God’s Life-Giving Word of Justice and Peace
Jeremiah 2:1-25: Today’s reading catalogues God’s care for Israel, how the people rebelled, and how the people will be punished for their sinfulness.
[The LORD says of Israel:] “I planted you like a choice vine from the very best seed.”
God's Care for Israel
1The Lord told me 2to proclaim this message to everyone in Jerusalem.
“I remember how faithful you were when you were young,
how you loved me when we were first married;
you followed me through the desert,
through a land that had not been planted.
3Israel, you belonged to me alone;
you were my sacred possession.
I sent suffering and disaster
on everyone who hurt you.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
The Sin of Israel's Ancestors
4Listen to the Lord's message, you descendants of Jacob, you tribes of Israel. 5The Lord says:
“What accusation did your ancestors bring against me?
What made them turn away from me?
They worshiped worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.
6They did not care about me,
even though I rescued them from Egypt
and led them through the wilderness:
a land of deserts and sand pits,
a dry and dangerous land
where no one lives
and no one will even travel.
7I brought them into a fertile land,
to enjoy its harvests and its other good things.
But instead they ruined my land;
they defiled the country I had given them.
8The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’
My own priests did not know me.
The rulers rebelled against me;
the prophets spoke in the name of Baal
and worshiped useless idols.
The Lord's Case against His People
9“And so I, the Lord, will state my case against my people again.
I will bring charges against their descendants.
10Go west to the island of Cyprus,
and send someone eastward to the land of Kedar.
You will see that nothing like this has ever happened before.
11No other nation has ever changed its gods,
even though they were not real.
But my people have exchanged me,
the God who has brought them honor,
for gods that can do nothing for them.
12And so I command the sky to shake with horror,
to be amazed and astonished,
13for my people have committed two sins:
they have turned away from me,
the spring of fresh water,
and they have dug cisterns,
cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all.
The Results of Israel's Unfaithfulness
14“Israel is not a slave;
he was not born into slavery.
Why then do his enemies hunt him down?
15They have roared at him like lions;
they have made his land a desert,
and his towns lie in ruins, completely abandoned.
16Yes, the people of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked his skull.
17Israel, you brought this on yourself!
You deserted me, the Lord your God,
while I was leading you along the way.
18What do you think you will gain by going to Egypt
to drink water from the Nile?
What do you think you will gain by going to Assyria
to drink water from the Euphrates?
19Your own evil will punish you,
and your turning from me will condemn you.
You will learn how bitter and wrong it is
to abandon me, the Lord your God,
and no longer to remain faithful to me.
I, the Sovereign Lord Almighty, have spoken.”
Israel Refuses to Worship the Lord
20The Sovereign Lord says,
“Israel, long ago you rejected my authority;
you refused to obey me and worship me.
On every high hill
and under every green tree
you worshiped fertility gods.
21I planted you like a choice vine
from the very best seed.
But look what you have become!
You are like a rotten, worthless vine.
22Even if you washed with the strongest soap,
I would still see the stain of your guilt.
23How can you say you have not defiled yourself,
that you have never worshiped Baal?
Look how you sinned in the valley;
see what you have done.
You are like a wild camel in heat,
running around loose,
24rushing into the desert.
When she is in heat, who can control her?
No male that wants her has to trouble himself;
she is always available in mating season.
25Israel, don't wear your feet out,
or let your throat become dry
from chasing after other gods.
But you say, ‘No! I can't turn back.
I have loved foreign gods
and will go after them.’”
What verses in today’s reading speak of the LORD’s love for the people? What has caused the LORD’s anger? What images are used to describe the people’s unfaithfulness? According to verse 11, the people exchanged God for other gods. How do you understand this verse? Are there times in your life when you “exchange” God for other things or do not put God first?
Lord God, you alone are the one true God. Draw me back to you whenever I am tempted to stray and not put you first. Thank you, dear God, for your ever-present steadfast love and care. Amen.
Those who have abandoned the Lord’s teachings
Jeremiah 3:6-25: Israel and Judah are called to repent.