In Jeremiah 2:30 he speaks of “ravenous lions” who remain unrepentant, who kill God’s messengers, and who infect others around them with their disease. But now in verse 31 it appears He speaks to a group who are yet redeemable. In Jeremiah 2:31 God tries to reason 19 no godwith them hoping to lead them to repentance. He writes, “And you, O generation, behold the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘We are free, we will come no more to you’”? I like the way Craigie sees this verse. He writes, “The Lord, with whom Israel contends, is none other than the One who led them through the wilderness and the land of darkness; now they treat him as if he were a ‘wilderness’ and ‘land of total darkness,’ offering neither succor nor light. The contrast is brought out all the more vividly by the quoted words of the people: ‘We have taken control.’ In the wilderness travels, the people were dependent on God as guide and provider of food and water. Now, in arrogant self-sufficiency, they think they can do without God and treat him not as the great provider but as if he were a barren wasteland.”[1]

The story of religion is the story of Israel. Its rules, regulations and rituals had become their first love, not God. Although they needed Him in the wilderness, now in their prosperity, they didn’t need God anymore. They could handle it themselves. The tendency for us all is to look away from God and to religion to save us. I love Max Lucado’s words, “If we are saved by good works, we don’t need God—weekly reminders of the do’s and don’ts will get us to heaven. If we are saved by suffering, we certainly don’t need God. All we need is a whip and a chain and the gospel of guilt. If we are saved by doctrine then, for heaven’s sake, let’s study! We don’t need God, we need a lexicon.”[2] The point being that it’s easy to take our eyes off of God and rest them on our own efforts.

Reflecting on the American experience Cecil Sherman writes, “Time has passed. What was once tenuous and fragile in the little settlements that dotted our eastern coastline is now a mighty nation. By any standard we are a rich and powerful nation. Maybe we don’t need God as we did once. Are these United States strong and rich because we are clever and industrious? Or, are we blessed because God emptied a storehouse of bounty on our land? And, if we see God in the good that has come, do our children think as we do? Will they pass along to our grandchildren the conviction that God has blessed us? This lesson does not answer these questions. Rather, it re-enforces what devout people have known all along. God is in all the good that comes our way. Our response to such bounty ought to be thanksgiving. Like the psalmist said, ‘I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.”[3]

[1] Peter C. Craigie, Jeremiah 1–25, vol. 26, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas, TX: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 41.

[2] Max Lucado, And the Angels Were Silent (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1992), 106.

[3] Cecil E. Sherman, Cecil Sherman Formations Commentary, Vol 2: Psalms – Malachi., Cecil Sherman Formations Commentary Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Pub., 2006), 2.