A Christian was witnessing to a man and asked him if he ever read the Bible. He said, “No, the Bible is just about an angry God sending people to hell.” Is that so? Nothing could be further from the truth. I just finished reading the Book of Jeremiah. It’s true, the prophet had a lot to say about judgment and God’s wrath coming on many nations—including Israel. Babylon, a powerful nation to the north of Israel, would be God’s instrument, sharpened and ready to devastate the land. Does God delight in punishment? Is judgment what He desired for Israel? Absolutely not! Over and over, Jeremiah pleaded with the king and the people. God gave them much time and many opportunities to repent and turn from their sins. Judgment eventually came, not because “God is an angry God” but because the people chose evil over obedience. King Zedekiah, the leader during the final years of Judah, met several times with the prophet. Each time, Jeremiah tried to get Zedekiah to act in faith, to believe that God is merciful, and to believe that God is holy and just. But Zedekiah, and the people who followed his “misleadership,” showed no interest in what God said. Through their own hardness of heart, they marched themselves right over the cliff of judgment. While reading this sad account, I thought of how easily God could have simply annihilated Israel and started over. However, after some of the people were taken captive to Babylon, God showed His concern and love for them. Through a letter written by Jeremiah, the Lord said to them, “‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:10-13). Does this sound like the “angry God” some people imagine? Our Lord loves us so much that He warns us ahead of disaster. And, even after the bitter consequences we bring upon ourselves, He offers us hope. We serve a good God!
Pastor Mark Boucher