TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 15-17
“Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare? You have rejected me, declares the Lord; you keep going backward, so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you – I am weary of relenting. I have winnowed them with a winnowing fork in the gates of the land; I have bereaved them; I have destroyed my people; they did not turn from their ways. I have made their widows more in number than the sand of the seas; I have brought against the mothers of young men a destroyer at noonday; I have made anguish and terror fall upon them suddenly. She who bore seven has grown feeble; she has fainted away; her sun went down while it was yet day; she been shamed and disgraced. And the rest of them I will give to the sword before their enemies, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 15:5-9
In a previous post, Who Says “I Destroy” – God or Satan?, I wrote that the New Testament reveals that Satan is the destroyer, at least when we are talking in terms of literally destroying, killing people. In John 10:10, Jesus said that it was Satan that came to steal, to kill, and to destroy. In 1 Corinthians 1:9-11, Paul says that the Israelites were destroyed by serpents and the Destroyer, Satan, in the wilderness. And, Hebrews 2:14 says that Satan had the power of death.
So, if Satan is the destroyer, the one who kills and has the power of death, then what do we do with the following statements at the start of this blog:
- “so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you”
- “I have destroyed my people”
- “I have brought against the mothers of young men a destroyer at noonday”
For Jeremiah assigns each of these statements to the Lord.
To understand what God is doing here and maintain the character of God that Jesus, and Jesus alone perfectly revealed, we need to keep the cross ever present in our mind.
It was on the cross that Jesus, as God, stretched out his hand against us. First, his arms were stretched out as wide as they could when Jesus hung on the cross. Second, the only way that Jesus’ hands could have been nailed to the cross was if his palms were open.
An open palm symbolizes someone who is ready to receive. On the cross, Jesus showed that God is open and wanting to receive us. From the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus’ open palms, symbolizing God’s willingness to forgive and receive us destroys our conceptions of an angry, vengeful God wanting to smite us and strike us down.
We sent another reference to Jesus on the cross in “her sun went down while it was yet day.” In Matthew 27:45 and Mark 15:33, we read that “from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land.” The sixth hour was the noon. It was the very middle of the day. Yet, while Jesus was on the cross, at the very middle of the day, there was darkness over the whole land as “the sun went down while it was yet day.”
Jeremiah records the Lord saying, “You have rejected me.” It was at noonday, when darkness fell over the whole land, that Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, Jesus, was complete. As Jeremiah wrote of Israel, “she has been shamed and disgraced” because Israel rejected the son of God who came to save her.
So, a destroyer at noonday had come. At the hour the darkness began, Satan, the destroyer, came to kill Jesus. Satan appeared successful.
But, in another sense, Jesus on the cross with an open palm, raised for all to see, was the real destroyer that day. Jesus was a destroyer at noonday. Because of Jesus on the cross, God said, “I have destroyed my people.”
Again, God’s destruction of his people was not literal in the sense that he killed them. But, God did destroy, God did not kill, every false notion of who he was through Jesus on the cross.
This is exactly what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
It is thoughts and arguments, ideas and opinions, that are against God’s true nature and character that need to be destroyed, not people. And every thought that is against the knowledge of God is destroyed by Jesus Christ, the son of God, on the cross. This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
It’s when we grasp the full reality of Jesus on the cross, that God says, “I have made anguish and terror fall upon them suddenly.” This is just what happened to all those that heard Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2. Peter revealed to his hearers that Jesus was the son of God, whom they had crucified. Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Acts 2:37 says, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart.” That is, terror and anguish had come upon them suddenly.
Jeremiah writes of Jesus as this destroyer of every wrong thought of God in the last verse of chapter 16. Jeremiah 16:21 says, “Therefore, behold I will make them know, this once I will them know my power and my might, and they know that my name is the Lord.”
What is the power of God?
1 Corinthians 1:18-19, 24, 25 says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart’…Christ the power of God…and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
So, who is the destroyer?
Well, what is being destroyed?
If what is destroyed is people, then Satan is the destroyer.
But, if what is destroyed is every wrong idea of who God is, then Jesus Christ, and him crucified, is the destroyer.