In Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth, Paul proclaims three times that “God is faithful” (1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:18). The New Testament affirms that the Church is the bride of Christ. In Jeremiah 2, the prophet describes the relationship between God and His people as a bride and her husband.
While not using the word “bride,” Paul describes the Church as the bride of Christ in Ephesians 5:25–29. As sometimes the love within a marriage can become stale, believers must guard against drifting away from God and His love. The danger is that Christians of all generations may commit the sin of spiritual adultery.
God commissions Jeremiah to a two-fold task — to go and announce directly to Jerusalem the message of the Lord. God used the imagery of marriage to describe the relationship between God and people. The early days of the relationship between God and His people in the wilderness after departing from Egypt is described as the early days of marriage. Israel was “holy to the Lord” and “the first fruits of the harvest” which was given to God (v. 3).
Both Jeremiah 2 and Hosea 2:14–15 describe the desert as a place of relationship between God and His people.
Any enemies that attempted to eat of God’s harvest, Israel, were punished by disaster (v. 3). Jeremiah’s purpose is not to encourage God’s people to be nostalgic, but to contrast the people in the days of the wilderness with the spiritual adultery of God’s people in Jeremiah’s day.
God asks a rhetorical question: “What fault did your ancestors find in Me?” The people followed worthless idols and became like the idols they worshipped — worthless. This principle not only was true in the biblical era, but the principle is also true today. People become like what they worship. The people’s relationship with God had grown so indifferent that people and priest stopped asking, “Where is the Lord who brought us from the land of Egypt?” (vv. 6, 8). In response to the people’s question, God reminds the people that He had brought them to a fertile, bountiful land.
The order — first people then rulers — of people asking “Where is the Lord” may suggest that the rulers are a mirror reflection of the people they are supposed to lead. A nation may receive the rulers the nation deserves.
God the judge announces the charges against the people: “I will bring a case or lawsuit against you” (v. 9). According to Jeremiah 2:29, the people brought charges against God — a countersuit. As evidence against His people, God challenges the people to look at the people inhabiting Cyprus and the descendants of Ishmael — Kedar was the grandson of Abraham (Gen. 25:13). The descendants of Kedar were a nomadic tribe. Even the descendants of Abraham outside the lineage of Isaac were more faithful than Judah. God asked a rhetorical question: “Has any nation ever exchanged its gods for other gods?” The answer is no. Idolators are loyal to worthless idols, but God’s people exchanged “their Glory” — a name for the true God — for false gods.
By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida