It sometimes seems that God’s word is failing to prove true. If the Lord has threatened to bring calamity on the wicked and promised to stand by his people in adversity, why do the evil prosper while the righteous suffer? Although such questions are troubling, the reality is that in his own time God always does precisely what he has said.
Jeremiah’s message for Jerusalem is a perfect illustration. The “holy city” had become abominably unholy. Its inhabitants were shamelessly worshiping every god but the true one. The Lord instructed his prophet to warn the people of impending doom. The Chaldean army led by King Nebuchadnezzar would break down the walls of Jerusalem, burn the fine houses, destroy the temple, rape the young women, slay the young men, and carry away captives to a distant land.
Understandably, Jeremiah’s stubborn countrymen resented this warning. And they refused to believe it. Then the Chaldean soldiers came and besieged Jerusalem. The Egyptians, however, were coming to the rescue. The Chaldeans withdrew their siege as Pharaoh approached. The crisis was over! God’s dire warning had proved an empty threat.
Or so the Jews thought. But God said that the Chaldeans would “not stay away. For even if you should defeat the whole army of Chaldeans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men, every man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire” (Jer. 37:9-10). That is, if injured soldiers were the only ones left in the Chaldean encampment, God would bring on Jerusalem exactly what he had said. In 586 BC, the city of Jerusalem was ravished, plundered, and burned.