Jeremiah 16: Operating on Multiple Levels
As we have been hearing about for a while now, the people of Israel had really messed up. They had abandoned God even though they had sufficient evidence to believe that He was indeed the one true God. They started following other gods, and God Himself was understandably not thrilled about this.
In chapter 16, it is incredibly interesting that God built in a supplementary plan. The people rejected Him, and He was going to punish them. However, while that might not seem like the ideal situation, God had another purpose for this as well. I think that His sense of justice would have been more than enough to go through with the punishment, but I am just pointing out that there was another level that God was operating on as well.
Jer 16:19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.
Jer 16:20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?
Jer 16:21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD.
God and Jeremiah understood that when people saw the power of God, even when exercised in punishment, it would be undeniable. People would recognize that maybe there was something to this God that the Israelites claimed to worship but then drifted away from.
I find this kind of exciting. The children of Israel had wandered away from God, and I am sure that Satan was thrilled. This would have been a big deal for him. The people of God were drifting away and worshiping false gods. Satan’s game plan has not changed. He was still trying to get people away from God back then.
However, he did not count on this side effect. Yes, the people had drifted away for a time, but even because of that sin and accompanying punishment, the knowledge of God would actually become even more widespread than it had before. God, being omniscient, also knew that the people of Israel would return to Him, so even though this season required punishment because of disobedience, the ultimate result of this episode would become greater knowledge of God.
There are things that happen in life that we don’t understand. However, we always have to remember that God does indeed have a plan even if we cannot understand that. At the time, the people of Israel probably were not thinking about how their disobedience would actually increase the kingdom of God, but God did that. Remember, because God is a just God, He did need to punish the people of Israel to be consistent with His character so it is not as if He only created this punishment to achieve the growth of His kingdom, but He was also operating on other levels beyond just the punishment that we might not always understand.