The book tries to come to terms with and move beyond destruction wrought by Babylon's three invasions of Judah and its chief city...The exilic period was a time of immense theological disruption for Judah. Not only was the fabric of daily life in the community destroyed, but the symbolic world that supported life collapsed as well. Serious questions emerged from this turmoil. Did the nation's political and military collapse mean that God had forgotten the chosen people?....And Jeremiah is speaking to us, too. We may not have the Babylon army at our borders, but we do have our fears about our security in the future and our regrets about our failures in the past.
We can hear the questions posed by the Lord to those people and hear them asked of us, as well. The Lord asks, "What did your ancestors think that I did so wrong that they turned away from me? How could they have forgotten what I had done for them? I brought them out of slavery, led them through the wilderness, and delivered them into a land of plenty. In return, you have forgotten me."
Through the voice of Jeremiah, the Lord accuses them of a shocking substitute--they willingly gave up allegiance to the real God for a false substitute.
"How smart is this? It would be like giving up a spring that of flowing fresh water in exchange for a cracked cistern that would leak stale water.