Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
I. A SOLEMN DEDICATION TO GOD AND ENTERING INTO COVENANT WITH HIM.
I. GOD GREATLY DELIGHTS IN HIS PEOPLE'S LOVE. See the similitude he employs: "the love of thine espousals." It is difficult for us to recall any period in the history of Israel when such high praise as this was merited by them. For it is of their love to God rather than of his to them - though there was never any doubt about that-that the prophet is here speaking. But when was Israel's love at all of such devoted and intense order as to deserve to be thus spoken of? It is difficult to say. And he that knows his own heart will be slow to credit himself with any such ardent affection as is spoken of here. The explanation of such language is found in that joyous appreciation by God of all movements of our hearts towards him which leads him to speak of our poor offerings as if they were altogether worthy and good. Cf. "Lord, when saw we thee and hungred, or athirst," etc.? (Matthew 25:44); also our Lord's estimate of the widow's two mites; the cup of cold water given in his Name, etc. Still, whilst the believer is compelled to confess that his Lord's loving estimate of his poor service and affection is an exaggerated one, it is one which is nevertheless founded upon a very blessed fact. There is such a thing as the child of God's "first love," when our delight in God was intense, real, abiding; when prayer and service were prompt and frequent and delightful. Then we were content to leave the world, and to go out into the dreary wilderness if but our God led the way. Then there was not, as now there too often is, a wide separation between our religious and our common life; but, as ver. 3 tells, we ourselves and all we had were counted as holy unto the Lord. We sought that in whatsoever we did we might do all unto the glory of God. Now, such service is a delight to the heart of God. We are shown, therefore, that we can add to or diminish the joy of God. Such power have we. And the Divine appreciation of such service is shown by his anger towards those that in anywise hurt his servants. "All that devour him," etc. (ver. 3). The Book of the Revelation is one long and awful declaration of how the Lord God will avenge his saints.
II. BUT THIS DIVINE DELIGHT HAS BECOME DIVINE DISTRESS. The remembrance has become bitter. The cause of this change is by reason of his people having forsaken him. As is the joy of God at men's hearts yielding to him, so is his grief at their unfaithfulness. The heart of God is no figure of speech, but a reality. It rejoices in our love, it mourns over our sin. And this all the more because of the aggravation attending such forsaking him. For:
1. It is in violation of solemn vows and pledges of fidelity which, we have given him. The yielding of the soul up to God is likened unto the espousal of the soul to God. At the time we made our surrender we joyfully confessed, "Thy vows are upon me, O God: O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord." Now, to go back from God is to violate all these sacred vows.
2. And whatever departures from God have taken place, they have been without any provocation whatsoever. Ver. 5, "What iniquity have your fathers found in me?" etc. Has he been hard with us, or impatient, or unready to answer prayer, or faithless to his promise? Can any who have forsaken God charge him so?
3. And such forsaking of God has been an act of base and shameful ingratitude (cf. ver. 6). God had brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, etc. And he had brought them into a plentiful country, but they had polluted it, etc. (ver. 7). All men are under a vast debt of gratitude to God, even the heathen - so St. Paul teaches us - who never heard his Name. But how much more vast is the debt of those who have "tasted that the Lord is gracious," and known his redeeming love, and who yet "turn back and walk no more with him!"
4. Such departures from God are characterized by most unheard-of and monstrous foolishness. The prophet in contemplating it (ver. 12) calls on the heavens to be astonished, etc. For such conduct was unheard of (cf. vers. 10, 11). Idolatrous nations remained true to their gods, though they were no gods; but Israel, etc. Too often is it that the professed people of God are put to shame by those who make no such profession at all. And it was as monstrous as it was unheard of (cf. ver. 13). It was as if any should abandon the waters of some bright, pure running fountain for the muddy mixture of a tank or cistern, which at the best is almost repulsive to one accustomed to the fountains of living water. And the folly of such exchange is even exceeded, for not only was it this foul cistern for which the living fountains had been forsaken, but even these very cisterns were flawed and fractured so that they could "hold no water." The force of folly could no further go. And men do the like of this still. As, e.g., when they forsake the faith of the Father in heaven for the creed of the materialist, the agnostic, the atheist; when they choose rather the peace of mind which contemplation of their own correctness of conduct can afford instead of the joyful assurance of sin forgiven and acceptance with God, gained through Jesus Christ our Lord; when, in the controversy that is ever going on between God and the world, they decide for the world; when, reliance is placed on a religion of sacraments, professions and forms of worship, instead of that sincere surrender of the heart to God, that spiritual religion which alone is of worth in his sight; when the lot of the people of God is rejected in order that the pleasures of sin may be enjoyed for a season, and in many other such ways.
