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.’
(Jerermiah 30:12-17 NIV)
In a similar pattern to yesterday’s text, today’s passage outlines the Lord’s discipline of His people because of their sin and their restoration and redemption to a relationship with Himself because of His great love.
While verses 12 – 17 are about God’s people and their willful sin and straying from the Lord, they are also reminiscent of Jeremiah’s description of fallen Jerusalem in the Book of Lamentations.
In verse 12, the Lord makes it clear that there is no human cure for the sins of His people. These sins are not mere flesh wounds that will heal over time, but rather, they are mortal wounds from which they will surely die.
Verses 13 – 14 remind God’s people that all their allies have deserted them – no one will come to their rescue, no one will stand up in their defense. God’s people are on their own, fatally wounded, guilty, and alone.
In verse 15, the Lord asks His people why they are whining about the pain of their discipline when they have in fact brought these consequences upon themselves. God is holy and cannot overlook or accept sin in His sight. God has promised to forgive His people if they will repent and turn to Him, but they have chosen to go their way instead.
Verses 16 – 17 show the great paradox of God’s character. In verse 16, the Lord promises to punish those who have punished His people. In verse 17, the Lord promises to heal His people and restore them to health as a nation. God is holy, and He is also forgiving. God reduces His people to nothing because of their sins and waywardness, and He restores His people to wholeness because of His mercy and love.
Does God gain some demented pleasure out of seeing His people suffer under His control? No, quite the opposite is true. Lamentations gives us insight into God’s character and heart:
31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
(Lamentations 3:31-33 NIV)
So why does the Lord restore His people to a relationship with Himself? Verse 17b gives us the answer: because they belong to Him. God has announced to the world over the centuries that He will provide for, protect, and love His people, and yes, even discipline them harshly when they flagrantly disobey Him. Let no one say that God has permanently abandoned or given up on His people.
So why does God care so much? The Lord reveals His heart through the prophet Ezekiel:
22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
(Ezekiel 36:22-23 NIV)
May we remember that our restoration to fellowship and relationship with God is based on God’s provision, not on human merit.
May we remember that when we reach the end of our human resources and are ready to give up, it is then we discover that God has been there all along. When we finally turn to the Lord, He is ready and willing to heal us, renew us, and restore us to new life and relationship to Himself.
And finally, may we remember that this is all for God’s glory. When His people, whether the ancients in Jeremiah’s day or you and I in our day, choose to honor God and live for Him, our hearts and actions honor Him and draw others to Himself.