The Scriptorium

God's Case against His People

Jeremiah's message is for us, too. Jeremiah 2.1-13

Jeremiah Called: Jeremiah 1-3 (3)

Pray Psalm 115.1-3.
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.

Sing Psalm 115.1-3

(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
Not to us, O God, not us, but unto Your Name give glory!
For Your love and faithfulness, ever to Your Name be glory!
Why should the nations cry, “Where is their God on high?”
You rule us, Lord, on high: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 2.1-13.

1. What were the primary sins for which God was coming to judge His people?

2. What form would that judgment take (vv. 1-7, 18-26)?

Here is Jeremiah’s first sermon to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. We’ll be looking at it in the next several installments, because it outlines God’s case (Hebrew: רִ֥יב, riv) against His faithless people, and instructs us in our own ministries of the Word.

Notice, first of all, that Jeremiah is to proclaim this message as from the Lord (v. 2). This is the Lord’s message to His people, not Jeremiah’s. It originates in the eternal counsel of heaven, from the throne of majesty and the fount of truth. Look up, people! Look up to God, and hear His Word to you!

Next, God through Jeremiah reminds the people of their past with Him, of His love and protection, and of their loving and holy response to Him (vv. 2, 3). Unless we remember how far we have drifted, and what our beginnings were in the Lord, we’ll see no reason to repent.

Then the Lord asserts His Word to the “house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel” (v. 4). It is a word of indictment, exposing the sins of the people, calling on them to find any fault in Him, recalling His bounty and, at the same time, their ingratitude and transgressions (vv. 5-8). Israel has turned from the one true God to the follies and idols of their pagan neighbors. They have “walked after things that do not profit” (v. 8) because they are creatures, things, and not the living God.

Jeremiah heightens the severity of the people’s transgression by saying that they have done what no other nation has done, in forsaking the God of their fathers (vv. 9-11). They have exchanged the glory of the living God for the fleeting pleasures of false deities (v. 11); they have traded in that which is eternal for that which is momentary and unsatisfying.

The people of Judah and Jerusalem “have committed two evils” in forsaking God, their true Fount of life, and in turning to the “broken cisterns” of false religion (v. 13). God is the source of “living waters”, but the false gods of Israel’s neighbors have no water, no substance, no life to them.

How like we are to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. Instead of seeking all our delight, all our satisfaction, all our purpose and hope and joy in the living God, we attach to things, fun, and fleeting follies our hope for a full and abundant life. Instead of leading their neighbors to worship God, Judah – like Israel before them – simply fell into stride with their pagan neighbors. They exchanged their birthright of glory and life for the pottage of cultural conformity.

Look up! Do you see the Lord of glory, speaking to you from His throne? Look back! Remember with gratitude all He has done for you. Look around! Are you worshiping and serving Him, or merely following the path of contemporary priorities, diversions, and ease?

1. In what ways is Jeremiah’s message to the people of Judah relevant to us today?

2. What can we do to keep from committing the “two evils” the people of Jeremiah’s day committed?

3. How are the false promises of our unbelieving age like “broken cisterns that can hold no water”?

When therefore we despise the bounty of God, which is sufficient to make us in every way happy, how great must be our ingratitude and wickedness? Yet God remains ever like himself: as then he has called himself the fountain of living waters, we shall at this day find him to be so, except he is prevented by our wickedness and neglect. But the Prophet adds another crime; for when we fall away from God, our own conceits deceive us; and whatever may appear to us at the first view to be wells or fountains, yet when thirst shall come, we shall not find a drop of water in all our devices, they being nothing else but dry cavities. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 2.13

Lord, help me recognize temptation and resist it, so that I cling to You and…

Pray Psalm 115.4-18.

Listen in silence for the Spirit to convict you of any sin, any idolatry, any way that you have begun to drift from the Lord. Renew faith in Him, and seek His Presence for the work of this day.

Sing Psalm 115.4-18.
Psalm 115.4-18 (Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
Idols made by men's own hand – ever to Your Name be glory –
see nor hear nor understand – ever to Your Name be glory!
They neither feel nor walk, nor can they speak or talk.
All those who serve them fall, but unto Your Name be glory!

All who trust in Jesus yield – ever to His Name be glory! –
find in Him their help and shield – ever to Your Name be glory!
O Israel, trust the Lord!  He helps us evermore!
Fear Him obey His Word: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Blessings from our gracious Lord – ever to Your Name be glory –
will attend us evermore – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless all who fear You, Lord, all who obey Your Word,
all who Your Name adore: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Grant us, Savior, great increase – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless us with eternal peace – ever to Your Name be glory!
Heaven and earth are Yours; let every soul adore
and bless You evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore