Jeremiah 3-4: Unmasking Delusion

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Jeremiah 3-4: Unmasking Delusion

October 2, 2020


Jeremiah 3-4Ecclesiastes 2:1-16John 1:19-28James 1:12-18

Jeremiah 3-4:

We begin to see why he was called the weeping prophet! One controlling metaphor goes through these chapters, a picture that is common to the prophets in general, a picture of the rebellion of God’s people: adultery, prostitution, sexual immorality.

“You have played the whore with many lovers” (Jeremiah 3:1)

This picture is used of the idolatry of God’s people. They were:

“…committing adultery with stone and tree.” (Jeremiah 3:9)

That is, the adultery is not literal physical adultery—though many of the idolatrous practices may have involved adulterous liaisons—but a spiritual adultery of idols of rock and tree. The reason for this metaphor is the intimacy of the relationship that is intended between God and his people:

“Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:20)

God’s people had become fooled by idolatry:

“Truly the hills are a delusion, the orgies on the mountains. Truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.” (Jeremiah 3:23)

There is still hope, as the prophet preaches in the days of godly King Josiah:

“Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful” (Jeremiah 3:11)

And there is a future hope for the work of God in the world among his people.

“I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15)

But for now the pain—even for God as the prophet takes on the “feelings” of God in his own prophetic delivery—is intense. God cares deeply, and the anguish he senses regarding the rebellion of his people, and their necessary discipline and judgment, is terrible:

“My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart!” (Jeremiah 4:19)

What can we learn from these chapters? Perhaps four bullet points, at least.

One, we can learn that sin matters. It has consequences. It is serious.

Two, we can learn that God cares about his people.

Three, we can learn that our relationship with God is to be one of covenant loyalty. We cannot worship God and also worship other idols.

Four, we can learn that idolatry is founded in delusion. Thus we pray for God to give us eyes to see, and ears to hear, that we might rejoice in him as our Chief Shepherd.


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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