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Echo Evangelique

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God’s Sovereignty in Dealing with Judah and its Oppressors

Text: Jeremiah 12:1-17

Key Concepts:

  • God’s sovereignty and justice
  • The Lord answers Jeremiah
  • Jeremiah, like God, is betrayed by His own people

Injustice seems to rule our world unchallenged these days. When you are a victim of injustice, remember that God is sovereign. God does nothing, nor does He allow anything without a very wise purpose. Jeremiah realized this during his ministry. The prophet faced wicked people who seemed to prosper. Nevertheless, Jeremiah kept the faith.  Indeed, through it all, he chose to trust His sovereign Lord. Understanding the sovereignty of God helps us grasp His purpose for humanity but also what God expects of us. His sovereignty is dispensed through His justice and His mercy to all. His sovereignty is defined by His authority and might. Jesus assures us of this reality in declaring “’I give them [His sheep] eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”’ (Jn 10:28-29, NKJV). Our hope and future are secure in the powerful hand of God and is therefore certain.

God’s sovereignty and justice

Jeremiah affirms God’s justice and even bemoans God’s restraint in allowing the wicked to oppose Him.  “Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? … You are near in their mouth but far from their mind” (Jer. 12:1-2, NKJV). Jeremiah is astonished that the Almighty God of justice would allow the wicked to seemingly thrive. He seems to forget that the grace of God has its limits. Paul similarly wondered about God’s forbearance with sinners (Rom. 9:20). In objecting to God’s over-abundance of patience though, Jeremiah denotes a positive relationship between God’s perfect character and the manner in which He cares for His own. Fed up with the wicked, the prophet was ready to see God’s justice fall upon them. “Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter and prepare them for the day of slaughter …” (Jer. 12:3-4, NKJV). As far as Jeremiah is concerned, the wicked deserve the same sentence they condemned him (who is innocent) to. His complaint against the wicked reveals our impatient nature as human beings. The prophet wanted God’s justice to be as immediate as possible. Asaph (Ps. 73) likewise experienced this need to see God’s swift justice on the wicked. Indeed when we focus our gaze on the wicked, it is easy to fall into the trap of erroneous reasoning.  Asaph acknowledge this “Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end” (Ps. 73:15-17, NKJV). In fact, only the Word of God can keep us from foolish and ignorant thinking. In the end, Asaph learned that “it is good for me to draw near to God” (Ps. 73:28, NKJV). For the child of God knows that in God’s presence, there is indeed, joy, life and peace.

The Lord Answers Jeremiah

The Lord does not defend His justice to Jeremiah but rather warns him that the worse is yet to come (Jer. 12:5-6). This was to teach the prophet to rely on His God rather than be naïve about the wicked. This lesson was to prepare Jeremiah for trying times to come. Jeremiah’s comfort was rooted on the promise of God Himself; “’They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you’” (Jer. 1:19, NKJV). Brethren, we must equally rely on God for our comfort. We must trust God’s righteous and justice. He will not let the wicked go unpunished forever. When we are plagued by erroneous thinking about the judgment of God, like Asaph we should go “into the sanctuary of God” (Ps. 73:17, NKJV). Speak to God in His sanctuary and He will restore your peace. God indeed invites us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7, NKJV). We can trust God to exercise His justice in due time.

Jeremiah, like God, is betrayed by His own people

Jesus warned us to expect the same treatment (rejection & betrayal by His own) He experienced (Luke 23:31). For, if they condemned Jesus who was an innocent sinless man, what of us who are all sinners. Israel forsook God and betrayed their covenant with Him (Jer. 12:7-9). Consequently, “I [God] have forsaken My house; I have left My heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies”’ (Jer. 12:7, NKJV). Their unfaithfulness led to God’s judgment of them. Israel, the dearly beloved of The Lord, is akin to a hungry lion loose in the forest seeking something to devour (Jer. 12:8). Judah is a like a speckled bird, which is an unclean bird (Jer. 12:9). Israel was given the land of milk and honey, but “They have sown wheat but reaped thorns; They have put themselves to pain but do not profit” (Jer. 12:13, NKJV). How can we account to God for bearing the wrong fruit although we were given His Holy Spirit? God will judge every sinner; for His justice demands it. “’For the sword of the Lord shall devour from one end of the land to the other end of the land; No flesh shall have peace”’ (Jer. 12:12, NKJV). Moses asserts this same reality of judgment of the wicked. ‘“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face”’ (Deut. 7: 9-10, NKJV). In fact, God will judge both the righteous and the unrighteous. No matter your creed, nation or standing, His justice will not be denied. Those who did evil to His people will also be judged, even though God Himself did deliver Judah to her enemies (Jer. 12:7, 14-17).  After all, Judah’s enemies (neighboring powers) were wicked and led Israel to idolatry. Their crime will hardly go unpunished.

In conclusion…

Our God is sovereign. He is just and merciful.  God will have compassion on His people. In His sovereign justice, Judah’s oppressors will also face His justice and know His wrath. God will restore Judah. “’Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back”’ (Jer. 12:15, NKJV). He offers forgiveness to any and all who repents. For God is as merciful as He is just. We can enjoy God’s blessings only when we repent of our sin. Without repentance, we will only know His judgment. Without repentance, true happiness is not possible. It is well worth it to seek happiness in God. This happiness is defined as a state of complete satisfaction, based on stability and durability. It is impossible to find real happiness in this world. But happiness is definitely possible in Christ. However, to enjoy this happiness in Christ, we must be anchored in His Word and must trust and obey Him. “’But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation,” says the Lord” (Jer. 12:17, NKJV). God will not strive with the wicked forever.  The wicked deny their own happiness in denying God. Salvation, the source of eternal happiness, is offered to all however. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16, NKJV). The call to believe and to repent, is to all mankind. Our identity as Christians, does not exempt us from God’s judgment. Since we have received mercy from God, we must live in manner that is pleasing to Him. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Heb. 12:6, NKJV). Beware brethren, lest you are living like the wicked. Rather, repent from your sins and find your happiness in the mercy and grace of the living God.

 

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