“For I am with you and will save you, says the Lord…I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished…The fierce anger of the Lord will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this” (Jeremiah 30:11,24, NLT).
God gave Jeremiah a message of hope for Israel that contrasted with his usual message of gloom and doom.
Jeremiah regularly pronounced God’s judgment on Israel that would come in the form of the king of Babylon invading and capturing Jerusalem and exiling its inhabitants. But, the message God now wants Jeremiah to proclaim is one of hope for Israel–a faithful remnant of the exiles will be restored and be purveyors of the messianic hope.
And God provides some theological explanations for the judgment He renders with this message of hope. God is absolutely just and so His universal justice system requires that sin and disobedience to His law be punished. In fact, sin and disobedience invoke God’s anger and, consequently, His judgment.
Yet, God’s judgment does not displace His salvation; it actually enables it. Because He is a completely just God, He is also an all-loving God.
But, we think that God is mad at us and so it is difficult for us to reconcile God’s divine anger with His divine love.
It’s really not so hard to understand. When my children misbehave, it makes me angry and my anger causes me to render some form of punishment for their misdeeds. Am I a bad parent because my children’s misbehavior makes me angry and I punish them?
If it does, then what’s the alternative? That I don’t care if they misbehave, after all, what’s it to me!
No, absolutely not! I love them unconditionally and so I want them to learn correct behavior for their own benefit and well-being as persons. So, I can’t permit their misbehavior to go unpunished.
And don’t we tell our children that they may not understand their discipline now, but we promise they will be a better person for it and will someday look back and understand. “It hurts me more than it hurts you,” we euphemistically, but truthfully declare.
The same is true of God, except on a grander and more universal scale and as it pertains to our eternity.
God disciplines us and His judgment is just and loving. We may not always understand why at the time, but according to these verses we can be assured that His discipline of us always reinforces His plans for us and for our eternal well-being.
“But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10, NLT).