God called the Prophet Jeremiah to a hard task. This prophet started his ministry during King Josiah’s reign and continued through the reign of two of Josiah’s sons, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah. Jeremiah called Judah/Jerusalem into account over its sin and prophesied its takeover by the Babylonian empire.
God is grieved over Kingdom Judah’s sins and likens her to an unfaithful wife. He reminds her of the northern kingdom of Israel and the sin of idolatry she committed. Undoubtedly, Judah had witnessed what Israel had done but, nevertheless, chose the same path for herself. In spite of Jeremiah’s pleas that they repent, Judah refused and was doomed to face a similar consequence.
In Jeremiah chapter four, Jeremiah has a vision of the disaster coming to the land as a result of the Babylonian takeover. The whole chapter is a bleak description of what the future holds for Judah. In verse 15 the prophet laments, “I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor, the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child. It is beautiful Jerusalem gasping for breath and crying out, help I’m being murdered.” (NLT) Eventually, Jeremiah’s prophecy comes to pass, and Judah is destroyed and her people taken captive into Babylon. Their rejection of God and His principles led to an exile that would last for the next seventy years.
This is what happens to a nation that turns her back on God. We see in our country today an unbelief in God, a rejection of Jesus and an unwillingness to repent of our ways. Idolatry, immoral lifestyles, and worse sins are piling high. And it’s not just the unbelievers; we even see some Christians that live in the same way. Much like Judah in Biblical days, they pay lip service to God, but there is no evidence of their salvation being lived out, not even a glimpse of an intention to change.
Is it possible that someday soon we might hear the United States groaning like a woman in labor, “gasping for breath and crying out, help I’m being murdered” as Judah did in the prophecy of her demise?
Here’s the good news. Even in the seventy-year exile Judah received as her punishment, God meted out mercy: He provided a plan for their future restoration and promised never to forsake them. Similarly, in mercy, God today is waiting for us to repent of our sinful ways and to turn our hearts back to Him. In response, He promises to receive us in Love.
“…the Lord disciplines those he loves,…”
“…God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”
Hebrews 12:6, 10 (NIV)