Jeremiah is not my favourite book of the Bible. I tend to see it as one of the less-relevant books (which just means I haven't studied it well enough). It's all about old people, and woeful prophecies, and sobs and wails and doom in specific forms (e.g. ravaging armies). At least Isaiah has its last half to redeem it - reading about comfort, and God's love, and Jesus is much easier. Mind you, Jeremiah does have that one verse, 29:11, that everyone quotes and few people take the time to really think about what it means, what the context is or what it looks like in reality. But at least it's nice and cosy. Promises are good. But anyway, aside from that verse, I think in general we (including me) tend to leave Jeremiah alone.
Until you're skimming through your Bible and you randomly remember that God used the last section of Jeremiah 2 to bring one of your friends back to Christ, and hey, you may as well duck over and have a look since you haven't for a while (which, if you didn't catch on, happened to me a few days ago). And then you read it, and it's like, "Oh my gosh! Jeremiah is actually awesome! There are some epic lessons here to dig out!" Let's take a look, shall we?
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”?
Firstly, we should note the line with which God opens this section of His message. What title does He give His audience? "You of this generation..." God is being specific here. If He simply said, 'Israel' or 'My people,' I have a feeling that His audience would have found it easy to push it aside as "Oh, that doesn't mean me. Maybe our elders, maybe the leaders of our nation, but me? No." But God goes in directly - "You of this generation!" You - yes, you. You, here and now. Listen up, OK?
God's title for His audience is also gentle. Considering the evidence for their failure He is about to lay before them, He could well have chosen to say "You stinking generation!" or "You this generation of vipers!" or something of the sort. But instead, He simply, gently calls to them. "You of this generation, consider the word of the Lord." In the same way He calls to us when we drift - an gentle warning, not grilling us for our stupidity, but softly and steadily calling.
31) 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?'
33) How skilled you are at
Even the worst of women can
learn from your ways.
Ouch. I think you could prick your finger on that last verse. But's it's all so very accurate, isn't it? Has God not blessed us, that we would seek our satisfaction somewhere else? Why, oh why, do we choose to break from dependency on God and go a'roaming? How often do we foolishly forget to be dependant on God, and instead drift from under His wings and into our own strength? So many Christians have become 'skilled at pursuing love' - seeking other things instead of Jesus and pretending that they fulfil just as well as True Love. I do it too. I somehow forget that God is the only lush garden, the only land of light, my One True Love, and I wander, seeking other things as though God was a desert and a land of darkness. "It is absurd for us who are beggars to say [...] We are rich, and we will come no more to God, to receive favours from him, as if we could live without him and need not be beholden to him." (Matthew Henry Commentary, on BibleGateway.com) "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love" (Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing).
32) Does a young woman forget her jewellery,
a bride her wedding ornaments?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
days without number.
God is our crown, our precious treasure, yet how often would we rather appear without God than without our earthly things we hold dear? God is infinitely more wonderful than earthly things, and yet we forget Him more often than we forget them. If we care for things of this world, should we not care for God a million times more?! "It is sad that any should be more in love with their fine clothes than with their God, and should rather leave their religion behind them, or part with that, than leave any of their ornaments behind them, or part with them" (Matthew Henry Commentary, on BibleGateway.com). And it doesn't even have to be physical things! If we would rather check our religion at the door and temporarily 'forget' God, rather than appear 'uncool,' or 'dumb,' or 'radical,' aren't we valuing our pride more than our King? Aren't we remembering our jewels and forgetting our Creator?
I especially like how this passage says, "... a bride her wedding ornaments..." We are the Bride of Christ. He had lavished upon us countless wedding gifts - grace, love, forgiveness, righteousness, etc. Sometimes, I think, we can remember these 'spiritual' things while forgetting the God who gave them. When we judge a friend, we remember our righteousness while forgetting that it is not us, but God, who made us righteous. If we extend forgiveness while inwardly thinking, 'Aren't I awesome, I'm so forgiving,' aren't we remembering our wedding gift of forgiveness without remembering the Giver? When we take pride in our 'gift of wisdom,' yet don't acknowledge God as being the Fount of our wisdom... and so on.
Well, that's what I got out of Jeremiah 2. Some incredible lessons, and certainly convictions, that can be unearthed in the 'dusty old book' of Jeremiah with the guidance of God, hey? What do you think?