We’ve seen in Jeremiah chapter 2 that in spite of some good times in the past between the Lord and Israel, Israel rejected and forsook the Lord and attempted to exchange the living and real God for idols.
And that kind of disobedience and idolatry has consequences. So, in Jeremiah 2:14-19 God details the devastating price that Israel will pay for their sin.
Israel Would be Treated Like Someone Else’s Property
In Jeremiah 2:14 God asks rhetorically if Israel is a slave. The answer? No. He was set free by God in the exodus from Egypt.
Well, then, God continues, why is Israel being treated like property if he’s free? Again, this is one of the devastating effects of Israel’s rebellion against the Lord.
Israel’s Land Was Destroyed
In Jeremiah 2:15, Israel’s enemy is pictured as a roaring lion. But then we get a more literal picture of what was happening. The land is laid waste. The cities are burned with fire.
The Identity of the Enemy
But you’re wondering – who is this enemy? Jeremiah 2:16 gives the answer — Egypt.
So, Egypt is in view as an enemy of Israel. This makes this prophecy very likely to be from the time of Josiah or Shallum his son or maybe Jehoiakim. During the reign of all three of these kings, Egypt was a main power on the world scene. We’ll hear more about Egypt in a few verses.
Israel Brought This on Herself
Now, one of the saddest statements is in the next verse. Jeremiah 2:17 – Israel brought this all on herself.
That’s the truth. But ultimately – who is doing the chastening? It’s the Lord. And so if Israel wanted relief from the chastening – whom should she have addressed? Whom should she have petitioned for help? The one doing the chastening – the Lord himself. But to whom did Israel really turn?
Israel Turned to Allies Rather Than to God
Jeremiah 2:18 tells us that instead of turning to the Lord – Israel turned to Egypt and Assyria.
Again, this indicates that this prophecy is early – probably during Josiah’s time. That’s because Assyria’s power basically faded around the time that Josiah died. So, it would be far less likely that Israel would turn to a nation whose power had waned than that they’d turn to one that had earthly power and seemed to be able to help them.
By the way, do you remember God’s talking about the water-giving heavens and the life-giving fountain of water and the cisterns in Jeremiah 2? And here he’s still talking about water — the Nile and the Euphrates. These two countries for all of their promise in Israel’s eyes would come up dry in the end.