The people of Israel had a problem.

God had preserved the family of Jacob during 400 years in Egypt, delivered them from slavery there, and formed them into the nation of Israel during their 40-plus-year trek through the wilderness to the Promised Land. God had miraculously protected and provided for them in the wilderness, teaching them how they should live, and brought them into the land He’d promised to give them.

Through the centuries that followed, the Israelites’ commitment to following God wavered—sometimes they followed Him, and sometimes they didn’t. When they did, they experienced God’s blessings. When they didn’t, they experienced His judgment.

By the time Jeremiah came on the scene, things had really gone downhill. The people of Israel had largely turned from God and had been following the religious practices of their pagan Canaanite neighbors. So God sent Jeremiah to them with His message of judgment.

Today’s reading in Jer. 2:23–5:19 describes in graphic terms how the people of Israel had turned away from God, while refusing to acknowledge their sin. And God pleads with them to return to Him.

When reading a passage such as this, it’s easy to wag our fingers at the people of Israel, and wonder why they turned away from the God who had done so much for them. But we need to turn our gaze inward. Are we like the people of Israel at times? Have we forgotten what God has done for us? Have we prioritized our own desires rather than God’s desires?

Surely God’s charge to Israel in Deut. 10:12 is appropriate for us, too: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul.”

by Darrel Eppler, Elder

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