November 11, 2013
In Jeremiah 32, God assures those in Jerusalem that they will certainly fall to the armies of Babylon, and the city will be destroyed. Why? Because of their idolatry and their wickedness. (If you start asking what sort of wickedness warrants the destruction of their city, check out Jeremiah 19. They were burning their children as sacrifices.)
Yes, in the same chapter, He also promises to continue to bless them; to bring them back:
They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.
I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.
I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.
God will never stop doing good to His people.
Aye, and there’s the price of His beneficence as well: our total submission to Him as our own Lord and King. “You shall have no other gods before me,” He demands and commands. We see the consequences of having submitted to other gods in the life of Israel: falling into wretched wickedness, calamity, and in the end – destruction. And alas! The song holds true for all of us:
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love!”
But God, in His great mercy, has provided even for this propensity in us to run away from God: “…I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.” (“Fear” here has more closely the sense of extreme reverence, though it is also right to acknowledge that the power and wrath of God are cosmic terrors not to be trifled with.)
Wandering from God means wretchedness, calamity, destruction; therefore God put deep and reverent fear of His holy judgment in His people so that they might not wander away from Him and experience grief. He knows that we turn away, so He says, “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well with them…”.
God will never stop doing good to His people. He delights in doing good to us. And one of the good things He does for us is to help us recognize the terrible danger of sinning against Him. He helps us fear rightly, and that good fear keeps us from calamity and destruction and judgment.
Praise this God, who does good to His people!