Read: Jeremiah 21:1-14
Jeremiah 21:5 I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and a powerful arm, for I am very angry. You have made me furious!
The Babylonians are invading for the 3rd time and King Zedekiah is starting to think that maybe he should take Jeremiah seriously. Maybe he should take God seriously. But God is set against him at this point. That last minute “God help!” prayer isn’t going to fix the situation. After years of disobeying the God that they claimed to be theirs, He isn’t running in and saving the day. In fact, He declares that He is mad and He isn’t going to take it anymore – that He will join the Babylonians in bringing destruction to Jerusalem.
Now this is some good old fashion Old Testament retribution coming down. God is “mad as hell and He isn’t going to take it anymore.” One of my favorite things to tell non-christians is that God isn’t mad at you. Even with all your mistakes, regrets and the shame that you carry, He isn’t mad. He loves you and is waiting for you to turn to Him. That’s the truth – plain and simple.
So why is God so mad and unforgiving in this situation? Why is He exacting retribution on His people? How does this make any sense with the statement that God is not mad at you? I’m glad you asked!
There are two things to keep in mind here. First is that God will punish us in the short term to save us for the long term. That’s true in our personal lives and in this case for the people of Judah in the big picture. The second thing to remember is that God isn’t mad at people who don’t know Him yet. That’s not their fault and He is hoping upon hope that they will find Him and follow Him.
But for those who do claim to know Him and then continue to live in rebellion, problems are coming. The anger and wrath of God will come down sooner or later. Jesus was friendly and gentle with the sinners, but scathing toward the religious people. It wasn’t because they were religious, but because they were self-righteous hypocrites and because they made it difficult for people to get to God.
If we claim to follow God, but then choose to disobey him on an ongoing basis, He gets mad. He gets mad because your crappy witness affects those who are on their way to Him. They see the hypocrisy and say… “well I don’t want to be like that” and they walk away. He gets mad because you praise Him with your mouth on Sunday, and slander him with your life.
God does get mad – just not at the people who you think He would be mad at. For the Christ follower, this brings us to the same place that so many of the recent readings have; a place of introspection, and an invitation for God to search our hearts and help us to see what needs to be stopped or started or surrendered to Him. God is not mad when we come to Him humbly and ask Him to help us obey. In fact, He loves that and He’s waiting for you!
Search my heart God and help me to surrender all of me to all of you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.