O Lord, my strength and my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of trouble,
to you shall the nations come
from the ends of the earth and say:
“Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies,
worthless things in which there is no profit.
Can man make for himself gods?
Such are not gods!”
“Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord.” – Jeremiah 16:15-21 ESV
The majority of the nations of the earth reject God. It was true in Jeremiah’s day and it is true in ours. And yet, Jeremiah knew that there was a day coming when all of that would change. He had faith and hope in the ultimate sovereignty of God and believed that one day humanity would wake up to the reality that there is only one true God. He envisioned a day when people would realize the error of their ways.
Nations from around the world
will come to you and say,
“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
for they worshiped worthless idols.
Can people make their own gods?
These are not real gods at all!” – Jeremiah 16:19-20 NLT
And he was right, because God has said it would be so.
This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house
will be the highest of all—
the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills,
and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.”
For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
his word will go out from Jerusalem.
The Lord will mediate between nations
and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore. – Isaiah 2:1-4 NLT
Ultimately, God is interested in revealing Himself to mankind. He has done so through His creation. Paul makes that point clear in his letter to the believers in Rome.
They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. – Romans 2:19-20 NLT
The Bible is a chronicles of God’s revelation to man. He revealed Himself to Abraham, calling him out of Ur and leading him to the land of Canaan. He revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush and called him to be the one to deliver the people of Israel from their captivity in Egypt. And all throughout the book of Exodus God assures Moses with the words: “You will know that I am the Lord your God.”
“I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!” – Exodus 6:6-8 NLT
The plagues God brought on the Egyptians were intended to show the Israelites that their God, Yahweh, was more powerful than any of the gods of Egypt. He was proving Himself to the Israelites by revealing Himself in power. And God continued to do so throughout the book of Exodus as He freed them from slavery and led them to the land of promise. And by the time God was finished in Egypt, the Israelites would not be the only ones who would know that Yahweh was God. He made that point quite clear.
“When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” – Exodus 7:5 NLT
Ten devastating plagues later, and God would have the attention of the Egyptians and the Jews. He would clearly reveal Himself as the one true God. And God lets Jeremiah know that there is a day coming when God’s power and prominence will once again be displayed before the nations, convincing them of His status as the one and only God of the universe.
“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: People from nations and cities around the world will travel to Jerusalem. The people of one city will say to the people of another, ‘Come with us to Jerusalem to ask the Lord to bless us. Let’s worship the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I’m determined to go.’ Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask for his blessing.
“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” – Zechariah 8:20-23 NLT
That day has yet to come, but it will. Because God has promised it. And God, speaking through the prophet, Ezekiel, told the people of Israel that one day return them to favor in His eyes. Not because they had done anything to deserve it, but because He had promised it and was going to prove to the nations that His word was trustworthy and His power, unequaled.
“Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord.” – Ezekiel 36:22-23 NLT
But in all this talk of future restoration and the nations recognizing Yahweh as the one true God, there remains the painful reality that Judah was still going to suffer for their sins. God was still bringing judgment on them because they had rebelled against Him. And yet, even His judgment would prove to them that He is God.
“Now I will show them my power;
now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand
that I am the Lord.” – Jeremiah 16:21 NLT
The painful reality is that God sometimes reveals Himself through judgment. He disciplines His children, because He loves them. He took the son born to David and Bathsheba as a result of their adulterous affair. And as a result, David knew that God was serious about sin. God took the lives of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), when they lied about their gift of money to the church. And the church knew that God was serious about sin. God struck Miriam, the sister of Moses, with leprosy, because she and Aaron thought they had as much right to be leaders as Moses had (Numbers 12). And when Aaron saw what God had done to his sister, it got his attention. He suddenly feared God and begged Moses to intercede for her.
The people of Judah were going to experience the consequences of their sinful behavior. And they would learn a great deal about their God in the process. It’s sad to admit that, for many of us, we tend to learn better through difficulties. Our faith grows stronger during times of adversity and trials. But we must always remember that God is constantly revealing Himself to us, even in the difficult times. He wants us to know that He takes sin seriously. He wants us to recognize His power and to learn to rely upon it. He wants us to understand that He considers our call to holiness non-negotiable. He demands that we be holy, as He is holy. He requires obedience and faithfulness from His people. But sometimes, we doubt that He really means it. So, He reveals Himself through discipline. He manifests His displeasure by allowing us to suffer for our sinful habits. But the bottom line is that God is always there and is always revealing Himself to us. He is always proving His power to us and convincing us of His holiness and righteousness. Because His greatest desire is that we know and understand that He is the Lord.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.