Jeremiah 2 | Emptiness

cisternDo you feel empty?  Do you feel like everything is pointless?  It’s because you have turned away from God and walked after emptiness.

The message of Jeremiah chapter 2 is that the people had forsaken God (Jer 2:13).  They had turned away from the God that they had once held dear.  God had done wonderful and miraculous things for the Israelites, and they followed after Him in the wilderness (Jer 2:2).  But they gradually turned away from God.  They exchanged the one true God for something that wasn’t a god at all (Jer 2:11).  The worst part was they didn’t even wonder where the Lord had gone (Jer 2:6, 8, 32).

The truth is that God had not gone anywhere.  He was still there, but they had walked away from Him.  You can see the anguish this caused God when He says:

“I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth,

The love of your betrothals,

Your following after Me in the wilderness ….

What injustice did your fathers find in Me,

That they went far from Me

And walked after emptiness and became empty?”  Jer 2:2, 5

When you pursue emptiness, you will find yourself empty. You will discover only hopelessness.  “Have you not done this to yourself by your forsaking the Lord your God” (Jer 2:17)?

The message of Jeremiah 2 is terribly sad, but it is a message we need to hear.  It was not just for Israel in the 7th century BC.  It is for us today.  This message is for the United States of America and, indeed, any nation that abandons God.

God had a case, a charge, against the people (Jer 2:9).  They had committed two evils (Jer 2:13).  First, they had forsaken God.  They had purposefully walked away from God.  And who is God?  He is the fountain of living waters.  He is the One who gives life.  He is the One who gives fullness and purpose to life.  He will never leave you empty (John 4:13-14, John 7:37-39, Rev 22:17).

Second, they had dug out for themselves cisterns (water wells), but these cisterns were broken and could not hold water (Jer 2:13).  Thus, they became empty.

Oh, they tried to fill that emptiness, that void, with things from the world — just like we do today.  They went down to Egypt, “to drink the waters of the Nile” (Jer 2:18).  They went up to Assyria, “to drink the waters of the Euphrates” (Jer 2:18).  Do you see the contrast?  Rather than drinking from the fountain of living waters (Jer 2:13), that is God, they were drinking from the waters of the world.  They were pursuing the things of the world like a donkey in her heat (Jer 2:24) rather than trusting in God.  What was the result?  Emptiness.  Disillusionment.  And, eventually, destruction (Jer 2:36-37).

What do we trust in today?  Are we, like Israel, trusting the works of our own hands, cisterns that we have dug out for ourselves?  Our careers?  Our money?  Our homes?  Our status?  Our government?  It will only lead to emptiness and ruin.  God is clear:

“Your own wickedness will correct you,

And your apostasies will reprove you;

Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter

For you to forsake the Lord your God,

And the dread of Me is not in you,” declares the Lord God of hosts.”  Jer 2:19

How true that is!  There is no dread, no fear, no respect of God in America any longer.  There is no shame for wrongs we commit.  We are brazen and arrogant in our wickedness.  There is no other word for it.

We were once a Christian nation, founded on the principles of right and wrong as proclaimed by God in the Bible.  We were even declared a Christian nation in a United States Supreme Court ruling in 1892, which was later quoted in other Supreme Court cases.  Yet, over the past 50 years, we have walked away from God, have pursued emptiness, and have become empty.

We thought that “free love” would set us free.  We thought sexual immorality, in its various forms, would liberate us.  We thought the right to choose a baby’s fate would emancipate us.  We thought violence would empower us.  We thought drunkenness and drug use would satisfy us.  But it hasn’t.  It has only left us empty and vulnerable.

We do not like to think that God can become angry, but that doesn’t keep it from being true.  God is a God of love (1 John 4:8, 16), but He is also a God of righteousness (Psa 89:14).  He must deal with sin.  His holiness demands it.  When we flaunt our sinfulness before Him, His anger cannot be avoided:

“Yet you said, ‘I am innocent; surely His anger is turned away from me.’

Behold, I will enter into judgment with you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.'”  Jer 2:35

I know this is a hard message.  However, if you are going to be a Jeremiah to this generation, to this nation, you must be willing to proclaim God’s truth even when it isn’t popular (Jer 1:7-9).

So what are we to do?  Are we doomed to emptiness and ruin?  Not necessarily.  As we will see in the next chapter, there is hope and healing … if we return to God.

This is part of a series of notes on Jeremiah:

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One Response to “Jeremiah 2 | Emptiness”

  1. Loved this exposition. Looking forward to more from Jeremiah!

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