Monday, November 21, 2011

Mornings with Condemnation

Mornings I've been slowly working my way through Jeremiah (I'm ready for Jer 13), summarizing verses and noting themes--slowing down just enough to pay attention to more of the details.  Once I get through a chapter, I give it a title. 

I did not realize how relentless Jeremiah's prophecies against Judah's sin were.  From ch. 2 to ch. 11, there is almost no break against the railing against Judah's sins, though there are the occasional bright spots of future redemption.  (And in the darkness of the thick condemnation, those spots are indeed very bright.)

So is the reading of these chapters dull?  No, not at all, because each chapter comes at Judah's sinfulness and her imminent judgment from various angles.  At one level, there is a certain art to this that is satisfying.

The chapter titles read a little like headlines:

Jer 2: Israel's Astonishing Rejection of God and Her Passionate Idolatry
Jer 3: Israel Faithless, God's Call to Repentance and Glorious Promise of Healing
Jer 4: The Almost-Sure, Almost-Total, Deeply Painful Destruction to Come against Judah
Jer 5: Israel's Thoroughgoing Rebellion and the Almost-Total Devastation That Is Coming As a Result
Jer 6: The Judgment That Is Coming Is Deserved
Jer 7: Judah Does Her Own Thing, and God Promises Wrath
Jer 8: No Human Repentance, No Divine Relenting
Jer 9: Why Israel Provokes Weeping
Jer 10: The Folly of Idolatry
Jer 11: The Broken Covenant
Jer 12: The Future of Judah's Oppressors

Too much condemnation? 
  • No, not if God really hates sin. 
  • No, not if sin is really harmful to us ("your sins have kept good from you" Jer 5:25 ESV). 
  • No, not if our souls are in danger if we do not repent (see my paraphrase of Jer 4:1-4 below).
  • No, not if that's what it takes to finally move us off the dime of continuing in our sin.

These passages have reminded me of God's hatred of sin.  (Let me not become comfortable or cozy with it.)  But they've also reminded me of God's incredible mercy to me, a sinner who was immersed in sin and is not yet completely extracted from its filth and repugnance.

("The LORD says, If you return, return to me.  If you get rid of your idols and are not wishy-washy about it, and if you swear by me in truth, justice, and righteousness, then other nations will benefit and glory in me.  Give attention to your souls and not your flesh.  Dedicate yourselves to the LORD from the inside out, unless you want to experience my unquenchable wrath."  Jer 4:1-4, my paraphrase)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Dear Kent,

The wrath of God is no trifling matter! All God's arrows of spiritual warfare reach their targets with uncanny accuracy. Contemplate, if you will, the following:
Psalm 7:12-14 (New International Version 1984)

12 If a man does not relent,
he [the LORD]will sharpen His sword;
[the LORD] will bend and string His bow.
13 [God] has prepared His deadly weapons;
The LORD makes ready His flaming arrows."