Jeremiah 12 (NLT)
Jeremiah Questions the Lord’s Justice
Lord, you always give me justice
when I bring a case before you.
So let me bring you this complaint:
Why are the wicked so prosperous?
Why are evil people so happy?
2 You have planted them,
and they have taken root and prospered.
Your name is on their lips,
but you are far from their hearts.
Titus 1:16 (NIV)
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
3 But as for me, Lord, you know my heart.
You see me and test my thoughts.
Psalm 139:1-4 (NIV)
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered!
Set them aside to be slaughtered!
4 How long must this land mourn?
Even the grass in the fields has withered.
The wild animals and birds have disappeared
because of the evil in the land.
So un-Eden-like. Sin has consequences that taint all of creation.
For the people have said,
“The Lord doesn’t see what’s ahead for us!”
The Lord’s Reply to Jeremiah
5 “If racing against mere men makes you tired,
how will you race against horses?
If you stumble and fall on open ground,
what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?
6 Even your brothers, members of your own family,
have turned against you.
They plot and raise complaints against you.
Do not trust them,
no matter how pleasantly they speak.
In other words, God says to Jeremiah, don’t complain now: It’s only going to get worse.
7 “I have abandoned my people, my special possession.
I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies.
8 My chosen people have roared at me like a lion of the forest,
so I have treated them with contempt.
9 My chosen people act like speckled vultures,
but they themselves are surrounded by vultures.
Bring on the wild animals to pick their corpses clean!
Similes compare Judah to lions and vultures. Not flattering, not comforting.
10 “Many rulers have ravaged my vineyard,
trampling down the vines
and turning all its beauty into a barren wilderness.
11 They have made it an empty wasteland;
I hear its mournful cry.
The whole land is desolate,
and no one even cares.
12 On all the bare hilltops,
destroying armies can be seen.
The sword of the Lord devours people
from one end of the nation to the other.
No one will escape!
The desolation will be complete.
13 My people have planted wheat
but are harvesting thorns.
They have worn themselves out,
but it has done them no good.
They will harvest a crop of shame
because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”
A Message for Israel’s Neighbors
14 Now this is what the Lord says: “I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave my people Israel. And I will uproot Judah from among them. 15 But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. I will bring them home to their own lands again, each nation to its own possession.
This prophecy is an astonishing turn in the thought, anticipating a restoration and salvation of all peoples. Jeremiah looks forward to the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s salvation. (The Reformation Bible)
16 And if these nations truly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’ (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people. 17 But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Don’t you love it? After pages and pages of condemnation, God opens his hand and welcomes the whole world into his loving care!
Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958) was a British composer, a collector of English folk music, and the editor of the English Hymnal of 1906. HERE is his arrangement of “Let All the World” from St. Paul’s in London.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.