Hilary Carmon, Administrative Assistant — Women’s Ministry
Reading these passages, I am reminded of the contrast I feel between the tone of the Old Testament and the New Testament. I often find the Old Testament somewhat intimidating and even frightening; which is why I think I am drawn more often in my own reading of scripture to the accounts of Jesus. In Jeremiah 33:5, God says “in the fight with the Babylonians They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.” In Ezekiel 26:14, God says “I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken.” This is very scary stuff to hear from the God of Love that we know in Jesus.
But if I read carefully, I can see that the truth, love and wisdom God wishes for us is there, just in a context that is more difficult to apply to my own life. In the Jeremiah passages, you see destruction wrought on entire cities because the people rejected God, but simultaneously there is a promise that redemption and restoration is guaranteed. In our own lives, when we knowingly turn away from God, our town isn’t raided by brutal armies and burnt to the ground, but there are consequences. We end up hurting ourselves and others, often the ones we love. But because of God’s love, grace and redemption are always there for us no matter what.
In the Ezekiel passage, the city of Tyre faces God’s wrath and again, the imagery is very unsettling. Why? In doing some research, I learned that Tyre was not an enemy of Jerusalem, but essentially just a competing economic power. But when Jerusalem fell, they not only failed to display pity or condolence in their hearts, but celebrated because of how the lack of competition would benefit them. Though not an overt act, that pride and failure to love one’s neighbor was such an offense to God that Tyre brought on its own complete destruction. When our own insecurity or self-interest creeps into our lives, how easy is it to fall into the trap of taking pleasure in a competitor’s failures or struggles, whether it be openly or in secret? It can even be someone you love. Again, our house will probably not “…become plunder for the nations” (Ezekiel 26:5) but we are still turning away from God’s desire for us, and that has its consequences.
It is amazing how the same truths that God conveyed to mankind by way of mass chaos, suffering and destruction, are taught to millions by Jesus with just a few words or a simple act of love. To me that is a powerful lesson in itself about what an incredible gift Jesus truly is.