Project 119: Hope in the Upheaval | Jeremiah 46

 |  Project 119  |  Tim Sanderlin

Judgment and Hope for the Nations

Selections from Jeremiah 46–52

At the end of Jeremiah, we read oracles of judgment for the nations surrounding Judah. God uses some of these nations to punish his people, but this does not mean these nations will escape punishment for their own iniquities. The nations unknowingly are God’s servants, used to accomplish his purposes. These words of judgment might seem harsh, but they give us hope by reminding us that God knows the suffering of his people, that he cares about injustice, and that no sin is hidden from him. He is just and righteous and will have the final word. These words of judgment also give us hope because they remind us that God keeps his promises. He will preserve his people. As we celebrate Christmas and turn our eyes to Christ, we wait for his return as expectant people, looking forward to the day when he will come in victory to judge the earth; when sin, death, and the grave will be defeated; and when he will have the last word over evil forever. 

Jeremiah 46 | Tim Sanderlin

“God Does Not Forget”

When I was young, my family would make an annual trip to my mother’s alma mater, Berry College. If you have never seen Berry or even pictures of it, my best way to describe it is a real-life Hogwarts. If that is an inadequate metaphor, then know this: It has over 27,000 acres of property, an operational cattle farm, a working water wheel, and underground tunnels. As a kid, it can seem like a world of its own—exciting and intimidating all at once. In the fall of 2008, we accidentally left my brother behind when we were leaving Berry College.

Now, please know this was purely an accident, and he has never let us forget it either! We had a buddy system in place and someone forgot to check for David, but nonetheless we returned for him swiftly. I can imagine his panic in that moment, however. As I have felt this before, I know the thoughts that probably ran through his head. Do they know they left me? When will they realize I’m gone? How do I find them? Who will come looking for me? These scary thoughts seem completely logical when in peril. The feeling of being forgotten is one that can leave a wound and damage trust in most any relationship.

God’s words toward his people of Judah can certainly seem like he has washed his hands of them and is planning to move on to another group of people—ones who might prove to be more faithful. The destruction of Judah, the defeat of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the people make it appear as though the fate of God’s people is sealed. Just when you start to see this possible (and justified) end, the Lord reminds his people of his character. God is a faithful God. God, who is like no other god, holds steadfast love toward others and shows compassion toward the brokenhearted; yet, he will by no means clear the guilty. God will punish the nations surrounding Judah for their sins, including the nation of Egypt. This prophecy will come to pass when Nebuchadnezzar later attacks Egypt. God will again use Babylon to accomplish his purposes.  

The hope in this passage is that God doesn’t forget his people; he doesn’t forget the injustices they experienced, and he doesn’t forget his promises. Even as God’s people see the fruits of their venomous labor because they did not take care of “the least of these” and so must be held accountable, they also experience his care and compassion as he draws near to the meek and downtrodden—which will one day be God’s people themselves! God draws near, and God brings judgment on the nations that have oppressed Judah, including Egypt. Just as the people of Judah are being cast aside and might feel forgotten by their Father, he draws near. He cannot help but be near to those who are poor in spirit. God does not come back, for he never left! It is the meekness and humility of his people, however, that has made his Spirit ever clearer to them. God does not forsake his people, and he does not forget.