The Pain that has no Cure
A daily devotion for August 21st
Restoration of Israel
30 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. 3 The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity[a] and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,’ says the Lord.”
4 These are the words the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah: 5 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Cries of fear are heard—
terror, not peace.
6 Ask and see:
Can a man bear children?
Then why do I see every strong man
with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor,
every face turned deathly pale?
7 How awful that day will be!
No other will be like it.
It will be a time of trouble for Jacob,
but he will be saved out of it.
8 “‘In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty,
‘I will break the yoke off their necks
and will tear off their bonds;
no longer will foreigners enslave them.
9 Instead, they will serve the Lord their God
and David their king,
whom I will raise up for them.
10 “‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant;
do not be dismayed, Israel,’
declares the Lord.
‘I will surely save you out of a distant place,
your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will again have peace and security,
and no one will make him afraid.
11 I am with you and will save you,’
declares the Lord.
‘Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’
12 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Your wound is incurable,
your injury beyond healing.
13 There is no one to plead your cause,
no remedy for your sore,
no healing for you.
14 All your allies have forgotten you;
they care nothing for you.
I have struck you as an enemy would
and punished you as would the cruel,
because your guilt is so great
and your sins so many.
15 Why do you cry out over your wound,
your pain that has no cure?
Because of your great guilt and many sins
I have done these things to you.
16 “‘But all who devour you will be devoured;
all your enemies will go into exile.
Those who plunder you will be plundered;
all who make spoil of you I will despoil.
17 But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds,’
declares the Lord,
‘because you are called an outcast,
Zion for whom no one cares.’
18 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city will be rebuilt on her ruins,
and the palace will stand in its proper place.
19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving
and the sound of rejoicing.
I will add to their numbers,
and they will not be decreased;
I will bring them honor,
and they will not be disdained.
20 Their children will be as in days of old,
and their community will be established before me;
I will punish all who oppress them.
21 Their leader will be one of their own;
their ruler will arise from among them.
I will bring him near and he will come close to me—
for who is he who will devote himself
to be close to me?’
declares the Lord.
22 “‘So you will be my people,
and I will be your God.’”
23 See, the storm of the Lord
will burst out in wrath,
a driving wind swirling down
on the heads of the wicked.
24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he fully accomplishes
the purposes of his heart.
In days to come
you will understand this.
Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you. Jeremiah 30:15
God takes the full responsibility for what happens to Israel. He says,
I have done these things to you. It is as though he stands with his hands on his hips and says to them,
Look, I'm responsible. Any questions? He says that it is because of their sins, their flagrant sins.
We do not want to read this as though it is something remote from us. If you are inclined to say only,
Oh, it's such a pity what's going to happen to Israel, remember that this is your story, too. This is the way God works. He deals with Israel this way because this is the way he deals with everybody. There is a scriptural principle reflected here which all too often we forget. Just because judgment does not fall immediately upon people, they think they have gotten by. But Paul says,
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction... (Galatians 6:7-8a). That is inevitable. God does not cancel that out by the forgiveness of sin. That is part of what we call the natural consequences of evil, the temporal judgment of God. It is never canceled out, any more than the rest of what Paul says is canceled out:
...whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8b) This is God's promise for now — not just in heaven some day but now. The joy and glory of life will come to us if we walk in the Spirit, and that is inevitable. But so is the judgment for our sin, the inevitable consequences of our own selfish choices.
This means, of course, that ultimately a recompense comes to us in life now for the evil in which we have indulged our flesh — whether it is blatant, open, sensual evil, or whether it is inward — spiritual pride, bitterness, and all the other sins of the spirit. It makes no difference. Evil brings its own results. As someone has well said,
You can pull out the nail driven into the wall, but you can't pull out the nail hole.
God reminds us here that there will be pain and heartache and trouble because of the evil of our past. The sins of our youth will catch up to us — usually in middle age! And there is no escape. As Kipling has said,
The sins that they did two by two, they pay for one by one. God says this is inevitable. It is inevitable for his people Israel; it is inevitable for us as well. Yet even in that trial, God is present in His mercy and grace.
Thank you, Lord, for the lesson I learn as I sometimes must walk through the consequences of my own poor choices. But thank you that your grace is still sufficient even for these things.
Life Application: Are we surprised by the inevitable consequences of our sins? Are we also surprised by joy when the Spirit produces good fruit through our walk with Christ? Do we recognize both as aspects of God's sovereign initiative?
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