Harden Not Your Heart (Jeremiah 2; Jeremiah 3)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 2; Jeremiah 3

Jeremiah 2 and 3 are not only historically rich in detail, but spiritually relevant for our day. Unfortunately, the length of our text dictates today’s focus center on Jeremiah 2. As you will see, the prophet employed a lot of symbolism to teach spiritual truths the LORD had instructed him to deliver to Judah.

The LORD Loved Israel as a Groom Loves His Bride (Jeremiah 2:1-3)

You will notice the analogy of God’s people behaving like an adulterer is found in both Jeremiah 2 and 3. Jeremiah was commanded to go to the city of Jerusalem, and remind the people how the LORD loved Israel as a young groom loves his bride (2:1-3).

Israel had been a bride to the LORD in the wilderness, and He had loved and cherished the people (2:2). Choosing Israel, the LORD set the nation apart from the heathen for Himself (2:3). He was the protector of His people. Yet, Israel had rejected the LORD, disobeyed His Law and Commandments, and broke their covenant with Him.

Ten Symbols of Israel Spiritual Adultery (Jeremiah 2:4-37)

1) Disloyal – Israel had become an adulterer (2:4-12)

Like an adulterer forsakes the love of her husband, Israel had forsaken the LORD (2:4-5). The LORD questioned, “What iniquity have your fathers found in me?” (2:5a) In other words, What have I done that you would break your covenant with me?

Jeremiah reminded the people how the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness. When they thirsted in the desert, He provided them water. He gave them “a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof” as their inheritance (2:7a). Yet, by their sins and idolatry, the people defiled the land God had given them for an inheritance (2:7). Like a loving, longsuffering husband, the LORD longed for wayward Israel to return to Him (2:9-12).

2) DepartedBroken Cisterns: Israel had departed. (2:13)

Cisterns are underground caves, dug out of stone to retain water. By plastering the inside of a cistern, the people were able to store drinkable water. Using the imagery of a cistern, the LORD declared Israel had “forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (2:13). In other words, Israel had rejected the LORD, broken covenant with Him, the sustainer of life, and “the fountain of living waters” (2:13a). The people had embraced error, and fashioned themselves idols. In effect, they contented themselves with cisterns that could “hold no water” (2:13b), nor satisfy a spiritual thirst. (Note – John 4:13-14where Jesus introduced Himself as the “well of water springing up into everlasting life,” John 4:14).

3) Disregarded – The LORD had declared, “Israel is my son” (Exodus 4:22), but the people had rejected Him and become slaves (2:14-19).

Seven Portraits of a Backslider (2:20-37)

4) Determined – Like a stubborn ox refuses a yoke, Israel refused to bear their covenant with the LORD (2:20).

5) Degenerate – Israel had become like a wild vine (2:21).

6) Defiled – Israel had committed iniquity, and no sacrifices could purge her sins (2:22).

7) Despairing – Israel was like wild animals, lost and wandering (2:23-25).

8) Disgraced – Israel’s idolatry was her humiliation, and shame; like the shame and humiliation a thief suffers when discovered (2:26-27).

9) Disobedient – Like rebellious children (2:30), the people continued in their disobedience, and though chastised, they refused to repent (2:30-35).

10) Despised – Judah would become captives, prisoners of war, for the LORD would reject them. They would bear the shame and sorrow they had witnessed when Israel was led away captive (2:36-37).

Closing thoughts – I conclude with three observations.

1) Any decisions you make apart from God’s leading, will eventually lead to bondage. Israel and Judah had broken covenant with the LORD, and took paths that left them enslaved to sin, and eventually slaves of Babylon.

2) Sins may have generational consequences (Exodus 20:5). The influence of one’s sinful choices may be carried forward for generations.

3) Hardening one’s heart, and rejecting the LORD’s forgiveness, can lead one to despair, “There is no hope” (2:25).

Hebrews 3:1515While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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