Scripture reading – Jeremiah 2

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Jeremiah 2 is historically rich in detail and spiritually relevant for believers of all ages, particularly 21st-century believers. The prophet employed a lot of symbolism to teach the 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)

In Jeremiah 2, the prophet Jeremiah was commanded to go to Jerusalem and remind the people how the LORD loved the nation as a young groom loved his bride (Jeremiah 2:1-3). The prophet reminisced how Israel was a bride to the LORD in the wilderness, and He loved and cherished the people (Jeremiah 2:2).

The LORD chose Israel and set the nation apart from the heathen nations, as a groom chooses a bride for Himself (2:3). He was the protector of His people. Yet, Israel behaved like a spiritual adulterer, rejecting the LORD, disobeying His Law and Commandments, and breaking their covenant with Him. For the sake of our study, allow me to suggest ten symbols of Israel’s spiritual adultery.

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

1) Disloyal – Israel was like a wife who had forsaken her husband. (Jeremiah 2:4-12)

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

Jeremiah reminded the people that the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness. When they thirsted in the desert, He provided them with water. He guided them through the wilderness and gave them “a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof” as their inheritance (Jeremiah 2:7a).

Yet, by their sins and idolatry, Israel defiled the land God gave them as an inheritance (Jeremiah 2:7). Nevertheless, like a loving, longsuffering husband, the LORD longed for wayward Israel to return to Him (Jeremiah 2:9-12).

Broken Cisterns

2) Departed – Broken, untended cisterns portrayed Israel’s departure from her covenant with the LORD. (Jeremiah 2:13)

Cisterns were large underground man-made caves dug out of stone. When plastered within, cisterns could retain and 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” (Jeremiah 2:13).

In other words, Israel was guilty of rejecting the LORD and breaking their covenant with Him, the sustainer of life and “the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13a). The people had embraced error and fashioned themselves idols. In effect, they were content with “cisterns” of their own making that could “hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13b) nor satisfy a spiritual thirst. (Note – John 4:13-14 where Jesus introduced Himself as the “well of water springing up into everlasting life,” John 4:14).

3) Disregarded – Though the LORD declared, “Israel is my son” (Exodus 4:22), the nation rejected Him and became spiritual slaves of sin and idolatry. (Jeremiah 2:14-19)

The LORD continued to substantiate His proof of Israel’s spiritual adultery by identifying seven traits of a backslidden people.


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

4) Determined – Like a stubborn ox that refuses its yoke, Israel refused to fulfill its covenant obligations to the LORD (Jeremiah 2:20). Having rejected God’s Law and Commandments, the people became like wild beasts, unruly and immoral (Jeremiah 2:20).

Stubborn Donkey

5) Decadent – Israel was estranged from the LORD like a “strange” (wild) vine that bears sour grapes (Jeremiah 2:21).

6) Despoiled – Israel was defiled, having rejected her covenant with the LORD; no sacrifices could purge her sins (Jeremiah 2:22).

7) Despairing – Like wild, lost, and wandering beasts of the wilderness, Israel had forsaken the LORD and despaired, saying, “There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go” (Jeremiah 2:23-25).

8) Dishonored – Like the shame and humiliation a thief suffers when he is discovered, Israel’s idolatry was her humiliation and shame (Jeremiah 2:26-27).

9) Disobedient – Like rebellious children (Jeremiah 2:30), the people continued in their disobedience, and though chastened, they refused to repent, saying, “I have not sinned” (Jeremiah 2:30-35).

10) Despised – Judah became captives, prisoners of war, for the LORD rejected them. The nation would bear the shame and sorrow they had witnessed when Israel was led away by Assyria into captivity (Jeremiah 2:36-37).


Closing thoughts – I conclude today’s Bible study with three observations for believers:

1) Any decisions you make apart from the LORD’s leading will lead to bondage. Israel and Judah broke their covenant with the LORD and rejected His Law and Commandments. Taking paths apart from His will, the people became slaves to sin and eventually slaves of Babylon.

2) Sins can 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 will inevitably lead to despair and a feeling that “There is no hope” (Jeremiah 2:25). Surely, we should examine our hearts in the light of God’s Word and heed the appeal of the writer of Hebrews:

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

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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