The words of judgment that we find in Jeremiah 25 are chilling:
The Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon . . . my servant Nebuchadnezzar[!] king of Babylon . . . I will completely destroy [this land] . . . I will banish . . . the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, . . . and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland” (Jer. 25:8-11, NIV).
Equally arresting is the direction given to Jeremiah regarding the cup of the wrath of God that will be forcibly drunk:
Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them . . . Then tell them, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you.’” But if they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink, tell them, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘You must drink it! See, I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that bears my Name . . .’” (Jer. 25:15-16, 27-29, NIV).
We should, as Jeremiah exhorts us, weep and wail as we hear these words, as we hear how the Lord himself will roar from on high, thunder from his holy dwelling, shout against all who live on the earth. He will bring judgment on all mankind; indeed, as he promises elsewhere, the judgment will be swift, final, complete. “In one hour your doom has come!” (Rev. 18:10, NIV)
As we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest these words with fear and trembling, something more begins to dawn. Remembering the One for whom this judgment and this wrath was made terribly real, our hearts are broken and then moved towards him, towards the One who took up our infirmities, carried our sorrows, was pierced for our transgressions, was crushed for our iniquities.
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. He pleaded three times that the cup of wrath would pass from him, but each time he yielded his spirit to the will of his Father (“yet not as I will, but as you will”). The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all, as it was his will to crush him. (From Isaiah 53 and Matthew 26)
Does this word ever get old? Does the reality of our judgment, of the wrath of God, and of Christ’s going forward for me ever become a tired and worn-out narrative? Could someone look at this, apprehending all that was done for him, and respond with something approaching indifference, with “I couldn’t care less”?
I suppose that is possible. At times, it is all too possible. Which makes me all the more grateful, as my heart is broken and moved yet again by the Lamb of God, come to take away the sins of the world.