5. And the sin is of such desperate character. For see (ver. 8) how it has mounted up and overwhelmed those who from their profession and calling we should have thought would have been above it. The ministers of religion, the priests, pastors, teachers, have all been swept away by the torrent of sin. When these whose lives are given to prayer, to the study of God's holy Word, and to that sacred ministry which should be a bulwark and defense, not only for those for whom, but also for those by whom, it is exercised; when these are seen to be involved in the common corruption, then the case of such a Church, community, or nation is hopeless indeed. See, too, the insensibility that such sin causes. In ver. 2 Jeremiah is bidden "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem." As you would bend down your face to the ear of one in whom the sense of hearing was all but dead, and would place your lips close to his ear, and by loud, clear utterance strive to make him hear, so had it become necessary by reason of the insensibility which their sin had caused, to deal with those to whom the prophet wrote. It is one of the awful judgments- that overtake the hardened and impenitent, that whereas once they would not hear the voice of God, they at length find they cannot. Oh, then, let the prayer of us all be "From hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment, good Lord, deliver us" - C.
I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth.I. THE RICH AND GLOWING DESCRIPTION OF YOUTHFUL PIETY HERE GIVEN.
1. Ardent affection.
2. Union of the soul to Christ.
3. A going after God.
4. Not discouraged by difficulties and troubles.
5. A religion of holiness.
II. THE ASPECT WHICH THE DIVINE REMEMBRANCE OF YOUTHFUL PIETY MAY HAVE ON DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE.
1. A view of approbation.(1) When you are successfully struggling with the temptations of the world.(2) When you act under the influence of youthful impressions in promoting the cause of truth and holiness.(3) When sunk in deep affliction.(4) When young people come to be old people.
2. A remembrance of regret and displeasure.
(R. Winter, D. D.)
1. I think that it is, first, because all these were His own work. If there was in thee any light, or life, or love, it was the gift of the Spirit of God.
2. God also remembers with pleasure those best things in His people's early days because they gave Him great delight at the time. Those first tears, which we tried to brush away secretly, were so precious to the Lord that He stored them away in His bottle.
3. It is very sweet to reflect that, when God says that He remembers the love of our espousals, and the kindness of our youth, He does not mention the faults connected with our early days. Our gracious God has a very generous memory.
4. The Lord so remembers the best things of our early days that He recounts them. He says, "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth." Let us try whether we can recollect how we showed our kindness to our God in our early days. Then the Lord adds, "I remember thee the love of thine espousals." Oh, some of us did love God very fervently in our early days! Observe that the Lord speaks in our text of Israel's going after Him into the wilderness: "I remember thee...when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness." Perhaps some of you, when you became Christians, had to give up a situation, or to quit some evil trade. Perhaps you had to run the gauntlet of a workshop where everybody laughed you to scorn. Some of you had hard times in those days; yet I will not call them hard, for you never had in all your life such joy as you had then. When everybody gave you an ill word, then Christ was most precious to you, and your love to Him burned with a steady flame.
II. GOD REMEMBERS WITH A GRACIOUS PURPOSE THE BEST THINGS OF OUR EARLY DAYS.
1. He remembers them that He may make use of and honour us in our after days. There is many a man, now honoured in the service of God, who would not have been if he had not been faithful to God as a youth; and I believe that there is many a man who has missed his opportunity of serving God through not beginning well.
2. God remembers these early faithful ones, to instruct them, and to reveal Himself to them.
3. The Lord also remembers what we do in our youthful love and kindness, that He may sustain us in the time of trouble.
4. Especially do I think that this must be true in the time of old age. "I remember how you worked for Me when you could work for Me; and now that you are getting grey and old, and can do but little in your last days, I will uphold you, and bear you safely through."
III. GOD WOULD HAVE US REMEMBER THE BEST THINGS OF OUR EARLY DAYS FOR OUR REBUKE. Ah, you are not what you used to be, not so decided, not so joyous, not so faithful! What have you been at? Do you not owe more to God now than you did then! You have come a good way on the road since then; ought you to love Him less? He has blessed you; He has preserved you; He has forgiven you; He has manifested Himself to you. You have had some grand times when your heart has burned within you; you have sometimes had a taste of heaven upon earth. Should you not, therefore, love Him much more than at the first? Oh, come back with tears of deep regret, and give yourself again to God! Have you ever seen a water-logged ship towed into harbour? She has encountered a storm; all her masts are gone, she has sprung a leak, and is terribly disabled; but a tug has got hold of her, and is drawing her in, a poor miserable wreck, just rescued from the rocks. I do not want to enter heaven that way, "scarcely saved." But now look at the other picture. There is a fair wind, the sails are full, there is a man at the helm, every sailor is in his place, and the ship comes in with a swing, she stops at her proper place in the harbour, and down goes the anchor with cheery shouts of joy from the mariners who have reached their desired haven. That is the way to go to heaven; in full sail, rejoicing in the blessed Spirit of God, who has given us an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. A contract founded in love. The soul is under the influence of a supreme love to God, a high esteem of His infinite excellences, and a grateful sense of His innumerable benefits.
