Jeremiah could not be called the greatest of the prophets, but he certainly should be remembered for his faithfulness. He began his ministry in the days of Josiah the king of Judah, and for forty-two years he preached trying to awaken the nation to what was about to happen to it. He tried to get them turned around, to save them from the judgment of God. But in all those forty-two years he never once saw any sign of encouragement. Never did he see a sign that what he was saying had any impact at all upon these people. Yet he remained faithful. Through much personal sorrow, struggle, heartache, difficulty and danger, he performed what God had sent him to do!
The nation of Judah is in view here today, but the Word of God is fresh and new every day. How easily we can place our own nation into this account. Or better yet, how easily we can place ourselves into this passage of Scripture.
I. Consider the Longsuffering of God. Read: 2:1-9
A. Even after all that God's people has done, He is willing to plead with them to do right.
1. Some mistake God's longsuffer- ing for a lack of concern.
2. That isn't true at all!
3. God cares about us, He cares about you...
B. God remembers how it used to be.
1. Note v2 "...I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth..."
2. God remembers the "used-to- be's"...the ones who used to serve Him, who used to love to spend time with Him, but now they just don't have time!
3. Do you remember? If there was ever a time when you were closer to God than you are right now, then you are backslidden!
C. God is longsuffering because there are still many who need to come to Christ.
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
II. God Asks a Question: v10-11a
A. Have you ever seen such a thing?
1. God asks us to look at all the nations around and see if this has ever happened.
2. From Chittum to Kedar is to say from the west to the east.
3. You will not find this happening.
B. Heathen nations do not forsake their gods, which are not gods.
1. In Kamakura, Japan stands the great Buddha.
2. It is 42 ft high and weighs 210,000 pounds.
3. It has been there for over 700 years.
4. Millions of people have prayed and payed homage to its closed eyes which cannot see, made requests to its ears that cannot hear, and asked for it to do things with its hands that cannot move.
5. And yet today, missionaries will tell you that the greatest problem they face dealing with people is getting them to break the traditions of their fathers.
C. That is true of nearly any foreign mission field.
III. God Answers His Question. v11b-13
A. Only God's people have done such a thing!
1. God calls upon all of creation to be a witness.
2. "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid..."
3. With all the heathen nations about them clinging to their traditions and their idols, God's people desert the true God for that which does not profit!
B. God identifies their sin.
1. They have committed two evils: the heathen nations committed evil in that they worshiped idols, but God's people have combined apostacy with idolatry.
2. They said they no longer needed the God of their fathers.
3. Folks, this is where we are in this country today! And it is where some of you are at personally!
C. Note the exchange made.
1. They have forsaken the fountain of living waters...
2. They have replace them with cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
3. What a sorry replacement...
a. He is the fountain of living waters, producing a constant supply of fresh, sweet water... a cistern is simply a collecting place for runoff water, it will grow stale and stagnant.
b. A fountain (like a spring) is continually flowing, but their cisterns are broken and can hold no water.
c. His creation is flawless, while their creation, laboriously hewn out, was flawed!
4. Many are still making this poor exchange!
a. the cistern of religion: having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...
b. the cistern of humanism: elevating mankind, because of the increase in knowledge and technology, they think that man is something more than the depraved spiritual being that God says he is...
c. the cistern of materialism: accumulating this world's goods in hopes that at some point you will arrive at the position of self- sufficiency...
d. you fill-in-the-blank for whatever cistern you may be turning to instead of God.
Conclusion: What must we do? If you are here this morning and you know that you have drifted away from God, listen to His word in Je. 3:12-14 (read). If you have never been saved this morning, then you need to hear His word in Is. 55:1 (read). The invitation is open today, come to Christ and enjoy the fountain of living waters...come back where you belong...whatever the need...come now and don't delay!