Often when we read of the judgment and condemnation of God, we shudder with fear at how the eternal wrath of an infinite being might be experienced. Throughout the Old Testament, God warned his sinful children of Israel that they would experience his great wrath because of their disobedience. As you read through Jeremiah, it is impossible to miss that God not only describes his terrifying judgment at the hands of other nations (particularly Babylon), there is also explicit description as to God’s true perception of those who are supposed to be His children. They are a faithless whoredom who have placed stone and wood above His own majesty. They have made their own gods and followed after the false gods of other nations. This has resulted in an unimaginable depravity of people who are supposed to reflect God’s glory.
God chose a young man by the name of Jeremiah to go to the people of Judah and warn them of their impending demise. His words are clear and brutally descriptive of their coming plight.
Jerermiah 7:33-34. And the dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the beasts of the earth, and none will frighten them away. And I will silence in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a waste.
When you read these verses, it may be difficult to acknowledge the kindness of God. From a human perspective we hear nothing but a horrific future and tragic demise. Reading these words has led many people to think about God as unloving or to consider that the God of the Old Testament is somehow different to the God of the New Testament. Not so!
Intertwined throughout the horrific judgments are statements that call Judah to repentance.
Jerermiah 7:3, 5, 23 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. ... 5 "For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, ... 23 But this command I gave them: 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.' ...
Whenever we hear the prophets speaking judgment upon God’s disobedient people, we should not overlook that mixed in these warnings are calls to repent and obey and to put their trust in the one true God who has power to both judge and save. Judah did not heed these calls and as a result were taken into exile by Babylon who destroyed their cities. Even so, Judah could not sit in captivity and say that God was not just or kind. They had ample warning from a God who faithfully keeps his promises. In warnings of judgment, there is the kindness of God.
Jesus gave these same warnings to his disciples. In Matthew 7:21-23 he warned that many who call themselves Christians would one day stand before Him and find themselves condemned to eternal punishment. His warning to us as Christians today is that lip service is not the same as saving faith. His warning is a kindness for us to turn to him in urgency before we stand before him “on that day.”
Romans 11:22. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.