This morning I read through Jeremiah 2. If I didn’t know the “rest of the story,” to use Paul Harvey’s catchphrase, I think I’d be depressed. Writing around 597 BC, Jeremiah went from warning the city of Jerusalem of the coming desolation and destruction to witnessing it first hand. Throughout his public ministry, he exhorted Judah to repent and turn back to God, though his message was largely ignored and ridiculed. Thus, he’s referred to as the “weeping prophet” due to how discouraging his life and ministry must have been! Constantly rejected by his people, Jeremiah’s book reads largely like a funeral dirge.
As I was reading through Jeremiah 2, several verses stood out to me:
V.5 – “Thus says the LORD: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?”
V.7 – “And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.”
V.17 – “Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the LORD your God, when he led you in the way?”
V.19 – “Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord GOD of hosts.”
How depressing! God’s people, whom he had covenanted with, had gone after worthlessness and had become worthless! Yes, worship is formative. You become like what you worship. You set your heart about that which is worthless, and you will become just like it.
The “worthlessness” that Jeremiah speaks of looks like this:
- Defiling God’s land
- Making God’s heritage an abomination
- Forsaking God
- No longer fearing God
It wasn’t long after Jeremiah issued this prophetic utterance that God judged Judah by bringing the Babylonians to the land, which equaled the people being exiled out of their land. It’s a sad story… if you stop there.
But if we were living towards the end of Jeremiah’s life, what would we say to him? Simple – cheer up, Jeremiah! For out of your own mouth you have revealed God’s plan of redemption:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
Cheer up! God has a plan to put something inside his people that will enable and empower them to pursue that which is far from worthless – namely God! And since what is worshiped shapes those worshiping, the good news is that God’s people will be conformed to another image…. an image that is one of holiness.