Why? It is a question that each of has asked God at some point in time. There seem to be so many injustices in the world that sometimes we want to ask God why they are allowed to happen. We see and hear of horrific treatment of women and children around the world and here at home. We see tyrannical governments slaughter their people by the thousands and wonder why? We see abuse of power and oppression of the poor and wonder why? Sadly this list could go on and on. Each of us in our own way has pondered this question and brought it before the Lord. Jeremiah was no different. He came against his first brush with death and persecution and brought before the Lord this simple question: Why?
Here he thought he was doing the work that God had laid out for him to do, and he knew that it would be a difficult task, but having these things happen to him prompts him to bring the question of why the wicked seem to prosper and "get away with murder", so to speak. In Jeremiah 12:1 he asks this:
"Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all faithless live at ease?"
Is this sounding like something you have brought before the Lord before? I know that I have had these moments. Even though it seems like we need to point out a few things to God because he seems to have missed it, he hasn't. He sees it all and it breaks his heart. He has given us all free will and he knows that every inclination of man's heart is evil from birth. We are a fallen people. Each and every one of us has separated ourselves from God by the sin we have allowed to reign in our hearts.
God answers Jeremiah with few questions, just as he did when questioned by Job. God is in control of the universe. He has asked us to trust and obey him because he has a plan for our lives and has wonderful things that he wants us to live out and do in furthering and building his kingdom. Just as God commissioned Jeremiah, we too have been commissioned. God would not call us to to something, make plans for it, gift us for it, open doors for it and then pull the rug out from under us. God knows the beginning from the end and never has and never will be caught off guard by what is happening in the world.
In fact later in this very book, one of the most popular verses in scripture is found. The Lord is responding, through Jeremiah, to the exiles who have been carted off to Babylon, with these words of comfort:
Jeremiah 29:13 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declare the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
But remember Israel is still being sent to Exile and they will be there for 70 years. That is just about everyone's lifespan who will hear these words of hope. They may not get to see the return but they know that God is faithful to his word and he has not forgot them. They know that he sees the future and it is bright for them. They know that no matter what the world throws at them God is still on his throne and that he has a plan. God doesn't do random. Our God is a God of order, a God with a plan, a God who loves us deeply and wants us to trust and obey. The rest of the passage in Jeremiah 29 is often left out when people bring up this verse but it is worth reading. I will close today's post with it. Think about how God, despite the storms in your own life, has shown himself to be faithful. Just as he was to the nation of Israel in the midst of their being led into exile.
Jeremiah 29:4-23 -
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
15 You may say, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your fellow citizens who did not go with you into exile— 17 yes, this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten.18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse and an object of horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. 19 For they have not listened to my words,” declares the Lord, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the Lord.
20 Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: “I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes.22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the Lordtreat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.’ 23 For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it,” declares the Lord.