July 2, 2021
"But you must say to this people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am presenting to you the way of life and the way of death."
“But you must say to this people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am presenting to you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague, but whoever goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live and will retain his life like the spoils of war. For I have turned against this city to bring disaster and not good’”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “‘It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, who will burn it down.’” Jeremiah 21:8-10
When I was a young and immature believer, I considered the God of the Old Testament Scriptures to be an angry God who simply could not be pleased. My perception of Him was that He was only judging and never gracious or patient. On the other hand, it seemed like the God of the New Testament Scriptures was very loving and patient and not the kind Who would judge anyone but accepted everyone just as they are. But have you read the Book of The Revelation…?
At the outset, it seems like today’s passage from Jeremiah proves my theory. On the contrary, it disproves the idea that God was always judging and never loving and patient. If you read closely, God is presenting His people with a merciful way out of His judgment if they would only turn from their sin and heed His Word. As for patience, He is actually repeating the terms of a covenant He made with Israel soon after they left Egypt, a covenant Israel had been violating for hundreds of years!
“This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach. It is not in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ And it is not across the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it. See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not listen and you are led astray to bow down to other gods and worship them, I tell you today that you will certainly perish and will not live long in the land you are entering to possess across the Jordan. I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the Lord swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:11-20
God had told His people they would stay in the Promised land forever if they would only follow His Word and not stray from it. He patiently, graciously and mercifully guided them and forgave them for many generations. However, eventually, God’s judgment must eclipse His mercy, or else He is no God at all. And still, He pleads…