What does it say?
Previously, Assyria was the power feared by Jerusalem. Isaiah foresaw that Babylon, not Assyria, was the enemy they should fear. Isaiah died about a century as Jeremiah begins a prophetic ministry of 40 years over the span of the last five kings of Judah. Jeremiah is from a priestly family in Anathoth, and the date is approximately 627 A.D. when God calls him to warn of coming disaster and urge the people to turn back to God. Jeremiah is probably in his early twenties when the events surrounding his calling take place and is the subject of this first chapter. The northern kingdom of Israel is gone, Assyria is on its last legs and Babylon is ready to burst onto the stage.
Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter two opens with a reminder of his people’s unfaithfulness all through history, making the application that the contemporary generation is guilty of the same spiritual infidelity. Rather than trust God, they trust in political alliances and their own scheming efforts. God charges that the root issue is their persistent idolatry. This theme carries over into chapter three and concludes with an impassioned call to change their ways and be healed by God.
What does it mean?
We have followed the story to this point and know that what God says about Israel’s consistent bent toward idolatry and spiritual adultery is true. Understanding that idolatry is anything that we place higher than God, we should see many parallels between the Jews of Jeremiah’s day and ourselves. We also learn that in the midst of spiritual deadness, God always finds someone like Jeremiah to be his spokesperson.
We see the missional aspect of this passage in the final part of Jeremiah 3. God calls on his backsliding people to return to him to be healed, knowing that when God reigns in Jerusalem over a people committed to him, all nations will be gathered to him as well, just as God has also foreseen and promised (3:17).
How will I respond?
Before Jeremiah could be God’s spokesperson, he had to learn who God made him to be. Do I understand whom God made me to be and that he has a place for me in his plan? Do I know that place? Is there something in my life that I need to deal with today in order to discover greater clarity about my place in God’s plan? Jeremiah had some excuses that God deal with before he could fully submit to the mission (1:6). What’s my excuse that I can discuss with God today?