08/08/15 The Agony of Coming Judgment

READING: Jeremiah 4-6

TEXTS AND APPLICATION: I wish I could invite you into my emotion as I write this devotion, particularly because the textual focus is about emotion . . . and anguish . . . and pain.  God was ready to bring judgment on Judah, but the people were hearing the voices of two very different kinds of prophets. 

On one hand were the false prophets who declared that God would not bring judgment, that all would be “peace, peace” (Jer. 6:13-14). They ignored the Word of God and instead became “windbags,” in Jeremiah’s description:

Jer. 5:12-13  They have contradicted the Lord and insisted, “It won’t happen. Harm won’t come to us; we won’t see sword or famine.” The prophets become only wind, for the Lord’s word is not in them. 

On the other hand was Jeremiah. He was the prophet given a word of judgment that would be fire in his mouth, a message that would consume the people (Jer. 5:14). He knew God’s wrath was to fall in the form of an invading nation. We are privileged to hear the cry of his heart as he considered all that would happen:

Jer. 4:19  My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in agony! Oh, the pain in my heart! My heart pounds; I cannot be silent. For you, my soul, have heard the sound of the ram’s horn—the shout of battle.

His was the pain of a truth-speaker, a God-listening prophet. On the outside he would speak the Word that judgment would come; on the inside his soul was torn up by the truth of that judgment. His very inner being was consumed with the anguish. His heart pounded as he contemplated the people of God refusing to turn back to Him. 

Here are my questions as a pastor or church leader:

  • Does my heart grieve over the possibility of God’s judgment on those who do not follow Him? 
  • Are my insides in turmoil as I contemplate coming judgment?
  • Do I simply proclaim words of God’s judgment, or do I speak them from a soul crushed — writhing in agony — on behalf of wayward people? 
  • Am I gripped by the possibility of God’s judgment on our nation?  
Unless I genuinely grieve the reality of judgment, I doubt I will do much to challenge people to avoid that judgment. The routine of ministry mediocrity simply will not suffice when we realize that God is still judge. 


PRAYER: “God, bring us to the place where our souls grieve the reality of judgment on disobedient people. Make us sick to our stomach over those wayward folks whom you love.”