Jeremiah Chapter 2 – Backslidden Israel
This chapter is somewhat similar to the message to the Church of Ephesus as found in Revelation 2:4,5.
“But I have this against you: You have left the love you had in the beginning. [2:5] So remember where you were before you fell. Change your hearts and do what you did at first. If you don’t change, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.”
Israel did and now Judah continued(s) to turn their back on the God of creation. They know [yadda] that they are God’s chosen people. In a sense it gives them self-sanctioned proprietary claim to life and land. One might say it has gone to their heads. They feel it is license to do as they please as chosen people of God. They want to add additional gods, one or more to their liking; one they create. This is their desired reality but it is not God’s actuality. The same is true in many churches today in America and on TV.
This is so much like Christians today in practice. We want to be God’s chosen but want license to do things we should not and are not pleasing to God. He is NOT a way of life but only a part of our life. This is in a nutshell what Judah is during the time of Jeremiah. It is also a lot like a foxhole Christian; God get me out of this mess and I promise….; but once out of the mess, we do it our way (sorry Frank Sinatra). This is chapter 2 of Jeremiah.
Like it clearly states in verse 17 of Jeremiah 2, “the people [of Israel] have brought it upon themselves.” In our previous chapter blog, we see the historical context of this time and the life of Jeremiah. Verse 4 adds to this context.
[ERV] “Family of Jacob, hear the LORD’S message. Tribes of Israel, listen.” [note the repetition, family of Jacob is all the tribes of Israel.]
We know that the Kingdom of Israel was dispersed by the Assyrians over 100 years earlier, but v4 brings us to a future yet to happen. God is not finished with his chosen people. This includes all twelve Tribes of Israel. He is reminding them of what Daniel and the Apostle John have yet to write in the sequence of global histories. In the first few verses of Jeremiah 2 Jeremiah recaps what God has done for the Israelites since they became a people in Egypt then retrieved to a Promised Land; promised to Abraham.
This is similar to someone getting away with a sin, for a while, and his or her confidence in getting away with it becomes their foundation for continued sin action. Numbers 32:33 if taken out of context says one’s sins will find thee out. This passage in Numbers has to do with the three Tribes: Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. They did not want to cross over Jordan to help the other tribes settle their land and dislodge the sparse nomadic inhabitants west of Jordan. Moses told them they must help their brothers fight the good fight before returning to the land that today is known as Jordan. If they did not help, then Numbers 32:33 says, be sure thy sin (of not helping) will find them out (paraphrased). One might just as easily see this as analogous to the makeup of today’s church. “ Just let us sit in the pew [on our side of Jordan] and cheer on those who carry the load against the enemy.”
However, as Dr. Jack Hyles puts it , “Some of the members of the tribes of Gad and Rueben [half tribe of Manasseh] are still alive today. In fact, America is full of these loafers who say, “We are tired of fighting. Let us relive our victories in the wilderness. It is time for us to rest and enjoy the fertile plains on the east side of the Jordan.” Oh, these people still go to church. They just don’t want to fight.”
Blog Note: For the geography impaired, this land on the east side of Jordan is the country or State of Jordan, 2016.
Jeremiah is reminding (2:4) those from all 12 tribes that the fight is far from over. The Kingdom of Judah is going to pay a price for their sin as did those in the Northern Kingdom of Israel 100 years earlier. A great and applicable message on sin finding us out as it applies to us today can be found at https://www.baptist-city.com/sermons/your_sin.htm.
This time in Jeremiah’s life is a three-way grudge and continual fighting between Assyria, Egypt and Babylon. Each striving to dominate the regain with Israel stuck between the three battlers. Some may have studied the “hanging Gardens of Babylon as one of the seven wonders of this world. This all happened during the time of Jeremiah. Around 1125 B.C. there was another ruler in Babylon named Nebuchadnezzar I. He is not related to the Nebuchadnezzar II of Jeremiah’s time.
A Wise Note: Often Christians are criticized by claiming that bible history not being documented (which is false in and of itself per archeology) so it didn’t exist. Well, how many have heard of the “hanging Gardens of Babylon; i.e. the seventh wonder of the world? We all studied it is school history, However, read the following from the encyclopedia Wikipedia:
The Babylonian priest Berossus, writing in about 290 BC and quoted later by Josephus, attributed the [Hanging] gardens to the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled between 605 and 562 BC [the same time period of the 70 years of Judean captivity in Babylon]. There are no extant Babylonian texts which mention the gardens, and no definitive archaeological evidence has been found in Babylon. [Emphasis mine].
However, our American school history books report it as one of the 7 wonders of the world and as fact.
Another fact and historical note is mentioned almost in passing in Jeremiah 2:2d… “in a that had never been planted by other inhabitants.” Israel did not simply move int5o the Promised Land and kick others out. Secular historians want us to think this is what happened. God says, it is “in a land that was NOT SOWN” (planted-grazed). Make a personal note that the Promised Land was not overpopulated by other people at this time but was under occupied.
When Jeremiah mentions in verse 2, “At the time you were a young nation, you were faithful to me. You followed me like a young bride. You followed me through the desert, through a land that had never been used for farmland.” The “young” time two which Jeremiah relays this information told him of God was when for almost 400 years the 12 Tribes of Israel lived as a confederacy without a king but judges. [Read this in the Book of Judges]
Verses 5-8 in Jeremiah 2 are in contrast to the years of loving and following Judaism and the God of Israel as a confederacy.
- Israel wondered from me
- They worshiped worthless Gods
- They did not seek God
- They ruined the land God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Moses)
- The land was good soil at first but they ruined it
- False prophets spoke message from Baal.
Verse 10 is amazing in and of itself. God tells his people to, Go to the coasts in the west and look. Send people to the countries in the east. Let the people look carefully. See if there has been anything like this (Promised Land).”
God instructs his people to go west; go east; compare their land with what God had provided their forefathers and the God he was to and for them. Providentially, this is exactly what happened to the people of Israel. They were dispersed east and west to the four corners of the earth; Isaiah 11:12, Isaiah 12:15, Ezekiel 22:15 and 36:19, Daniel 7, Jeremiah 29:14, Ezekiel 11:17.
Verse 13 really tells us God’s attitude and analysis of his Chosen People Israel:
My people have been guilty of two sins.
They have left me.
I am like fresh water that comes up from the ground.
But my people have dug their own wells.
But these wells have cracks in them.
They cannot hold any water.
To quote Hilda Bright in her analysis of Jeremiah 2:17,18: “Verses 17-18 ‘To drink water from the River Nile or the River Euphrates.’ This describes how Judah tried to make friends with the powerful countries called Egypt and Assyria. The LORD had rescued his people from Egypt. But they were turning back to a country that could not help them. Judah was trusting Egypt for help. Already Isaiah had said that this was foolish (Isaiah 30:1-5; 31:1-3).”
This is also why Jeremiah fought and resisted his fellow countrymen when they forced him to flee to Egypt with them. We will study this when we get to Jeremiah 43.
Jeremiah 2:20 – end of chapter is very explicit. God compares his people who have deserted him to the whiles of wild living; wild animals seeking to mate; running from one to another to get what one can on his or her own; sniffing the wind to go with the direction of, might we say today, political correctness; telling a piece of wood “you are my father-god,” I have disciplined my people Israel but they did not learn; you have killed my *prophets.