At the time of Jeremiah’s ministry, the northern kingdom of Israel had been captured and exiled by the Assyrians, and now over 100 years later, the southern kingdom, Judah, was about to be conquered by the Babylonians.
Just as breaking the covenant with God had destroyed the northern kingdom, so it later destroyed the southern kingdom of Judah as well. Eventually, Jerusalem was captured, the Temple was demolished, and many Jews were exiled by the Babylonians.
In both cases, the captivity and exile were God’s judgment and punishment because His chosen people violated His covenant with Him.
Jeremiah likened this tragedy to the break-up of a marriage relationship in which the bride forsook her husband and took up with other lovers (vs. 3:1).
God warned His chosen people to return to Him or face destruction. Unfortunately, the faith and commitment of His people were phony.
Instead of confessing their sins, the people tried to cover them over with “sweet talk.” But God saw through their pretense: “Yet you say to me, Father, you have been my guide since my youth. Surely you won’t be angry forever! Surely you can forget about it!” (vs. 4-5).
And, God finds self-righteousness and hypocrisy especially repugnant: “And yet you say, I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me! But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned” (vs. 2:35).
God told them that the hypocrisy of Judah was even more reprehensible than the faithlessness of Israel: “Then the Lord said to me, Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah!” (vs. 11).
The point is, you can’t sweet talk God. He can’t be fooled. You need to walk your talk.
Some of us might be due for a theology check-up. It might be time to examine our theology.
The way we live should correspond with what we say we believe about God… because how you really believe is how you actually behave!