Worst of all, God accuses Israel of what we could call god-swapping. This was unheard of in ancient times – that a nation would leave its god(s) and adopt others. And that’s what God focuses on in Jeremiah 2:10-13 – Israel’s unprecedented God-swapping.
Search from East to West
God challenges Israel to search from east (Kittim/Cyprus) to west (Kedar) across the world and see if any nation in existence at that time had gotten rid of its national deities and replaced them with others. The implication is that this has never happened… Oh – except with Israel! They’re the one exception.
The True God is the Only One Forsaken
And that’s the strangest thing – because all of the so-called gods of the nations were all false. The only living and true God – the Lord – YHWH – chose Israel to be his nation – not vice versa. Israel didn’t choose the true God. The true God chose and found and worked among that nation. And the only nation whose God was the true God – that nation was the only one to leave it’s God and adopt others.
Israel Forsook Her Glory
And God was Israel’s glory. The unique excellence of that nation. And yet – as Romans 1 states – they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God with corruptible images of men and birds and beasts and such.
Look at This, Heavens!
And this is such a shocking thing that God calls on the heavens to witness to what’s happening in Jeremiah 2:12.
The reason for astonishment and fear and desolation is given in Jeremiah 2:13. The reason for God poetically calling for the heavens to be shocked is what we’ve been speaking of from Jeremiah 2:10 – this unprecedented god-swapping that Israel had committed.
Notice the imagery of Jeremiah 2:13.
Pictures of God-Swapping
1) A Fresh Fountain
We have on the one hand a fountain of fresh clean cool water. Water that will give life and prevent you from dying of thirst. It will quench your thirst.
2) Broken Wells
On the other hand, we have cisterns that collect dingy rain water. And those are fine, if that’s all you have – but these are actually cracked and can’t hold even that sparse dirty rain water that manages its way into those cisterns.
The Significance of the Pictures
So, Israel is pictured as forsaking the fresh wonderful water for the water that is less than ideal – and which can’t even be collected. The result will be death by thirst – when they had all the water they needed available to them.
And in the same way, the Jews rejected their life-giving Lord in exchange for false deities that will leave them dry. A reality to which the normally water-providing heavens bear sad witness.
And that kind of action has consequences. Exchanging God’s glory for idols – both of the hand and of the heart – comes at a devastating price – which God details for us in Jeremiah 2:14-19.