Pastor Steve Ellison: Why Do I?
As we continue to read chronologically through the Scripture, pausing to examine the questions that God asks of persons and groups, we come to the latter part of Jeremiah chapter 2, which is rich in such questions.
The context is much the same as our most recent passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah, Israel has been devoured by Assyria. Captivity in Babylon is on the horizon for Judah. Jeremiah 2:29-37 is a long series of rhetorical questions in which YHWH is calling Judah to account for not responding properly to His correction and discipline.
Verse 29-30 starts the parade off with a blunt question and an even more blunt answer, "Why do you contend with Me? You have all transgressed against Me," declares the Lord. 30 "In vain I have struck your sons; They accepted no chastening. Your sword has devoured your prophets Like a destroying lion." (NASU)
The people of God are attempting to turn the tables on God. He has brought charges against them earlier in the chapter; now they are arrogantly and hypocritically trying to bring charges against Him. They have violently refused all chastening and guidance. That is a no-win situation.
The rhetorical questions continue in verses 31-33, "O generation, heed the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, Or a land of thick darkness? Why do My people say, 'We are free to roam; We will no longer come to You?' 32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, Or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me Days without number. 33 How well you prepare your way To seek love! Therefore even the wicked women You have taught your ways." (NASU)
Of course God has not been a wilderness to His people! Of course, He has been light instead of darkness! God accuses His people of being so long unfaithful to Him that wicked women could learn unfaithfulness from them.
Verses 34-37 mentions different sins, but the point is the same, "Also on your skirts is found The lifeblood of the innocent poor; You did not find them breaking in. But in spite of all these things, 35 Yet you said, 'I am innocent; Surely His anger is turned away from me.' Behold, I will enter into judgment with you Because you say, 'I have not sinned.' 36 Why do you go around so much Changing your way? Also, you will be put to shame by Egypt As you were put to shame by Assyria. 37 From this place also you will go out With your hands on your head; For the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust, And you will not prosper with them." (NASU)
The people of God are guilty, and yet they continue to proclaim their righteousness and innocence. God points out the obvious; they can place their faith in Egypt if they want, but they will not succeed. Their only hope is in God.
The same principles apply very straightforwardly and directly to me and my life. I am tempted and often succumb to placing my faith in what I can see and touch.
When sin rears its ugly head in my life, and God offers the blessed gift of confession and repentance, why do I refuse to admit my guilt? When God chastises, disciplines, corrects, and redirects me, why do I resist with arrogance and rebellion?
When enemies appear, why do I fear them when God has promised to never leave me? When I am afraid, why do I seek out human allies instead of relying on the only One who can truly help me? The Word of God is indeed a sharp sword.