Judgment and Mercy ~ Jeremiah 1:1-19

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” ~ Jeremiah 1:9-10

God called Jeremiah to deliver bad news to a divided Israel. Over a span of 40 years, Jeremiah delivered God’s message of judgment to an audience that didn’t want to hear it; no wonder, as the message foretells destruction because the people have turned away from God: “I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods, and in worshiping what their hands have made” (vs 16). We must always remember that God is righteous, just, and sovereign. There is judgment for sin, and everyone will face it. God’s judgment is pure and just; never forget that.

Two points strike me about God’s calling of Jeremiah:

  1. God chose Jeremiah “before I formed you in the womb” (vs 4). What an insight this offers into the eternal scope of God’s plan! Our all-knowing God has already chosen those who will come after us to proclaim His Word! Here we see clearly that God has a plan for everybody, even before He makes us.
  2. Jeremiah was anything but enthusiastic as he received God’s calling. He was reluctant. He said he was too young; that he could not speak. But God knew better; He had made His choice. Even in spite of Jeremiah’s reluctance, God calls him anyway.

The news God is calling Jeremiah to deliver will not be received well, and Jeremiah appears to know that. God reassures him, instructing Jeremiah not to be terrified in front of the leaders. God has made Jeremiah a fortified city, able to stand up to anything as long as he trusts God. What great reassurance for all of us who love and trust the Lord!

Many modern-day Christian churches don’t like to talk about God’s righteous judgment. The reality, though, is that God’s righteous judgment still applies today. All of us are sinners and will face God’s righteous judgment.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”  “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. ~ Romans 3:10-20

God’s righteous judgment applies to all – whether they believe it or not. There is a price to be paid for sin; justice must be served on the sinner.

Indeed, God’s judgment is perfect, yet His mercy is immeasurable:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~ John 3:16-17

You see, the world is already condemned because of sin. Jesus came that those who believe in Him would be redeemed and have eternal life. Only through Jesus can the sinner be saved: Buddha cannot save us; Islam cannot save us; Mother Earth cannot save us; human knowledge and wisdom cannot save us; there is no “universal salvation.” Scripture tells us clearly that salvation comes only through faith in Jesus:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and gave them this command:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:16-20

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He is our righteous judge, and in mercy for us sinners, He Himself suffered our punishment on the cross. Through His act of mercy, all who believe in Him have had their sentence served in full!

The commissioning of His disciples recorded in Matthew applies to us believers today. People need to be made aware of their sin and their condition under sin so they recognize the need for a Savior. Once they see their condition and realize the severity of the judgment that awaits them, the good news of the Gospel is ever so sweet.

God called Jeremiah to deliver bad news, and Jeremiah responded to that call in faith and trust in spite of his human limitations. Today we are called to deliver wonderful news, yet we often hesitate to do so. Let us not live our lives in fear of what others might say or think of our faith. Let always remember that God is with us. Let us live out the Great Commission and faithfully share the Gospel with a nation and a world that so desperately needs to hear it!

Ponder this: Am I responding to the Great Commission as God would have me do so? Who within my reach needs to hear the Gospel?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I come to you today a poor, miserable sinner who takes great comfort in the reality that Jesus paid the price for my sins. Forgive me for my sins, and help me live a life that constantly and consistently reflects Your goodness and mercy. Show me, Lord, how You would have me share my faith with those who need Your Gospel. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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