Do you believe in God? Whom do you consider as God? Is He an actual person or just some great powerful being somewhere out there? The people of Jeremiah’s day had a problem deciding who God really was and what priority He should have in their lives. Are we like them?
Many people refer to God as a supreme being or a higher power, but in this post I will be referring to the person or entity who calls Himself God and refers to His name by the letters YHWH. For the sake of clarity, I will use “the LORD” as the scripture does to denote that name when referring to the person God.
2:9 – “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the LORD, “and against your children’s children I will bring charges.”
The LORD has something to tell the people, something important, and it isn’t going to be pleasant. In fact, what the LORD has to say is so bad, the consequences will be felt for generations.
2:10 – “For Pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see, send to Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there has been such a thing.”
The coasts of Cyprus were located to the west of Israel. The area of Kedar was located to the east. The LORD is telling them to look anywhere and everywhere for evidence of what He is about to tell them. He also tells them to “consider diligently,” to look at His point seriously.
2:11 – “Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit.”
Can any evidence be found that a nation or people who worshipped false gods ever changed their gods? Surely, if a people spent any time worshipping a god who couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, and couldn’t answer prayers, they would eventually decide they were wasting their time. Yet, the nations around Israel continued to worship the same false gods they had always worshipped.
But Israel was different. The LORD showed Himself to them countless times. He brought them out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, provided food and water for them from nothing in the wilderness, led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, heard and answered their prayers and requests, and spoke to them on numerous occasions. And Israel repaid His love and faithfulness by leaving Him, the one true God, to follow after idols.
2:12 – “Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate,” says the LORD.
Israel’s actions could even amaze and embarrass the heavens. Not only the heavenly beings but creation itself would not be as foolish as Israel.
2:13 – “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Nothing is more refreshing than cold, running water. Yet, Israel would rather trade a fountain of living water for stale water stored in cisterns or storage tanks. And to add insult to injury, the cisterns they created for themselves won’t even hold water. The LORD created a great word picture here; Israel traded the best for something they made themselves, but which couldn’t accomplish the purpose for which it was created. Such is always the case when we replace the LORD with anything else.
Why would someone give up something worth everything for something worthless? They wouldn’t. We only trade what we have when we believe we’re getting something of greater value or that can satisfy our greatest desires. So why would a people trade a real, living God for a false, dead one? Because Man is self-centered and self-serving above all else.
Worshiping idols is really worshiping self. We make our own rules, we design our own traditions, and we create our own path to greater achievement or enlightenment. We make the decisions. We are in control.
In our time, Man likes to consider himself intellectually above his ancestors. We would never stoop so low as to believe in the power of hand-made idols of wood or stone. But we will trade all we have for power, wealth, or fame. And we’ll continue to be empty and unsatisfied until we realize that the LORD alone is worthy of our worship. Only He deserves the title of God.