the 40 years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land, the first people to be called by God, and protected by Him to make them this special people – that they are supposed to be – implied.]



v.4-6 They hadn't then been able to raise a complaint against the Lord

v.4  Hear the word of the Lord, you descendants of Jacob,
    all you clans of Israel.

v.5  This is what the Lord says:

‘What fault did your ancestors find in me,
    that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
    and became worthless themselves.
v.6  They did not ask, “Where is the Lord,
    who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness,
    through a land of deserts and ravines,
a land of drought and utter darkness,
    a land where no one travels and no one lives?”

v.7 He had brought them into this wonderful land but they had sullied it [with idols]

v.7  I brought you into a fertile land
    to eat its fruit and rich produce.
But you came and defiled my land
    and made my inheritance detestable.


[Comment: The Lord reminds them of their ancestry – descendants of Jacob [v.4], descendants of ‘the twister', but although their descendants may have been sinners, they hadn't been able to find a fault with God [v.5a] while they, by contrast, became idol worshippers [v.5b] and at no time had they been able to suggest that He had varied from the One who had wonderfully delivered them out of Egypt into the Promised Land [v.6]. The implied point is that He hasn't changed but they have!]





v.8 Their spiritual leaders had failed them

v.8  The priests did not ask,
    “Where is the Lord ?”
Those who deal with the law did not know me;
    the leaders rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
    following worthless idols.


[Comment: Still referring to their past He requires them to realise afresh the wonder of the land He has brought them into [v.7a] to enjoy Him [implied] but instead they turned to idols and polluted it [v.7b]. Although He had given them the Law and the priesthood to guide them and prophets to speak on Hs behalf, now those priests failed in their duties of keeping the people on track [v.8a], thus the leaders turned away from God [v.8b] and the foolish prophets spoke in the name of the foreign idol, Baal [v.8c] The condemnation is clear!]





v.9 God will drag them into the court of heaven to accuse them and their children

v.9  ‘Therefore I bring charges against you again,'
declares the Lord.
    ‘And I will bring charges against your children's children.

v.10-12 He asks where such a thing has ever been seen, a people changing their gods

v.10  Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
    send to Kedar and observe closely;
    see if there has ever been anything like this:
v.11  has a nation ever changed its gods?
    (Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
    for worthless idols.
v.12  Be appalled at this, you heavens,
    and shudder with great horror,'
declares the Lord.

[Comment: The Lord demands that ‘the court' consider if such a thing has ever happened before, a people changing their object of worship? That is what the chosen people of God have done and He calls the world to witness this terrible thing.]



v.13 Two sins are revealed: forsaking God and creating their own spiritual resources

v.13  ‘My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

[Comment: This verse with a terrible clarity reveals the two sins of Israel: first to abandon God the source of all life and, second, to make their own substitute religion that will never satisfy.]





v.14-16 Israel has forsaken its birthright and become subject to others

v.14  Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth?
    Why then has he become plunder?
v.15  Lions have roared;
    they have growled at him.
They have laid waste his land;
    his towns are burned and deserted.
v.16  Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
    have cracked your skull.

v.17 They brought on themselves that subjugation

v.17  Have you not brought this on yourselves
    by forsaking the Lord your God
    when he led you in the way?

[Comment: This folly has meant that they have given up their role as God's free people and become subject to other nations. Shear folly!]



v.18 They won't find help turning towards other powerful nations

v.18  Now why go to Egypt
    to drink water from the Nile?
And why go to Assyria
    to drink water from the Euphrates?

v.19 Their sin brings suffering and that should bring them to their senses

v.19  Your wickedness will punish you;
    your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realise
    how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the Lord your God
    and have no awe of me,'
declares the Lord,
the Lord Almighty.


