When God’s people no longer “seek first the kingdom of God and his justice,” they begin devoting time, talent, and treasure to unworthy pursuits. Those things become idols in our lives. We worship those idols by attributing worth to them — worth greater than the pursuit of God’s kingdom.
On behalf of Almighty God, Jeremiah asked the families of Israel: “What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves.'” (Jeremiah 2:5)
The preachers quit asking “Where is the Lord?” and devised their own strategies and programs. Those who taught God’s Word began to do so in a merely intellectual manner that was divorced from the one speaking the Word, as though he were not right there in the room with them. (2:8)
Jeremiah cannot fathom such foolishness: “Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this? Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!”
That the people God redeemed from slavery would give their hearts to worthless pursuits is so shocking the heavens “shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord. “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me — the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” (2:12-13)
And if our hearts are so hard that the horror of our idolatry does not dismay us, consider v.9 — “Therefore, I will bring my case against you. I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come.”
Our children and grandchildren are today paying the price of our idolatry. Look in any direction and see the chaos we have unleashed. Is that not enough to turn our hearts back to the one who created us and stands ready to set us free?
Jeremiah isn’t finished: “You have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the Lord your God, even though he was leading you on the way! … Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him.” (2:17-19)
What will it take for the people of God to return to the mission of God in their communities?