Jeremiah 2: Israel has forsaken God
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
Demeaned in subjugation
Reflection on the
Jeremiah's first instruction: go and speak this in Jerusalem
word of the Lord came to me:
and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:
Locations are important so the target here is the people
The people are called to remember their origins
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.
was holy to the Lord,
the firstfruits of his harvest;
all who devoured her were held guilty,
and disaster overtook them,”'
declares the Lord.
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 –
They hadn't then been able to raise a complaint against the Lord
the word of the Lord, you descendants of Jacob,
all you clans of Israel.
is what the Lord says:
fault did your ancestors find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.
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
He had brought them into this wonderful land but they had sullied
it [with idols]
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.
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!]
Their spiritual leaders had failed them
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.
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
God will drag them into the court of heaven to accuse them and
I bring charges against you again,'
declares the Lord.
‘And I will bring charges against your
He asks where such a thing has ever been seen, a people changing
over to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
send to Kedar and observe closely;
see if there has ever been anything like
a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols.
appalled at this, you heavens,
and shudder with great horror,'
declares the Lord.
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.]
Two sins are revealed: forsaking God and creating their own spiritual
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.
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.]
DEMEANED IN SUBJUGATION
Israel has forsaken its birthright and become subject to others
Israel a servant, a slave by birth?
Why then has he become plunder?
they have growled at him.
They have laid waste his land;
his towns are burned and deserted.
the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skull.
They brought on themselves that subjugation
you not brought this on yourselves
by forsaking the Lord your God
when he led you in the way?
This folly has meant that they have given up their role
as God's free people and become subject to other nations. Shear
They won't find help turning towards other powerful nations
why go to Egypt
to drink water from the Nile?
And why go to Assyria
to drink water from the Euphrates?
Their sin brings suffering and that should bring them to their
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.
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.
Long back they had turned from God [so often seen in their history]
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.
God had established them like a strong, fruitful plant but they
had planted you like a choice vine
of sound and reliable stock.
How then did you turn against me
into a corrupt, wild vine?
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.]
It doesn't matter how they try to pretend otherwise, they are
you wash yourself with soap
and use an abundance of cleansing powder,
the stain of your guilt is still before
declares the Sovereign Lord.
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,
Like wild, lusting animals they have gone after false religions
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.
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.”
As with any criminal found out, they are disgraced.
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.
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.]
They turned to idols and when in trouble cried to them to help
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!”
So let's see if they can help them now
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.
The folly of idolatry is clearly displayed. Idols, made
by human hands can do nothing to help in a crisis.]
So why should they blame God now?
do you bring charges against me?
You have all rebelled against me,'
declares the Lord .
His disciplining of them has brought no fruit
vain I punished your people;
they did not respond to correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
like a ravenous lion.
Any complaints against God, made to excuse themselves,
are acts of pure rebellion. God has disciplined them but they
have never learned.]
REFLECTION ON THE PAST
Had He Failed them, so why have they run off, forgetting all His
of this generation, consider the word of the Lord :
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”?
a young woman forget her jewellery,
a bride her wedding ornaments?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
days without number.
They had excelled at turning to other religions
skilled you are at pursuing love!
Even the worst of women can learn from
your clothes is found
the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
though you did not catch them breaking
Yet in spite of all this
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.]
They may excuse themselves, but He will judge them
say, “I am innocent;
he is not angry with me.”
But I will pass judgment on you
because you say, “I have not sinned.”
do you go about so much,
changing your ways?
You will be disappointed by Egypt
as you were by Assyria.
They will find there is no one to help them
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.
They may protest their innocence but that will not lessen
their guilt as they turn to other nations for help that will not
to Chapter 3