As you know, I end each podcast saying “God willing, we’ll be back…” whenever. Well Providence intervened Friday and I was not able to be with you. But if you’ve kept up with reading, then we are brought to today’s passages: Jeremiah 17:19–21:10; Psalm 124; Luke 22:66–23:5; and 1 Peter 3:8–22 with a most interesting connection between Jeremiah and 1 Peter.
What do we do with passages like the dozen or so Psalms where the Writer calls on God to destroy or punish their enemies? Or like we see in Jeremiah’s prayer in 18:9-23? Especially in light of a passage like 1 Peter 3:91 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
What do we do with Scriptures that seem to just say “Get’em God!” How do we harmonize that with the Gospel?
That today on Through the Word in 2020.
I’m Reid Ferguson.
Poor Jeremiah. He’s not called “the weeping Prophet” for nothing. His heart is broken over the sins of his fellow Jews; broken at God’s word of judgment against his brethren; and broken at how he is persecuted for merely bringing God’s People God’s Word.
He can’t win.
And as we see in today’s reading, he is even beaten and imprisoned for speaking the truth. Leading him to pray: “deliver up their children to famine; give them over to the power of the sword” – and host of other ills.
And the first thing to note is: Jeremiah expresses his heart, but, BUT, then leaves the disposing of it to the Lord. “Deal with them in the time of your anger” is how 23 closes. He does not take matters into his own hands. He knows it is best to leave it with the Lord to dispose of as He sees best.
The 2nd thing to see is that God does not answer his prayer as prayed.
Jeremiah prays for judgment in reference to how he is rejected and persecuted. But in 19:4, God says there will indeed be judgment, but not for Jeremiah’s sake, but because of their sin against God. And this where things harmonize with 1 Peter.
We may well pray our imprecatory prayers knowing that God will only do what is right with them. We are free, indeed instructed to bring those things to Him. To express our true heart and mind at the time. And then, leave it with Him. He disposes as is best. We do not then take up our own revenge for the wrongs against us. We have taken our plea to the highest court – and He will do what is just concerning us, our persecutors, Himself and His Kingdom.
It is right to pray God’s judgment upon sins, even those against us – when we leave it to Him to act on as He sees fit, and we continue to bless our enemies in our actions. As in Jeremiah’s case, by not ceasing to still faithfully bring them God’s Word.
There is one exception to all this: Pray God’s judgment and unsparing wrath upon the Devil and the demon hosts that seek to hinder the Gospel, thwart the cause of Christ, tempt us to sin and torment the heirs of salvation. Feel free to unleash your most violent imprecations against the rulers, authorities, the cosmic powers of this present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
But know again here too – this is of God’s disposing, not ours. He WILL avenge us on the enemies of our souls in due time. Tell Him your heart without restraint. And trust Him fully to do what is best.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.