I’m reading the book of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah is a really cool book.
I think we have this idea that books from the Old Testament are boring and long and ugh
and that the books from the New Testament are more interesting.
But Jeremiah seems to break through that bias.
Reading Jeremiah is like reading a novel to me.
I am just engrossed in this book.
At first, it seems like the book was just a whole bunch of the Lord
telling Jeremiah to relay this message:
that He was going to pluck
and pour out wrath on the nations.
But the more I read, the more I understood.
The nations were worshipping false gods,
and praising earthly idols,
and acting rebellious towards God,
and telling God that they would not serve Him,
and they set their faces harder than stone
and turned their backs on God
and walked away from Him.
They were participating in the ugliest thing we can participate in:
And God was angry man, listen:
“Does any other nation change its gods? –yet they are not gods at all! But my people have changed their glory for useless things.” (Jeremiah 2:11)
“Where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them rise up!” (Jeremiah 2:28)
“This wicked people who refuse to obey my words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, and follow strange gods to serve and adore them, shall be like this loincloth which is good for nothing.” (Jeremiah 13:10)
These words are harsh
and they hurt.
They cut deep.
They seem almost out of character for an all-loving God.
But here’s the thing:
Love is doing what is best for the other person.
Tolerance is not a part of that definition
and, in fact, punishment might be a very necessary component of that definition.
In these verses the Lord comes across as very angry
and He was.
But His anger was righteous.
The nations were turning away from Him,
they were raising up idols in His place,
they were sinning.
It was good and honest anger and for the greater good of the nations.
And all because He loved them.
This righteous anger was quickly reconciled with His mercy:
“Return, rebel Israel, say the Lord, for I will not remain angry with you; for I am merciful, says the Lord, I will not continue my wrath forever. Only know your guilt: how you rebelled against the Lord, your God, how you ran hither and yon to strangers and would not listen to my voice, says the Lord. Return, rebellious children, says the Lord for I am your Master.” (Jeremiah 3:12-14)
“Reform your ways and your deeds, so that I may remain with you in this place.” (Jeremiah 7:3)
The Lord is absolutely angry
but He is intensely merciful as well.
This lesson found in Jeremiah is a perfect present-day lesson.
The nations were doing nothing different than we do today;
they turned away from God and
Sin is something that is a part of our everyday lives.
We turn our backs on God
and raise up false idols,
and worship worldly things.
And there is God,
and fully ready to shower down His unending mercy;
so long as we know our guilt and reform our ways.
God will then remain with us.
Thank God for righteous anger.
Thank God for a God who does not tolerate but rather,
a God who drives us to be better people.
Thank God for a love that challenges.
Thank God for a love that does not settle.
And THANK GOD for His mercies which are ever-new.