Broken Cisterns. Worthless idols. Forgetful Israelites. Faithful God. These concepts stood out to me the most on my way through Jeremiah 2.
I’ve started making my way through this Old Testament book recently. I began wary, I have to admit.
Sometimes the OT reads like a different language to me. It talks about idol worship and cities and towns that I’m not familiar with. It’s very severe when it comes to talking about Israel’s sin. It penetrates my heart much as it must have seared the consciences of the Israelites back then as it reprimands them for their half-hearted devotion to the Lord.
It uses references I can’t relate to. And it talks about a group of people that I frequently get annoyed with as I read about them consistently forsaking their God even after all the awesome things He’s done for them.
And yet, God is still speaking to us through His word despite the things we don’t think we can understand or relate with. In this specific chapter, God tells Jeremiah to speak to the people. So, Jeremiah tells them things that the Lord wants to say.
He first tells them that they once followed hard after God in full devotion to Him. He describes their holiness and God’s salvation from their enemies. Quickly, though, he begins to expose their present spiritual state. With a lot of bluntness that I’m sure even back then gnawed at them. Because on the outside I’m sure they looked fine. They still, as it says in this chapter, talked to God and prayed for his salvation. They thought they hadn’t sinned. That everything between them and God was great. And that they could still keep worshipping their idols.
And following their hearts. Despite how deceitful they are.
In Jeremiah 2:5-6, he says, “This is what the Lord says; ‘What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and rifts, a land of drought and darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?'”
God poses this question to the Israelites and I believe to us:
What fault did you find in Me that you ran from Me? My ways. My spring of life.
The Lord explains that the Israelites left the Lord, the spring of living water, and built their own broken wells.
What floors me when I read this is that God led the Israelites through an uninhabited desert. With no GPS. Or Google Maps. And they saw first hand him parting the Red Sea and destroying the Egyptian army. Then, he provided food for them in the desert. He protected them too many times to count from enemies that were way more equipped and skilled than them. Then we come to this chapter and something seems awfully wrong.
And it forces me to ask the question, what led them to this point?
The crazy part is that where the Israelites have failed, I have also failed. Where the Israelites blame God for their problems, I’ve questioned His motives, too. But as I read through these words, I hear the brokenness in His voice as He says to the Israelites through Jeremiah’s voice -“Why did you run from me? The One who loves you and saved you and is still providing for you? Why are you going to all of those places to be satisfied? Why are you still building wells when my spring of water is right at your feet?”
Just like the Israelites, I’m reminded today of God’s faithfulness. That He sees our sinfulness and brokenness and shame and offers us new life at his spring of water. He rebukes us, but that rebuke comes from His heart for us. He sees that the places we go make us worthless just like our idols. It hurts Him when we sin, because He sees us suffering. He wants us to run back to Him and has so much to offer us.