Trusting the Sovereign Plan of God

Posted: June 19, 2014 in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 24-25, “Trusting the Sovereign Plan of God”

My mother has become quite a needlepoint artist.  It is truly amazing to see some of her finished work, and delve into the details of what is there.  Of course, what is seen at the end is far different than what is seen at the beginning.  The instructions for some of her needlepoint plans look confusing and cryptic, and it can be difficult to see what is going to come in the future as a result.

Much can be similarly said about the plans of God.  Sometimes God allows something to come into our lives that we just don’t understand.  It looks confusing, and we wonder how God can possibly allow something like this.  We can’t see how it’s all going to turn out, and we might be tempted to turn away from God in the midst of it.  Don’t do it!  God knows His plan, and when we look back upon all things from the vantage point of eternity, no doubt things are going to look very different!

The Jewish nation faced a similar situation as they looked at the coming invasion of Babylon.  For some reason, God had a plan to use the vicious nation of Babylon in the lives of His people – but His people needed to trust Him through it.  God had a plan for the good of His people, and He had a plan to judge their oppressors.  They just needed to trust Him throughout.

Jeremiah 24

  • Good & bad figs (vss. 1-10)

1 The LORD showed me, and there were two baskets of figs set before the temple of the LORD, after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the princes of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.

  • It’s fitting that after a chapter filled with condemnation of false prophets who had risen up among the Jews that Jeremiah demonstrates what true prophecy looks like.  He had been given a vision from the Lord God, and it was so exact that he could even pinpoint the timeframe it was received.  At this point in Judah’s history, there was a pretty rapid succession of kings.  Remember that Josiah was the last “good” king seated on the throne in Jerusalem.  He had brought reform to the nation, and restored both the temple and the worship that took place there.  In his days, the Scriptures had been rediscovered, and Josiah did his best to follow them according to the letter.  It was all short-lived, however, as Josiah’s following generations undid nearly everything he had done.  His son Jehoahaz became king, and was soon imprisoned by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt.  The Pharaoh installed a different son as king, but Jehoiakim did not last long either as after 11 years he was imprisoned by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  It was Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin (a/k/a Jeconiah) who was on the throne in Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar came in force, besieged the city, and conquered it.  The defeat in Jerusalem was total.  As Jeremiah wrote, nearly everyone and everything had been carried away.  The writer of 2 Kings gives the details.  After describing how the temple was looted, the account is given of the people: 2 Kings 24:14–15, "(14) Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. (15) And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon." []
    • The point of all this history?  What Jeremiah wrote was accurate…it was verifiable.  Unlike the false teachings of the false prophets, Jeremiah wasn’t making stuff up out of thin air.  What he taught & recorded was exactly what God had given him, and it could be backed up by history.  Accuracy matters!  Because the words of God through Jeremiah spoke accurately about the past, his words could be trusted about the future.
    • Beware of prophets who get it wrong!  If they get the details wrong in the small things, it’s not wise to trust them with more important details in larger matters.  The NT calls us to judge prophecy, and we need to do so.
  • The vision itself showed “two baskets of figs set before the temple of the LORD.”  Why figs?  The fig tree is often (though not always) used as a symbol of Israel.  Here, it’s not the kind of fruit that is so important, as the condition of it.  See vs. 2…

2 One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad. 3 Then the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad, very bad, which cannot be eaten, they are so bad.”

