Jeremiah 2:1–37 (NKJV)
2:1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD:
“I remember you,
The kindness of your youth,
The love of your betrothal,
When you went after Me in the wilderness,
In a land not sown.
3 Israel was holiness to the LORD,
The firstfruits of His increase.
All that devour him will offend;
Disaster will come upon them,” says the LORD.’ ”
The Lord gives Jeremiah a tender reminder of how God and Israel initially was enamored with the Lord as a maiden after a great man, following Him in betrothal, living holy and giving Him her first and her best. In return, God guarded and protected her completely, watching over her as a watchman over a city.
4 Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the LORD:
“What injustice have your fathers found in Me,
That they have gone far from Me,
Have followed idols,
And have become idolaters?
6 Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD,
Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the wilderness,
Through a land of deserts and pits,
Through a land of drought and the shadow of death,
Through a land that no one crossed
And where no one dwelt?’
7 I brought you into a bountiful country,
To eat its fruit and its goodness.
But when you entered, you defiled My land
And made My heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’
And those who handle the law did not know Me;
The rulers also transgressed against Me;
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
And walked after things that do not profit.
In this passage, the Lord speaks of His utter disdain for the fact that Israel turned her back on the Lord, and turned to idols to worship. They forgot their affection for Him and His protection of them. God provided powerfully for them and took them into a promised land, but they ignored or forgot Him.
9 “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the LORD,
“And against your children’s children I will bring charges.
10 For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see,
Send to Kedar and consider diligently,
And see if there has been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
Which are not gods?
But My people have changed their Glory
For what does not profit.
12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this,
And be horribly afraid;
Be very desolate,” says the LORD.
13 “For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Therefore, God will bring charges against them. They have done worse than the idolatrous nations surrounding them: they have changed their allegiance from their God to another. Verse 13 is pivotal to this chapter. They left a fountain of living water, and have decided to drink from a pot with a hole in it. How foolish!
14 “Is Israel a servant?
Is he a homeborn slave?
Why is he plundered?
15 The young lions roared at him, and growled;
They made his land waste;
His cities are burned, without inhabitant.
16 Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes
Have broken the crown of your head.
17 Have you not brought this on yourself,
In that you have forsaken the LORD your God
When He led you in the way?
18 And now why take the road to Egypt,
To drink the waters of Sihor?
Or why take the road to Assyria,
To drink the waters of the River?
19 Your own wickedness will correct you,
And your backslidings will rebuke you.
Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing
That you have forsaken the LORD your God,
And the fear of Me is not in you,”
Says the Lord GOD of hosts.
20 “For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds;
And you said, ‘I will not transgress,’
When on every high hill and under every green tree
You lay down, playing the harlot.
21 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality.
How then have you turned before Me
Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?
22 For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap,
Yet your iniquity is marked before Me,” says the Lord GOD.
23 “How can you say, ‘I am not polluted,
I have not gone after the Baals’?
See your way in the valley;
Know what you have done:
You are a swift dromedary breaking loose in her ways,
24 A wild donkey used to the wilderness,
That sniffs at the wind in her desire;
In her time of mating, who can turn her away?
All those who seek her will not weary themselves;
In her month they will find her.
25 Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst.
But you said, ‘There is no hope.
No! For I have loved aliens, and after them I will go.’
26 “As the thief is ashamed when he is found out,
So is the house of Israel ashamed;
They and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets,
27 Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’
For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face.
But in the time of their trouble
They will say, ‘Arise and save us.’
28 But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves?
Let them arise,
If they can save you in the time of your trouble;
For according to the number of your cities
Are your gods, O Judah.
These passages basically chronicle the many ways that Israel has committed adultery with the gods and nations surrounding them, even though they deny the acts. God spells it out, counting Egypt and Assyria as their lovers, and Baal, trees, and stones. They are like animals in heat, seeking for lovers from everywhere but their own house. God had broken their bonds, set the free, provided for them, yet they left the fold and wandered looking for love. Yet their new gods were unable to save them, and their lovers used them, abused them, and left them on the side of the road.
29 “Why will you plead with Me?
You all have transgressed against Me,” says the LORD.
30 “In vain I have chastened your children;
They received no correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion.
31 “O generation, see the word of the LORD!
Have I been a wilderness to Israel,
Or a land of darkness?
Why do My people say, ‘We are lords;
We will come no more to You’?
32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
Or a bride her attire?
Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.
33 “Why do you beautify your way to seek love?
Therefore you have also taught
The wicked women your ways.
34 Also on your skirts is found
The blood of the lives of the poor innocents.
I have not found it by secret search,
But plainly on all these things.
35 Yet you say, ‘Because I am innocent,
Surely His anger shall turn from me.’
Behold, I will plead My case against you,
Because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
36 Why do you gad about so much to change your way?
Also you shall be ashamed of Egypt as you were ashamed of Assyria.
37 Indeed you will go forth from him
With your hands on your head;
For the LORD has rejected your trusted allies,
And you will not prosper by them.
In these final statements, the Lord shows Israel just how despicable they have come. They have shed innocent blood and the stains are on their garments. They have forgotten their wedding attire and the ornaments given to them by God at their marriage. They plead with God, wondering why He is angry, when they know they have sinned against Him. They are trying to come home from their harlotries, because their new lovers have rejected them. The image of them walking from Egypt and Assyria with their hands on their heads is a gesture of shame, like someone arrested covering their head so photographers cannot take their picture. Live right and avoid the spiritual “perp walk.”
Remain true to the one true God. Worship Him only. Deny the gods of the world a place in your life. Do not leave the house of the Lord, your husband, to chase after other lovers. Be a true and faithful bride, and reap the blessings of God. He is the only One that can provide for you and protect you in the ways you need and desire. Be true, and do not commit the adultery of idolatry!