Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, April 16th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 2

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-37

Chapter 2

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 2:1-2 );

Now this is the first message that he has to deliver. As God is calling to His people and it's really a very pathetic thing. It's filled with pathos as God is calling the people much as Jesus did in His message to the church of Ephesus. "Oh, you've got your works. You've got your organizations. You've got your committees. You're functioning but oh, I've got this against you. You've left your first love. Now remember from whence you have fallen." And God is actually calling the people to the very same thing-to remember the first love that they had for God. God said, "I can remember that first love that you had. That excitement that you had in Me where all you could think about all day long was Me. You were singing the praises unto Me. Your life was just filled with joy and ecstasy as you were walking with Me. You were writing little notes to Me. You were singing praises unto Me. You were making up love songs to Me. I remember those days," God said. The days of your first love. And God is recalling it to Jerusalem.

Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of that engagement, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown ( Jeremiah 2:2 ).

"When you were willing to follow Me wherever I would lead you. When you were so dedicated and committed that nothing was held back as far as your commitment." "Where do you want me to go, Lord? What do you want me to do? Lord, I'm for it. Let's go." And God said, "I remember those days when you were so devoted, so committed. The love that you had for Me then."

Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD. Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity did your fathers find in me, that they are gone far from me, and walked after emptiness, and become empty? ( Jeremiah 2:3-5 )

"What have I done? What did I do?" And the messages are perennial. There's always a certain group to whom the message still applies. And I feel that God is speaking to many of you tonight, even as He spoke to Israel. Even as Jesus spoke to the church of Ephesus. He said, "Hey, what did I do that you would turn away from Me? I remember the love, the devotion, the commitment that you used to have. What did I do? How did I offend you? Where did you get turned off? How is it that you've turned your heart away from Me? How is it that you don't have that same devotion and dedication anymore? What iniquities did your fathers find in Me that they would turn and follow after these emptinesses until they themselves became empty?"

They no longer say, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through the land of the deserts and pits, through a land of drought, and the shadow of death, through the land that no man passed through, and where no man lived? And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit of it and the goodness thereof; but when you entered, you defiled my land, and you made my heritage an abomination. The priests weren't saying, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law did not know me: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after the things that do not profit ( Jeremiah 2:6-8 ).

Now of course when the priests, the pastors become corrupted, then what can you expect? There are so many men today who are so completely liberal in their theology that they no longer really rank as Christians. But still they occupy pulpits and preach their messages to the attended throngs on Sunday morning. But it is no longer the Gospel that they preach. It is no longer the power of Jesus Christ to save a man from sin and the blood of Jesus Christ that redeemed us from our lost estate. But they are flowery speeches of, "It's nice to be nice so go out and be nice this week and just platitudes. Think right. You are what you think. You become what you think. And so correct your thinking." The whole problem with the world is the way men are thinking. Get rid of your negative thoughts; only think in positive terms and all. And there is no more a preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is tragic. The same condition that God was crying about in Israel.

John Hilton, I was with him this week back in Maryland, Middletown, Maryland. And John met the pastor in Middletown of the United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ. Now you that know John can appreciate it. John was in his cut offs. He introduced himself as the new pastor of Calvary Chapel there in Middletown and he thought, "Well, this fellow's a pastor of the United Church of Christ," so he said, "Well, it's great to meet you and I imagine you've been a pastor there for thirty-five years." He said, "I imagine it's a real thrill to share Jesus Christ with people for thirty-five years." He said I was just trying to make conversation. And this guy turned on him and said, "Young man, you don't know a thing about the gospel, talking about Jesus Christ." Just started berating, yelling at John, getting livid with him. And John said, "I didn't know what I'd said. Just tried to talk to the man about the joy of the Lord and loving Jesus." But what can you expect from the people that are sitting under that man's ministry week after week of a real devotion to God or a love for God or a commitment of their lives to Him? It's all programmed. It's all a formal relationship with God.

So God speaks out against them, "The priests who handle the law, they don't even know me. The pastors have transgressed against Me. The prophets are prophesying by Baal."

Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead ( Jeremiah 2:9 ).

Even so I'm still going to plead with you, God said.

