Although the Israelites imagined that they were still serving the Lord (v. 2), in reality they had turned away from him. This means that their choices had blinded them to the truth about themselves. So the Lord lists some of the ways in which they have left him. First, they had a royal line that was not of the house of David (v. 4); second, they engaged in idolatry (vv. 5-6); third, they had appealed to Assyria for help (v. 9); and fourth, they had no interest in keeping the Lord’s commandments (v. 12).
Israel would reap what it had sown (v. 7), and it would be a destructive harvest (like the effects of a whirlwind). Eventually the Lord would judge them with another captivity (going back to Egypt in verse 13 is a picture of this prospect). Their recollection of what had happened there to their ancestors should have led them to repentance. Going back to Egypt would be like going back to the time before the Lord had made the covenant with them to bless them as a nation at Mount Sinai.
The basic sin of Israel was that he had forgotten his Maker (which may refer to God’s formation of them as a nation rather than his role as Creator). They showed this memory fault by their priorities, which was to build palaces which could not help them. Judah also had forgotten his God and had resorted to relying on military strongholds. Whoever these strongholds could protect from, they could not protect Judah from God’s forces (v. 14).
What does this historical period have to say to us? It tells us that the way for God’s people to prevent divine judgement is to obey God’s requirements from the heart.