Although 70 percent of Americans claim to be Christians, many do not attend any church. Denominational numbers are declining, as are church donations. Every year, about 6,000 to 10,000 local churches close their doors permanently.
Faith in the one true God was also decreasing in Judah in Jeremiah’s day. Tragically, idolatry was on the increase! Jeremiah had the challenge of delivering mostly bad news to Judah, not only about what would happen to them (conquest and exile), but also the reason for it.
The people of Judah had forsaken the Lord like a wife who’d abandoned her husband (vv. 1–3). Within God’s plan for the world, they were to be the “firstfruits of his harvest” (v. 2). He’d chosen them and had made a covenant with them, but now they had rejected Him. They’d been set apart as His special people (Ex. 19:5–6). Now they were dishonoring that call through disobedience and idolatry.
Next, God strengthened His charge against Judah from history (vv. 4–8). He’d liberated them from bondage in Egypt. In response, tragically, they “followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves” (v. 5).
Finally, the verdict was stated directly (vv. 9–13). God’s people had made the worst bargain of all time. They had exchanged “their glorious God for worthless idols” (v. 11). They’d traded real for fake, glorious for worthless, and God’s love and power for nothing. They’d forsaken God, the “spring of living water,” the Source of life and salvation (v. 13; see also John 4:10–14). They were so self-deceived that they were trying to replace Him by digging their own cisterns (or wells), that is, they were trying to achieve life and salvation on their own. Of course, they failed miserably.
>> Do you have a church home? It is easier to stay true to God when we are encouraged by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Fellowship with believers is an essential part of following Him (Heb. 10:24–25).
Those of us who are connected to a local church thank You for blessing us with this community. Those of us who are searching ask You to guide us to a local body where “we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).