For pass over the isles of Cypress ( Jeremiah 2:10 ),

In other words, go to the west. And Cypress was considered the door to the whole western part of the world. Chittim, Cypress.

and send unto Kedar ( Jeremiah 2:10 ),

Now Kedar was the gateway to the east. So go to the west, go to the east.

and consider diligently, and see if such a thing has ever happened before ( Jeremiah 2:10 ).

Such a thing exists.

Has a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? ( Jeremiah 2:11 )

People don't do that. Their whole religious system is so deeply involved in their cultural aspects that people just don't change their gods, even those that worship false gods.

But God said,

but my people have changed their glory ( Jeremiah 2:11 )

That is, their fellowship with Me.

for that which does not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens ( Jeremiah 2:11-12 ),

The angels looking down with astonishment. And I'm sure that they do that on us many times. The angels, I'm sure, are just shocked when they see us starting to do something. "Oh no, look at that, what's that?" Now you know it. And they see us in our stupid moves. I'm sure they just think, "Oh no, I can't look." And they know the disaster that we're going to fall into because of our own follies.

Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; [first] they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters ( Jeremiah 2:12-13 ),

So many times water is used as a symbol of life because water is so essential for life. And the Lord so often takes it from the physical on into the spiritual and He said, "I am the water of life. If any man drinks of Me, he will never thirst again."

Jesus cried to the assembled multitude at the Feast of Tabernacles. "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that drinks of the water that I give, out of his belly there will flow rivers of living water" ( John 7:37-38 ). And the last chapter of the Bible, the last invitation in the Bible, "And he that is athirst, let him come and drink of the water of life freely" ( Revelation 22:17 ). The last invitation to the gospel, for thirsty man to come and to drink of the water of life freely.

Now God said they were forsaken me, the fountain of living water. The source, the spring from which life comes.

and [instead they have] hewed out cisterns ( Jeremiah 2:13 ),

Now, that land being an arid land and not really receiving that much rain, it is necessary over there that they set up exotic type of water systems. The Essenes were able to exist in the very dry, barren area down near the Dead Sea where you get maybe an inch of water a year or an inch and a half, two inches at the most a year. But the way they were able to survive down there was by building these great cisterns. And then when it would rain up in the highlands and these washes and gullies would become full of water, they had their dams and they diverted the flow of the water on into these cisterns that they had carved out of this limestone. If you go to Masada, you'll find that all the way around the side of the hill there in Masada are these huge cisterns that they've carved out, as well as the cisterns up on the top of Masada. These huge caverns that have been carved down of the sandstone and, again, they had a dam in the river. And you can see the little ledges that they have carved where they would bring the water along the ledges and dump into these cisterns. And thus, they would gather just the sparsest amount of rain but they would gather the over, the water that would run off and they would preserve it in these cisterns.

But cisterns were not a source of water, except that they were a reservoir. In other words, they weren't springs; they had no source within them. They had to gather the runoff water. And so at best, a cistern could hold only water that would get stagnant. And God said, "Marvel ye heaven, be astonished. Look at that. They have forsaken Me, the spring, the fountain of living water, in order that they might hew out these cisterns." But then He said, they are

broken cisterns, that can't hold water ( Jeremiah 2:13 ).

Now carrying it over to the spiritual aspect of it, man basically, instinctively is religious. He's got to believe in something. And when men forsake God, they establish a system of thought, a philosophy, concepts, or whatever that they commit themselves to. They become devoted to and they have to believe in it and it requires faith. A creed to be believed, a standard of life, philosophy of life or whatever. So men create their own philosophies, their own rationales for life, their own cisterns. But the thing is all of these cisterns, they can't hold water. They leave you thirsty. They will not satisfy you. The end result is emptiness.

Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled? The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes [actually cities of Egypt] have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself ( Jeremiah 2:14-17 ),

Haven't you brought all of this upon yourself? God said.

in that thou hast forsaken the LORD your God? ( Jeremiah 2:17 )

Looking at the calamities that have happened, we bring them upon ourselves. If we'd only been serving the Lord these things wouldn't have happened. Why does it take calamity many times to wake us up?

And now what have you to do with the way of Egypt? ( Jeremiah 2:18 )

They were, of course, looking to an alliance with Egypt to save them from the Babylonians. And an alliance with Assyria, but Assyria was soon to fall to the Babylonians. So an alliance with Assyria wasn't going to be any good. Egypt itself will be taken.

Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that you have forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree you are wondering, playing the harlot ( Jeremiah 2:19-20 ).

So the high hills were the places of worship, under the groves that they planted, the green trees. Again, the places of worship as they had turned from God and were committing spiritual adultery or playing the harlot in a spiritual sense.

Yet [when I created, when I planted you] I planted you a noble vine, it was good seed ( Jeremiah 2:21 ):


how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? ( Jeremiah 2:21 )

Again, the figure as Isaiah so graphically illustrates the fifth chapter of the vine that became wild.

For though thou wash thee with nitre ( Jeremiah 2:22 ),

That isn't the saltpeter that we know today, potassium nitrate, but it is a residue that is on the bottom of the lakes when the lakes dry up that they would boil and use in making soap. They'd use it for cleaning.

and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD ( Jeremiah 2:22 ).

You may try to wash yourself outwardly, but it's an inward problem.

How can you say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? See thy way in the valley, know what you have done: for you are as a swift camel traversing her ways; you're like a wild donkey that is used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure ( Jeremiah 2:23-24 );

Now this figure of the wild donkey that God uses is a wild donkey that is in heat, a female donkey in heat. And she's sniffing the wind trying to find out where the male donkeys are in order that she might go and she doesn't care what the male donkey is. She just wants a male donkey. And God uses this as a figure here of Israel who is just turned away from God and just will take anything. Will worship anything. And so susceptible to worship anything. Like the wild donkey snuffing the wind at her pleasure.

in her occasion ( Jeremiah 2:24 )

That is, during the time of her season.

who can take her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her heat they will find her. Withhold thy foot from being unshod ( Jeremiah 2:24-25 ),

In other words, you're running after these things until you wear your feet out.

and thy throat from thirst: but you have said, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go. As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, the kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, Saying to a stock [that is, to a piece of wood they've carved into an idol], You are my father; and to a stone [that they've carved out a little figure, You are the one that created me], You have brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise O god, and save us. But where are your gods that you have made? let them arise, if they can save you in the time of trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah ( Jeremiah 2:25-28 ).

So each city had its own local pagan deity. And as many cities as they had, they had gods. And the tragic thing was God said, "Hey, look, you've turned away from Me. You've turned to these other gods, but in trouble you'll be calling. When your calamity comes you'll be saying, 'Arise, God, save us.'" He said, "But don't bother calling. Go ahead and call unto these gods that you have been worshipping, you have been serving."

It is a tragic thing when God turns a deaf ear to man. When God said to Jeremiah, "Ephraim is given over to her idols. Let her alone. Don't pray anymore for their good, for if you do I'm not going to listen." That's a sad day when God turns a deaf ear to man and God said that day is coming. If you persist in following after strange flesh, strange gods and the worship of these strange gods, there will come a day of trouble and you will call upon God. But He said, "I won't hear, I won't answer." "Many will come in that day," Jesus said, "saying, 'Lord, Lord, open unto us.'" He'll say, "No, I never knew you." Those are heavy words that we need to consider seriously.

Wherefore will ye plead with me? you've all transgressed against me ( Jeremiah 2:29 ),

Why are you going to plead? You've been transgressing against Me.

In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion ( Jeremiah 2:30 ).

God said, "I've dealt with you in vain. Your children are so stubborn and rebellious. And with your own sword you've killed My prophets that I sent to you."

O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? Why do my people say, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her gown? yet my people have forgotten me days without number ( Jeremiah 2:31-32 ).

Now one thing we've never had and that is a bride that forgets a gown for her wedding. You just don't forget some things. And yet God said you've forgotten Me so many days that you can't number them.

Why do you trim your way to seek love? therefore you have taught the wicked ones thy ways. Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these ( Jeremiah 2:33-34 ).

You're open with it.

Yet you say, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because you say, I have not sinned ( Jeremiah 2:35 ).

You say, "Well, it's not wrong. It doesn't matter. God doesn't care. It's not really sin." And God speaks out against that. He said,

Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria. Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them ( Jeremiah 2:36-37 ).

No wonder God said to Jeremiah, "Now don't look at your faces. Don't be afraid of their faces." Boy, he had a heavy, heavy message to lay on these people. He was really laying it on them and not sparing. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-2.html. 2014.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile