We will complete our study of Jeremiah 2 this week, where the images for idolatry are so sexual, that translators are bashful about translating literally. Idolatry is adultery, is, “getting into bed with other lovers.” So of course we grieve and push away the Spirit of God.
All week long let us be alert to our “Shy Lover,” and open ourselves to Him when He comes. He may quicken your Spirit through His Word. When that happens, slow down and worship. He may speak to you through artwork. Contemplate this week’s painting, look at the passage from John 8, and if He quickens you, slow down and let it lead you into contemplative prayer. He may speak to you through gifts, as He did with Anne when she was at the farmer’s market – with a bag full of beautiful peaches for $2 – slow down and lift your arms in thanks. He may speak to you through music — take times of quiet and of music, so He may come. He may speak to you through suffering, as He comes to comfort and speak His promises to your soul. Slow down, and walk with Him. Tell us how He came to you and how you responded.
1. Meditate on the painting, the emotions portrayed. How does it speak to you? (Based on John 8:1-11)
2. Read Jeremiah 2:14-20 where God pleads with Israel (and with us) using the language of intervention, attempting to break through our denial. Sin looks good, our idols beckon — but they bring enormous pain.
A. What questions are asked in verse 14. The point?
B. What question is asked in verse 17? The point?
C. How does He plead in verse 19. What is the truth about our idols long-term?
SIN AS ADULTERY
In Jeremiah 2:20 God paints a word picture so vivid that translators are reticent to translate it literally. Tim Keller says that literally it should be:
On every high hill, and under every spreading tree, you spread your legs.
“God isn’t using this language to shock,” Keller says, “but to teach. There is an attraction going on at the spiritual level every bit as powerful as the sexual attraction at the physical level.” Derek Kidner, likewise, says that what some translators translate “bowed down” is better rendered “sprawled out,” as The New English Bible does:
Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill
and under every green tree,
like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.
Adultery is a powerful word picture for sin, for idolatry, because this language awakens us to the truth that sin is not breaking the rules but breaking God’s heart. It is getting into bed with other lovers — and of course He withdraws.
3. What is the picture in Jeremiah 2:20? (Find a similar picture in Jeremiah 3:2) How do these speak to you?
SIN AS ADDICTION
Jeremiah uses a disturbing word picture – of an animal in heat who simply cannot be corralled, of camels in heat who have left tracks all over the desert, looking to mate.
Look at the tracks you’ve left behind in the valley.
How do you account for what is written in the desert dust-
Tracks of a camel in heat, running this way and that,
tracks of a wild donkey in rut,
Sniffing the wind for the slightest scent of sex.
Who could possibly corral her!
On the hunt for sex, sex, and more sex-
insatiable, indiscriminate, promiscuous.
Jeremiah 2:23-24 (MSG)
4. Meditate on the above word picture. What does it tell you about the attraction of sin?
5. Have you ever had experience with an animal in heat? If so, what did you learn?
When I was seven, our springer spaniel was going through her first heat. My parents, under the advice of the vet, had decided to wait to have her spayed until she was a year old. They did not, however, want her to have puppies. So when they were going out for a few hours, my older sisters and I got stern instructions from Dad: “Keep Chloe INSIDE. No matter how badly she wants out, DON’T, UNDER ANY CONDITIONS, LET HER OUT.” My sisters obeyed, but I “half-obeyed.” I felt sorry for her as she whimpered and pawed at the door, so I decided to take her to the second story porch which ran between my bedroom and the garage roof. There was a four foot railing and a long drop to the ground, so I was sure Chloe would be corralled. But when a male boxer appeared yipping below, Chloe became frantic: circling, crying, and suddenly clawing her way up the shingles on the garage roof. I grabbed her around the middle, trying to hold onto her, but she suddenly had Herculean strength. She squirmed out of my grasp and leapt from the roof to the driveway. Somehow she survived, mated, and bequeathed our family with a large litter of springer/boxer puppies.
We have an attraction to sin that is as strong as the sexual attraction. Let it in, and it develops a life of its own that is driven, dangerous, and destructive. When Cain would not repent of his jealousy, it grew, and he murdered his brother. When we do not flee temptation but flirt with it, then the beast is in, and we cry out with Paul:
I do not understand my own actions.
For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
I DO THE VERY THING I HATE
6. What do the Israelites say in Jeremiah 2:25?
7. Have you felt that way? Have you felt the bondage of addiction to an idol? If so, share.
Once we have allowed our idols in, they have a hold over us as strong as the hold of drugs. They make us do what we do not want to do.
We are adulterers and adulteresses, we have given in to temptation, and it has slipped its chains over us.
Recognizing our “idolatry/adultery” is the first step. We have seen the beast. But how do we tame such a strong and determined animal that is prowling about in our hearts?
Often the approach in both the world and in the church is to scold ourselves, using the approach of the “law.” I’ve done it. I’ve slapped my own hand when I’ve reached for the chips, saying, “Bad Dee Dee.” I’ve scolded my heart when I’ve been tempted to sin — to exaggerate, to manipulate. No! You are a Christian! What I have found is that this may hold me back temporarily, but only temporarily. Idols cannot be removed — they must be replaced. If I want the Spirit of God to come to me, fill me, bathe me in His love — then I must get out of bed with my lovers and stay out.
I need something stronger. This is where we are headed — but I’ll give you a taste of it right now.
