In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it. And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah's eleventh year, the city wall was broken through. Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate... When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled; they left the city at night by way of the king's garden, through the gate between the two walls, and headed toward the Arabah.Jeremiah 39:1-4
In the further historic detail given in the last chapter of Jeremiah, we are told that they burned the temple of God as well. The long-delayed hour of judgment came at last. The city was taken. The temple was burned. As you read this account you can see a certain poetic justice which is always characteristic of the judgments of God. The city that refused God, God refused. He granted them their own desires, in other words. The temple that burned incense to idols was itself burned. The king who would not see had his eyes put out. The people who held their slaves captives were themselves led captive by the Babylonians. This is always the way God works. His judgment is to give you exactly what you are asking for, to let you finally have your way — but to the fullest extent, beyond anything you would desire.
A nation must never forget that, ultimately, the judgment of God will come.
The mills of God grind slow, but they grind exceeding small. Sooner or later judgment will fall. No nation has the right to continue to exist as a nation when it continually violates these requirements of God's justice. Therefore the hand of doom rests upon any nation that deliberately refuses to hear and heed the will of God. Ultimately, judgment will come. No political manipulation will avert it. No partial compromise will delay, no defiance will evade what God has said. It will come at last — some eleventh year, ninth month, and fourth day, when a breach is made in the walls of the city, and judgment and destruction can no longer be averted.
There are several ways by which individuals and nations seek to turn aside the will of God. First, a people can ignore and refuse to listen to God, and give themselves over to things that help them forget — to a life of debauchery and revelry, refusing to hear and heed the Word of God. Second, a people can persecute the prophets of God, and hinder the message of God. There will be the developing of a callous attitude against the preaching of the Word of God. Third, a people can seek to circumvent the catastrophe which is coming by political maneuvering and manipulations. Finally, a people can compromise in outward ways, but fall short of real submission to God. That is when a people become outwardly religious, learning the
God-words and practice civil religion, but their hearts remain unchanged.
There is only one attitude that will avert the coming judgment of God: repentance, deep humiliation before God, an understanding and acknowledgment of guilt, a willingness to recognize that we have lost our right to exist as a nation, and a cry to God that he will heal us and change us and forgive us and heal this land. When that occurs, God himself assumes responsibility to recover the nation. Despite all the damage which has been done, he will restore the years that the locusts have eaten. But if a nation ignores God, it goes down into the dust of history, as hundreds of kingdoms and nations before us have perished.
Lord, I ask you to heal us as a nation. Heal our land, and turn us from evil.
What are four ways individuals and nations seek to avert the will of God? Since each of these is unmistakably present in contemporary culture, what is the urgently needed response for us individually and as members of Christ's body, the Church?