  • Out of the two baskets, some were really-really good; others were really-really bad.  Some looked to be succulent; others were sour to the point of being rotten.  The baskets had been placed in front of the Jerusalem temple, and God was the One giving the vision – obviously there was theological importance to it, and God was going to teach Jeremiah what it all meant.
  • BTW – does God still give visions?  Yes, according to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.  Peter had quoted from the prophet Joel regarding those upon whom the Holy Spirit would come, that the young men would see visions and the old men would dream dreams (Acts 2:17-18).  (Which gift you receive might be rather telling about your age! J)  Visions and dreams are notoriously difficult to interpret, which is why it is best to take these things back to the Scripture.  When God gave dreams to Joseph and visions to Jeremiah, God was the One who interpreted those dreams & visions for them.  They did not invent the interpretations themselves.  Whatever gift God may grant, be sure to take it back to the Lord in prayer and in the Scripture.  If it is truly of God, God will guide you into truth by means of His more clear revelation.  The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and we can trust Him to teach us all these things, and to do so in a way that is clear and verifiable.
  • What was the interpretation here?  That’s what God goes on to give starting in vs. 4…

4 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans.

  • The good figs – the ripe & succulent figs – the figs that are blessed – these are “those who are carried away captive from Judah.”  That just doesn’t sound right, does it?  God is basically saying in light of how Jerusalem was completely overwhelmed and conquered by Babylon, “Look at the POW’s – all of the people taken away into what appears to be Babylonian slavery.  Those are the ones I am blessing.”  That would seem to be the opposite of anyone’s expectation – much more those who were just conquered!  We would think that those left in Jerusalem, who weren’t chained & carted off are the ones who are blessed.  After all, they are the ones that escaped the captivity.  But that’s not how God saw it.  God sees the end from the beginning, and He knew exactly what He would bring about through all the events happening in the land, and thus He could say that it was the prisoners taken “into the land of the Chaldeans” who were blessed.
  • Why is that?  See vs. 6…

6 For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. 7 Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

  • God had not forgotten those who would be carried away captive.  He had a plan for them – a plan for their benefit and blessing. “For I will set My eyes on them for good.”  The people would indeed go into captivity, and the way they would be taken would surely not seem to be “for good.”  After all, they were enslaved after a brutal siege, and ancient warfare makes some of our modern military rules of engagement look downright pleasant, by comparison.  But captivity was only part of God’s plan.  Captivity was not the end for them; God had a broader plan to bring them back.  True, they would go away for 70 years (as Ch 25 makes plain), but there will be a return after that 70 years’ time.  In fact, there would be some people who would survive the entire time of captivity – children at the time of the siege, and elderly upon their return.  Yet they would be witness to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple after God brought them back in His grace.
    • What looked to be the end, wasn’t.  What seemed to be a curse, wasn’t.  It was hardship – it was a trial – but it was governed by the gracious hand of God.  That is the same thing we need to remember as we endure our own trials.  What we endure now is not our final end.  God is not done with us yet.  Even if our suffering lasts for decades (perhaps the remainder of our earthly days), God is not done with us.  For those in Christ, we look forward to an eternity with Christ.  God has an eternal plan for us – a plan for our good, in which we will be in the very presence of God as His people.
    • So what do we do in the meantime?  The same thing that the good “figs” of Jerusalem were to do: look to God and patiently endure.  Keep your eyes firmly fixed upon Christ, knowing that He has us directly in the palm of His hand.  Remember that you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, who is our very guarantee/down-payment upon eternity.  God has not forgotten us, nor has He abandoned us.  He has something better in store – something eternal in store.  We need to patiently look to Him in faith, and endure.
  • Beyond the 1st return to the land in 70 years, God looks forward to an even greater return: one in which the very hearts of the people are restored to Him.  IOW, they will not merely return to the land in fulfillment of the covenant promises of God, but they will return to worship in fulfillment of their covenant relationship WITH God.  They “will have a heart to know” God as their God.  They will “return…with their whole heart.”  Question: did this happen during the days of Cyrus, Ezra, and Nehemiah?  Not really. Granted, there were some who truly trusted the Lord, and engaged in heart-felt worship – but it seems rather weak in comparison with the relationship that is described here by God.  It would seem better to look at the prophecy here having a partial fulfillment in the original return from Babylon, but a completed fulfillment in the Millennial Kingdom.  Truly then, the restored Israelites will know God as the Lord because they will know the Lord Jesus as God.  During those years, they will truly worship God as God had always intended for them to worship Him…with their whole heart.
    • What is promised to Israel in the future is something that can be experienced by every single born-again Christian right now in the present!  Truly we DO know Jesus as the Lord, and God is our God.  We ARE His people, given the ministry by God to proclaim His praises to all the world.  This is our grand calling – may we gladly and gratefully engage in it!

