A Nation Against God

MEMORY VERSE: “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” —Jeremiah 2:13

JEREMIAH 5:21-25, 29-31

MANY of the Israelites in every generation were unfaithful to their God, although there was always a remnant who remained loyal to him. If their rulers were God fearing men, then the nation itself, or a majority of the nation, usually followed the example of their rulers, and God blessed them as a people. When their rulers were idolatrous, and rebellious against God, the people, aside from a remnant, followed this wicked leadership. It was this tendency toward rebellion which eventually led to their captivity in Babylon, as Jeremiah had prophesied would happen.

Jeremiah prophesied the downfall of Israel during the reign of their last king, Zedekiah. Zedekiah was placed on the throne of Israel, not by the Israelites, but by Nebuchadnezzar, to whom Zedekiah rendered service, rather than to the Lord; and the people as a whole at that time were indeed “foolish,” and “without understanding.” They had “eyes” which did not see the ways of the Lord, and they had “ears” which did not heed his instructions.

Through Jeremiah the Lord reminded the Israelites of his mighty works, and of how his presence was displayed all around them, and asks, “Fear ye not me? … Will ye not tremble at my presence?” Basically, we believe, the root of this difficulty was lack of faith in Jehovah. One who has a strong faith in the living God will not be insensitive to God’s will, nor will he willfully break a covenant which he has solemnly entered into with God.

But, as our lesson states, “This people have a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear [reverence] the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” The people did not acknowledge that Jehovah was caring for them. They seemingly did not even believe in such a care.

When, through Moses, God entered into a covenant with the Israelites, he promised to bless them if they were faithful to the terms of their covenant, and likewise warned that blessings would be withheld if they were unfaithful. Through Jeremiah he reminds them of this—“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.”

And then, in explanation of the calamity which was soon to come upon the nation, he said, “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” And God’s punishment did indeed come upon this perverse nation in the form of the loss of their national independence, and a seventy-year captivity in Babylon.

“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;” Jeremiah said, “the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” The Revised Standard Version reads, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction.”

False prophets, or teachers, usually point out an easier, less costly way of serving the Lord, and when the “priests” agree with their “prophecies,” the people really do love to have it so, for it lifts the responsibility from them of endeavoring to measure up to the high standards of righteousness set forth in the law of God.

Our memory verse is appropriate to the lesson, and should serve as a warning to all who profess to love and serve the Lord. It makes two charges against the Israelites of Jeremiah’s day. The Israelites had forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters; and were endeavoring to provide their own “water” of life.

They had either forgotten, or else had never fully realized, that Jehovah was the true source of all their blessings. Here again we see the lack of faith displayed—faith in the God against whom they had rebelled. But even under these conditions they refused to change under Jeremiah’s message.


Discuss the basis for Israel’s great sin of rebellion.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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