Jeremiah 12:1–17 (NKJV)
12:1 Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You;
Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?
2 You have planted them, yes, they have taken root;
They grow, yes, they bear fruit.
You are near in their mouth
But far from their mind.
3 But You, O LORD, know me;
You have seen me,
And You have tested my heart toward You.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
And prepare them for the day of slaughter.
4 How long will the land mourn,
And the herbs of every field wither?
The beasts and birds are consumed,
For the wickedness of those who dwell there,
Because they said, “He will not see our final end.”
Jeremiah here laments over the fact that evil nations prosper as they inhabit the land of God’s people. They mock Judah and say that God will never remove them from the land. Jeremiah pleads with God to pluck them out of the land and punish them for their treatment of Israel.
5 “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?
6 For even your brothers, the house of your father,
Even they have dealt treacherously with you;
Yes, they have called a multitude after you.
Do not believe them,
Even though they speak smooth words to you.
7 “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage;
I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies.
8 My heritage is to Me like a lion in the forest;
It cries out against Me;
Therefore I have hated it.
9 My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture;
The vultures all around are against her.
Come, assemble all the beasts of the field,
Bring them to devour!
10 “Many rulers have destroyed My vineyard,
They have trodden My portion underfoot;
They have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it desolate;
Desolate, it mourns to Me;
The whole land is made desolate,
Because no one takes it to heart.
12 The plunderers have come
On all the desolate heights in the wilderness,
For the sword of the LORD shall devour
From one end of the land to the other end of the land;
No flesh shall have peace.
13 They have sown wheat but reaped thorns;
They have put themselves to pain but do not profit.
But be ashamed of your harvest
Because of the fierce anger of the LORD.”
The Lord responds without pity. He reminds the people of their sin, and the resultant judgment at the hands of foreigners. The sword is the norm in this case, so get used to it! He reiterates, though, that the problem is not God’s lack of mercy, but the people’s lack of obedience.
14 Thus says the LORD: “Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit—behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. 15 Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land. 16 And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the LORD lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people. 17 But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation,” says the LORD.
Once again, however, even after pointing out the sins and the commensurate punishment deserved by the Jews, God allows grace to be extended. He says that He will pluck out the nations who have so mistreated Judah. However, he offers them the opportunity to be blessed and even dwell among His people if they will learn the ways of Yahweh and worship Him. If not, though, they will be destroyed. God is looking out for our good as His people. Don’t let your sins get in the way of God’s provision. Look for His grace if sin does enter your life and repent. Then God will grant you grace, while at the same time allowing you the opportunity to use that grace as a tool to reach the very ones who worked against you. Be holy, be repentant, be evangelistic!