Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jeremiah 2, Part One

"The good ol' days" (vs. 1-3)--Over the next several chapters, the book of Jeremiah appears to be summaries of sermons the prophet preached. They have basically one theme: the unfaithfulness of Israel. What is amazing in these first three verses is that the Lord indicates that the most faithful time in Israel's history was in the wilderness wanderings under Moses: "when you went after me in the wilderness...Israel was holiness to the Lord" (vs. 2-3). If that was, comparatively speaking, the most righteous period in the Israelites' history, then they were indeed degenerate in Jeremiah's day.

"Where is the Lord?" (vs. 4-9)--The word of the Lord now goes out to the "house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel"--anybody who was left, but mainly Judah. What injustice had the people found in Jehovah that they would commit such vile atrocities that they were engaged in? They weren't seeking the Lord, the God who led them out of Egypt and sustained them since (almost 1,000 years of history had passed). The Lord brought them into a "bountiful country," but they "defiled My land" (v. 7). Even the priests, rulers, and prophets--the ones who should be leading the people--did not enquire of the Lord (v. 8); the prophets sought the counsel of Baal. In these few verses, we see a general overview of why the Lord was so displeased with His people. He'll get more specific as the chapters proceed.

Broken cisterns (vs. 9-13)--The Lord now brings "charges" against Israel (v. 9). What they had done--rejected their primary God--had not been done anywhere else by any other people (v. 10), that is, changed from the true, living God to those "which are not gods" (v. 11). Yet, that's what Israel did. It was an astonishing thing (v. 12). Two charges are brought forth in verse 13: they had forsaken Jehovah, "the fountain of living waters," and "hewn themselves cisterns--broken cisterns that can hold no water." The Lord can provide "living waters;" false gods cannot. What was Israel doing? Nothing intelligent, that's for sure.

Desolation (vs. 14-19)--As a result, Israel was being "plundered," (v. 14), or would shortly be, if it hadn't begun yet. The cities would be burned and left "without inhabitant"--a clear reference to the coming captivity in Babylon (v. 15). The Egyptians would return--Noph (Memphis) and Tahpanhes are cities in that country (v. 16). “Egyptians” here could be a reference to Babylon, with Egypt figuratively being used to represent the bondage they would endure under the Babylonians. But, either way, the Israelites had brought it upon themselves (v. 17), and this "wickedness will correct you" (v. 19). Neither Egypt nor Assyria will be able to help, not when the Lord comes in judgment (v. 18). The "River" of verse 18 is the Euphrates. It is "an evil and bitter thing" to forsake the Lord and not to fear Him (v. 19). A foolish one, too, one might add.

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