Read Jeremiah 18:7-10
7 If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, 8 but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. 9 And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, 10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would. (NLT)
We have a tendency to go to extremes when it comes to our understanding of God. Some emphasise his holiness which results in the destruction of all that is not acceptable to him. Others stress his mercy which results in the embrace of all who fall short of his holiness. As is usual with extremes, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Our text reminds us that God stands ready to both condemn those who reject his mercy and yet is always ready to offer that mercy. He is not some arrogant tyrant just itching to wipe out his adversaries. Nor is he some easygoing figure who benignly overlooks rebellion or disobedience and lets everyone into his company.
The Bible speaks of a holy God who acts in just judgement against evil, and also of a gracious God who extends the possibility of forgiveness to all who turn to him for help. And it is the same God in each situation. God does not have two faces.
One theologian puts it well: “If it were not the case that all nations stand under the impending judgement of God, there would be no need to proclaim the gospel. But if it were not for the fact that God deals in mercy and forgiveness with all who repent, there would be no gospel to proclaim.”
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