The image of the unfaithful wife perseveres in Jeremiah’s writings. There seems to be a direct reference or at least an allusion to it in every chapter. It pops up again in Jeremiah 3:6. It says, “The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: ‘Have you seen what she did, that 06 foolfaithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore?’” Martens explains this verse, “Israel, the kingdom to the north of Judah, had been disowned by God because of her spiritual unfaithfulness. ‘Adultery’ was the word used to describe Israel’s awful behavior. Because of it the Assyrians had overrun the Northern Kingdom. One would expect that Judah, a witness to these events, would learn the seriousness of spiritual adultery. The charge is that Judah has not learned.”[1]

I’ve often heard that the wisest man in the world, Solomon, teaches us in the book of Proverbs about the difference between being a fool, a smart man, and a wise man. The fool is the one who never learns from his mistakes. He repeats the same folly over and over again expecting different results. The smart man is the one who makes the mistakes but the consequences teach him a lesson and he learns to avoid that behavior in the future. The wise man is the one who can watch the mistakes that others make and learn from them without having to make them himself. Jeremiah’s indictment of Judah is that they are being foolish. They’ve seen what the results of pagan pluralism brings to a society, but weren’t wise enough to avoid the same sin.

We find ourselves in a secular culture that promotes its own idols. As the pagan gods of the Canaanites became the “lovers” of the unfaithful bride of God we’re enticed by the same temptations. We’re too smart to be lured away by images carved in stone or cut out of wood, yet the same pull on our hearts is seen repeatedly in our society. We all struggle with these things. Even us professing believers have our own idols that suck our vitality from our God. Ryken is very pointed in his condemnation of the church when he writes, “The church is supposed to be married to Jesus Christ, but we have many mistresses. If we kept a little black book with the names of our lovers, it would read something like this: ‘For a good time, call material prosperity, idle entertainment, political power, sexual license, and self-indulgence.’”[2] We see shipwrecked lives of those all around us that have served these gods to no good end. Do we learn?

[1] E. A. Martens, Jeremiah, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1986), 52.

[2] Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 54.