Jeremiah 2

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Read Jeremiah 2

Israel Forsakes God

The word of the Lord came to me: “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:

“This is what the Lord says:

“‘I remember the devotion of your youth,
    how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
    through a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the firstfruits of his harvest;
all who devoured her were held guilty,
    and disaster overtook them,’”
declares the Lord.

Hear the word of the Lord, you descendants of Jacob,
    all you clans of Israel.

This is what the Lord says:

“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
    that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
    and became worthless themselves.
They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,
    who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness,
    through a land of deserts and ravines,
a land of drought and utter darkness,
    a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
I brought you into a fertile land
    to eat its fruit and rich produce.
But you came and defiled my land
    and made my inheritance detestable.
The priests did not ask,
    ‘Where is the Lord?’
Those who deal with the law did not know me;
    the leaders rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
    following worthless idols.

“Therefore I bring charges against you again,”
declares the Lord.
    “And I will bring charges against your children’s children.
10 Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
    send to Kedar and observe closely;
    see if there has ever been anything like this:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods?
    (Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
    for worthless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, you heavens,
    and shudder with great horror,”
declares the Lord.
13 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
14 Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth?
    Why then has he become plunder?
15 Lions have roared;
    they have growled at him.
They have laid waste his land;
    his towns are burned and deserted.
16 Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
    have cracked your skull.
17 Have you not brought this on yourselves
    by forsaking the Lord your God
    when he led you in the way?
18 Now why go to Egypt
    to drink water from the Nile?
And why go to Assyria
    to drink water from the Euphrates?
19 Your wickedness will punish you;
    your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
    how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the Lord your God
    and have no awe of me,”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.

20 “Long ago you broke off your yoke
    and tore off your bonds;
    you said, ‘I will not serve you!’
Indeed, on every high hill
    and under every spreading tree
    you lay down as a prostitute.
21 I had planted you like a choice vine
    of sound and reliable stock.
How then did you turn against me
    into a corrupt, wild vine?
22 Although you wash yourself with soap
    and use an abundance of cleansing powder,
    the stain of your guilt is still before me,”
declares the Sovereign Lord.
23 “How can you say, ‘I am not defiled;
    I have not run after the Baals’?
See how you behaved in the valley;
    consider what you have done.
You are a swift she-camel
    running here and there,
24 a wild donkey accustomed to the desert,
    sniffing the wind in her craving—
    in her heat who can restrain her?
Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves;
    at mating time they will find her.
25 Do not run until your feet are bare
    and your throat is dry.
But you said, ‘It’s no use!
    I love foreign gods,
    and I must go after them.’

26 “As a thief is disgraced when he is caught,
    so the people of Israel are disgraced—
they, their kings and their officials,
    their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’
    and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
They have turned their backs to me
    and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
    ‘Come and save us!’
28 Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?
    Let them come if they can save you
    when you are in trouble!
For you, Judah, have as many gods
    as you have towns.

29 “Why do you bring charges against me?
    You have all rebelled against me,”
declares the Lord.
30 “In vain I punished your people;
    they did not respond to correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
    like a ravenous lion.

31 “You of this generation, consider the word of the Lord:

“Have I been a desert to Israel
    or a land of great darkness?
Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam;
    we will come to you no more’?
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry,
    a bride her wedding ornaments?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
    days without number.
33 How skilled you are at pursuing love!
    Even the worst of women can learn from your ways.
34 On your clothes is found
    the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
    though you did not catch them breaking in.
Yet in spite of all this
35     you say, ‘I am innocent;
    he is not angry with me.’
But I will pass judgment on you
    because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
36 Why do you go about so much,
    changing your ways?
You will be disappointed by Egypt
    as you were by Assyria.
37 You will also leave that place
    with your hands on your head,
for the Lord has rejected those you trust;
    you will not be helped by them.

Go Deeper

We see God, in the very beginning of this chapter, ask a deep and convicting question through His prophet Jeremiah that seems to be relevant for many of us today: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? (Jer. 2:5).” Amidst the all-powerful, almighty justice of God towards sin and rebellion, we see a gentle gaze and an overwhelming tenderness. His love. It’s like God pulled back the divine curtain of His emotions and reveals His innermost yearning; “Why did you leave me?” “Where did you go?”

