16 February 2016

Jeremiah 2:1-13

“Thus says the Lord: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?” (v. 5)

Psalm: Psalm 37:1-11


We are in court and Judah is in the dock. The prosecutor is in full voice, aghast at the scandalous way the people have abandoned Yahweh (God) after everything that has been done for them.

The accusation goes down the generations, to "your children's children" (v. 9), and all creation is called on to shudder at the scale of Judah's betrayal.

"Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
says the Lord,
for my people have committed two evils:
    they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
    and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns
    that can hold no water." (vv. 12-13)

The crime is that Judah has walked away from the age-old covenant, forged with Abram (Genesis 12:2-3). From the beginnings of the journey that continued into Canaan, on into the wilderness and eventually settling in the Promised Land, God had never abandoned the people.

They, however, had traded in their commitment for the worship of false gods; for intermarriage with other nations and lost their focus on Yahweh.

Now, their wronged lover was calling out for justice. Imagine being Jeremiah and standing in front of the Judeans - many of them married to people from other tribes - and telling them how much God hated what they had done. Were they penitent? How obedient to the heavenly call were they likely to be?

But the compulsion on the prophet was overwhelming. It had been there from before he was born. He had to bring God's accusation.

To Ponder

  • How likely are you to demand penitence from people today?
  • To what extent is the Church more likely to tackle structural injustice than individual wrong? Why do you think that might be?

Bible notes author

The Revd Gareth Hill

Gareth Hill is a Methodist minister with a particular interest in pioneer ministry and fresh ways of being Church. He is​ in circuit ministry in the Winchester, Eastleigh & Romsey Circuit in the Southampton District and has pastoral charge of six churches in Romsey and on the edge of the New Forest.