It is no surprise that Judgment is a theme of Jeremiah. However, it is interesting to actually see it traced out throughout the book, to see consistencies in the promised judgment to all people, yet to also see differences of judgment depending on the subject of judgment. And Jeremiah uniquely refers to coming judgment as the Day or Time of Visitation. For instance:
Jer. 8:12 – This passage ties back to last week’s post about 701 Theology. However, the judgment is particularly aimed at the prophets and priests back in vs. 10. God promises that when His judgment comes, none of the religious leaders who had so contaminated His people would escape. So when God visits, He is visiting the religious leaders and judging their infidelity.
Jer. 10:15 – This passage calls out what should be the unique-ness of the Nation of Israel. Jeremiah begins by calling out the power of God over all creation. He then contrasts this with the rebellion of man. God made both Nature and Man by His power, wisdom, and discretion. Nature obeys every time His Voice utters. However, man in his rebellion has chosen to set up false gods, graven images, and vanity. There is a categorical difference between the way God commands Nature and the way God commands Man. That difference, pointed out by Jeremiah in this passage, is man’s will. Nature has no will other than God’s. Man, however, has rejected God’s will, and consequently will perish in the day God visits him. Jeremiah repeats this Hymn to God’s Greatness in 51:15-19.
Jer. 11:23 – Jeremiah is here seeing God’s personal care in his life. When contrasted with the previous two passages, a beautiful picture of the Transcendence and Imminence of God is displayed. Not only is God concerned about the “big deals” like national rejection of Him and Mankind’s rebellion, but He cares when His servants are suffering and going through trials. God promises that the day of Jeremiah’s persecutors’, the men of Anathoth, visitation is coming, and in it Jeremiah will be vindicated.
Jer. 23:12 – Once again God promises judgment upon the Priest and Prophets, because of their rebellion in leading the people of Israel astray. Specifically, they have defiled the house of God in their idolatry. Therefore God promises to visit them with judgment. The most horrible thing for Jeremiah (and God) was not just the rebellion and idolatry of the Prophets and Priests themselves, but vs. 14 says that they “strengthen the hands of evildoers.” In other words, they don’t just sin themselves; their preaching encourages sin in others. It is for this reason that God repeats the promise of His Visitation upon them. There are steep consequences for those in authority who use that God-given authority to cause God’s people to rebel against Him. God will not take this lightly.
Jer. 46:21 – This is the first promise of God’s Visitation in the Second Part of the Book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 2-45 are directed toward Israel, God’s Chosen People. Jeremiah shifts, however, and in Chapters 46-51 discusses judgment related to the nations around Israel. Chapter 46 is dedicated to Egypt. God brings His judgment upon Egypt through the means of Babylon. As they attack Egypt, no one will escape, even the mercenary fighters in Egypt. This change of focus, not only to Egypt in particular but also to other nations in general is interesting because it shows God’s plan for other nations. He has times and seasons for all nations, not just Israel.
Jer. 48:44 – God spends a great amount of time detailing the judgment of Moab. Remember, the nation of Moab was descended from Moab, the son of Lot by his oldest daughter. They were continuously an idolatrous nation which frequently caused Israel to stumble. Vs. 42 specifies the reason for Moab’s harsh judgment: they magnified themselves against the Lord. Consequently the Lord was going to bring the time of their visitation upon them. This nuance is interesting, as it parallels the believer’s life. Granted, the Moabites were never God’s people as Christians are, but follow the thought: God promises that He is working for the good of those who love Him, those who are the Called according to His purpose. Clearly, not all Believers love God as He has commanded. God cannot work for the best of someone who is rebelling against Him, saved or unsaved. So where is the line with God? When does He cease to work for the Believer’s best? God’s judgment on Moab shows exactly when. To steal a theme from Isaiah (topic for another day), He will not give His glory to another. So when a nation (or individual) magnifies themself above the Lord, they are stealing His glory and He will humble them, even if it takes death (I John 5:16).
Jer. 50:27 – Jeremiah’s final promise of God’s Day of Visitation is upon Babylon. This nation God raised up for the purpose of humbling His People, Israel. However, Babylon itself was raised up with pride against God. Verse 24 explicitly contains the reason for God’s judgment on her: she had “opposed the Lord.” Verse 29 continues by recounting her pride against God. Finally, verse 38 records Babylon’s idolatry. God had revealed much to Babylon and her leaders. Yet though much was given to her, she did not return her allegiance. Therefore God judged her.
So how will God find you on your day of visitation? Clearly this is an important question to God. Will He find you in obedience, or rebellion? Further, do you know when your day of visitation will be? Therefore, how ought you to live in light of such an unsure future? Perhaps Peter sums it up best: having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, whic they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
Photo courtesy of: Horne, Charles and Julius Bewer. The Bible and Its Story, Volume 7: The Prophets, Isaiah to Ezekiel, Francis R. Niglutsch; New York, NY, 1909; 2009.