My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and they have hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. –Jeremiah 2:13
The Heavenly Father thinks His children do some truly stupid things.
And He doesn’t mind saying so, in no uncertain terms.
Put yourself in God’s place….
God sees us turning away from Him–with the provisions and blessings of Heaven before us–and trying to improve on what He has given.
God said to David, “I’ve given you everything! And if that wasn’t enough, I’d have given you more. But no–you had to take Uriah’s one wife and destroy him in the process!” What is wrong with David? (2 Samuel 12:7-8)
Imagine how God feels, watching us…
Your child turns away from the food on his plate and goes outside to eat dirt. What is wrong with this kid, you wonder.
Your child leaves home–a lovely, well-furnished home–and begins to construct a lean-to of limbs and leaves. “What are you doing?” He tells you he’s dissatisfied with the home you provided and is determined to do better. This tumbledown shack is what he produces. What’s wrong with him? Has he lost his mind?
All the while, we can hear the kid singing, “I did it my way!”
You watch as your people turn away from a lovely spring with fresh, life-giving water and begin to dig in the hard earth, intent on hewing out for themselves cisterns–ponds, of a sort–to catch the rainwater and the runoff and drink that. You try to tell them how foolish this is. The water in cisterns, at best, is tepid and stagnant, and often polluted. You notice that their cistern is leaking and cannot hold water, but they will not listen to your counsel. What is wrong with them? You scratch your head.
Are they stupid? Are they mindless? What is it?
That’s God, looking at us. It was His message to Israel (actually to Judah, the southern part of what used to be Israel) in 600 B.C. and it’s His word to us today.
How could the people whom He loves so much, for whom He has sacrificed so greatly, for whom He had such great expectations, how could they do such foolish things?
Jeremiah was God’s prophet, His preacher, His “mouth.”
The book of Jeremiah is made up of 52 chapters, much of it historical narrative but the bulk of it Jeremiah’s sermons. Over and over for decades, Jeremiah preached God’s word to His people, calling them back as they plunged headlong into rebellion and oblivion. The year 586 B.C. is generally agreed as when it finally came to a head, with the Babylonians crushing Jerusalem, stripping the city of anything of value, destroying the temple and breaking down the walls, then carting off the bulk of the population to Babylon as slaves.
God was allowing the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar to be His instrument in punishing His people. The whole business was God’s doing, one way or the other. God was still in charge.
The reason was simple: The rebellion and sin of His people and their attempts to replace Him. They had forsaken God and become their own God.
Throughout Jeremiah, we see variations of the same message, that God’s people have forsaken Him and done something totally foolish and counter-productive. Here are a few instances….
–“My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” 2:13
–“My people are foolish, They have not known Me. They are silly children, And they have no understanding, They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge” (4:22).
–“Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were like well-fed lusty stallions, every one neighing after his neighbor’s wife.” (5:7-8)
–“This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth…. For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight, says the Lord. They have set their abominations in the House which is called by My name to pollute it…. ” (7:28-30)
–“They have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them…. Therefore I will feed them with wormwood and give them water of gall to drink. I will scatter them among the Gentiles, whom neither they nor their fathers have known. And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them.” (9:13-16)
Anyone see a theme here?
It goes on like that for the rest of the 52 chapters, like–as we used to say–a broken record.
God’s people have forsaken Him and done foolish things, and are now reaping the consequence.
Make no mistake. It applies to God’s people today…
- The problem in this country is us. “My people have committed sins,” God said. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, that amazing promise begins “If My people who are called by My name….”
- God sees our sin, our turning away from Him to do our own thing, as moronic. Stupid. Foolish. Silly. He does not have a lot of respect for our efforts to supplant Him. “Why do you spend your money for what is not bread, for what does not satisfy?” He said in Isaiah 55. It meets no need and makes no sense. So, why do we do it?
- In a manner of speaking, God sees sin as people not being selfish enough, not looking out for their own best interests. “Why will you die, O Israel?” He asks repeatedly. (Ezekiel 18:31; 33:11). The Lord Jesus put it this way: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). We recall how our Lord said, “I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
History with a purpose…
God is not interested in you and me becoming historians. It is not enough to know the history of Israel and shake our heads at the self-destructive behavior of His people of olden times.
The Lord is speaking to us through His word. He always does.
God is not interested in destroying or judging. He came to seek and to save that which was lost.
When will we learn our lesson?