As I began reading this chapters today, I sighed. This doomsday book is very long. Fifty-two chapters? Not only that, but there are plenty other books dedicated to prophetic warnings leading up to the exile. I would like to know just how much (percentage wise) of the Old Testament is warnings and pleas to change course.
The patience of the LORD is long. He didn’t strike Israel the moment they stepped out of line, but pleaded with them all the way into child sacrifice and rampant violence oblivion.
It seems we are always vacillating between shock that the LORD disciplined His people in such a way, and awe that His patience and kindness waited so long to do so.
Then I arrive at chapter eighteen and discover a new perspective:
“The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as the potter does?’ declares the LORD. ‘Like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel￼.'” (18:4-6)
Sigh again. He has a point. Who are we to sit here and decide if the exile was “not cool”? We get caught up, trying to quantify the goodness of the LORD from our tiny perspectives, and lose sight of the fact that our opinions truly don’t matter. He formed us out of dirt and He does not have to answer to us.
Even so, we see–time and time again–that He is absolutely justified in His actions toward them.
“So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.” ’ But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ “Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Ask now among the nations, Who ever heard the like of this? The virgin of Israel Has done a most appalling thing.” (18:11-13)
Israel was to be a light among the nations, but at this point, their neighbors are outshining them, and they’re not sorry. We are going to follow our own plans, they say.
How relatable! How often do we side eye the commandments of the LORD and then decide to stick to our own plan? It’s good to stop and think about. Seek out His ways, search for His higher road, discover His plan. How can you pursue His Way today?