Let me clarify, or better yet, correct myself. Jeremiah was a Prophet. It was Israel that was more like the Bullfrog. Some of you know that I am not a big fan of frogs. Primarily because at the last place I lived, frogs came out of the toilet on a regular basis. Now frogs just plain disgust me, and all I want to do is exterminate them. I think frog exterminiation could actually be a very rewarding career path for me. Now how could I refer to Israel as being a Bullfrog? Because in the book of Jeremiah God describes his disgust with Israel. The book of Jeremiah takes place just before and just after Israel is conquered by Babylon. A very dark period of Israel’s history.
God pleads to Israel through Jeremiah. He wants His people, Israel, to return to Him. Israel has been worshipping other gods and committing every sin imaginable. God is tired of it, He is disgusted by Israel and needs to exterminate the bad to retrieve what is still good in Israel.
I found this book very difficult to handle emotionally. As I have been reading the Old Testament I have come to cherish God’s people, Israel. They have been stubborn and seem to habitually fall away form God. But God always pulls them back and the people respond at least for a time. I have read about God’s grace to His people and admire His qualities. God had always said he would need to punish Israel harshly if she were to keep sinning, but it never seemed to come to that. Now it has all changed. The punishment really is coming, and Jeremiah’s message is a last ditch effort to get Israel to turn form their sins and return to God.
The entire time I was reading this book I knew the outcome. I knew Babylon would conquer Israel. I knew countless numbers of God’s people would be slaughtered, enslaved, or left to beg in a destroyed Jerusalem. And I knew that God knew that this would all happen, He knew that his people were not going to listen to His prophets and return to Him. But God reached out to them anyway.
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here! But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.
— Jeremiah 7:3-7
Night and day my eyes overflow with tears.
I cannot stop weeping,
for my virgin daughter my precious people
has been struck down
and lies mortally wounded.
— Jeremiah 14:17 (these words are from Jeremiah but he speaks about Israel like a father, more from the perspective of God.)
I present these verses to simply show that it is not God’s desire to destroy Israel. His will is to bring Israel back to Him. Israel’s punishment is not to be permanent, because God will fullfill His covenant with Israel. He promises to bring those who are held captive back to Israel once they turn back to Him. But it is clear that the only way Israel is ever going to seek God is if God takes everything from them. even taking from them their families, and all their possessions forcing them to have nothing except for Him.
I think we all tend to fall into this pattern, we only look to God when He is all that we have left. This is not how God wants His people to live. He wants us to worship Him alone, and serve Him.
I will leave with some verses that describe how horrible it was when Babylon conquered Israel, just in case you have a hard time believing that God could punish His people with war, famine, and suffering. I know I am focusing on the punishment of Israel, but I do want to say that some of Jeremiah’s prophecies give hope for the future. But Jeremiah has no words of hope for the people who have worshipped other gods, turning away form the one true God.
Their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and war. There will be no one left to bury them. Husbands, wives, sons, and daughters all will be gone. For I will pour out their own wickedness on them.
— Jeremiah 14:16
No one will offer a meal to comfort those who mourn for the dead not even at the death of a mother or father. No one will send a cup of wine to console them.
— Jeremiah 16:7
If I go out into the fields,I see the bodies of people slaughtered by the enemy.If I walk the city streets,I see people who have died of starvation.
— Jeremiah 14:18
I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals.
— Jeremiah 19:7
I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy.
— Jeremiah 20:4