GETTING THE MESSAGE/Ungodliness leads to apostasy
Jeremiah chapter 2 is a legal indictment from the Lord toward Israel. The Lord sends the prophet Jeremiah to Jerusalem to make his case against Israel, his covenant people. The charge is that Israel has become an ungodly nation. They have rejected the living God.
It wasn’t always so. In verses 1-3, Jeremiah speaks of a time when the people of Israel were devoted and full of love to the Lord. They rejoiced over his great acts of deliverance and protection. Israel was “holy to the Lord,” that is, a people set apart from all others, favored by the Lord. They were the “first fruits” of his harvest, God’s portion of the nations, with the larger harvest to come later.
But ungodliness leads to apostasy, and that is what Jeremiah outlines in this chapter. They left fellowship with the Lord for “worthlessness” (verse 5). All of their leaders were complicit in the apostasy (verse 8). Jeremiah says the other nations would not think of changing their gods (though they are no gods at all), but Israel “changed their glory for that which does not profit” (verse 11). The Lord calls the heavens to bear witness and be shocked by this dreadful exchange.
Notice that apostasy is associated with treating the great truths of the Lord as common things. Their worship and ceremonies were intended to keep the glory of the Lord and his benefits fresh in their minds, but these had become dull, empty rituals to them. The Lord insists on your heart and if you don’t give it wholly, his ordinances will become perfunctory. There is no life that way (verse 13).
Israel’s apostasy made her vulnerable to enemies such as Assyria or Egypt (verses 15-19). When the day of trouble comes and disaster is imminent, they will receive no help from the Lord. He tells them to call upon the false gods they have served: “Let them arise and save you” (verse 28).
The dismal picture of Israel becomes worse. Corruption and immorality is found in all her cities (verse 28). The appeal of false gods is that they are not only permissive but insistent on immorality, and Israel was practicing the Baal religion with depraved dedication.
Jeremiah says that the worship of the Lord has been replaced with lusts as strong as an animal in its reproductive season. The metaphors in verses 20-25 are of vivid sexual immorality. The Lord says that Israel is hopelessly in love with idols, and they will run after them (verse 25).
Israel had spiritual and temporal blessings from God more than any nation. Turning from God led to depravity and ultimately disaster. They reached a place where the fear of God was not in them (verse 19). The Scriptures speak much of the mercy of God. It is rich mercy that gives men time to turn from sin to the Lord. But the time ran out for Israel. Jeremiah would see the fall of Jerusalem and the temple.
There is one sin that was particularly heinous in Israel. In verse 34, the Lord says “on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor.” This refers to the Canaanite practice of sacrificing children to their god. And the women of Israel were party to it. This was a public crime, a legal crime for the Canaanite people, done in open view. We have a similar sin in our land.
In 1973, the Supreme Court of our land struck down any laws prohibiting abortion. In a tragic irony, the 14th amendment, which ensures that no person can be deprived of life, liberty, and property, was used for this decision in the Roe v Wade case.
Yet this decision stripped away the right to life to a segment of our population: children in the womb. It became legal to put them to death, and so it became a normal thing to people. And over 60 million persons have been put to death since then. It is legal, but not legal. It’s not legal to God.
God considers children in the womb as persons. The Bible makes that very clear. They are children that haven’t grown up yet. There are different stages of growth in children: children in the womb are just very young. They have done nothing to be deprived of life.
The court has a Mississippi case regarding abortion it will decide this year. We should pray for wisdom and a fear of the Lord for the justices. A court’s decision can’t change the hearts of people. But it can act justly and reverse what should be reversed.