Two researchers asked 3000 teenagers whether God existed and who they thought he was. In their book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton describe their findings as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” which is characterized by following 5 beliefs:
- A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
- God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
- The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
- God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when god is needed to resolve a problem.
- 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.
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)
- 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
- 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.
- 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?
- We want control.
- We explain away His gifts and provision.
- We want a predictable god who doesn’t surprise us.
- The God of Scripture is complicated and does not answer all our questions.
- 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.
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.