Jeremiah 12:1 “You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?”
is not easy reading. Of course none of
the prophets really is appropriate as a quick pick-me-up in the morning, but Jeremiah
is clearly the most depressing, as well he might be. He is warning of the imminent siege of
But before all of that comes to pass, Jeremiah asks God a question. It’s not a new question, and as much as it might sound like something only the faithless would ask, we see it being asked in Scripture often by those who are closest to God. David asks it. Job asks it. Jeremiah asks it, and a lot of us regular folks have asked it as well. “How come you have this reputation for justice, God, when those who are wicked live the life of Riley? Why are there no ill effects from their wickedness?”
David and Job, Jeremiah does get a direct answer from God, and it is an answer
that looks at the big picture. Before
the end of the chapter, God assures Jeremiah that punishment for
think this is one of the broad patterns of Scripture, illustrating the nature
of life with God. Across the history of
thing people often miss in all this is that what Jeremiah is talking about here
is the egregious sin of a nation. God’s
justice is large-scale and not purely individual. In the siege to come, the righteous will
suffer and die or be carried into exile along with the wicked. God’s call in the Bible, especially in the
Old Testament, is for the righteousness of nations, not just individuals.
harsh as they sound, Jeremiah’s words of warning are important words to hear in
We know you are at work in the world, O God, help us turn from our own ways to follow yours. Amen.
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