Jeremiah asserted that the Israelites had become like wild animals. They have lost their ability to reason and to control themselves. They have given themselves over to the naked lusts of the flesh and were simply slaves to their appetites. As Davidson says, “The people are 11 hopehooked; like a drug addict, aware of the possible dangers in the situation, yet unable to stifle the craving for another shot.”[1] God had taken care of them when he delivered them from slavery to Egypt. He had fed them and gave them water to drink and had kept their clothes from wearing out and their shoes lasted for 40 years. Jeremiah calls them back to God’s care and protection in Jeremiah 2:25. He says, “Keep your feet from going unshod and your throat from thirst. But you said, ‘It is hopeless, for I have loved foreigners, and after them I will go.’”

Jeremiah, speaking for God, explains that this running after the pleasures of the flesh will result in nothing but worn out shoes. Solomon made this case so clear in the book of Ecclesiastes. He had it all and found it meaningless. It was a “vanity of vanities.” It was trying to catch the wind. When it’s all over you have nothing to show for it except “wasted days and wasted nights” (Freddie Fender). We are all born with fleshly passions and desires. Giving ourselves to them with no restraint results in slavery not freedom. They won’t let us go! As Mackay observed, “Judah is seen to be willfully intent on pursuing its own perception of what is for its good, having rejected the service of the Lord. But it was not freedom they had achieved; rather they were trapped in an even greater slavery.”[2]

Yes, just like a modern addict, they have given themselves to such sin that their situation seemed hopeless. Wiersbe writes, “… they despaired of being saved. ‘It’s no use!’ (2:25, NIV) was their excuse. ‘It’s hopeless!’ They sounded like confirmed alcoholics or compulsive gamblers who can’t break the habit, or like the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda who had been sick for so long that he’d given up hope (John 5:1–9).”[3] Like many alcoholics and drug addicts I’ve met, they see themselves as hopeless cases. I have to admit I’ve agreed with their self-appraisals at times. They saw themselves as hopeless cases and those who knew them saw them as hopeless cases; but not God! Just as the crippled man by the pool of Bethesda saw himself as a hopeless case, those around him seconded his self-appraisal. Jesus is the God of hopeless cases. As Wesley writes, “He breaks the power of canceled sin/He sets the prisoner free.”[4]

[1] Robert Davidson, Jeremiah, vol. 1, The Daily Study Bible Series (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1983), 32.

[2] John L. Mackay, Jeremiah: An Introduction and Commentary: Chapters 1–20, vol. 1, Mentor Commentaries (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2004), 160.

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Decisive, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 26–27.

[4] 9 Verse 4 of Charles Wesley’s “O for a Thousand Tongues.”