Jeremiah 2

1 the LORD’s word came to me, saying, 2 “Go, and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘the LORD says, “I remember for you the kindness of your youth, the love of your weddings; how you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. 3 Israel was holiness to the LORD, the first fruits of his increase. All who devour him shall be held guilty. Evil shall come on them,”’ says the LORD.” 4 Hear the LORD’s word, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel! 5 the LORD says, “What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me, that they have gone far from me, and have walked after worthless vanity, and have become worthless? 6 They didn’t say, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of the shadow of death, through a land that no one passed through, and where no man lived?’ 7 I brought you into a plentiful land, to eat its fruit and its goodness; but when you entered, you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. 8 The priests didn’t say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ and those who handle the law didn’t know me. The rulers also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and followed things that do not profit. 9 “Therefore I will yet contend with you,” says the LORD, “and I will contend with your children’s children. 10 For pass over to the islands of Kittim, and see; and send to Kedar, and consider diligently; and see if there has been such a thing. 11 Has a nation changed its gods, which really are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. 12 “Be astonished, you heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid. Be very desolate,” says the LORD. 13 “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.” 14 Is Israel a slave? Is he born into slavery? Why has he become a captive? 15 The young lions have roared at him, and yelled. They have made his land waste. His cities are burnt up, without inhabitant. 16 The children also of Memphis and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. 17 “Haven’t you brought this on yourself, in that you have forsaken the LORD your God, when he led you by the way? 18 Now what do you gain by going to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Shihor? Or why do you to go on the way to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? 19 “Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backsliding will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing, that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and that my fear is not in you,” says the Lord, the LORD of Armies. 20 “For long ago I broke off your yoke, and burst your bonds. You said, ‘I will not serve;’ for on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed yourself, playing the prostitute. 21 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a pure and faithful seed. How then have you turned into the degenerate branches of a foreign vine to me? 22 For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before me,” says the Lord GOD. 23 “How can you say, ‘I am not defiled. I have not gone after the Baals’? See your way in the valley. Know what you have done. You are a swift dromedary traversing her ways; 24 a wild donkey used to the wilderness, that sniffs the wind in her craving. When she is in heat, who can turn her away? All those who seek her will not weary themselves. In her month, they will find her. 25 “Keep your feet from being bare, and your throat from thirst. But you said, ‘It is in vain. No, for I have loved strangers, and I will go after them.’ 26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets; 27 who tell wood, ‘You are my father;’ and a stone, ‘You have given birth to me:’ for they have turned their back to me, and not their face; but in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘Arise, and save us.’ 28 “But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble: for you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah. 29 “Why will you contend with me? You all have transgressed against me,” says the LORD. 30 “I have struck your children in vain. They received no correction. Your own sword has devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. 31 Generation, consider the LORD’s word. Have I been a wilderness to Israel? Or a land of thick darkness? Why do my people say, ‘We have broken loose. We will come to you no more?’ 32 “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me for days without number. 33 How well you prepare your way to seek love! Therefore you have even taught the wicked women your ways. 34 Also the blood of the souls of the innocent poor is found in your skirts. You did not find them breaking in; but it is because of all these things. 35 “Yet you said, ‘I am innocent. Surely his anger has turned away from me.’ “Behold, I will judge you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’ 36 Why do you go about so much to change your ways? You will be ashamed of Egypt also, as you were ashamed of Assyria. 37 You will also leave that place with your hands on your head; for the LORD has rejected those in whom you trust, and you won’t prosper with them.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1-8

Those who begin well, but do not persevere, will justly be upbraided with their hopeful and promising beginnings. Those who desert religion, commonly oppose it more than those who never knew it. For this they could have no excuse. God’s spiritual Israel must own their obligations to him for safe conduct through the wilderness of this world, so dangerous to the soul. Alas, that many, who once appeared devoted to the Lord, so live that their professions aggravate their crimes! Let us be careful that we do not lose in zeal and fervency, as we gain knowledge.

Verses 9-13

Before God punishes sinners, he pleads with them, to bring them to repentance. He pleads with us, what we should plead with ourselves. Be afraid to think of the wrath and curse which will be the portion of those who throw themselves out of God’s grace and favour. Grace in Christ is compared to water from a fountain, it being cooling and refreshing, cleansing and making fruitful: to living water, because it quickens dead sinners, revives drooping saints, supports and maintains spiritual life, and issues in eternal life, and is ever-flowing. To forsake this Fountain is the first evil; this is done when the people of God neglect his word and ordinances. They hewed them out broken cisterns, that could hold no water. Such are the world, and the things in it; such are the inventions of men when followed and depended on. Let us, with purpose of heart, cleave to the Lord only; whither else shall we go? How prone are we to forego the consolations of the Holy Spirit, for the worthless joys of the enthusiast and hypocrite!

Verses 14-19

Is Israel a servant? No, they are the seed of Abraham. We may apply this spiritually: Is the soul of man a slave? No, it is not; but has sold its own liberty, and enslaved itself to divers lusts and passions. The Assyrian princes, like lions, prevailed against Israel. People from Egypt destroyed their glory and strength. They brought these calamities on themselves by departing from the Lord. The use and application of this is, Repent of thy sin, that thy correction may not be thy ruin. What has a Christian to do in the ways of forbidden pleasure or vain sinful mirth, or with the pursuits of covetousness and ambition?

Verses 20-28

Notwithstanding all their advantages, Israel had become like the wild vine that bears poisonous fruit. Men are often as much under the power of their unbridled desires and their sinful lusts, as the brute beasts. But the Lord here warns them not to weary themselves in pursuits which could only bring distress and misery. As we must not despair of the mercy of God, but believe that to be sufficient for the pardon of our sins, so neither must we despair of the grace of God, but believe that it is able to subdue our corruptions, though ever so strong.

Verses 29-37

The nation had not been wrought upon by the judgements of God, but sought to justify themselves. The world is, to those who make it their home and their portion, a wilderness and a land of darkness; but those who dwell in God, have the lines fallen to them in pleasant places. Here is the language of presumptuous sinners. The Jews had long thrown off serious thoughts of God. How many days of our lives pass without suitable remembrance of him! The Lord was displeased with their confidences, and would not prosper them therein. Men employ all their ingenuity, but cannot find happiness in the way of sin, or excuse for it. They may shift from one sin to another, but none ever hardened himself against God, or turned from him, and prospered.

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