In the beginning of the chapter, Jeremiah asked a ‘million-dollar’ question – WHY does the way of the wicked prosper? WHY do all the faithless live at ease?
An observation from the book of Jeremiah and related study from chapters in Kings and Chronicles – Jeremiah was complaining about a common reality. It’s a fact that there were prosperous people living at ease; and they were wicked religiously and morally. 2 Chronicles 36:14 said, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord.
The Lord’s answer was recorded in verse 5-17.
The Lord called out two blind spots of Jeremiah’s question.
First, Jeremiah had to realize that he was not competing on a fair ground with them – the analogy was man racing with horses (v5). How fast does the wicked and wealthy run? We see it from Proverbs 1:16 – ‘for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood.’ The way of life the wicked choose to follow belongs to this world. How could they not be ‘rewarded’ with their deeds by the ruler of the kingdom of the air? However, what would happen if they continue to sin and keep practicing their perverse way? The Lord warned Jeremiah not to trust them and form alliances with them.
Second, the Lord moved on to the end result (v12-13) – no one will be safe from the wrath. The horizon Jeremiah saw for the wicked was a temporary success in life. One of the essential characteristics of our God is righteousness – He will not leave sin unpunished. True abundance in life is the freedom from sin and the eternal presence and peace with God (Luke 12:15). If men truly repent, even the wicked neighboring nations can be delivered (v15-16).
Reading and meditating this chapter with Psalms 37 gave me a great comfort:
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Lord, help us to fix our eyes upon Jesus, may our lips and hearts jointly praise you, may we be reminded that the ultimate reward at the finish line is to be with you forever and ever. In the name of Christ we pray. Amen. — Ivy Lin