Instead of scolding our hearts, we must melt our hearts with the Gospel. The Gospel HAS THE POWER TO wither our idols, loosen their grasp, and transform us. WE MUST KEEP REMEMBERING HOW DANGEROUS SIN IS — IT CAUSED THE DEATH OF CHRIST — BUT HOW MUCH HE LOVES US — FOR HE DIED FOR US. THIS IS THE GOSPEL
Here’s something that may melt your heart.
THE PUNISHMENT FOR ADULTERY
It’s sobering, but in the Mosaic law adultery was a capital offense. Moses writes:
If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
This is how seriously God regards adultery. (This law became distorted by priests and religious leaders who would put only the woman to death but let the man go free. Hosea 4:14 speaks to this double standard and Jesus would not cooperate with it when they brought just the woman caught in adultery to Him in John 8.) Adultery, whether you are male or female, is regarded as a capital offense.
So here is the dilemma.
God loves us, even though we have run to our idols, even though we are adulterers and adulteresses. He wants us back – yet the just punishment is that we be put to death. So what did He do? He took our sin. He took the punishment an adulterer deserves. He died in my place, paying the price for my adultery. Justice has been executed, so He can have me back. Despite my infidelities, He loves me. HE LOVES ME — I MUST TRUST THAT — AND LET HIM REPLACE MY IDOLS.
This is what we must speak to our souls. The Gospel. This will melt our hearts. I remember when Rebecca saw it and prayed:
Oh God, I am just like this adulteress and I don’t want to be anymore. I don’t want to get in bed with other lovers. Yet I am so grateful and confident that when I do you will pursue me! Oh God such love ravished out on a person like me, I can’t contain it…I can’t fathom it, but I can worship You…
Rebecca has experienced tremendous success in seeing her idols lose their power over her. She is grasping the power of the Gospel.
So often we think of the “Gospel” as the ABC’s of Christianity – the way you get in. But the Gospel is the A to Z of Christianity. It is not only the way in, it’s everything. It’s the secret not only of overcoming our layers of bondage but of bringing us into an intimacy with Jesus that only a fraction of believers have known.
8. What comments do you have on the above?
9. Write a prayer of thanks to the Lord for paying for your adultery.
EXTRA CREDIT: TIM KELLER’S SERMON ON JEREMIAH 2 — HE HAS FOUR, BUT THE ONE I LIKE BEST IS HOW SIN MAKES US ADDICTS. IT IS 2.50 AND YOU CAN GET TO IT WITH THIS LINK: http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=17304&ParentCat=6
10. Do you have comments on the above sermon?
11. What is your take-a-way this week?
12. Read the below and then bless Cyndi!!!!
MEETING OUR BLOGGERS: CYNDI!
I hope I get to meet many of you face to face as I did Cyndi this last December when I spoke at Christmas Teas in Ohio. (I love to speak at Christmas Teas — women go all out decorating, inviting their friends who don’t know the Lord, and hearts are so tender.) I was seated at this beautifully decorated table in an enormous room filled with live trees with tiny white lights when Cyndi appeared — energetic, darling, talking a mile a minute. This is what I remember — Cyndi — feel free to correct! 🙂 This was all one sentence without taking a breath, as I recall. 🙂 “Dee I heard you speak about how you adopted your daughter and how you didn’t want to but your husband heard her crying and how you did and how your older daughter was jealous and now I’ve adopted two special needs girls because you inspired me and my daughter is jealous and these girls can be so challenging too but so darling but also so challenging and one of them is having a fit right now and sometimes i really don’t know what to do and I am wondering what you might say to me and I’m so glad to be here tonight….”
Later, during dinner, Cyndi came over and offered to hold my daughter’s baby so that Anne could eat. That was wonderful. I saw such a servant heart in her.
Since she’s been with us, Cyndi has gone through three major emergencies with children, has called out, and seen God come and walk beside her family in suffering.
Cyndi is the woman everyone is drawn to — the life of the party — and I’m so very glad she is part of our group!!!!
Cyndi’s whole family
Cyndi and Abby (the daughter who was in the hospital)
Cyndi’s Luke and Ellie
Cyndi’s Lilly (She’s the one who just had a badly broken arm)
I am a stay at home homeschooler mom so most of my time is spent with them. We have adopted 2 special needs little girls from China so that has also taken a lot of my time When I am not at home I love to go to Bible study and I lead one every summer. If I get a chance I love to speak about being a mom with purpose and a wife of grace and humility. My friend and I lead a group called TAC HOME (toledo area christian homeschoolers offering moms encouragement). I also love my role as “host” on Sunday mornings for our children ministry.
Pride and impatience are the things that keep my on my knees, well that and being a mom!!! hospitality and exhortation are my biggest spiritual gifts (my friends say making sweet tea is my biggest but im not sure that would be considered a spiritual gift…) I also love to encourage people in the adoption process and serve on the board of our adoption agency AWAA.
About the blog:
I have loved getting to know Dee and all the woman on this blog. Understanding that control is an idol has really opened up a new area of freedom in my life. letting go of my need for perfection has meant that my life is so much more enjoyable and filled with laughter and joy. I have been pushed to my knees so many times during this study and God has used it to peal layer after layer of pride and self-sufficiency. This has left a tender skin that has led me to go to the tender balm of Jesus presence over and over again to sooth the sting. The thing I hate about this blog is that it always reveals yet another layer….thats getting a little annoying Dee, just sayin…
 Tim Keller, “How Sin Makes Us Addicts,” Sermon preached 2/14/09, www.redeemer.com
 Derek Kidner, The Message of Jeremiah, (Intervarsity Academic, Downer’s Grove, Il, 1987) p. 33, footnote.