God had a message for Jerusalem, but would His people hear Him? The Lord reminds Judah of a better day. When we read in the Scriptures of the forty years in the wilderness, it does not appear to be a high point of holiness. Yet God remembers it as the glory days of Israel’s youth by the time of Jeremiah. Back in the time of the Exodus, though Israel rebelled, they had no choice ultimately but to literally follow God or perish in the desert. During that time God defended them against their enemies. While we can call to mind many episodes of faithlessness, and we know that an entire generation was lost in that wilderness and was not permitted to enter the Promised Land, yet by the time of Jeremiah the trouble of the Lord’s people was far more severe. They seemed utterly insensible to the correction of the Almighty.
God inquires in Jeremiah 2 concerning any supposed fault that Judah may have found in Him that would lead them to reject Him. Of course there is no such fault in the Lord. Nonetheless His people abandoned the Lord and set their hearts on worthless idols.
Though the Lord corrected His people on many occasions, and though during the time of the Judges the people responded in part to the discipline of the Lord, even then any repentance among the Lord’s flock became less and less significant with each passing generation. Eventually they did not seem to be responding at all. When they faced trouble they did not sincerely ask, “Where is the Lord?” The people defiled the land and even the leaders did not appear to be faithful to the Word of God. So few were calling the nation back to spiritual fidelity.
Even nations with man-made religions do not readily abandon their gods, and yet the people of the Lord preferred idols that their hands made to the God who was able to save them. They committed these two evils: 1) They gave up on the real God who was a “fountain of living waters,” and 2) They made “broken cisterns” of false spiritual water instead, clinging to useless idols of wood and stone.
What could possibly be done to change this sad situation? At times Judah ran to Egypt and Assyria for help, but they would not flee to the God who made them. They killed and committed adultery. They abused the poor for their own gain. They turned to a tree or a stone and said, “You are my Father,” and then turned away from their real heavenly Father as an unwanted stranger. Would further correction actually help in such a situation? There was nothing left but to give them over to the nations whose gods they had so frequently admired.
This spiritual heartbreak is not just an Old Covenant nightmare. Even today the church can become insensible to the discipline of God. Many turn away from the Christ in whom they were nurtured, and decide that everything else would be better, no matter how foolish. The faithful patterns of obedient living that were the delight of our Savior’s heart are cast off quickly and replaced with personal choice and mysticism. Many within the church become so completely conformed to the pattern of this world, and yet they say with the Old Covenant rebels, “I am innocent.”
What can be done in such a sad situation? The Lord knows how to keep His own. We need to remember this when everything seems hopeless. God raises up the faithful from the most pitiful situations when His own covenant children are determined to spurn Him. He will not be mocked, and His will shall not be frustrated in the end. The Lord may yet have mercy upon us. Our true Father knows who He is and He knows us. He is able to rescue us from the blindness of idolatry.
Why would we turn away from the one true God who has ransomed us through the blood of His Son? Do not make up your own salvation from the false spiritual answers all around us. Remember the Lord who remembers you, and follow Him.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father, we have a job to perform for You today. You have been faithful from the beginning. You raised up Your people, and they have gone far from You. There is no fault in You. There can be no justification for our rebellion. We have made Your church an abomination to many because of our disobedience and pride. How could we turn to idols? How could we exchange Your glory for that which does not profit? You are a fountain of godliness and life for Your people. Why have we forsaken You as You led us in the way, only to choose broken vessels of bitter and polluted waters? We turn to You again in repentance. We turn away from wild ways of defiling sin. Cleanse us now by Your pure and powerful Spirit. Restrain our spiritual lust when we would move in the direction of strange gods. A tree is not our father. A stone cannot rise up and save us. You are the only true Source of life for us, and Your Son is the Rock of our salvation. Gather us again from the wilderness of foolishness, for we have forgotten You for many days. We are only innocent in the blood of the Lamb. Our shame is obvious, but our holiness is also real through the cross of Christ.