Jeremiah 21:5,8: “I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and great wrath . . . Now you shall say to this people, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.'”

July 19th, 2021 by Pastor Ed in devotional

The king of Judea, Zedekiah, asked Jeremiah if the Lord would be on their side when the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, attacked. God’s response made it clear that He was about to use the Babylonian army as an instrument of His discipline. Not only would the Babylonians be against them, but God would also be against them. It is never a good thing to have God Himself against you and what you are doing in your life. It can take a while to figure this simple truth out, but God desires to be our greatest support and advocate. But if we go against His will, He will become our greatest foe and worst nightmare.

God told them that He was bringing discipline on them for straying so far from His word and chasing after false gods. He warned them so they could see their error, confess their sins, and turn back to Him. God’s discipline is always meant to drive us back to Him, never to push us away. God is constantly looking for us to submit and recognize His right to absolute authority over us. As soon as we do, He forgives and gives us peace, even in the most difficult circumstances. God told them that their only hope for survival was to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, but no matter what they did, Jerusalem was lost. Tough times were ahead of them, but God would be with them if they would simply surrender and accept His Lordship over their lives.

President Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter of pardon during the Civil War that illustrates this idea well. It is in the State House at Albany. It granted pardon to a deserter, and read:

Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C., Oct. 4, 1864. Upon condition that Roswell McIntyre of Co. E, Sixth Regiment of New York Cavalry, returns to his regiment and faithfully serves out his time, or until lawfully discharged, he is fully pardoned for any supposed desertion heretofore committed; this paper is his pass to his regiment, Abraham Lincoln.

Written across the side are the words:

Quartermaster’s office, N.Y. City, Oct. 22, 1864. Transportation furnished to Baltimore, Md. H. Brownson.

And then down at the left, this note is scribbled:

Taken from the body of R. McIntyre at the battle of Five Forks, Va., 1865.

The quitter had gone back and died like a man, with his pardon in his pocket. And so may all who turn away from God, but then turn back to Him again. They will be forgiven and commissioned again.

“LORD, we thank You that Your arms are always open wide, inviting prodigal sons and daughters back into fellowship with You.”