As I continue to read through Jeremiah, I’m constantly struck by the similarity between the moral state of their nation and of ours. The Israelites were intentionally ignoring God while sacrificing even their children to idols. Instead of seeking holiness through obedience to the Lord who loved them, they were focused on feeding their appetite for power and wealth. Over and over God decried the lack of justice in the land. He sent prophets to warn them, and they mocked God’s word.
It doesn’t matter what your political leanings. There are plenty of examples, on both sides of the aisle, of corruption, greed, and a total disregard for our nation’s laws or well-being. And it’s not just the leadership. Of course, people have been sinning since the beginning, but now things we once felt shame for are being touted as normal, even virtuous. In our arrogance, which of the Ten Commandments haven’t we broken—and then bragged about it? Paul’s description of the Romans is just as applicable today:
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:29-32, bold mine)
It would not surprise me in the slightest if God decided He’d had enough, and judged us in the same way He judged the Israelites. He wouldn’t even have to lift a finger—we’re causing our own destruction!
At the same time, there is a remnant who are in the world but not of it. There are those who grieve at the sin around us, who desire to follow God in the face of an ungodly culture. So I’ve often wondered, if our nation is headed for ruin, what about the good guys? Will they be swept away with the rest? That seems so unfair!
What about me? What about my family and friends? What about my three little granddaughters?
I don’t want to be filled with fear, so as I read through Jeremiah, it was with relief that I came to chapter 23. Verses 3 and 4 read:
“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
The theme continues in Jeremiah 24:4-7—
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
And finally, there’s Jeremiah 39:16-18—
“Go and tell Ebed-Melek the Cushite, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am about to fulfill my words against this city—words concerning disaster, not prosperity. At that time they will be fulfilled before your eyes. But I will rescue you on that day, declares the Lord; you will not be given into the hands of those you fear. I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord.’”
As I pondered these passages, I realized that the Bible contains more than just these examples: Noah and his family were saved from the flood. Job and his family were led out of Sodom. Rahab was protected when Jericho was destroyed. And Jeremiah was freed to go wherever he wanted when Nebuchadnezzar’s army overran Jerusalem (Jeremiah 40:4-6).
Clearly, if God wants to shield us from the fate of the nation, He is perfectly capable of doing that. But does He always rescue His children?
It just takes a moment to scan the headlines and we realize that no, He doesn’t. The Christians in areas controlled by ISIS are being slaughtered. Godly individuals get in the way of deluded or insane people with guns. Righteous people die of incurable diseases. So how do we reconcile that with God’s character?
We need a longer perspective. We need God’s perspective. He has rescued us.
(See 1 Thessalonians 1:10: “…Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”)
For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:53-57)