TERROR is not too strong of a word for chapter 21 of Jeremiah.
(It’s taken me a few days to measure the level of physical trembling in my own spirit as I read these words. In that space, I’ve also thought about asking the Lord to lift me out of continuing to pray through Jeremiah. It’s too intense. Too severe.)
Imagine that the Lord of glory is speaking this word against YOUR CHURCH! Is it within your theological realm of possibility that the Lord would speak these type of “terrible” words to any portion of His covenant people today?
“I’m against you.”
“In Wrath. Anger. Fury.”
“I will not spare.”
“I will not pity or show mercy.”
“My Face is against you for adversity.”
“I’m executing judgment.”
“My fury is going forth like fire.”
“Because of your evil.”
“I will punish you.”
Is it even kosher or healthy to consider whether the Lord would speak these words against us today?
I believe considering this question is not only prudent, it’s vital.
From a historical perspective, this is the comprehension that Daniel had to wrestle with as he read Jeremiah in (Daniel 9:2).
This is also the reality of the Lord’s relationship with all 7.4 billion inhabitants of planet earth.
Before we excuse ourselves from this company, let me say: I also believe this terrible reality is what the people of God, the redeemed of the Lord, the body of Christ needs to grapple with in this hour.
The fact of the matter is this IS our reality before the holy God. He is just and right and true to decree these terrible words over all of us – with zero exemption.
…EXCEPT FOR ONE PURE FACT: God Himself stepped in a received the full impact of these terrible terrible terrible realities upon His own Person through the death of His Son, Jesus, the Messiah on the cross.
He was wounded on behalf of our (evil) transgressions. He was bruised (in the wrath and fury of God) for our iniquities. The chastisement (from the Lord) for our peace (fell) upon Him. (He took our) stripes and we are healed. The Lord (set His Face against Him and) laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
This is the larger storyline. The Lord not only looks at our evil ways and pronounces judgment – He then steps in and receives the complete penalty for our evil, unfaithful, conniving, conspiring, twisted, destructive ways UPON HIMSELF!
We cannot read Jeremiah and the wrath of God against His own covenant people and NOT connect it to the wrath He poured out upon His own Son on the cross.
This is why we 21c Christians MUST engage the message of Jeremiah and not relegate it to Old Testament history. To fail to hear God’s heart in Jeremiah is to short-change our whole storyline; to short-change our God’s commitment to mercy-giving and the depth of the gift of His own Son.
In a season when the body Christian is filled with enflamed calls to all manner of “righteousness”, it is vital that we remember that we are fundamentally, first and always people who have been shown great great mercy. THIS is where all our prayers, our worship, our evangelism, our calls to repentance, our social justice, our conformity to His image, and our eschatology MUST remain rooted.
The incredible mercy that He has extended to us, our God is zealous to extend to others…
WHAT. IS. THIS. GOD/MAN. WORTH. BELOVED?
JSB • November, 2021