8 ‘And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad’—surely thus says the LORD—‘so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt.

  • The good figs were only half of the vision.  There were also “bad figs” – rotten fruit that could not be used for good at all.  Who were they?  They were the fallen leadership of the Jews that had repeatedly ignored God’s warnings, and they were “the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt.”  Historically, the Babylonians left some of the Jews behind to be caretakers of the land.  These were given the option of abiding by their new Babylonian rulers, but instead many decided to run for their lives to Egypt, where they faced further hardships and ultimate destruction.  Instead of submitting themselves to the will of God, they continued to harden themselves against God, and they continued to face the judgment of God.
  • Yet keep in mind that these were those who had been left behind.  Again, it seems to be the opposite of what we might expect.  In man’s view, those who are taken captive are cursed, and those who are left behind are blessed.  In God’s view, it was the opposite.  Those who were taken captive had a future in front of them, whereas those who were left would face nothing but further trial and death.
    • We need to trust God and HIS plan!  What we might easily view as “bad news” might be exactly the plan of God, be it for us or for our nation.  We need to always remember that God is sovereignly in control, and His will is going to be perfectly accomplished.

9 I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.’ ”

  • What would happen to those left behind?  Truly they would face the worst forms of hardship until they perished.  They would serve as an example to the nations around them of what it meant to be a people who were outside the will of God.  They had thought they knew better than the Lord, yet their plan for themselves only brought death and reproach.

Jeremiah 25

  • Judgment upon Judah (vss. 1-14)

1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon),

  • The first thing we need to take note of here is the timeframe.  This word was given “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim,” which is several years earlier than the vision of Ch. 24.  That vision had occurred after Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and carried away Jeconiah (Jehoiachin).  This particular oracle came with Jechoniah’s father, Jehoiakim, and it came when Nebuchadnezzar was seemingly just rising to prominence.  In 605BC, Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Neco at the Battle of Carchemish, and cemented the rise of the Babylonian empire over all of the nations of the Middle East.  Apparently this oracle was given by God to Jeremiah right in the midst of all of this international upheaval.
  • It’s a reminder that the book of Jeremiah is not always arranged chronologically.  Much of it is compiled topically.  Since Ch 2, we have been given a series of messages that proclaimed the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity.  Ch 25 is the capstone to it all.  (Not that the prophecies of judgment are complete, but there is definitely a break that occurs in Ch 26-45.)  Ch 25 will give somewhat of a summary of all of the judgment that has been proclaimed thus far.  Prior to all of this upheaval taking place, God had told the nation exactly what was going to happen – and as was stated in Ch 24, it DID happen.  Now the initial warnings are reviewed and the limitations and scope of God’s judgment are shown.

2 which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: 3 “From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, this is the twenty-third year in which the word of the LORD has come to me; and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened.

