Not Even The Idol Worshippers Do That

Hands with red heart.jpeg

This Sunday we’ll hear a prophecy of Jeremiah to Israel (Jer 2:4-13). There, God is reminding the people of Israel of his delightful redemption of them; how they came out of slavery in Egypt, wandered through the dark wilderness and were delivered into a plentiful and good land all because God loved them and designed and directed their rescue. Yet now, says the Lord, the people of Israel have wandered from him to serve false gods. And here is the ironic line that has been ringing in my ears:

"For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see,
or send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has been such a thing.
Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for that which does not profit.” (2:10-11)

In other words, what Israel has done is unheard of. Not even the residents of Kedar or Cyprus, worshipers of idols, forsake their local deities for some other god. The irony, of course, is that God is not a local deity. He is not bound by a region, a river, or even a nation of people. God called Abram and chose for himself the people of Israel in order that he might show his love to every nation in the world through this peculiar people, his “treasured possession” (Exod 19:5). The great tragedy of Israel is that they experienced the specificity and power of God’s love, yet left that love behind. They had begun “as a bride” with her bridegroom, but now they have wandered as an unfaithful wife. And it is Jeremiah’s vocation to prosecute the unfaithful people, to call out their deeds and call them back.

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love….” Those familiar words also ring in my ears today because I can also identify with Israel. I can wander, forget, and run off to some other false god, dig my own cistern when God has provided in Christ Jesus a “fountain of living waters.” Maybe you can identify with Israel as well.

I love being on this journey of “beholding and becoming” with you. I look forward to sharing more of God’s word with you Sunday.