Jeremiah 2:5


Sermon preached on July 28, 2013 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

The book
Touching the Void tells the story of two mountain climbers and their attempt to reach the summit of Siula Grande, a 21,000 foot peak in Peru. In the spring of 1985 Joe Simpson and Simon Yates set off to conquer this mountain. Although some had tried to reach the summit, all previous attempts had failed. Simpson and Yates made it to the top. But on the way down disaster stuck. Joe fell and broke his leg. He couldn't continue down on his own. Simon came up with scheme to lower Joe the length of his rope, climb down to him and lower him some more. He did that many times. But one time he lowered Joe over the edge of a cliff and Joe didn't land on anything when the end of the rope was reached. After agonizing about what to do, Simon did the only thing he could possibly do, he cut the rope and assumed that he sent his friend to his death. He then climbed down and made his way to base camp, without really searching for his friend's body. But by some miracle, Joe survived the fall and over the next few days, despite excruciating pain, dragged himself out of the crevasse he had fallen into and crawled his way back to base camp. He got there just as his partner was leaving.

What a story. I can't remember what the book said about Joe's feelings toward Simon afterwards, but I can't help but think that Joe must have some measure of disappointment about his friend and how he didn't even look for him after he cut the rope. Whether Joe felt that or not a lot of other climbers, when they heard the story, criticized some of Simon's actions and found fault with him for not taking better care of his partner.

It's easy to criticize someone like that because in certain ways he failed to be a good friend. People are human and they make mistakes and they let you down.

Even the most experienced people can make mistakes. Edward J. Smith, the captain of the Titanic made the mistake of steaming too fast in a place where his ship could encounter icebergs. He also failed after the collision with the iceberg in that he didn't lead an efficient evacuation of the ship. It's like he was paralyzed by shock. He allowed many of the lifeboats to depart when they were nowhere near full. It is reported that some of the lifeboats were only filled to ¼ or 1/3 capacity. Some have estimated that if all the lifeboats had been filled, or even overfilled, because it was a calm night, that around four or five hundred more people could have survived. A lot of fault can be laid at the feet of the Titanic's captain.

Last Wednesday there was a horrific train crash in Spain. About eighty people were killed. The investigation is in its early stages but it appears that the train was going too fast. I heard yesterday that the driver of the train was arrested and at this point it seems that the accident was his fault.

This past week Southwest Airlines Flight 345 had its front landing gear collapse as it touched down at New York's LaGuardia Airport. One report said that the front gear hit first and that caused the collapse. They said that the stronger rear landing gear is supposed to touch first and then the front gear. The report suggested that it may have been pilot error.

I once heard a story about a guy in Florida who needed one leg amputated and they cut off the wrong leg. Three years ago CNN had a report that, (http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/10/18/health.surgery.mixups.common/index.html)

"Over a period of 6.5 years, doctors in Colorado alone operated on the wrong patient at least 25 times and on the wrong part of the body in another 107 patients, according to the study, which appears in the Archives of Surgery."


People who are supposed to be protecting other people often let them down. We see that in ship's captains, train drivers, airline pilots, doctors, engineers, pastors—and in every profession that involves the care of others. No matter how good they are—at certain points they fail. People let us down.

But can we find fault with God? But the question before us is one of the of the most profound in all of Scripture. It is a question that should stop us in our tracks. This question ought to go right to the center of our being and make us re-evaluate our lives and some of our attitudes. It should cause the most serious soul searching. God asks His people, (Jeremiah 2:5)

"What fault did your fathers find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?"

God is inquiring of His people to bring to Him any failure on His part 'that would justify their disloyalty and ingratitude.' (F. B. Huey Jr., Jeremiah, Lamentations, NAC 16, p. 60) He's being very frank with them. Their disobedience—whose fault is it? What is the cause of it? Has their been a failure on God's part? The answer is a resounding, 'No!' This whole section (verses 1-37) is a rebuke of Judah for their unfaithfulness to God. In contrast to their unfaithfulness, God reminds them of His faithfulness.

