Guilty as Charged
Lord, push back the darkness in this world, and help me willingly respond when that requires something of me.
Read Jeremiah 2:1-22
 The word of the LORD came to me:  “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “This is what the LORD says: “‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.  Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,'” declares the LORD.  Hear the word of the LORD, you descendants of Jacob, all you clans of Israel.  This is what the LORD says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.  They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’  I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.  The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.  “Therefore I bring charges against you again,” declares the LORD. “And I will bring charges against your children’s children.  Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar and observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this:  Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.  Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the LORD.  “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.  Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder?  Lions have roared; they have growled at him. They have laid waste his land; his towns are burned and deserted.  Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have cracked your skull.  Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way?  Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Nile? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the Euphrates?  Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.  “Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.  I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?  Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign LORD. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow did the people's actions grieve God's heart?
This passage has all the drama and tension of a courtroom: God’s people are brought before him to answer some serious charges. Jeremiah’s language is vivid and hard-hitting. Among the richly varied metaphors he uses (and it is worth unpacking each of them), we learn that Judah, once an eager bride, has now prostituted itself with foreign gods. It has been fickle and unfaithful, far worse than other nations which at least remained true to their gods, albeit false ones (11). Priests, prophets, pastors and teachers are all held to account (8), as well as the common people. And for every charge, the evidence is overwhelming. They have put their trust in other nations (notably Egypt from which God had previously liberated them), and in the phony gods of those nations. They are “guilty” on all counts. This backsliding had not happened overnight: the seeds of spiritual decay were sown in earlier years, but only now was the fruit becoming apparent. For this reason, it is wise from time to time to check how firm the foundations of faith really are in our own lives.
If it were a crime to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Pray and reflect on this question.
You are a Holy God and worthy of a people fully set apart, fully surrendered, fully obedient. Let it be true in my life.
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