9–15 October 2016.
In our world today, we are so used to watching as the rich and powerful get away with all sorts of crimes. Sometimes it even seems like there are two sets of laws: one for ordinary people, and a different one for those at the top of society. We see reports about how those at the top – politicians, policemen, and bankers – are involved in corruption, and all sorts of crimes. But somehow they never seem to be punished for what they do. It’s not a surprise then that so many people in Taiwan say that if you have good connections, you don’t need to worry about anything.
I wonder if the Israelites thought this way too. For so many generations they had thought about themselves as God’s special people, as a chosen people, as a people with a close connection to God. Did that close connection to God trick them into thinking they could get away with all kinds of terrible, evil acts? Did their special relationship with God make them think that they could avoid punishment for the horrible things they were doing? If they did think that way, then God’s words to them through Jeremiah aim to set them straight.
In chapters 15 and 16 we feel God’s incredible anger. We read those words of divine rage, and are shocked at the descriptions of God’s frightening punishments. But in 15:4 and 7 we see the core idea. God accepts that the Israelites are his people, and he claims them as his own – but he will completely destroy them anyway.
Despite these frightening words, we see here wonderful good news. God is a God of justice, and that means that he will defend what is right and never show favoritism. God will never ignore evil, pretend it’s not happening, or let it go unpunished just because those doing evil are his friends. Corrupt earthly judges do that, but not the Holy Judge of Heaven. That’s why the true God of Justice can say in verse 7: “I will destroy even my own people, because they refuse to change their evil ways.”
When we go through hard times in life and are hurt or bullied by others, it’s easy to think that no one cares and that no one will do anything about it. But God promises us that he will always stand up for what is right, and always punish those who do evil – regardless of who they are.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis