The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: “From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, this is the twenty-third year in which the word of the Lord has come to me; and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened. And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, ‘Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers forever and ever. Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.’ Yet you have not listened to Me,” says the Lord, “that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt. (Jeremiah 25:1-7)
God Spoke And They Did Not Listen
For twenty-three years, Jeremiah preached a message of repentance to the people of God, but to no avail. Other prophets declared the word of the Lord to Judah and the people did not listen. It seemed as if the hearts of God’s chosen nation had turned completely away from the truth. Nothing could penetrate the stubborn refusal to change the will of rebellious hearts bent on following after idols and pagan doctrines of the nations around them. The northern ten tribes of Israel had long disappeared from the landscape of a forgotten land and Judah stood on the precipice of destruction by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Final destruction was inevitable and came swiftly in 586 B.C. when Jerusalem fell and the Temple burned.
The devastation of the Babylonian army upon God’s people was complete and thorough. God sent warnings to the people by His messengers because He had a love for them but they mocked the word of the Lord and scoffed at men like Jeremiah. The wrath of the Lord came against His people and nothing could be done. The Babylonians killed the young men, even chasing after them into the Temple. They did not pity the people, killing young men and young women, the old and the infirm. The Temple was ransacked and all the articles and treasures of the Lord were taken. Nebuchadnezzar ordered his army to burn the Temple of God, tear down the walls of Jerusalem, burn all the palaces, and completely destroy everything of value. For twenty-three years, Jeremiah had warned the people and they would not listen.
God pleaded with His people to repent from their evil ways and evil doings. He warned them against going after the gods of the land to serve them and worship them. His anger would be aroused if the people refused and they refused because they did not want to listen. God promised them he would not harm them if they repented. Sadly, they did not listen. They provoked the Lord God to anger with the works of their hands. The punishment of captivity came upon them because of their rebellion and to their own hurt. Babylon conquered the once proud and noble nation of Israel and carried the people away to a second captivity. Seventy years would pass before the hand of God delivered them from bondage.
The apostle Paul described the character of God as one of goodness and severity. Everyone wants to embrace the goodness of the Lord because that is pleasant and enjoyable. Most reject the notion that God can be a severe God. Israel rebelled against the will of God and for many years, prophets urged the people to change their lives and return to a true worship. Men like Jeremiah warned the rebellious hearts to repent and change but with no success. When the longsuffering of the Lord came to an end, judgment appeared on the horizon. Those of Judah should have learned from the lessons of their northern brethren that God’s word is true. They should have listened to the prophets who warned them of the consequences of ignoring the word of God. In the final days, when it was too late, the people realized the word of the Lord was true. Judgment came and captivity began.
God has delivered His word to all men through the preaching of the word. The Bible is the revealed mind of God declaring His mercy and grace to those who are willing to abide by His word. This same message outlines the wrath of God against disobedience. Rejecting the Bible as truth will only bring the anger of the Lord. All the things promised in the preaching of Jeremiah and the prophets came true because the people refused to listen. A day will come when the world comes to an end and all men stand before the righteous throne of God. The books will be opened and the Bible, the word of God, will be presented as evidence before the hearts of all men and judgment will begin. Those who heard the word of God and obeyed its message will find joy and comfort. To the majority of people who refused to acknowledge the Bible as the divine word of God, the wrath of the Lord will be handed down. Are you listening?