[Comment: The abandoning of God means they won't find help from other nations and instead they will find His discipline coming on them to bring them to their senses.





v.20 Long back they had turned from God [so often seen in their history]

v.20  ‘Long ago you broke off your yoke
    and tore off your bonds;
    you said, “I will not serve you!”
Indeed, on every high hill
    and under every spreading tree
    you lay down as a prostitute.

v.21 God had established them like a strong, fruitful plant but they became wild

v.21  I had planted you like a choice vine
    of sound and reliable stock.
How then did you turn against me
    into a corrupt, wild vine?

[Comment: This isn't just a recent thing; long back they had turned away from the Lord and turned to idolatry [it's there from Judges onwards!] and although the Lord had set them up to be strong and fruitful, they had turned from that inheritance.]



v.22,23 It doesn't matter how they try to pretend otherwise, they are guilty!

v.22  Although you wash yourself with soap
    and use an abundance of cleansing powder,
    the stain of your guilt is still before me,'
declares the Sovereign Lord.
v.23  ‘How can you say, “I am not defiled;
    I have not run after the Baals”?
See how you behaved in the valley;
    consider what you have done.
You are a swift she-camel
    running here and there,

v.24,25 Like wild, lusting animals they have gone after false religions

v.24  a wild donkey accustomed to the desert,
    sniffing the wind in her craving –
    in her heat who can restrain her?
Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves;
    at mating time they will find her.
v.25  Do not run until your feet are bare
    and your throat is dry.
But you said, “It's no use!
    I love foreign gods,
    and I must go after them.”


v.26 As with any criminal found out, they are disgraced.

v.26  ‘As a thief is disgraced when he is caught,
    so the people of Israel are disgraced –
they, their kings and their officials,
    their priests and their prophets.

[Comment: They cannot escape from the truth, they are guilty of these accusations, of turning from God to idolatry, and now everyone [in the world] can see what has happened and they are disgraced.]





v.27 They turned to idols and when in trouble cried to them to help

v.27  They say to wood, “You are my father,”
    and to stone, “You gave me birth.”
They have turned their backs to me
    and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
    “Come and save us!”

v.28 So let's see if they can help them now

v.28  Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?
    Let them come if they can save you
    when you are in trouble!
For you, Judah, have as many gods
    as you have towns.


[Comment: The folly of idolatry is clearly displayed. Idols, made by human hands can do nothing to help in a crisis.]



v.29 So why should they blame God now?

v.29  ‘Why do you bring charges against me?
    You have all rebelled against me,'
declares the Lord .

v.30 His disciplining of them has brought no fruit

v.30  ‘In vain I punished your people;
    they did not respond to correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
    like a ravenous lion.


[Comment: Any complaints against God, made to excuse themselves, are acts of pure rebellion. God has disciplined them but they have never learned.]





v.31,32 Had He Failed them, so why have they run off, forgetting all His goodness

v.31  ‘You of this generation, consider the word of the Lord :

‘Have I been a desert to Israel
    or a land of great darkness?
Why do my people say, “We are free to roam;
    we will come to you no more”?
v.32  Does a young woman forget her jewellery,
    a bride her wedding ornaments?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
    days without number.

v.33,34 They had excelled at turning to other religions

v.33  How skilled you are at pursuing love!
    Even the worst of women can learn from your ways.
v.34  On your clothes is found
    the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
    though you did not catch them breaking in.
Yet in spite of all this

[Comment: They can never say God wasn't there for them. No, it was a case that they have forgotten the Lord and wandered off after false religions.]





v.35,36 They may excuse themselves, but He will judge them

v.35    you say, “I am innocent;
    he is not angry with me.”
But I will pass judgment on you
    because you say, “I have not sinned.”
v.36  Why do you go about so much,
    changing your ways?
You will be disappointed by Egypt
    as you were by Assyria.

v.37 They will find there is no one to help them

v.37  You will also leave that place
    with your hands on your head,
for the Lord has rejected those you trust;
    you will not be helped by them.


[Comment: They may protest their innocence but that will not lessen their guilt as they turn to other nations for help that will not be forthcoming.]



Continue to Chapter 3