  • Read that time-frame once more: “this is the 23rd year in which the word of the LORD has come to me.”  Jeremiah had preached consistently for 23 years, and he wasn’t done yet.  This particular word came to him in the reign of Jehoiakim, and Jeremiah would see things all the way through to the final governorship of Gedaliah.  For 23 years, Jeremiah had preached the word faithfully, and what was the result?  He was ignored. “But you have not listened.”  He was one of the most prolific prophets in his writings – he had some of the most lengthy ministry of the prophets – and yet he seemingly didn’t make a dent of an impact on the nation of the Jews.  The amount of people who listened to him was so tiny, it barely even registered a blip on the radar of Scripture. 
    • Question: was Jeremiah successful?  In the eyes of man, surely not.  This was not a man with a large following – he would have had a tiny church (in modern terms), if he had anything beyond a handful of people at all.  His message was ignored for decades, and he endured massive amount of persecution and disdain from the very people to whom he had been sent by God.  Was he successful?  Yes.  In the eyes of man, no – but in the eyes of God, yes.  Jeremiah had been faithful with what he was given.  He spoke the words of God clearly and consistently.  His life modeled his teaching, and he was faithful to the ministry that God HAD given him.
    • Numbers make us successful in the eyes of man, but faithfulness is what matters in the eyes of God.  What has God given you?  Be faithful with THAT.  If God grants numbers, then let Him do it in His way & His time.  In the meantime, you simply be a good steward of what the Lord has given to you, and leave the results to Him.
  • Keep in mind Jeremiah wasn’t the only prophet of God ignored by the people.  See vs. 4…

4 And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. 5 They said, ‘Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.

  • Over and over God had warned His people.  He had sent Jeremiah and many other prophets to the Jews, and all of them were ignored.  Granted, there were periods of repentance, but it was all temporary.  The end result of both Israel and Judah was that they had turned away from the Lord, and they refused to repent of their evil ways & doings.
  • As a result, they missed out on the opportunity to “dwell in the land.”  During this entire time, God had extended His mercy to His people in such a way that if they had repented from their sin, then they would avoid the Babylonian captivity.  They would never have been removed from the land, God would have let them dwell there “forever and ever.”  How much they missed out on, simply because they chose to remain in their rebellion!
    • What is it that we miss out on today, in making a similar choice?  God desires His people to worship Him in spirit and truth, and yet we experience ritualism.  God desires us to know the abundant life through the power of the Holy Spirit, and yet we settle for routine.  That’s not what God desires for any of us as His people.  We have the choice to turn and commit ourselves into the hand of our God – but we need to respond to the opportunities He gives to us!
    • Beyond that, think of what someone misses out on, when they remain outside of Christ entirely.  As with Judah, the message of God has gone out into all the world.  Especially here in America, the gospel of Jesus is made clear & been proclaimed by multitudes of Christians.  We are the ones sent to our nation by God, so that they may turn and hear.  And yet many still ignore.  They refuse to repent, and thus they miss out on the opportunity they have for salvation.
      • Don’t let that be the case with you!  Turn away from your sins and turn to Christ Jesus in faith today.

6 Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.’ 7 Yet you have not listened to Me,” says the LORD, “that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.

  • The primary message to Judah was for them to turn away from their idolatry.  They had been called by God and had made a covenant commitment to God to be His people.  Instead, they worshipped the false gods of the neighboring lands, and the inventions of their own minds.  As they did, they “provoked [God] to anger,” and they brought God’s harm upon themselves.  It’s one thing to provoke our peers and our neighbors (it’s not wise, but we might be able to protect ourselves); it’s quite another thing to provoke Almighty God.  When God is for us, no one can come against us – but when God is against us, who can possibly stand?  God is a consuming fire; no one can survive the day of His wrath and the outpouring of His anger.
  • Keep in mind that this is NOT what the Lord wanted to do.  His desire was to see His people repent, and to bless them in an everlasting relationship with Him.  THEY were the ones that chose their rebellion, and instead of experiencing the love and grace of God, they experienced the wrath and anger of God.
    • God leaves the choice to us.  He won’t force anyone to receive His forgiveness; we must willingly come.  But it is indeed a choice we must make.

8 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Because you have not heard My words, 9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ says the LORD, ‘and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.