Do you know how much God cares for you? That every single aspect of His nature is laced with a word we so often forget in our mess ups and our sins: compassion. And in His compassion, He will do whatever it takes to draw us back to holiness and a place of union and intimacy with Him. He goes on to say that the Israelites have committed two evils that have caused this reaction of justice from Him. It says in verse 13, “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” 

The Israelites have forsaken their first love. The Deity that holds every ounce of satisfaction and life and have tried to find it elsewhere in other idols and pleasures of their own creation. At some point, God became not enough for them. Not only have they walked away from the Spring of living water, but they have also tried to recreate it with their own cisterns. 

Have you ever walked away from the well of living water to try and build your own? Only to find out it’s broken and cannot hold anything of real value or joy or satisfaction. That it can never quench what we are truly thirsting for in God? There is a moment in John 4 where Jesus appears to a woman of Samaria by a well who is thirsty and searching for meaning in all of the wrong places. Jesus offers, in His compassion and love, living water. Himself. And He promises that this living water will never leave her thirsty again. That living water is found in Him alone! Today the world will try and convince you that other cisterns have life in them. They don’t! They never will. Let’s learn from the Israelites and this passage that nothing but God will leave you quenched and satisfied. 


  1. We all stray from God in certain areas of our life. How would you answer this question that the Israelites were asked thousands of years ago: “Why have you left me?”
  2. When you sin, do you see God as a God of compassion or a God of anger and vengeance? Read Exodus 34 and see how God describes Himself and what He says about His character right after the Israelites have sinned and rebelled against Him.
  3. What cistern are you trying to drink water from and find purpose and value and life in apart from God? Has it satisfied you?

Keep Digging

Did you know that Jeremiah is referred to as “the weeping prophet”? Check out this article from to learn why! 

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4 thoughts on “Jeremiah 2”

  1. We often forget in our sin and rebellion that there will be a day of reckoning. The free will God extends to us will either drive us to him or away from him. V 27 reveals that in sin we “turn our backs to him and not our faces.” It’s like we are pouty children that cross our arms and demand our own way, seeking fulfillment in worthless things instead of the security offered by our loving God. Plainly speaking we refuse to abide with him, but instead embrace the shallow, futile ways of the world. When we could be refreshed by the Living Water, we run after things that bring drought to our souls. One question that begs us to answer was repeated twice in this chapter, “Where is the Lord?” Is he as close as the beat of your heart, or forgotten and rejected? Let’s learn from the narrative of Jeremiah and choose to serve the Lord wholeheartedly.

  2. I would say we are crazy but maybe you have not done the song and dance of going out into this world for what you think will be “better, funner, more interesting life”, trying to look into all those broken cisterns. I felt I was not worthy and could not compare to the life I was told to do as a new believer. All there was to it was rules of don’ts and if you do you might be going to hell. The talk of God wanting me because He loved me was only if I followed the rules I thought were too hard. I know it is never too late but oh I want to take the teens and twenty-somethings aside to say, your life could be so much fun, enjoyable, and “easier” with God in the middle of it all. Do not run from Him, lean into Him. Replacing God with the things of this world will not, may I repeat, will not make you happier. Turn to Him, He is not even ever a step away from you, He who is waiting for that turn to catch you with open arms. The old testament is information of how much God has chased after His people. He wants, desires, and loves us. His question is “Why did you leave me?” is now Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

    God thank You for listening, hearing ears for Jesus’s voice. Thank You for Him opening the door and being with me for all eternity. God thank You for all of Your people who have turned to broken cisterns to have open ears to hear, and eyes to see that all they have to do is turn to YOU. God thank You for encouraging words that I speak, to whomever that would help them to seek You. Thank You for other like-minded believers out there speaking Your love that might just be to my son, whom I believe will turn back to You. God, thank You for Your love goggles to see people as You do and ears to hear Your voice to know words to speak. God thank You for YOU effervescing out of me, to all those around as I go through this day and these minutes with You in Jesus name amen.

  3. Amen!

    11 “But my people have exchanged their glorious God
    for worthless idols.”

    Why is it in my human nature to keep doing this? Forgive me!

    1. Diane Frances Rogers

      For me, it is not even a premediated action, but yet I fall right into the thing I don’t want to do. Ugh! Thank you, God, for Your grace.

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