God called Jeremiah to a prophetic ministry. He did not give Jeremiah happy news, though. He entrusted Jeremiah with the announcement of his coming judgement of his very own people. Little wonder no one liked him and he was known as the “weeping prophet.”
Though God’s people sought to ignore, dismiss, and even blame and hate Jeremiah for his true words, there was a reason solely within themselves that God was judging them. That reason was their gross idolatry and ignorance toward their very own father – God himself.
As Jeremiah preaches his very first sermon, the pain God is feeling over the sin of his own people is almost unbearable. It comes through loud and clear in chapter number two of Jeremiah’s book. Just listen to God’s words here:
Thus says the Lord:
“What wrong did your fathers find in me
that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?
6 They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord
who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
in a land that none passes through,
where no man dwells?’
7 And I brought you into a plentiful land
to enjoy its fruits and its good things.
But when you came in, you defiled my land
and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
Those who handle the law did not know me;
the shepherds transgressed against me;
the prophets prophesied by Baal
and went after things that do not profit.
9 “Therefore I still contend with you,
declares the Lord,
and with your children’s children I will contend.~Jeremiah 2:5-9
God, their father who had created, loved, delivered, and provided so very much for these people finds himself having to ask them where he went wrong. Surely it is not because he thinks he did something wrong. He asks this question in order to expose their fault and show them that he had only done good to them. It wasn’t that he didn’t know who was in the wrong. It was that they didn’t.
Therefore he says something like this, “What did I do against your fathers? Why did they leave and stray so far away from me? Why did they chase worthless things over me? I was for them. I loved them. I gave them everything. Answer me. Tell me what wrong I have done to you or to them.
By the way, it is for your own benefit that I am asking, not mine. If you had just chased me you would have become just like me. But you didn’t. You left me. You chose instead to follow other things and people. You might not know it, but in leaving me and chasing worthless things, you all became just like those things you’re chasing – worthless.
And it’s not just what you did. It’s what you didn’t do. You did wrong by chasing idols. You didn’t do right because you were not asking, ‘Where is the Lord?’
Remember that guy? The one who delivered you from slavery? The one who led us in the wilderness? The one who gave us a plentiful land to enjoy all good things? Remember him? That’s me.
Even your priests! Even your leaders failed to ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ The law makers didn’t even know me! Even the shepherds in the field sinned against me! The prophets prophesied by a false god!
Therefore – because of all this –
‘I still contend with you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and with your children’s children I will contend.’ “
God is literally fighting with his own children. He is contending against them because of their foolishness in distancing themselves from him, getting close to unworthy things, and forsaking him for idols.
He goes to great lengths to show them in detail, how guilty they really are. (Jeremiah 2:9-25)
No nation has ever done something so ridiculous as to change its gods! Even those with false gods do not do this! But you do. You exchange my glory for worthlessness. (Jeremiah 2:11)
God calls on the heavens to agree with him because his own people won’t!
Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.~Jeremiah 2:12-13
Listen. When God starts calling on nature to do things men should be doing, we have a problem, Houston. God is literally telling the heavens to be appalled – to be shocked!
Can’t you hear his kids now?
Why so serious, God? You’re kind of freaking us out here, Jeremiah. Can someone shut this guy up? He’s such a negative problem finder.
The two reasons God gives for this pronouncement of coming judgment are thus:
1.His people had forsaken him.
2.His people had sought out broken, worthless cisterns to try to obtain that which God would have freely given if they had not forsaken him.
Instead, he tells them they are all sitting ducks. He tells them they will be dishonored, devastated, and their land desolated.
God goes on.
You brought this upon yourselves, kids. (Jeremiah 2:17) You did it by forsaking me. I delivered you! but you said,
“I will not serve…” (Jeremiah 2:20)
You refused me and now, you will watch as your idols refuse to serve you. (Jeremiah 2:26-27)
God reminds them how he tried to correct and discipline them – even painfully.
“In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction. Your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravaging lion.” Jeremiah 2:30
God graciously sent words of correction and warning to these people time and again and time and again they ignored him completely! They ignored every blow, every prophet, and every good word of warning meant to protect and prosper them by their repentance.
The pain of the Father comes through so desperately here. He is saying, “All I’ve done is vain. They took no heed. They took no correction. They would not learn to do right. They refused to listen to me. Haven’t I been here for you all your days? Have I been a wilderness? Darkness? How could you forget me? I’m your dad!”
“Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
or a bride her attire?
Yet my people have forgotten me
days without number.” Jeremiah 2:32
God is grieving. How could you forget me kids? How could you stop your ears to my faithful and wise instruction? My good and necessary correction? Even my painful discipline! I have been right here all the time with an outstretched arm.
Yet you have forgotten me days without number.
And how do God’s people reply to his reproofs?
Yet in spite of all these things (your guilt), you say, “I am innocent, surely his anger has turned from me.’
They STILL think they are OK! Still! Un-stinking-believable!
Behold, I will bring you to judgment
for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’…You shall be put to shame by Egypt
as you were put to shame by Assyria…for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,
and you will not prosper by them. Jeremiah 2:35b, 36b, 37b
Now. How’d you like to be the dude (or dudette!) who gets to deliver this message from daddy?
When my kids warn their siblings with the preface, “Daddy said…” it lights a fire like nothing you’ve ever seen. God’s children don’t obey him that way very often, though, especially when it’s a brother or sister instructing them on what he actually said. Rather than repenting and acknowledging fault, they blame the bearer of bad news. Rather than repenting, they shoot the messenger, which, in essence amounts to shooting themselves right in the foot.