"The priests did not ask, 'Where is the Lord?' Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.'" NIV translation
Jeremiah describes a complete breakdown in the leadership of a nation. First, the priests (who were supposed to connect the people with the things of God) did not even seek God on behalf of the people. Then, the kings did not follow the leading of God and so led the people astray. Finally, the prophets (who were supposed to warn the people) did not do so. This describes the bankruptcy of the religious, political, and commercial systems as it is everyone for themselves. Does this sound familiar?
"'Therefore I bring charges against you again,' declares the Lord. 'And I will bring charges against your children's children.'" NIV translation
Because they have forgotten the past and turned to idols, God is calling them to answer for their actions. Not only the adults but even their grandchildren. We may ask how God could say that He is bringing charges against the "children's children" and the simple answer is that God knows that the people are not going to turn back to Him for three generations. The older adults had not taught their children the things of God and so they cannot teach their children what they do not know themselves. It is as if God were speaking to our country today with the way parents are no longer teaching their children about God. Some children get a dose of knowledge on a Sunday morning but for the rest of the week they get no training at all in the things of God. How, then, will they be able to teach their children?
"Cross over to the coasts of Kittim and look, send to Kedar and observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this: Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror,' declares the Lord." NIV translation
God tells the people to check out the coasts of Cyprus (an island off to the west of Israel) as well as the deserts of Saudi Arabia (off to the east of Israel) to see if anything like this has ever happened before. Then God gets specific with what they have done and that is they traded the presence of God in their lives for the worthless idols that they created. All of heaven shudders at this and how ridiculous it is but the same thing is happening more and more today. We need to stop and ask ourselves a question about all of the material things in our lives: What's it really worth?