By Brandt Siegel
These chapters from Jeremiah express such powerful descriptions of God’s anger. Like Jeremiah (8:18), I find them unnerving. Why is God so profoundly angry? Is he too stern? How do I reconcile the God who died for us with this angry God?
After reading this, I thought of a question Pastor Mark has posed to us. What makes you cry or pound your fist? I think if we ask, “What makes God cry or pound His fist?” we can understand where God’s anger makes a lot of sense.
In the text, God is angry with a whole people who have disavowed Him and turned to idols. There are two key interrelated results of the Israelites’ turning. First, turning away from God results in the breakdown of the relationships between the Israelites. Every Israelite has to “beware of his neighbor, / and put no trust in any brother, / for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.” (9:4) In pursuing their own selfishness, the Israelites can’t even trust each other. Second, idol worship ruins their relationship with God. Can you hear the lament when God says “my children have gone from me” (10:20)? The Israelite’s scorning Him is hurtful to God. If God did not care about His people, the Israelites’ disobedience would not have provoked such a reaction. It makes Him cry. It makes him pound His fist. It makes Him sacrifice His only son.
So, I think it’s justifiable for God to be profoundly angry because the stakes are so high—our very soul. God asks us to obey his voice (7:23) and He will be our God. Although I don’t worship idols cut and carved from a tree, I know I have idols in my life, and Jeremiah asks us to examine those idols that become a barrier to a relationship with God.
What in my life would make God cry or pound His fist?