Nothing But Evil.

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Therefore, thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall capture it. The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come and set this city on fire and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger. For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth. The children of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, declares the Lord. This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, so that I will remove it from my sight because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah that they did to provoke me to anger—their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction. They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” Jeremiah 32:16-35 ESV

Jeremiah prayed and God responded. The prophet was a bit bewildered by God’s command that he buy a piece of property in Anathoth, just miles from Jerusalem. This piece of property was already under Babylonian control, the city of Jerusalem was under siege by Babylonian troops, and Jeremiah had been imprisoned by Zedekiah, the king of Judah. So, the timing of God’s command was a bit strange to Jeremiah. Yet, he had obeyed. He had done what God had told him to do. But that hadn’t stopped him from expressing his consternation to God in his prayer.

So, God responds to Jeremiah with a reminder of all that He had put up with over the years. Jeremiah had just bought a piece of property that would be worthless for 70 years. But for hundreds of years, God had stood back and watched the people of Israel defile and contaminate the Promised Land with their sin and rebellion against them. He had put up with the persistent unfaithfulness of the people He had chosen to be His own. And God began His response to Jeremiah with the very same words Jeremiah had used in his prayer to God. “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NLT). It was as if God was providing affirmation to Jeremiah’s somewhat less assured statement regarding God’s sovereign power. In essence, God was saying, “No, nothing is too hard for me.” And then He provided Jeremiah with a recap of all that was going to happen to Judah and a reiteration as to why it was going to happen.

I will hand this city over to the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and he will capture it…” – Jeremiah 32:28 NLT

Notice that God reminds Jeremiah that the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians was going to be His doing. God can and will do whatever He wants, however He wants to do it. But He does nothing flippantly or without reason. And He provides Jeremiah with a very clear explanation of just why Jerusalem is going to fall. He says that the people have “provoked my anger by burning incense to Baal on the rooftops and by pouring out liquid offerings to other gods” (Jeremiah 32:29 NLT). So, God was going to have the Babylonians burn down those homes. The rooftops where the people had burned incense to false gods would be burned to the ground. But God isn’t done indicting the people for their sin and explaining to Jeremiah the reason for their coming judgment. He tells Jeremiah that the people of Israel and Judah “have done nothing but wrong since their earliest days. They have infuriated me with all their evil deeds” (Jeremiah 32:30 NLT). Since the day the city of Jerusalem had been built, its inhabitants had done little more than give God reasons to be angry with them.

And as far as God was concerned, everybody was guilty, including the kings, the officials, the priests, the prophets and the people. The entire nation was sinful and corrupt, from the top down. Sin had infiltrated every facet of society, from the government to the priesthood. There was no place unaffected by sin. There were even idols in the temple of God. So, God was going to clean house. While Jeremiah was somewhat perplexed and probably a bit put off at the prospect of having just put down good money on what amounted to a bad real estate investment, God was explaining that His investment in Israel and Judah had paid lousy dividends as well.

My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey. – Jeremiah 32:33 NLT

God had poured into them. He had blessed them time and time again. He had given them King David, who had built the nation of Israel into a powerful force to be reckoned with in that part of the world. Solomon had built the temple and overseen the further growth and expansion of the kingdom. But he had also failed to remain faithful to God, worshiping false gods in the latter years of his reign. So, God had been forced to split the kingdom in two. And that’s how the two nations of Israel and Judah had come about. And once the split occurred, the downward spiral had continued. Both nations had failed to correct their behavior or return to the Lord, despite all of His pleas to do so. In fact, God provides Jeremiah with a bleak picture of just how they had reacted to His blessings and prophetic warnings:

“They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech.” – Jeremiah 32:34-35 NLT

None of this had been God’s idea. He had never commanded them to do any of these things. In other words, what God had commanded, they had refused to do. Instead, they had chosen to do what they wanted to do. And now, God was punishing them for their disobedience. The Babylonians had come. The siege walls were up. The starvation within the walls of Jerusalem had begun. One king had already been deported to Babylon and King Zedekiah would be next, just as God had predicted. The city of Jerusalem would fall. The temple would be destroyed. The people would be deported. Nothing is too difficult for God. He can build a city up and He can tear it down. He can choose a people as His own possession and He can give them over to their enemies. He can punish the disobedient and He can restore them if He so chooses. And that will be the next part of God’s response to Jeremiah. As bad as things looked, there was cause for hope. God had an investment in the people of Judah. They were going to be the means by which He brought His Son, the Messiah, into the world. Through the tribe of Judah, God would bring salvation to the world in the form of the Savior, Jesus Christ. God was going to punish the nation of Judah, but also preserve it. He was going to deport them, but also restore them. Nothing is too difficult for God.

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.

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson≠≠

2 thoughts on “Nothing But Evil.

  1. First of all I would like to say fantastic blog! I had
    a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my
    thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like
    the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?
    Appreciate it!

    • Here is what I do. I read the passage a couple of times. And I use a few different translations to help me. One is the ESV. I also read it again in the NLT and also the NET. These are all three reliable translations, but each provide a slightly different look at the text. Then I begin to think through what the main thought of the passage appears to be. I tend to search for what the passage is saying that has long-term implications, not just for the original audience, but for today. In other words, what ideas transition time and have application that is relevant across the centuries. So, it may be that the passage teaches me something about God, a characteristic that is non-changing and, therefore, relevant for me today. The main thing I do is try to let the passage speak to me personally. If it doesn’t speak to me, it probably won’t have much impact on those who read what I write down. Oh, and always try to begin with prayer. Ask God to open your eyes and help you see what He is trying to say. I tend to use commentaries judiciously. Rather than relying on what others have written, I try to see what God has to say to me. I will usually check a commentary or two if I think what I am drawing from the passage is questionable. I want to make sure I am not off base.

      Part of this whole process if doing it every day, so that it becomes a habit. I have been doing this every day for almost nine years, so it flows naturally for me. There is never a morning when I don’t get something out of the day’s passage.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.