  • Notice who the “servant” of God is.  It’s not the people of God, those called by God’s name; it’s the pagan Gentile conquering overlord.  “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant”  How shocking this would have been to Jewish ears!  How could God use the Babylonian as His servant?  Simple: because God is God, and we’re not.  God’s own people were acting as Gentiles, worshipping false gods – so God would use a Gentile in His judgment.  God is the One who ultimately raises up kings and puts them down again, and God chose to use this particular king for His glory as He humbled the people who had rebelled against Him.
  • God might surprise us by who He chooses to use for His plans and purposes.  Those we consider to be our enemies might exactly be the method by which God uses to further mold and shape us into the image and character of Christ.  Be careful that you do not be so quick to condemn those who work against you.  David had the option of executing Shemei on the spot, when the rebel was spewing curses at the exiled king.  Instead, David chose to trust the Lord God.  2 Samuel 16:10–12, "(10) But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ” (11) And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. (12) It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”" []  Although David wasn’t always successful in it, this time his trust was in the Lord – and his trust was well-placed.  He had every right to curse the one who cursed him, but David trusted that God was in control and would somehow use this for His own glory…which God did.  Likewise with us.  There may be individuals who come against us at work, or in our family, or anywhere.  Let us not be so quick to condemn, but instead choose to seek the Lord.  God may well have allowed that person to do what he/she did for a greater reason.

10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.

  • When God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to rise up and conquer Jerusalem, the Jews would experience all of the hardships of vs. 9 (destruction, astonishment, hissing, desolation), and what little good that was left in the land (as in vs 10) would be removed as well.  Instead of “mirth,” they would have mourning.  Again, it could have been the opposite.  They could have had joy for sorrow, and an oil of gladness instead of mourning – THAT is what was available to them in their covenant relationship with God.  Yet they gave it all up in forfeit in exchange for their worthless worship of idols.
    • Don’t give up something so good for something so rotten!  Count the cost!

11 And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation.

  • The desolation is pronounced long before it ever comes to pass.  Remember the timeframe: this came in the 4th year of Jehoiakim; the captivity of Jehoiachin/Jeconiah in the 1st Babylonian siege of Jerusalem did not come for (at least) another 8 years.  There was no doubt at this point that the siege and captivity would indeed come.  God had given the nation plenty of opportunity to repent, and they had consistently refused.  Now their opportunity to avoid captivity was gone (though they were always invited to repent).  They would indeed see the destruction of God upon their land; there would be no way to avoid it.
  • Yet even in the proclamation of destruction is the declaration of God’s mercy.  The captivity was coming, but the captivity was limited to 70 years.  The Jews would be removed, but 70 years was ALL they would be removed for.  Afterward, they would return to the land, and it would be the Babylonians who were punished for their sin.
    • Why 70 years?  Because for the 490 years that the Jews lived in the promised land, not once did they give the land the Sabbath rest commanded by God.  6 years they were to work the land for food, and they were to let the land rest on the 7th year as they trusted God for their provision – just as they had trusted God for His provision every 7th day while they wandered in the wilderness.  Yet not once did they do it.  They were disobedient to their covenant with God from the very beginning, and God would ensure that the land received the rest that He commanded.  2 Chronicles 36:20–21, "(20) And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, (21) to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years." []
    • BTW – why does God care about the Sabbath rest?  Because it points to our salvation in Christ Jesus.  Sabbath rest is not about legalism (be it 7 days or 7 years); it’s about resting from our failed attempts to earn our salvation.  Salvation cannot be earned because Jesus is the only One capable of doing the work.  If we never entrust ourselves to Him, resting in His work alone, then we can never experience the salvation of God.

