Jeremiah 21: Avoiding the Consequences
In Jeremiah 21, the King of Judah, Zedekiah, called on Jeremiah to pray for the people as the Babylonians put them under siege. They wanted God to protect them from this imminent threat, but part of me has to wonder if the leadership was entirely oblivious because here is the response of Jeremiah.
Jer 21:3 Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say to Zedekiah:
Jer 21:4 Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city.
Jer 21:5 And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
Throughout this entire book, Jeremiah has been talking about how wrong the people had been and how they needed to come back to God. You have to wonder if the leadership disregarded everything that Jeremiah had ever said. It is possible. After all, don’t we all kind of disregard news that we don’t agree with?
I think there is an important lesson here though. The people of Israel and Judah were the people of God, but they were not immune from sin. God, being a God of justice, gave them the consequences of their actions. They did not get some kind of free pass because they were the chosen people.
I think that we can develop a similar attitude today as Christians. We live however we want, and we think that we can come to God whenever we want and all of the consequences to our actions will disappear. I am not saying that God will not forgive us because God will forgive anyone of anything when they come to him with sincere repentance. However, let’s say that I was addicted to gambling, and I really hit rock bottom. I am entirely out of money, and I realize that what I had been doing was wrong. God would forgive me, but God did not be obligated to put all kinds of money back into my bank account. I would still have the consequences of my actions while simultaneously receiving forgiveness.
I think that this is a hard concept for many people because we just want to say sorry and move on. We want to be like Zedekiah and come to God when we need Him to take away our consequences. It doesn’t quite work that way though, and because God is a God of justice, we might have to deal with the issues that we have created ourselves.