Jeremiah 2


‘The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: ‘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. 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. Hear the word of the LORD, you descendants of Jacob, all you clans of Israel.’ Jeremiah 2:1-4

In Jeremiah 2 is God looking at the past picture of everything.

As this chapter reveals, Judah’s reforms under Josiah were external only and didn’t touch the hearts of the people. They just went on doing what they always did. They delighted in shameful sexual activities. They continued worshipping other so-called gods.

God says I remember how it used to be. I remember your attitude, the kindness of your youth. God remembered their affection. He remembers how they used to be active. He remembers how they used to be holy, set apart only for Him. He remembers how she, Israel, was admired. She was the first fruits of His harvest, His increase. Everyone who tried to offend Israel offended God.

‘The valley’ mentioned later in Jeremiah 2:23 indicates the sacrifice of their children to Molech at the very time of their brazen claim of innocence. If the reforms under Josiah had been successful, Israel would have repented. If they had returned to the God of their fathers, the Lord would most certainly have postponed their terminal judgment to exile, to the captivity.

‘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. 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?’ 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. 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.’ Jeremiah 2:5-8

Here we have the present picture. Before God brings any case before them he challenges the nation to find fault in Him. They are looking for a ‘divorce’, but it is because of what they have done and not what God has done. He contrasts their wrong with His right. The gross stupidity and sinfulness of the whole nation are dramatically shown here.

The Chosen People, who enjoyed the exalted position as the wife of God Himself, who were protected from every enemy, moved into Canaan to replace the pagan inhabitants, and became worse than the people that they replaced.

They ran from God to ruin. They have fallen away from God. They went after worthlessness and became worthless. They became profane because they went after profane things. These principles will always exist.

‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchange the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.’ Romans 1:21-24

They didn’t remember God who led them through many, many years. They now come to the present situation. They are deprived. God brought them up out of Egypt. That is the only way God does lead, up. Through the wilderness, when they were in desolation. In the desert, there was death and drought.

All of this should have made them remember; just thinking about the past. The Prodigal Son learnt by his mistakes. But not the Israelites. God had made provision for them. He had given them a plentiful country, fruit and food were good. But they polluted it.

The priests were complacent and indifferent They never looked for the Lord on behalf of the people. The Levites didn’t know God. The rulers, the shepherds, were disobedient. The prophets were working for Baal, instead of working for the Lord. Probably it was money and sexual pleasures that took them away from their duties. Jeremiah 2:5 says that they ‘followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.’

They were a stupid group of blind, selfish, leaders. With that type of leadership, the people didn’t have a chance. As Jesus stated in Mark 6:34 ‘they were like sheep without a shepherd.’

There were no precepts or laws because those that handled the law didn’t know God. They all went their own ways and sinned against the Lord. There was no power from the prophets. They worshipped idols, not God. And so, they lost everything. They had everything, now they have nothing.

                            The priests have lost the sacrifice for sin.

The scribes have lost the study of Scripture.

The shepherds have lost the sustenance and strength to lead the people.

The prophets have lost the source of a secret word.

‘Therefore, I bring charges against you again,’ declares the LORD. ‘And I will bring charges against your children’s children. Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar and observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this: 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. Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,’ declares the LORD. ‘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.’ Jeremiah 2:9-13

The plaintive plea. God is on solid ground. He wants them to wake up. Even pagan people refused to turn from their gods; but Israel, who had a living God, changed him. From glory and gain, they chose godlessness. They forsook the fountain of living water for cisterns that held no water.

‘Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder? Lions have roared; they have growled at him. They have laid waste his land; his towns are burned and deserted. Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have cracked your skull. Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way? Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Nile? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the Euphrates? Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize 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.’ Jeremiah 2:14-19

These verses tell the consequences of this. Israel finds herself being fed on by others, taxation, etc. She has become prey to everybody. What a sorry picture of God’s people! They had forsaken a powerful, loving God. But this hasn’t led them to fear or to acknowledge God.

‘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. 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? 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. ‘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.’ Jeremiah 2:20-23

The hypocrisy of Judah. She is playing a harlot with every god on the high hills. But still, she plays the part of God follower. God shows the proof of her going astray. She is defiled before God. What defiled her?

They were living a dual life. They wanted Baal, denying God. But at the same time, she pretends she is pure and loved by God. Anyone who offers God second place is out of contact with him. So, Judah is wandering and wild.

‘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. 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.’ Jeremiah 2:24-25

She is like a craving donkey in the wilderness. A donkey in heat in the desert. She thinks she is free. But she is wide open to attack. She has got nowhere to go. She is easy prey for the males who pursue her. Israel thinks that she can make all the noise that she likes, no one will find her.

God pleads with her that she protects her steps. His pleas are met with indifference. It’s a desperate situation. It’s no use. It is hopeless. Israel wanted alliances with surrounding countries so that they would not attack her. She couldn’t see the danger in it.

‘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. 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!’ 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. ‘Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,’ declares the LORD. ‘In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a ravenous lion.’ Jeremiah 2:26-30

Judah will be in want. She ‘shall be shamed’. She will be like a caught thief, Psalm 115:1-9. This is what Israel was looking upon. They were as helpless as the idols that they worshipped. They knew their past. God pleads with them again. I have done nothing to you, says the Lord, so why do you complain against me; why do you blame me?

You took no correction, instruction. The prophets you could have used, who could instruct you, you have done away with, Matthew 23:37.

‘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’? Does a young woman forget her jewellery, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number. How skilled you are at pursuing love! Even the worst of women can learn from your ways. 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 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.’ Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria. 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.’ Jeremiah 2:31-37

God’s parting plea. Take heed. Here are my rules. Here is the record of them. He reminds them of the rebellion. My people have forgotten me. God says they have become efficient, ‘how skilled you are at pursuing love’, but efficient at what?

At seeking love and sexual pleasure. So efficient have they become in this that they are even teaching evil people your ways. As if they are not bad enough!

The blood of people is on them, but they are not bothered about these things. God will reward their rebellion.

‘You say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me.’ Some versions say, ‘you plea’ instead of ‘you say.’ The Hebrew word for ‘you say’ means ‘to be judged.’ This is a judgment, not a plea. You will be put to shame by Egypt as you were by Assyria.

Go To Jeremiah 3