13 So I will bring on that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied concerning all the nations. 14 (For many nations and great kings shall be served by them also; and I will repay them according to their deeds and according to the works of their own hands.)’ ”

  • That land” is a reference to Babylon, whom God had promised to judge in verse 12.  God sovereignly chose to use Babylon for His judgment upon the Jews, but that did not excuse Babylon from their sin.  They would go beyond the limits God set for them, and they would be deserving of judgment upon themselves.  God was not blind to the sins of Babylon (or the other nations), and He would deal with them appropriately.
    • The same thing happened with Shemei, who cursed David.  God may have used Shemei, but God did judge him for his sin after Solomon rose to the throne.  God sees all those who abuse His people, and He will judge each one appropriately.
  • What were the judgments that God promised to Babylon & the rest of the world?  The specific “words” to Babylon referred to here is likely a reference to Ch 50-51, but that’s not all God has to say.  The theme continues in the rest of Ch 25…
  • Judgment upon the nations (vss. 15-38)

15 For thus says the LORD God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it. 16 And they will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.” 17 Then I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the LORD had sent me: 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and its princes, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day;

  • God’s cup of wrath was to be given to “all the nations” by Jeremiah.  Obviously, Jeremiah did not take a literal cup and travel to the capital city of each of the nations mentioned below – but he did proclaim God’s judgment to them through prophecy.  What God determined to give them was the full, undiluted measure of His furious wrath.  God’s wrath is often pictured as a cup of wine, and that’s the case here as well.  It is so strong, that drinking it causes immediate drunkenness and virtual insanity.  This is the righteous judgment of God, and all would be made to drink it.
  • Notice that Jerusalem heads the list.  Much will be said about the nations of the world, but Jerusalem is not exempt from it.  Judgment begins at the house of God, and just as God had already proclaimed His judgment upon His people, it is reiterated here.  The judgment of the nations was yet future; the judgment of Judah was currently taking place via the Babylonians.
  • Today, we know the fullness of the wrath of God is completed in Christ Jesus.  Because the Son of God suffered for us upon the cross, we who follow Jesus in faith do not fear the wrath and anger of God.  Jesus has become the propitiation for God’s fury, and we are safely delivered from it.  Yet notice that Jerusalem IS included here.  Why?  Because the Jews do not currently acknowledge Jesus as the Lord God.  There is a reason that the Great Tribulation is called “the Day of Jacob’s trouble.”  Although there will be 144,000 Jews who are sealed and kept safe from harm, there will be multitudes of others who do eventually come to faith and are martyred.  They will be hated by the nations, and they will suffer immensely during those days.  Thankfully, just as the days of the Babylonian captivity were limited to 70 years, so are the days of the Great Tribulation limited to 7 years.  If they weren’t, Jesus told us that not a single person would survive. (Mt 24:22)

19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his princes, and all his people; 20 all the mixed multitude, all the kings of the land of Uz, all the kings of the land of the Philistines (namely, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); 21 Edom, Moab, and the people of Ammon; 22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastlands which are across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who are in the farthest corners; 24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed multitude who dwell in the desert; 25 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes; 26 all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth. Also the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

  • God gives a list of the nations of the world known to Jeremiah.  For the most part, these were the immediate neighbors of Judah, but notice that God’s proclamation stretches over “all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth.”  There were many nations during Jeremiah’s day of which the prophet knew nothing – and there would be many other nations that would rise and fall in history.  Eventually, we know that in the future, every nation will abandon Israel, and thus every nation will be judged.  (BTW – that the includes the USA.  We’ve already seen the beginning of our abandonment of Israel.)
  • Sheshach” seems to be a reference again to Babylon, as Babylon sums up the enmity of the world against God and His people.  Scholars note that “Sheshach” is a coded reference, inverting the Hebrew alphabet from beginning to end.  An English equivalent would be to turn “Abby” into “Zyyb.”  Scholars are uncertain why Jeremiah would use a coded reference here, especially considering Jeremiah has not hesitated to specifically name Babylon many times.  Perhaps this is a reference to a different Babylon than the one ruled by Nebuchadnezzar…the future Babylon ruled over by Antichrist.

27 “Therefore you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Drink, be drunk, and vomit! Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.” ’ 28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “You shall certainly drink!

