TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 51-52
“Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon…For this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance, the repayment he is rendering her.” – Jeremiah 51:1, 6
“Because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple.” – Jeremiah 51:11
“I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your eyes for all the evil that they have done in Zion, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 51:24
“Therefore thus says the Lord, ‘Behold I will plead your cause and take vengeance for you.'” – Jeremiah 51:36
“For the Lord is a God of recompense; he will surely repay.” – Jeremiah 51:56
Five times in this one chapter Jeremiah says the Lord will take vengeance upon and repay Babylon for her evil by destroying her.
Should we believe Jeremiah when he says the Lord does these things?
We are not to listen to Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets.
Because God told us to believe Jesus. And, Jesus says otherwise.
We are to listen to Jesus, and Jesus alone.
This is the whole point of the story on the mount of transfiguration in Matthew 17 and Mark 9.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48
What Jesus said hear is in direct contradiction to what Jeremiah says about God. Because we are to believe Jesus above everyone and everything else, we cannot believe Jeremiah.
Was Babylon Israel’s enemy?
Was Babylon persecuting Israel?
Jeremiah was prophesying that God would destroy Israel’s enemy and persecutor.
Jesus said you have heard that. But, I say to you, Love your enemies.
Therefore, the correct response was for Israel to love and pray for Babylon. This is how Israel would be sons of their Father in heaven.
Okay, so Jesus calls us to do this. But, how do we know that’s what God was really doing even though Jeremiah said otherwise?
Because Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How are we perfect like God?
When we love and pray for enemies. We are to do that because God does that. When we love and pray for our enemies, we are sons of God because we are living out God’s nature and character. God is love for the enemy.
God does not take out vengeance on his enemies. God does not repay the enemy for their evil. Unless you consider doing good to and loving the enemy as taking vengeance and repaying.
So, what do we make of Jeremiah’s statements?
He was wrong.
He had an incomplete view of God.
We don’t need to make it any more complicated than that.
John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Up to this time, only Jesus had seen God. And, therefore, only Jesus could make God known.
Jeremiah had a veiled view of God.
Speaking of reading the Old Testament, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:15-16, “Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”
Jeremiah did not see God, at least not clearly. Therefore, what Jeremiah wrote had a veil over it. Jeremiah’s writing could not give a clear picture of God. The only way that what Jeremiah wrote can give a clear picture of God is for the veil to be removed.
The veil is removed when we turn to the Lord, when we see Jesus Christ crucified, because Jesus Christ crucified is the true, full, and complete revelation of God. This is why Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom at Jesus’ crucifixion.
So, what is the repayment that God renders?