God's question is very piercing. The word that the NIV translates 'fault' is rendered differently in some other translations. The NASB has it,

"What injustice
did your fathers find in Me…"

The ESV has it,

"What wrong
did your fathers find in me…"

The KJV has it,

"What iniquity
have your fathers found in me…"

Those are all good translations for the Hebrew word which means 'perversity, wrongfulness'. In the context it means, (C. F. Keil and Delitzsch F., Commentary on the Old Testament)

"… the opposite to acting in truth and good faith."



By asking this question God is inviting them to evaluate their motives and actions in order to get them to repent.

What's the answer to God's question? Their fathers found no fault in Him. Never. The answer to this question is always, "No!" One of the great characteristics of God is that

He is faithful and true.

He never fails His people. In his great song in Deuteronomy 32:1-4 Moses declared,

"Listen, O heavens,
and I will speak; hear, O earth,
the words of my mouth.
Let my teaching fall like rain
and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
like abundant rain on tender plants.
I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock,
his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he."

Moses, with all his experience with God, wanting to leave the people of Israel with some inviolable truths that came from that experience—told them that God is faultless. He is faithful and just.

We see the same thing with Joshua, who led God's people into the promised land. As he neared the end of his life Joshua gathered the people of Israel together and said to them, (Joshua 23:14)

"Now I am about to go
the way of all the earth.
You know with all your heart and soul
that not one of all the good promises
the LORD your God gave you has failed.
Every promise has been fulfilled;
not one has failed."

God is a God of truth. It's impossible for Him to lie. (Hebrews 6:18). This shows us that our God is a God of absolute integrity and truth. He is reliable. You can depend on Him. He is true.

God never fails us. Even when we are facing the most perilous situation, when the eternal fate of our souls hangs in the balance—God will be faithful to us. David showed us this in Psalm 31:5. He wrote,

"Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD,
the God of truth."

He knew that in His hour of need, God would take care of His soul. Jesus, suffering on the cross—quoted this text. By quoting from our text Jesus was affirming before everyone that God is a God of truth and that He can be trusted. When Jesus spoke these words great things were at stake. On the one hand the fate of Jesus human soul was in the balance. He committed His spirit to the Father's care. On the other hand the fate of all of God's people was tied to this event. Jesus is approaching His final act of obedience. He is nearing the climax of His work. He comes to the point where He is about to give His life on our behalf. At that point—what does He want us to know? He wants us to know that He is trusting in God because God is a God of truth and that He is faithful. He testifies that God is dependable, that He is reliable, that He can be trusted. He is never unfaithful.

But someone might object and say,

"I find lots of fault with God! He hasn't treated me fairly."



Many people are angry with God because of how things have worked out in their lives. They feel that God has let them down.

There are three things to understand about our passage.

First, it is spoken to God's covenant people.

God entered into covenant with them and promised to bless them. God is not addressing this question to those who are in rebellion to Him. Yes, in their minds God's enemies find a lot of fault in God—but their judgment is wrong. God is never unfair or unjust—even with His enemies. He never treats them worse than they deserve. In dealing with His enemies, even in punishing them, God is righteous and just.

The second thing we should understand about God's question here is that

no matter who you are, if you ponder it as you should, the answer is always no.

If you're not a Christian, ponder this question. Take it to heart and let it penetrate to the core of your being and acknowledge its truth. More than anything else, that's what you need to do. You need to get rid of your sinful pride and realize that God is faultless, and that the fault for your sins, for all the bad things in your life—is you. You need to have an experience like King Nebuchadnezzar had in Daniel 4 when he came out of his insanity. At that time he raised his eyes to heaven and, (Daniel 4:34)

"praised the Most High; I honored
and glorified him who lives forever."

Why did he do that? In verse 37 he told us,

"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar,
praise and exalt and glorify
the King of heaven,
because everything he does is right
and all his ways are just.
And those who walk in pride
he is able to humble."

