Jeremiah 2:18-37 Breakdown
2:18 What good will it do you then to go down to Egypt to seek help from the Egyptians? What good will it do you to go over to Assyria to seek help from the Assyrians?
Instead of looking to Jehovah as the one who is the spring of life-giving waters, Israel would seek help from two broken cisterns who could not hold water. She would flutter back and forth like a foolish bird between these two broken cisterns. The Egyptians and Assyrians were the two broken cisterns who would be crushed by Babylon.
2:19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment. Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you. Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God, to show no respect for me,” says the Lord God who rules over all.
Israel’s own wickedness would cause her to harm herself. Whenever a nation lives in sin, then they are actually injuring themselves. God must execute judgment to save the rebellious nation. He must execute extreme surgery to save the life of the foolish nation.
2:20 “Indeed, long ago you threw off my authority and refused to be subject to me. You said, ‘I will not serve you.’ Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill and under every green tree, like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.
Jehovah freed Israel from her bondage, but she refused to serve Him. Instead, she spread her legs to demonic idols like a prostitute.
2:21 I planted you in the land like a special vine of the very best stock. Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes?
God planted Israel in the land as choice seed, but Israel produced poisonous grapes. This bad fruit looked good to eat, but instead, it brought death.
2:22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent. You can use as much soap as you want. But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,” says the Lord God.
Israel has stained herself with sin. There was no soap or detergent that could cleanse her dirty stain.
2:23 “How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean. I have not paid allegiance to the gods called Baal.’ Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom! Think about the things you have done there! You are like a flighty, young female camel that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path.
Israel was sacrificing innocent children to demonic gods in the Valley of Hinnom. She was running to this valley of infant sacrifice, just as a female camel runs in heat to any male camel. When a female camel is in heat, she runs back and forth and in continuous circles. This camel in heat was a picture of the condition of adulterous Israel.
2:24 You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness. In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male. No one can hold her back when she is in heat. None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her. At mating time she is easy to find.
When a female donkey is in heat, then she sniffs the air for male urine. When she smells the urine, she runs to the male donkey and spreads her legs. Israel went after demonic gods in the same way that female donkeys in heat go after a male donkey.
2:25 Do not chase after other gods until your shoes wear out and your throats become dry. But you say, ‘It is useless for you to try and stop me because I love those foreign gods and want to pursue them!’
In order to avoid the Babylonian Captivity, then Israel will have to quit chasing after demonic idols. Israel’s response was that she loved the demonic gods too much. She did not want to stop chasing these demonic idols. She must pursue these demonic idols just as an alcoholic with a dry throat chases after alcohol.
2:26 Just as a thief has to suffer dishonor when he is caught, so the people of Israel will suffer dishonor for what they have done. So will their kings and officials, their priests and their prophets.
A thief is ashamed only when he is caught. Israel was not ashamed of worshiping demonic gods, unless she was caught. The kings, governmental officials, priests, and prophets were not only worshiping demons, but they were leading Judah in this same direction.
2:27 They say to a wooden idol, ‘You are my father.’ They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’ Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me. Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
Israel was giving credit to wooden and stone idols for bringing them into existence. However, when trouble came, the leaders wanted to return back to God and ask Him to deliver them. When the Babylonian soldiers arrived, then the leaders would turn back to Jehovah and ask Him to save them.
2:28 But where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them save you when you are in trouble. The sad fact is that you have as many gods as you have towns, Judah.
God’s answer was that the next time Israel is in trouble, she should ask the wooden and stone idols to help her out of her jam. Israel had as many demonic gods as she had towns.
2:29 “Why do you try to refute me? All of you have rebelled against me,” says the Lord.
Judah possessed no legal defense in this court case. All were guilty of sinning against God.
2:30 “It did no good for me to punish your people. They did not respond to such correction. You slaughtered your prophets like a voracious lion.”
Previous discipline had not worked with Judah. Instead of listening to the warnings from the prophets, Israel killed the prophets who brought them these negative messages.
2:31 You people of this generation, listen to what the Lord says. “Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel? Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you? Why then do you say, ‘We are free to wander. We will not come to you any more?’
When the ninth plague of darkness hit Egypt, there was still light in Goshen. God had always brought light to Israel, but they rejected it. Therefore, the fault did not lie with God. God had blessed, protected, and given more light to Judah than any other nation.
2:32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels? Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire? But my people have forgotten me for more days than can even be counted.
The Hebrew word for “young woman” is בְּתוּלָה֙ (betulah), meaning virgin. When a virgin goes out of the house, then she puts on her jewels to show that she is available. When a bride gets married, she puts on her wedding attire to show that she is married. Israel was not like the virgin or the bride. She had forgotten her husband. Israel was guilty of illogical thinking.
2:33 “My, how good you have become at chasing after your lovers! Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two!
Israel was such an expert in spiritual adultery, that she could teach other prostitutes their trade.
2:34 Even your clothes are stained with the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong; you did not catch them breaking into your homes. Yet, in spite of all these things you have done,
Israel was not only a prostitute, but she was also a murderer. Israel’s clothes were stained with the blood of the poor whom they had slaughtered for greedy acquisition.
2:35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong, so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’ But, watch out! I will bring down judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’
Israel was guilty of murdering the poor, but she claimed innocence.
2:36 Why do you constantly go about changing your political allegiances? You will get no help from Egypt just as you got no help from Assyria.
Israel was indecisive in her politics. She kept changing her political allegiance back and forth from Egypt to Assyria. Neither of these Gentile nations would be able to help Israel escape the Babylonian Captivity, because they will be taken into captivity as well.
2:37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful and you will not gain any help from them.
Israel would leave Jerusalem and hide out in Egypt. However, Babylon would defeat Egypt as well and take the Jews in Egypt into captivity.
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