A Wonderful and Horrible Thing

September 18, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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Jeremiah had failed to find anyone righteous in Jerusalem that could serve as reason for God to stay His hand of judgment (although one day Jesus would fulfill this foreshadowing type – by being the One Who was truly righteous, and the One Who would accomplish both God’s justice AND mercy), so God made it clear that the ominous “invader from the north” would come, and that the destruction and devastation would be horrible.

Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.

Jeremiah 5:15

This refers to the language of the Babylonians.

Their quiver is as an open sepulcher, they are all mighty men.

Jeremiah 5:16

The quivers where the Babylonian archers kept their arrows were compared to graves that were gaping wide and were never filled up with the bodies of those they would kill in battle.

And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.

Jeremiah 5:17 (emphasis added)

“Trustedst” is translated from the Hebrew batach, which somewhat fittingly sounds like “buttock” since it has a connotation of something on which people can “fall back” for safety. Today, we have a tendency to trust in the same things they did: our food supply, our savings, our transportation systems, our national and personal defenses. Too often the Lord seems merely speculative to us when it comes to our safety, but the reality is that He’s the most trustworthy thing in existence, and there are consequences to placing our trust elsewhere. He’s not content to be one of many alternative candidates for our trust.

They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.

Jeremiah 5:28

Their whole society was corrupt.

Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

Jeremiah 5:29

The Lord would pay them a “visit,” but this would not be a visit for a spot of tea or a polite chat. This would be a visit of vengeance.

Jeremiah 5:30 says, “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;”. How could something be simultaneously wonderful AND horrible? Was the prophet suffering from a bout of schizophrenia? Did the people of Judah get a secret kick out of haunted-house style scares? It is important to read the verse not just from our own point of view, but to try to read it from God’s point of view and the other nations’ point of view. From our point of view what God was going to do could not be wonderful, but from God’s point of view it was wonderful because He was working out a greater good. Furthermore, in modern English “wonderful” always has a pleasant connotation, but here it describes something to stop and wonder at in amazement. It was “wonderful” to God that the people would do such a “horrible thing,” but it was also a great “wonder” for the people to see God amazingly bring such astounding devastation on His own covenant people.


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