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In verses nine through thirteen of Jeremiah 2, God made it clear that He was not happy with those men who had been charged with shepherding the people of Israel because they were mixing idol worship with the worship of the one true God. Obviously, God would not, could not, should not stand for that. Thus, God identified Himself as the One True Living God, the Creator of the universe. He then promised them discipline and chastisement for this shocking act of absolute folly and rebellion in seeking satisfaction and fulfillment in anything other than Him.

In Jeremiah 2:14-17 God points out that Israel’s difficulties can be traced directly to their idolatry, "Is Israel a slave? Or is he a homeborn servant? Why has he become a prey? The young lions have roared at him, They have roared loudly. And they have made his land a waste; His cities have been destroyed, without inhabitant. Also the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes Have shaved the crown of your head. Have you not done this to yourself By your forsaking the Lord your God When He led you in the way?” (NASU) At the time of this writing, the northern kingdom of Israel had been devastated and the people carried off into captivity by Assyria. In addition, Judah had been invaded at least twice by Egypt, thus the reference to the shaving of the crown of Judah’s head by Egyptian cities. The tragic circumstances led to the rhetorical question of why such a thing would happen. The obvious answer is that it is the nation’s fault; they have done this to themselves. And Babylon is coming.

The next two verses point out something even more tragic. They have not yet learned their lesson. They are still on the path to destruction. Israel is continuing to seek out alliances with either Egypt or Assyria or both in a vain effort to protect the country. However, there is no real protection apart from the Lord.  Jeremiah 2:18-19 states, "’But now what are you doing on the road to Egypt, To drink the waters of the Nile? Or what are you doing on the road to Assyria, To drink the waters of the Euphrates? Your own wickedness will correct you, And your apostasies will reprove you; Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter For you to forsake the Lord your God, And the dread of Me is not in you," declares the Lord God of hosts.” (NASU) The warning is clear. If they do not stop putting their trust in other nations instead of the living God, the consequences of their misplaced trust will chastise, correct, discipline, and reprove them. God will not even have to act. The natural consequences of their actions will do it for Him. Why in the world do I regularly find myself on the road to the Nile?

Then or now, Israelites or Americans, putting one’s trust in anything (and by that, I mean anything) other than the God of the Bible is ignorant, foolish, evil and bitter. Psalm 20:6-7 says it plainly, “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand. Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, But we have risen and stood upright.” (NASU) If I trust in anything other than the Creator of the Universe, I can expect misfortune and I deserve whatever calamity falls on me.

Steve Ellison is the pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Mena, AR. Ellison holds a bachelor of science in education from the University of Arkansas and a master of arts in theological studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also certified in basic Christian apologetics.

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