Today: [Jeremiah 15] What God CANNOT Do: In this chapter God speaking through Jeremiah makes an astonishing statement of what He CANNOT do. Jeremiah is asking God to have mercy on the nation of Judah in spite of the fact that they admittedly have not repented in the least. In answer to this God replies that even in Moses and Samuel the prophet were in their midst clemency for the unrepented of sin of the people would not be possible.
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[Jer 15:1-21 KJV] 1 Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, [yet] my mind [could] not [be] toward this people: cast [them] out of my sight, and let them go forth. 2 And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as [are] for death, to death; and such as [are] for the sword, to the sword; and such as [are] for the famine, to the famine; and such as [are] for the captivity, to the captivity. 3 And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. 4 And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for [that] which he did in Jerusalem. 5 For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? 6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. 7 And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave [them] of children, I will destroy my people, [since] they return not from their ways. 8 Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused [him] to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city. 9 She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while [it was] yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD. 10 Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; [yet] every one of them doth curse me.
In verse 1 of our chapter today we find a very controversial statement. The Father is speaking to Jeremiah as the prophet is desperately interceding for the deliverance of the unrepentance southern kingdom of Judah. In the previous chapter, we observed that there is no promise without penitence. There is teaching today that because of Jesus, and the fact that He died for the sins of the whole world, then the whole world is forgiven, whether they repent or not. Some go so far as to claim that even Satan himself will be given reprieve at some point and restored without requisite repentance to his place in God’s economy. Is this true? There is much debate over this matter and many passages of scripture called forth to defend both sides of the debate. This particular verse speaks without ambiguity.
“…though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people…” is the declaration of God. Is this true? Why would this be? In looking at various renderings of this in different translations, the scholars have changed the wording here to God saying “…I would not ….” Instead of “…I could not…” The KJV and the AMP bible however maintain the “could not” translation. Which one is correct? Is there anything that God cannot do?
There are many things actually that the scriptures indicate that God cannot do:
1. He cannot lie (Heb. 6:8).
2. He cannot change (Mal. 3:6).
3. He cannot break a promise (Ps. 89:34).
4. He cannot be stopped (Dan. 4:35).
5. His law cannot be overthrown (Ps. 111:7-8).
6. His word cannot be broken (John 10:35).
7. He cannot despise a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).
8. He cannot be pleased without faith (Heb. 11:6).
9. He cannot look on sin (Isa. 59:1-2).
10. He cannot be destroyed (Mt. 16:18).
11. He cannot be worshipped in excess (Re. 4:8)
12. He cannot stop loving you (Jer. 31:3).
From this we can see why He told Jeremiah the things He told Him. Jeremiah is asking God to act in Jerusalem’s behalf although he freely admits that there is no repentance on the part of the nation. God’s response is He will not, and implies He actually cannot act contrary to His own nature. He cannot be anything other than God, and while He is loving, He is also holy. This brings back the question can we be forgiven without repentance? Is there a margin of tolerance whereby God granted conditional clemency in expectation of future repentance?
[2Pe 3:9 KJV] The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
It is true that God is patient. He told Noah that His spirit would not always strive with sin. He does give space to repent, but that conditional clemency is not indefinite and neither does it constitute a license to opt out of some aspect of divine law in order to accommodate a sinful practice, habit, choice or lifestyle. What does this mean in the light of “skeletons” in our closets? It means that sooner or later as the nation of Judah now learns, unrepentented of sin always has its dreadful payday.
11 The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee [well] in the time of evil and in the time of affliction. 12 Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel? 13 Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and [that] for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. 14 And I will make [thee] to pass with thine enemies into a land [which] thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, [which] shall burn upon you. 15 O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. 16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. 17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation. 18 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, [which] refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, [and as] waters [that] fail? 19 Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, [and] thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. 20 And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I [am] with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 21 And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.
While God is clearly going to allow the nation to go into captivity, at this point He seeks to comfort Jeremiah, saying that in Babylon their captors will be caused to treat them kindly. This came to pass even where king Zedekiah is concerned. Initially the king is stripped naked, his children and wives are slain before him and his eyes are put out. But once in Babylon the king of Babylon shows mercy and even allows Zedekiah to eat at his table.
Again, in verse 14 we find mention of the anger of God. The people will go into captivity, their substance and treasures will be spoil for their oppressors and the fire kindled in the anger of God will burn upon them. This is a reminder that there is anger in God. Modern culture teaches us that a father’s anger is never just and parents who have expectations upon their children are examples of foolish people who just don’t realize who wonderful their children really are in spite of their wrongdoings. What of today? We must realize that just because Jesus went to the cross doesn’t mean God’s anger does not exist? Where do we find it? Poured out upon Jesus upon the cross. Because God rejects sin, Jesus was rejected because He took our sin.
Because God punishes sin, Jesus was punished upon the cross and went down into hell to endure that punishment in our behalf. If it was one of us we would simply in a moment of compassion just forego any consequences against those who have offended us, but God is God and once angered, His justice must be satisfied. The cross and the suffering of Jesus are evidence that God never dismisses sin, and never chooses to wink at sin and pretend it doesn’t exist. The cross is at once the ultimate express both of God’s judgment and His clemency. The cross is a picture of what God will not, cannot do (ignore sin) and what as a result He WILL DO in providing the death, burial and resurrection as His means of mitigating the permanent stain of sin on our lives and bringing us to Himself in purity and clemency.
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