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 thou hast 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 thou wanderest, playing the harlot. (Jeremiah 2:19-20)
Jeremiah 2 and 3 continue the same themes as Hosea; Jahweh as the rejected husband, Israel as the promiscuous wife, in spite of the lovingkindness of her husband.
The Prophesy begins with Jahweh remembering the early days of the relationship, out in the wilderness when Israel trusted and followed Her husband, after he had broken her free of her bonds.
Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. 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 have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?(Jeremiah 2:3-5)
As perhaps many a jilted spouse has asked themselves plaintively, Jeremiah prophesied God himself asking, “What do they reject about me?” Isaiah even has him asking, “What more could I have done for them?” Obviously this is anthropomorphic language, God knows why his people go astray after other gods and it has more to do with the iniquity and faithlessness of the human heart, than any perceived “flaws” in Him who is perfect.
Much of the problem lies at the feet of the ministry. The Priests, Prophets, Pastors and Shepherds have let the people down, they themselves have apostatized, in spite of their own particular privileges. Such is the case today!
The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.(Jeremiah 2:8)
Then, as now, the Priests failed to teach the Word, they pursued their own interests, sought to placate and ease the people (Seeker sensitive) and failed to guard the deposit of truth entrusted to them. The worship decayed, corruption entered into it, and in a small matter of time, apostasy and compromise with idolatry began to flourish.
The dissatisfaction with the true doctrine and worship, and the hunger for that which unique or exotic, as well as the tendency for the political leaders to want to make alliances with pagan nations, comes down to this sad truth…the people of Judah had rejected God himself.
Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. 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; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.( Jeremiah 2:11-13)
They were to remember this and realize it as the cause of their multitudes of recent troubles; invasions by Assyria, Egypt, and ultimately Babylon, the burning of cities, captivity and even exile. They would have to see that all of those troubles, they had brought upon themselves, they were the result of their own defective choices.
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 have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way? And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? 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 thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.(Jeremiah 2:15-19)
Who will be able to wipe away the stain? How does this bride so shamelessly deny her own adulteries ? What hope is there, when it seems that with this wayward bride, faithlessness is her very nature? Let’s face it, she loves foreign gods, she always go after what she truly loves.
For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God. How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways; A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her. Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.(Jeremiah 2:22-25)
But Jahweh would taker her back, even after all of the humiliation and rejection, Jahweh’s heart is yet for his bride. So he cries out after her, (an all of we who are wayward)
Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.(Jeremiah 3:12-15)
If she would just admit her iniquity, and her faithlessness and disobedience, the marriage can resume, in fact to is certain that one day soon, the marriage shall resume. The Prophet even pre-records the prayer which the wayward wife shall utter on that day;
Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God. (Jeremiah 3:22-25)