Home > Miscellaneous > Jeremiah 30: The God Who Sees

Jeremiah 30: The God Who Sees

Jeremiah 30.5-9

“For thus says the Lord,
‘I have heard a sound of terror,

Of dread, and there is no peace.
‘Ask now, and see
If a male can give birth.
Why do I see every man
With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth?
And why have all faces turned pale?
‘Alas! for that day is great,
There is none like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s distress,
But he will be saved from it.
‘It shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves. But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.

When I read this over quickly, my first thought was, “God’s talking about judging Israel again.” I don’t know if other readers are like me, but I’m inclined to simply throw passages into this equation: Old Testament Prophet + talking to Israel + talking about human suffering = judgment language. I ran the numbers on my first skim through, and I totally misread the passage.

YHWH’s begins his speech by informing Israel He has heard a sound of terror. This isn’t God acting or proclaiming, He is listening. He is paying attention to His people. YHWH does not hide his face from them, He sees them. He understands their pain.

YHWH is not pronouncing judgment here. God is using empathetic language to let Israel know He understands what they are going through right now. Using the visceral and universal metaphor of labor pains, YHWH reflects their suffering back to them. He demonstrates an intimate knowledge of their circumstances. God sees as if He were in their shoes, looking through their eyes, taking on their perspective. Their pain feels like the most tremendous and debilitating pain they can imagine.

This God knows their pain. While is true the sin of the people has caused their desperate and painful condition, He is loving and forgiving. The merciful God who sees will not allow the pain to endure forever. He’s going to do something about it. He’s going to set things right.

His solution points us obviously to Jesus. I’ve pointed out many times in writings, lectures, and in conversation that choosing a king was a rejection of God. God also promised a descendant of David would be on the throne forever. Jesus is the unique and unexpected solution to this (and many other) problems. Jesus is both God enfleshed and a descendant of David. Jesus both fulfills the promises of God to David and rectifies Israel’s rejection of YHWH as the only rightful king.

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Categories: Miscellaneous
  1. January 21, 2017 at 6:57 am

    Thanks! I love your explanations of these passages. A good reminder of God’s dual justice/punishment and love/empathy.

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