The Scriptorium

The Shame of Israel

Jeremiah continues his first sermon. Jeremiah 2.14-37

Jeremiah Called: Jeremiah 1-3 (4)

Pray Psalm 80.12-19.
Why have You broken down her hedges,
So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?
The boar out of the woods uproots it,
And the wild beast of the field devours it.
Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine
And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted,
And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.
It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

Sing Psalm 80.12-19.
(St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
Now You in wrath have spoken and bruised Your chosen vine.
We languish, Lord, are broken by wrath, deserved, divine.
Once more, Lord, hear our pleading: return and heal this vine!
Look down on us, so needy, and show Your love divine!

Though we be burned and perish because of Your command,
revive us, Lord, and cherish this son of Your right hand.
Then let us not return to our sinful, selfish ways,
but call on You and learn to surround You with our praise.

Read Jeremiah 2.1-37; meditate on verses 14-37.

Prepare.
1. How does Jeremiah describe Judah’s rebellion against God? What images does he use?

2. Did the people agree with Jeremiah and the Lord?

Meditate.
This is part 2 of Jeremiah’s first sermon as God’s spokesman to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. In it he restates his opening argument, and enlarges and heightens the sins of God’s people with powerful images. He means to impress the ugliness and seriousness of their rebellion upon them, but, as we shall see, God’s indictment rolls off them like water off a duck’s back.

Jeremiah restates the Lord’s case against His people (vv. 14-19): The people of Judah and Jerusalem were in distress. The lion of Babylon was at their door, or soon would be, and they were hoping either Egypt or Assyria would save them (vv. 14-18). But the “evil” and “bitter” thing that was coming upon them was of their own doing, because they had forsaken the Lord and turned to false gods (v. 19).

To make more intense and explicit the seriousness of Judah’s rebellion, Jeremiah employs powerful metaphors (vv. 20-29). Judah has become an “alien vine” and is filthy beyond cleansing (vv. 21, 22). They’re like a wild camel or a donkey in heat, seeking “aliens” to embrace (vv. 23-25). They are like thieves who have been found out (v. 26) and are ashamed. Their idolatry has been exposed (vv. 27, 28), and the vanity and impotence of their gods is spread before them.

So they turn to the Lord in their time of distress (v. 29). But God will have none of it. He has already tried, time and again, to chasten His people back onto the path of obedience (v. 30). He has shone the light of His Word on them from prophets of the past (v. 31). But the people continued to insist on doing things their way (vv. 31, 32), and now they’ve no one to turn to in their time of need.

They try to make nice with God, putting on the externals of faith (v. 33), while they come with the blood of sacrificed infants still on their garments (v. 34). The people refuse to admit any sin (v. 35), and now they will be led away with their hands on their heads, for the Lord has rejected them (v. 37).

“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea.” The hymn is true, but the wide mercy of God is not infinite. Those who turn from Him, who seek satisfaction, provision, or rest anywhere but in Him, will soon enough find that His mercy has run out, and His judgment has arrived. We must guard our walk with the Lord, lest we find Him coming to discipline us as well (Heb. 12.3-11).

Reflect.
1. What is God looking for in us? Does He want us merely to go through the motions of faith? Is He looking for something more?

2. The people of Jerusalem were attracted to the false gods of the surrounding nations. Why? What was the appeal? What false gods try to get our attention and devotion today?

3. How would you describe Judah’s relationship to the Word of God, as Jeremiah exposes it in these verses? What’s the lesson for us?

The prophet clearly declares that we sin of our own free will: “I had planted you, a choice vine of fully tested stock; how could you turn into bitterness, a spurious vine?” The planting was good, but the fruit coming from the will is evil. So the planter is blameless, but the vine will burn with fire since it was planted for good and bore evil fruit of its own will. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386), Catechetical Lectures 2.1

Open my soul to hear Your Word, Lord, and to love and obey You as I…

Pray Psalm 80.1-11.

Thank God for His great salvation, and call on Him to bring revival to His people over all the earth.

Sing Psalm 80.1-11.
Psalm 80.1-11 (St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
O God of grace, restore us, and shine on us Your face!
O save us, Lord, work for us; renew us by Your grace!
Give ear, O gracious Savior, Who leads us as Your flock:
Stir up Your pow’r and favor, our King and Lord and Rock!

How long will You ignore all Your people’s fervent prayer?
Shall bitter tears fall ever?  O Lord, renew Your care!
Our neighbors mock and scorn us, they laugh at our distress;
Renew, O Lord, and turn us, look down on us and bless!

You set us free from sin, Lord, and planted us in grace;
We rooted in Your strong Word have spread from place to place.
Our shadow covered mountains, our branches reached the sea;
Your grace flowed like a fountain of life, abundantly.

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.
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