Just prior to today’s reading, enemies in Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth had plotted to kill him, but God had revealed their plot (Jer. 11:18–23). Without this revelation, the prophet would have been “like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (11:19). God promised to punish those wrongdoers.
Jeremiah wanted immediate justice (vv. 1–4). He asked, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” (12:1). He wondered why these would-be murderers had not yet been punished? This wasn’t about revenge—the prophet wanted to see God vindicated. These evil doers were saying that God could not see. And what’s more, they thought they were getting away with it.
Jeremiah also had a bigger question. Why did God allow the wicked to live comfortable lives? That question puzzles us still today. We ask: Does God lack the power to make justice happen? Is He lacking in love? Is He uncaring about goodness? In a way, Jeremiah was accusing God of not being good or just. God appeared to let the faithless “live at ease,” as if the wicked are a special tree that God takes care of (the opposite of Ps. 1:3).
God answered Jeremiah (Jer. 12:5–6). But He answered with more questions. God doesn’t need to justify Himself, and He knew that His prophet trusted Him despite his frustration. Essentially, God’s questions indicate that worse was going to happen. If Jeremiah’s faith could not wait for justice in this case, how would he handle even tougher tests down the road?
These worse things would include the coming judgment on Judah (vv. 7–13). Because of their ongoing sin and rebellion, God would abandon His people and His house (the Temple). His love and protection would be withdrawn. Things would get worse before they get better.
>> The writer of Psalm 73 had similar feelings and doubts. He needed to relearn the truth about God. Why not read this psalm as you conclude your devotional time today?
“Yet you know me, LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you. Drag them off like sheep to be butchered! Set them apart for the day of slaughter!” (Jer. 12:3). How we long for the day when we are fully sanctified, perfectly trusting You!