“Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; they grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from their mind” (Jeremiah 12:1-2).
Have you ever questioned the decisions or judgments which God makes? Many of us have probably questioned why God gives certain commands which we find in the Scriptures. God’s judgments do not always “make sense” to us. In the opening verses above we see Jeremiah saying to God, “let me talk with You about Your judgments” (Jeremiah 12:1).
Jeremiah was struggling to faithfully serve God. He says, “But You, O Lord, know me; You have seen me, and You have tested my heart toward You…” (Jeremiah 12:3a). Yet, as the opening verses above show, he struggled with understanding why God apparently allowed the wicked to prosper and be happy (Jeremiah 12:2). He wanted God to harshly judge them now: “…Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long will the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither? The beasts and birds are consumed, for the wickedness of those who dwell there, because they said, "He will not see our final end” (Jeremiah 12:3b-4).
God’s response to Jeremiah’s questioning His judgments is interesting. God’s tells Jeremiah, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5). Greater challenges were ahead for Jeremiah than simply enduring seeing some wicked people prosper. Jeremiah was going to have to face a conspiracy against his own life from within his own family. The Lord tells the prophet, “For even your brothers, the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; yes, they have called a multitude after you. Do not believe them, even though they speak smooth words to you” (Jeremiah 12:6).
Furthermore, God tells Jeremiah that the prophet has no idea of the pain God experiences in having to render His judgments: “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies. My heritage is to Me like a lion in the forest; It cries out against Me; therefore I have hated it. My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture; the vultures all around are against her. Come, assemble all the beasts of the field, bring them to devour!” (Jeremiah 12:7-9). It was painful for God to have to allow other nations to devour His beloved Israel.
However, God judged this was the way to get His people to repent and turn back to Him. God would then render punishment against the nations who had harshly treated His people: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit--behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land” (Jeremiah 12:14-15).
As I consider Jeremiah’s questioning God’s judgments, it is humbling because I know I am tempted to do the same. Rather than questioning God’s decisions, I should trust that He will always act righteously in His judgments. Today, I will strive to accept God’s judgments and not question them!
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).