2. This contract consists of mutual, unalterable engagements. The soul gives itself to the Lord; enters into covenant to be wholly devoted to His service and interest, and to admit no rival with Him. God avouches such a soul for His; and promises to be its God, its father, portion, and happiness.
3. This covenant, like the marriage covenant, is never to be dissolved.
II. THE PLEASING REMEMBRANCE WHICH GOD HAS OF AN EARLY DEDICATION TO HIM. God accepts it as double kindness.
1. Because in youth the affections are most warm and lively.
2. Because it is rare and uncommon.
(Job Orton.)I. REMARKS.
1. Behold in God a disposition to commend, rather than condemn. While we admire this tenderness, let us learn also to resemble it. Let us approve as far as we can; and, in examining characters, let us observe the good more largely than the evil. Let us beware of indiscriminate reflection; of speaking severely of persons in the gross; of branding a whole course of life with the reproach of a particular action.
2. God remembers the past. Our memories soon fail us. Old impressions soon give place to new ones, and we often find it difficult to recall, without assistance, an occurrence that happened a few months ago. But "a thousand years are in His sight but as yesterday," etc.
3. It is well to be informed of what we once were, and to be led back to our former experience. It is useful for a preacher sometimes to remind us of our natural state; that we may "look to the rock whence we are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence we were digged." We need everything that is favourable to self-examination and self-knowledge.
1. To Christians under declensions in religion. How dreadful is it that, when everything requires our advancement, we should be stationary! that, when means and ordinances, mercies and trials, unite to urge us forward; that, when our obligations to God are daily increasing, and the day of account every hour approaching so we should not only stand still — but even draw back!
2. To those who promises fair in their youth, and are now become irreligious. Perhaps you say, "But we are not vicious and profligate." So far it is well. And oh that this was true of all! but, alas! we have swearers now, who in their youth feared an oath; we have Sabbath breakers now, who in their youth revered the sacred hours; we have sceptics and scoffers now, who from a child knew and admired "the Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation." You say, "We are not like them. But they were not thus drawn aside all at once; they became wicked by degrees. This is always the course of sin. They "proceed from evil to evil": they "wax worse and worse."
3. To those who in their early days are truly devoted to the service and glory of God. To such the words are applicable — not in a way of reproach, but honour — not in a way of rebuke, but encouragement.
(W. Jay.)Jeremiah 2:2).
(A. Hampden Lee.)
PeopleGad, Jacob, Jeremiah, Kedar, Kittim, Kittites
PlacesAssyria, Cyprus, Egypt, Euphrates River, Jerusalem, Kedar, Memphis, Nile River, Tahpanhes
Outline1. God having shown his former kindness,
5. expostulates with the people on their causeless and unexampled revolt
14. They are the causes of their own calamities
18. The sins and idolatries of Judah
35. Her confidence is rejected.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJeremiah 2:1-2
LibraryStiff-Necked Idolaters and Pliable Christians
'Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.'--JER. ii. 11. The obstinacy of the adherents of idolatry is in striking contrast with Israel's continual tendency to forsake Jehovah. It reads a scarcely less forcible lesson to many nominal and even to some real Christians. I. That contrast carries with it a disclosure of the respective origins of the two kinds of Religion. The strangeness of the contrasted conduct is …
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A Book for Boys and Girls Or, Temporal Things Spritualized.
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How Christ is the Way in General, "I am the Way. "
All Mankind Guilty; Or, Every Man Knows More than He Practises.
A Short and Easy Method of Prayer
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What are Consequences of Backsliding in Heart.
The Medes and the Second Chaldaean Empire
That the Unskilful Venture not to Approach an Office of Authority.
"So Then they that are in the Flesh Cannot Please God. "
The Section Chap. I. -iii.
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners Or, a Brief Relation of the Exceeding Mercy of God in Christ, to his Poor Servant, John Bunyan
"He is the Rock, his Work is Perfect. For all his Ways are Judgment. A God of Truth, and Without Iniquity, Just and Right is He.
1 to Pray Does not Imply that Without Prayer God Would not Give us Anything...
John Bunyan on the Terms of Communion and Fellowship of Christians at the Table of the Lord;
The River of Egypt, Rhinocorura. The Lake of Sirbon.
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