Marriage is the most explicit metaphor Jeremiah uses in his wake up call for Judah. This is his message: the people and leaders claimed to worship God in the temple. In reality, they had long gone off in search of other gods. Jeremiah describes Judah’s sins in such graphic detail that this book may seem irrelevant to us. If we scratch beyond the surface, however, we’ll realize we need this wake up call too.
Jeremiah, speaking for God, describes the single minded love the nation of Judah had had toward Him:
“I remember your youthful loyalty, our love as newlyweds.
You stayed with me through the wilderness years, stuck with me through all the hard places.”
Jeremiah 2:2b (The Message)
When Jeremiah arrived on the scene, Judah had become corrupted by the worship of Baal. God was the perfect spouse, yet Judah had grown bored of worshiping Him:
“Have I let you down, Israel? Am I nothing but a dead-end street?
Why do my people say, ‘Good riddance! From now on we’re on our own?’” Jeremiah 2:31 The Message
The prophet doesn’t mince words. The people and leaders of Judah have become shameless in their search for new gods to worship:
“A long time ago you broke out of the harness.
You shook off all restraints.
You said, ‘I will not serve!’ and off you went,
Visiting every sex-and-religion shrine on the way, like a common whore.”
Jeremiah 2:20 The Message
What’s worse, they deny any wrongdoing:
“How dare you tell me, ‘I’m not stained by sin.
I’ve never chased after the Baal sex gods!’”
Jeremiah 2:23 The Message
Rather than listening to the prophet and changing their ways, the nation dooms itself to exile in Babylon.
Judah’s root-sins are idolatry (which Jeremiah describes as neglecting their first love for God), and their unrepentance. Judah seems so much more sinful than we could imagine being. If we are honest, however, we also commit the sin of idolatry and have unrepentant hearts.
Are there ways that you’ve stopped loving God? Do other ways of living seem more attractive? There are so many idols that can take first place in our lives-–busyness, self importance, material success, comfort and security, pleasing others, career, family,… In fact anything, even good things, can become idols when we make them all-important. Take a moment to reflect on where your thoughts routinely lead you. Confess any thoughts and actions that detract from loving God. Then, keep it up! He will welcome us with open arms when we repent.