03 Jeremiah 2:1-13 Why is God so difficult to believe in?

by | Sep 28, 2016 | 01 Podcasts, Jeremiah

  1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when god is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

This “god” of “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” is much easier to believe in that the God of Scripture.

Historical Setting

Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war.  As the Assyrians began to lose their power,  Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave.  In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah.  His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.


In Jeremiah’s time, when lesser kings offended their overlord, the overlord sent them a document outlining the charges against them which included same content we see here in Jeremiah 2.  (Micah 6:1-8 is a another biblical example.)

  • an appeal to the vassal to pay heed and a summons to the earth & sky to act as witnesses (2:12)
  • a series of questions which each carry an implied accusation (2:5-6; 2:14)
  • a recollection of past benefits bestowed on the vassal by the overlord with a statement of how the vassal has broken the covenant (2:7-11; 2:13; 2:15-25; 2:29-30)
  • a reference to the futility of ritual compensation or other aid (2:26-28)
  • declaration of guilt and threat of judgment (2:31-37)
1Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 2″Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, The love of your betrothals, Your following after Me in the wilderness, Through a land not sown.  3Israel was holy to the LORD, The first of His harvest. All who ate of it became guilty; Evil came upon them,” declares the LORD.'” – Jeremiah 2:1-3
  • The chapter begins with a prologue that recounts the honeymoon period between Israel and the Lord.
  • The reference to first fruits comes from Deuteronomy 26:1-11. Here this first generation after the Exodus is depicted as the first fruits of the people God has set apart for himself.
  • Israel’s early relationship with God is depicted as the early days of a marriage where the bride eagerly enters a new life with her husband – as evidenced by her willingness to follow him anywhere, as Israel followed the Lord in the wilderness
4Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. 5Thus says the LORD, “What injustice did your fathers find in Me, That they went far from Me And walked after emptiness and became empty?  6They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and of pits, Through a land of drought and of deep darkness, Through a land that no one crossed And where no man dwelt?’  7I brought you into the fruitful land To eat its fruit and its good things. But you came and defiled My land, And My inheritance you made an abomination.  8The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me, And the prophets prophesied by Baal And walked after things that did not profit. – Jeremiah 2:4-8
  • The question in 2:5 calls for a negative answer.  What wrong did your fathers find in me? None.
  • The language of verse 5 is they “went after worthlessness and became worthless”.
  • In verses 8, four classes of leaders are charged with some measure of responsibility for Israel’s apostasy.   All these leaders had a responsibility to keep and teach the law. Instead the led the people after other gods.
  • The Lord stayed faithful while Israel strayed.
9″Therefore I will yet contend with you,” declares the LORD, “And with your sons’ sons I will contend.  10For cross to the coastlands of Kittim and see, And send to Kedar and observe closely And see if there has been such a thing as this!  11Has a nation changed gods When they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory For that which does not profit.  12Be appalled, O heavens, at this, And shudder, be very desolate,” declares the LORD.  13″For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.” – Jeremiah 2:9-13
  • The word translated “contend” is a legal term indicating that these are formal charges to be analyzed in a court of law.
  • This is divorce court.
  • God calls for witnesses from east (Kedar) and west (Kittim) to see if anyone anywhere has seen a nation abandon its gods before.
  • Living or running water is not stagnant and has less chance of harboring bacteria.
  • A cistern is a huge hole dug in the ground and lined with rocks that is collects rainwater.

Why is God so difficult to believe in?

  1. We want control.
  2. We explain away His gifts and provision.
  3. We want a predictable god who doesn’t surprise us.
  4. The God of Scripture is complicated and does not answer all our questions.
  5. We are afraid the hope of the gospel is too good to be true.

Yet as Paul assures us in Romans 5:1-11, our hope will not disappoint us because God loves us enough to save us.  If He loved us enough to die for us while we were estranged from Him, now that we are His adopted children, don’t you think He loves us enough to finish our salvation?

The truth is that God is really not hard to believe in.  The problem is that it is our hearts that are fickle.

For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.

Next: 04 Jeremiah 7:1-15 What is wrong with religion?

Previous: 02 Jeremiah 1:4-10 What does God want from me?

Series: Questions Jeremiah Answered

Study Resources: Jeremiah Resources

Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.

Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.