Today we leave Ezekiel in exile in Babylon and pop back over to Jerusalem, where we pick up Jeremiah again. He has continued to preach about the coming destruction of Jerusalem, and now, it is at the door. Nebuchadnezzar, literally, is at the door! The city is under siege. After years of scoffing at Jeremiah’s preaching, King Zedekiah now sends for him. Isn’t it just like human nature, that we go along in life with no thought of God (or at least only a passing glance), happy in pursuing our own agenda and rebelling against God, and when trouble comes, our first inclination is to ask for His help?
Zedekiah tells Jeremiah, “Inquire now of the LORD for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.” (21:1-2) Unfortunately, God is not an “on-demand” god. His response to Zedekiah should make us tremble: “I myself will war against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, even in anger and wrath and great indignation.” (21:5).
Wow. When we set ourselves against God, we ought not to be surprised when He sets Himself against us. I know we like to talk about the love and mercy and grace of God, and all those attributes are true. But He is also just. He will not tolerate sin forever and eventually, the time for repentance runs out. Yet, we see His mercy even in His words to Zedekiah, because He tells him if the people will surrender to Babylon they will live, but if they continue to fight, they will die.
God’s message to the hard-hearted when you get the bottom…GIVE IT UP. Surrender. Admit defeat. Stop fighting against Me by trying to fight against the enemy of your soul, who will destroy you.
In the middle of the devastating news that Judah’s sins have finally caught up with them, Jeremiah gives us two statements that believers have held onto since they were written. “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You” (32:17), and “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things you do not know” (33:3). Very often, we quote these out of context, but Jeremiah’s encouragement is to those who are at the bottom, those who have no hope, those who have chosen wrong, with messed up lives and no way to fix it. Those words are for the one who can’t see a way out.
You may have fought against God until He has turned to fight against you. But listen, my friend, as long as you have breath in your lungs there’s hope. Nothing is too hard for God to fix, and if you call out to Him, He will answer. Even when destruction is at the door.