Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;
And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:
"The Lord our God?" This was surely in name only. Each Israelite was raised with the knowledge that he was part of a nation that was different than all other nations. They were chosen by God as His special people. They knew the history of being rescued from slavery in Egypt, following Moses for forty years of wilderness wanderings, and bravely fighting with Joshua as Israel defeated nation after nation to take control of the land God had promised to Abraham. The history was a given. Everyone knew the stories.
But their fathers had chosen to forsake God. They knew the history to be true, but little by little, their hearts had turned from following God and had absorbed the ways of the pagan cultures around them.
Then these people who had forsaken God began to have children. Whereas the parents had a reference point of following God at some point in their lives, their children were now being raised without that knowledge. The children knew the history, but "did worse than their fathers" since they started out with no godly foundation. The only way of life they knew was "walking after the imagination of their evil hearts." God sent prophets to proclaim His Word, to remind His people who they were and what His laws were, and to plead with them to return to Him and avoid coming judgment. But the children had no concept of who God was. They knew only the gods they had been introduced to by their idol-worshiping parents. What a sad state of affairs they were in!
And what a sad state of affairs we are in today. We are reaping the same harvest of generations of people who have no concept of the reality of God and His laws and His love. Each generation becomes "worse than their fathers" as we get further and further away from the source of truth.
Let us continue to cry out as Jeremiah and the other prophets! Let us allow God to use our lives as He used theirs as pictures of His redeeming grace. God's power and forgiveness can stop the downward spiral as He reclaims one wandering soul at a time, just as He promised to do with Israel.