Jeremiah 2 has the prophet reminding God’s people of how they used to be. “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord”. He calls on them to remember (a common theme in scripture) how they used to relate to their relationship with God. It was their passion. It drove them to holiness. It was central to their lives.
But something changed. God is holding His people accountable for rejecting Him and chasing idols. “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless”? Many centuries earlier God had rescued His people and set them free. He led them to a land that was theirs, full of blessing and goodness. But things went badly there. “When you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination”. The people lost their way. God was pushed aside and his people fell into deep sin.
The sin is deep and painful. “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, 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”. First, they forsook God and were ungrateful and disloyal to Him. They put other things in His rightful place. Secondly, they tried to create their own systems to care for themselves, building cisterns to hold water. It wasn’t the living water God provided, but would become stagnant and leak out. Man can never replace the provision that God gives us. But the people tried. They forgot God’s amazing love and provision.
God will deal with our sin. It is a choice, and there is a price. “Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you….For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve”. Jeremiah gives the message that God’s people will pay for their sin. We must realize that sin always carries a severe cost, and for us today, it is only through the blood of Jesus that we can ever be freed.