We know from history that the Babylonians took the nation of Israel into captivity. We know from the Bible God allowed that to happen because the Israelites sinned, and continued to sin even after God’s repeated warnings.
Don’t ever forget that God punishes sin. Every sin. Oh, maybe not the moment we commit the act. He might give us warnings, or a slap on the wrist first. He is patient. But just because you seem to have gotten away with it because God didn’t zap you the second you sinned, doesn’t mean He’s forgotten it. It doesn’t mean He’ll let it slide. Every sin comes with a death sentence.
As I was reading these chapters, I heard God’s agony over His disobedient children. I heard Him plead with them to come back to Him. I heard Him warn them about the awful consequences they were facing without Him. He reminded them about the times He had been faithful in the past when they called on Him. He begged them to call on Him again so He could rescue them yet again.
But it seems the people heard only half of what God was saying. They heard: “… I will frown on you no longer for I am merciful… I will not be angry forever… I will choose you… How gladly would I treat you like sons, and give you a desirable land…” (3:11-19)
God really did say all of that. Those promises came from His heart. But Israel was still in trouble, which lead to the unbelievable audacity Jeremiah had to call God a liar:
“… Ah, Sovereign Lord, how completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats.” (4:10)
People still question God today, still blame Him when things don’t go our way. And the message of God’s love and provision is still being preached today.
Without the “If.”
God sums things up in 4:18:
“YOUR OWN CONDUCT AND ACTIONS have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” (emphasis mine)
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t expect God to bless you while you are holding on to sin. You can’t expect God to hear you until you first call on Him, repent of sin, bow before Him, and obey Him. You can’t claim His love and protection, and ignore His holiness.
God’s history with the nation of Israel shows us that He not only demands obedience at the exclusion of everything else, He deserves our obedience. It shows us how He delights in blessing our obedience, and how serious He is about our disobedience.
Do you want His blessing? Then obey Him. Period. You just can’t have it both ways.