Project 119: Hope in the Upheaval | Jeremiah 12

 |  Project 119  |  Joel Burks

Jeremiah 12


In Jeremiah 12, Judah finds themselves on the brink of destruction. I think we can all sympathize with Jeremiah, seeing as he was given the task of delivering this sad proclamation to his fellow countrymen. Judah, God‘s inheritance and joy, is about to be destroyed by the nations surrounding it. One can read through this chapter, as well as those that precede it, and see that this destruction will not be a pretty sight. Judgment is coming for God’s people.

In this Advent season, I am reminded of the parallels between Jeremiah 12 and Ephesians 2:1–10. In the English translation of each passage, the conjunction of “but” (or “and”) is used to indicate a progressive movement. This conjunction is important, because it shifts the focus of the passage from God’s wrath against sin toward God’s compassion for his people. In a passage like the one in Jeremiah, it can be easy to focus on the existential dread that blooms in the announcement for Judah. But narrowing our focus to just this aspect of the proclamation causes us to miss the very important progression of the passage that expounds upon the heart of God for his people.

In Jeremiah, we read how Judah is about to bear the weight of their sin. The nation has been given opportunities to repent but instead has chosen to turn their backs on God. Jeremiah spends the entire first half of chapter 12 talking about how Judah is about to come to ruin. But then, in the fifteenth verse, we read:

“But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country” (NIV).

Jeremiah 12 shows us two aspects of God’s character on display: God’s wrath toward sin and his compassion toward his people. These same character traits are on display in Ephesians 2, as well. Paul begins the chapter by talking about how we are all dead in our transgressions. Just like God’s people can’t save themselves from Babylon, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves from the wages of our sin. Then, in Ephesians 2:4, Paul shifts to God’s compassion: “But because of [God’s] great love for us...” (NIV). Jesus is God’s ultimate sign of compassion. Jesus, who came to this earth to bear the weight of sin, offers us new access to God the Father. Our access to God may have changed, but the two aspects of God’s character remain unchanged from Old Testament to New. God’s wrath toward sin and his overwhelming love for us are true yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.