This chapter begins with a complaint Jeremiah has about the wicked and faithless: they always seem to prosper and live at ease. This is the theme of a famous Psalm (73) for those of us to tend to envy the God-less prosperous. As both the Psalmist and Jeremiah both realize, the issue is God’s character and can they, we, trust him. The Psalmist says:
16 But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
3 But you, O Lord, know me;
you see me, and test my heart toward you.
If we live by sight, and interpret realty based on our limited perspective God will always appear unjust to us. The world is fallen, and God holds his justice back, while at other times death and destruction just seem senseless to us. As we live in this upside down kingdom, the question for each one of us always comes down to God’s character. As I’ve quoted through these posts many times, we his people must hang upon these words of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:
3 I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.
This will always be problematic in a fallen world because it doesn’t make sense to us that God would allow his creation to be marred by the pain and suffering we see all around us. We see and experience futility every day and wonder, why. What’s the point. Fortunately we know the end of the story, a situation Old Testament saints couldn’t fathom. They looked forward in hope, we look backward and forward in hope. Through it all we must trust him who is trustworthy.
As the Lord then explains to Jeremiah that justice will indeed come, and it won’t be pretty, he shares yet again that there is still mercy yet to come. Even for those nations who are not his people. The universality of God’s calling is affirmed at the end of this chapter, as it has been throughout the OT. But it will only be for those who “listen.” All the nations and peoples that do not listen will be uprooted and destroyed. While mercy is extended, justice must come. We see both perfectly encapsulated in Christ on the cross. Those who look to him, who have ears to hear, will be saved, while those who do not, they will pay the price for their own sin. As for me an my household . . . .