Would you say that harmony and peace is normal for the human race, or conflict and war? I was blessed to have grown up in a region and timeframe of relative peace (although I can’t take credit for that), but conflict among individuals, groups, and nations has persisted since the first family on earth (see Genesis 4). In addition to overt conflict, many people struggle to provide for themselves (and for others). It is indeed a cursed, fallen world that we live in (see Genesis 3), and the consequences of sin – both past and present – remind us that our sinful choices – both individual and collective – are not God’s ideal.
The following verse caught my eye the other day:
Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.
Jeremiah 33:9 NLT
Remember, Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet”. The people around him were sinning their way towards destruction, and (as we know) when someone won’t listen to warnings, it can be more than frustrating. It must have caused Jeremiah great pain to see his people continuing down a doomed path, even when he was sharing the truth that could have saved them (if they would only listen and follow it).
However, God’s nature is not merely “wrath” (despite stereotypes to the contrary). God is holy: “set apart”. He is not a human being, with our shortcomings and bad choices. Instead, He is perfect. As part of this holiness, God is just (in the sense of “just” that we find in “justice” ), meaning that our sins can’t just be ignored. At the same time, God is also perfectly loving, meaning that He has given sacrificially to bring humankind back to Himself.
Even in Jeremiah’s time, God shared hope through this prophet, with passages like Jeremiah 33:1-16. Just that fact should encourage us today. There is hope, and the Bible is replete with reminders of God’s love. In fact, many would say that the Bible is an account of God’s plan for us (and for every human being) and that it shows just how much He loves us. The pinnacle of this love is found in Jesus Christ: who was and is God, and yet came to this earth in humility and service, showing us tangibly what God is like.
The passage above from Jeremiah doesn’t just say that God will free his people from another nation. Read that second sentence in verse 9 again. Other people who see God’s blessings on His people will be in awe at the “peace and prosperity” that God provides. This is clearly no run-of-the-mill peace. It’s not a cease-fire or détente. It is also not a “getting by” sort of prosperity. No, God’s blessings prophesied here will amaze those who see them.
Now, this promise was given to the Jewish people, so I’m not going to arbitrarily apply it to anyone who thinks that they are on God’s “good side”. (Hint: God is perfectly good, so all of Him is His “good side”. We can only measure whether or not we are obeying Him.) However, it is pretty clear from other passages in the Bible that God’s blessings can be enjoyed by those who accept Jesus Christ as their savior and their king (see John 14:1-4, Revelation 21 and 22, etc.). And, when the time is right, God doesn’t just parcel out blessings like meager wartime rations. After all, there’s no budget limit for the God who created everything. What He has in store for those who have returned to His family will be amazing.
So, if you’re tired of fighting and hunger these days, look to the God for whom giving blessings is natural, and who will fulfill His awesome promises to bless those who follow Him. We’ve messed up this earth, but God is getting another one ready, even while He provides peace and prosperity to a fallen world.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.