In the time of Jeremiah, the Israelites lost their identity as God’s chosen people, because living in the new homeland had corrupted them. They worshipped the false gods of those who already lived in their new homeland. They lost their identity when they lost the relationship with their God Yahweh or Jehovah who was the source, the fountain of their identity. Exodus 6:7 says, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” and Jeremiah 30:22, says something similar, “So you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Both verses, that were written in different times give us the same idea, that Israel’s identity was subject to their relationship with God. It was important for Israel to remember that they were called to be as their God. In different parts of the Bible we find the commandment, some scholars called the forgotten commandment to be Holy; the reason to be Holy was, “because I your God is Holy.” God called Israel to be like Him.
In verse five, God has a complaint against Israel, they “went after worthless idols, and became worthless themselves.” Because Israel forgot their true God, and followed false idols they also changed their identity, Exodus 19:5 says, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” From treasured possession; they became worthless; from my people, they became worthless. In verse 13, He complains that they have forsaken him, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Israel left, walked away from the real and only God and went after Baal, a worthless god; the outcome of their decision is that they became the same as the god they followed, worthless. Those called to be Holy, now are worthless. When they changed god; they also changed their God.
What did Israel need to do in order to recover their real identity? Listen to verse 6, “They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt…? Therefore, the first thing Israel had to do was ask. Ask, “Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt…” The first step for coming back to God, was stop following worthless idols and put God -the One and truly
God- as the center of their personal and collective life. However, in order to put God as the center of their lives, they had to know where He was. God was present leading them, as He did when they came out of Egypt, but they did not see Him; God was leading them in that moment as He did through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land, but they forgot about that; they did not see Him. And in that forgetting and blindness they defiled the land once they got there.
The advice or message we get now from Jeremiah 2:4-13 is that we are who we worship. If we worship a God of love, mercy, and justice we will become people of love, mercy and justice, but if we, as Israel did, walk away from the only God, and worship the Baals of our time we will become like those gods, worthless instead of “Holy”; God will calls us worthless instead of “my people” too. Have you heard the saying, “Show me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are?” We can apply it to God’s people and say, “Show me who your God is, and I will tell you who you are.” We can say that we do not worship idols as Israel did; we can say that we do not have Baals as Israel did, idols made by man. However, I think that we still have Baals disguised of ideologies. Let me explain what I mean. Do you remember last Sunday? A religious leader was upset because Jesus broke the law on Sabbath. For him the Law was more important than people. He worshiped a legalistic God; therefore, he became legalistic as the God he worshiped. Jesus however worshiped a loving God who loves people more than Law. Therefore, He was loving as the God He worshiped.
My sisters and brothers, it is important to know what kind of God we worship, because eventually we will become as our God and that will be the message we will share. Again, remember, If we worship a God of love, mercy, and justice we will become people of love, mercy and justice, but if we, as Israel did, walk away from the only God, and worship the Baals of our time we will become like those gods, worthless instead of “Holy” and God will calls us worthless instead of “my people.”
Depending of the God we serve that will be the kind of church we will be. Let me share a true story with you. Rev. Samuel Grano de Oro is a retired Pastor, when he was pastor in NY, he shared this story: He went to Hawaii and his plane landed late at night. It was 3 a.m. when he
finally came out of the airport and he was hungry, so he went out looking for a place to eat and the only place he could find open was a late-night grill/bar. So, he sat down and while he was there, he overheard two prostitutes talking in the booth next to him. One was talking about her birthday the next day and said that she never had a birthday celebration. So, pastor Samuel decided to celebrate her birthday. The following night he invited some people from the church and others who wanted to go. The next night they had celebration in the grill-bar and this woman was overwhelmed… She said, “No one has ever made something like this for me before. Pastor Samuel identified himself as pastor and asks everyone to pray for her. The bartender said, ‘I didn’t know you were a preacher. What church do you belong to?” pastor Samuel says, “The kind of church that celebrate birthdays for prostitutes at 3 O’clock in the morning in a bar.” The bartender says, “No, you don’t. There is not a church like that. If there were, I’d join it.”
To do what pastor Samuel did, we must love and serve a God of love; we must be as the God we serve. What kind of God do you serve?