“‘You would not listen to me,’ declares Jehovah. ‘Instead you offended me with the work of your hands, to your own calamity.’”
When someone decides to take it upon him or herself to oppose God’s written will, they are doing so to their own detriment.
The day comes when God ‘makes his voice heard,’ and he will personally pass judgment on everyone of us. (Jer. 25:30,31)
But God does not come like a merciless executioner.
Jehovah is now teaching us and guiding us through his written word for our own benefit. (Isa. 48:17,18)
Like Jeremiah, our resolve to obey God may subject us to temporary persecution and suffering, but we faithfully continue to share God’s message knowing he gives even the evildoer a chance to repent. (Jer. 26:3,13,15)
Nevertheless, the day will come when God will realize his vision of justice. (Hab. 2:3,4)
It is not as one religious leader proclaimed- that God’s mercy “never runs out.”
Jehovah is a judge of justice and action; not an indulging authority figure who is only bluffing.
“The windstorm of Jehovah will burst out in fury;
Like a whirling tempest it will whirl down on the head of the wicked.”
In the prophet’s day, the kings and elders were corrupting justice for selfish gain. (Jer. 22:13; 23:1,2,10,11)
We should not let ourselves be consumed by wrathful anger when injustice seems to prevail, because God promises to ultimately bring the wicked to justice.
When God’s justice strikes down, it can be compared to a hurricane.
Can anyone stand in God’s way?
But there is calm in the eye of a hurricane.
If we learn to stand in ‘God’s inner circle’ by repenting and paying attention to his Word, we will be safe and at peace when that day comes. (Jer. 23:5,22)
“Every man wishing me peace was watching for my downfall. […]
But Jehovah was with me like a fearsome warrior […].”
Perhaps we have all experienced the sadness of finding out a close friend of ours is a false friend with selfish motivations.
Or perhaps someone has ruined our reputation and we watch alone as most of our acquaintances draw away from us, waiting for our fall.
In the prophet’s case, his emotional anguish was so great, he regretted ever having been born at all. (Jer. 20:14-18)
Ideally, we are surrounded by a loving brotherhood, but as the proverb says, “there are companions ready to crush one another.” (Prov. 18:24)
Jehovah God, on the other hand, ‘sees the innermost thoughts and the heart.’ (Jer. 20:12)
He sincerely wants us to draw close to him. (Ja. 4:8)
We can rely on him, confident that he will bring our case to justice and persecutors will be put to shame.
“Jehovah said: ‘I will surely minister to you for good;
I will surely intercede for you in the time of calamity,
In the time of distress against the enemy.'”
Have you ever had the experience of setting forth to do good and not finding any support from those around you?
The prophet Jeremiah should have been supported by the people of Judah because they were God’s chosen People, but they violently opposed his work.
He began to fear for his life.
He confided his feelings to God in prayer. (Jer. 15:15)
He sought comfort in God’s Word and was able to experience joy in his ministry once more. (Jer. 15:16)
When we put our faith in Jehovah God that he is in fact collaborating with us in our ministry, we can endure apathy and even violent persecution with a joyful heart, knowing that God has our back. (Jer. 15:19-21; 1 Cor. 3:9)
“Correct me, O Jehovah, with judgment,
But not in your anger, that you may not reduce me to nothing.”
We all need to be corrected from time to time, either by someone at work, or if we are younger, by our parents or teachers, or we may be counseled by a mature, caring friend.
It is human nature to initially be embarrassed and even to resist the correction.
Jehovah corrected his People through his prophets.
We do not have modern-day prophets, but we can read God’s recorded thoughts in his written Word, and find God’s counsel under prayer through Bible reading.
To accept God’s correction, we need to humbly recognize that, despite having freedom of choice, it is not in our best interest to act independently of God. (Jer. 10:23)
It is easier to accept correction as soon as we realize we are doing something wrong, without needing to wait for someone to blatantly point out our mistakes to us.
But if it comes to that, and we are privately or publicly reproved, let us remember that Jehovah takes the time to discipline those whom he loves and wants to keep by his side.
Everyone needs to be refined by God’s love and he expects you to keep trying. (Heb. 12:5,6)
As one brother put it, it is better to accept correction now than to ‘be reduced to nothing’ on God’s Judgment Day.
“[…] In order to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, something that I had not commanded and that had never even come into my heart.”
The people of Judah’s sinful inclination to worship idols had led them to the point of burning their own children in altars to false gods.
Jehovah God makes it very clear that their form of worship had nothing to do with him.
He had sent them prophets warning them of their evil ways but his People had stubbornly ignored him. (Jer. 7:13,26)
The disheartened practices of parents in those days may be somewhat shocking by today’s standards, but there are people who still teach that hellfire is a Divine punishment for wrongdoers.
Jehovah says the practice of burning people has ‘never even come into his heart.’
Although Jesus did refer to the “fiery Gehenna,” historically this was a valley of refuse where dead bodies unworthy of graves were thrown out and cremated. (Matt. 5:22; 10:28; Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 1)
Jesus was not referring to a place of torment, but a place of utter destruction.
By comparing God’s principles with ancient practices, most conscientious Bible students can conclude that the teaching of torment by hellfire is false. (1 John 4:8)
“Why have these, my people, said, ‘We roam freely.
We will come to you no more’?”
God was asking his People why they had forsaken him and turned to worshipping material idols. (Jer. 2:11)
Although God gives us freedom of choice, to assert that freedom to pursue “what is useless” would be to waste the precious gifts of life, time and energy he has given us.
Today’s equivalent of useless idols may not necessarily be a stone, ceramic or wood sculpture one kneels to.
It may be selfish conduct that is in direct conflict with God’s norms, or maybe even a vain hobby that consumes valuable time we could otherwise be using to help others. (Eph. 5:15,16,18; Php. 3:19)
Or perhaps we are obsessed with achieving something like a social status that is beyond our means of living and which forces us to spend so much time at work, we end up neglecting family life, sacrificing Bible study or meditation time. (1 Tim. 6:9,10)
Whatever internal or external “god” may be rivaling our one True God, if we let our worship be derailed, we will reap the bitter consequences of that choice. (Jer. 2:19)