Jeremiah 19:7-9

In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who seek their lives, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. I will devastate this city and make it an object of scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh during the stress of the siege imposed on them by the enemies who seek their lives.

This God terrifies me. Yet the Bible bears witness that this is the same God who entered the world in Christ. That baffles me. Here I see a God of no compassion, no mercy, no pity—of an infinite, insatiable wrath. Where is the God of the cross? I was reflecting a bit after my post on Jeremiah yesterday, and I fear that I may have too quickly jumped to reflection on God’s saving action in Christ. I feel that I need to let the prophetic image of a wrathful God linger a bit longer, in order to make me realize how precious the incarnation truly is. I’m beginning to develop the sense that when the Scriptures speak of the fear of God, they don’t mean a simple reverence or awe. They mean fear.

These are horrific images: “I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who seek their lives, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.” God’s own chosen, His precious people, those He called His “treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5), are surrendered to the ravaging of the Babylonian empire. And this image is beyond words: “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh.” Maybe I can only say this: “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

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