This unbeliever came to see that God was right and he was wrong.

You need to do that. You need to stop your rebellion against God and go to Jesus. Your opinion of God may not be good right now, but that's because there's something wrong with you—not because there's something wrong with God. One day everyone, even God's enemies, are going to acknowledge His righteousness. One day they are going to bow before Jesus and are going to confess His great name. There's no one like Jesus. He came to save sinners. You need to turn from your sins and go to Jesus before it's too late.

The third thing you should understand from this question is that

it is to drive you to change your attitude toward God and to drive you to repent of your sins.

That's the whole purpose of this question.

The covenant people of God never found fault, injustice, unfaithfulness in God. He always treated them better than they deserved. As David acknowledged in Psalm 103:10,

"he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities."

Job was the most righteous man on the earth and yet when he suffered he knew that God was righteous and he was not. (Job 9:2) Though Job had lots of questions and doubts, at the end He knew that God was righteous and He was not. (Job 42:5-6)

Christians, there is no fault in your God. Quite the contrary—He is righteous and faithful and so worthy of praise.

Christians, what a God you have.

What a Father you have!

He sent Jesus to die for your sins. He was with Him all the way—until at the end He abandoned Him and poured out His wrath on Him so that Jesus might take the curse of your sin. When Jesus died, He took care of His Spirit. On the third day the Father raised Jesus from the dead for your justification. (Romans 4:25) He has taken you into His family. The Father is so faithful to you. What a Father you have.

Christians,

what a Shepherd you have in Jesus.

Have you ever found fault with Him? He secured your salvation. In seeking you He left no stone unturned. In saving you He make sure that He completed what was necessary, fully paying for your sins, not leaving one of them on your account. He has given you His righteousness. He is also leading you to glory. Romans 8:28 tells us that He arranges it so that all things work together for good for you. What could be better than that? Jesus is also not ashamed to call you 'brothers' and 'sisters'. (Hebrews 2:11) Everything that Jesus has, by virtue of His work—is yours by virtue of your union with Him. You are His, He is yours. Forever. What a Savior you have in Jesus.

Christians,

what a Counselor and Comforter you have in the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever found His ministry to you wanting? Has He never not been there for you? No. He has made His home in you. Your body is His temple. His presence in you is so precious. 2 Corinthians 5:4-5 tells us how we are going,

"to be clothed with
our heavenly dwelling,
so that what is mortal
may be swallowed up by life.
Now it is God who has made us
for this very purpose and has given us
the Spirit as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come."

What more could you ask for?

It is also the Spirit who equips and enables you to serve Jesus and bring glory to Him. Yes, this Christian life is hard—but we're here to serve Jesus and point others to Him and bring Him glory. In this task, has the Spirit ever failed you? Romans 8:26 tells us that,

"the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what
we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
with groans that words cannot express."

Christian, can you find fault with God? No.

Christian, correct your thoughts about God.

There is something profoundly ungrateful about our fallen human nature. We think that there is something wrong with God and His treatment of us. At such times we are totally wrong. We need to have our thinking totally changed. Our God is perfect. His ways are perfect. His leading of us is perfect. We need to praise, adore and thank Him for who He is and how He leads us.

Lastly, I ask you,

what justification do you have for your unfaithfulness to God?

As Christians we're all guilty of some degree of unfaithfulness. Why are you so ungrateful to God? Why have you sinned and given in to temptation? It wasn't because God let you down in any way. Yet we abandon Him and His ways for worthless things. Sin doesn't satisfy. Disobedience brings misery. How foolish we are.

Our sin—there's no adequate reason for it. It's not rational. It's the utmost foolishness. As the end of our text tells us—it's going after things that are worthless.

The next time you're faced with a temptation, remember to ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Has God failed me in any way that I should do this?"

God has been so good to you. He's saved you on the basis of Jesus' work. You can't find a fault in Him. In Him is life. So live for Him! Get rid of sin in your life and be righteous.