  • In that day, there will be no avoiding the wrath of God.  The nations of the world have gone through various judgments in the past, but there can be little doubt here that God is looking forward to the final judgments of the Great Tribulation, just prior to the 2nd Coming of Christ.  During that time, all peoples all over the world will drink of the fury of God, and there will be no way to escape it.  They will drink until they are sick, and then they will drink some more. 

29 For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth,” says the LORD of hosts.’

  • Judgment may begin with the house of God, but it does not end there.  Because God is righteous enough to judge His own people, there can be no doubt that He will judge all the earth. 
  • As sobering as this is, it is something for which we can praise God!  There will be no injustice unanswered.  There will be no martyr who is forgotten.  All those who have risen against God and His people in vile sin will experience the “calamity” of the furious anger of God.  Vengeance belongs to the Lord, and there will come a day when He will take it.
  • What does that vengeance look like?  See vs. 30…

30 “Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: ‘The LORD will roar from on high, And utter His voice from His holy habitation; He will roar mightily against His fold. He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes, Against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 A noise will come to the ends of the earth— For the LORD has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,’ says the LORD.”

  • God’s judgment comes with God as a mighty warrior.  He will “roar” forth His battle cry and rush into the battle.
  • God’s judgment comes as a winemaker.  Just as grapes are tread down for wine, so will the Lord tread down the nations, and blood be spilt.
  • God’s judgment comes with God as a righteous judge.  As a masterful prosecutor, He brings “His case” the nations, and He will judge them in utter holiness and righteousness.

32 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Behold, disaster shall go forth From nation to nation, And a great whirlwind shall be raised up From the farthest parts of the earth. 33 “And at that day the slain of the LORD shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground.

  • This is a similar picture as seen in Revelation 14 as the reapers of God thrusts their sickles into the vineyard of the earth, and people are thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God (Rev 14:19).  Jesus seemed to refer to this very event in regards to His 2nd Coming: Matthew 24:27–28, "(27) For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (28) For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together." []  So great will be the carnage, that carrion birds will be seen everywhere.

34 “Wail, shepherds, and cry! Roll about in the ashes, You leaders of the flock! For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions are fulfilled; You shall fall like a precious vessel. 35 And the shepherds will have no way to flee, Nor the leaders of the flock to escape. 36 A voice of the cry of the shepherds, And a wailing of the leaders to the flock will be heard. …

  • The kings of the earth will be the ones to fall.  There will be no escape for them.  They wield no power nor influence with the Lord of Hosts.  Their riches and political connections will do them no good.  The only deliverance they (and anyone) has is the Lord Jesus Christ, but when Jesus is refused, all hope is lost.

…For the LORD has plundered their pasture, 37 And the peaceful dwellings are cut down Because of the fierce anger of the LORD. 38 He has left His lair like the lion; For their land is desolate Because of the fierceness of the Oppressor, And because of His fierce anger.”

  • God is the conqueror and the victor!  The Devil may roam today like a lion, but only God truly has the power to back it up!
  • If that is the way that God will judge the nations of the world, consider for a moment how God will judge the Devil.  There is no doubt that our God has the ultimate victory!

Conclusion:
The judgment of God will be a day of fury and anger, but thankfully it is something WE do not need endure!  All of this anger and wrath is exactly what was placed upon our Lord Jesus when He died on the cross for us.  This is the extent of God’s love for you & me…that Jesus would be willing to endure all of THAT, so that we could be saved.  Truly amazing!

God would indeed judge the nations, and He would judge His own people.  But He also showed much grace in the midst of it.  He knew who truly belonged to Him, and He had a wonderful plan for His people, even when it looked far from wonderful at the time.  He placed a limit upon the trials they would experience, and He promised to judge those who made His people suffer.  God was sovereign over all, and He was gracious to His own.  They just needed to trust Him and His plan.

So do we.  Trust God!  He may have allowed you to endure something fierce right now – trust His plan, His mercy, and His holiness.  God knows what He’s doing, and He is always worthy of our trust.

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