“The end is near!” “Repent!”
Have you ever seen a statement of prophetic warning spray-painted on a wall or in a subway station? Did you ever consider that statement might be for you? I’ve got to be honest, I don’t take much notice to such warnings.
Now, transport yourself back to the 7th century BC. You’re a Moabite living just across the Dead Sea from the Kingdom of Judah (the Southern Kingdom of Israel). One of the Jewish prophets speaks prophetic warnings over your country. Do you take any more heed to those warnings than I do to a spray-painted subway warning?
Why would the God of Israel speak a warning to a foreign country to the Israelites? I believe a strange section of Jeremiah shows us both God’s mercy and his patience with unbelievers even today.
The other day as I was nearing the end of Jeremiah’s prophecy, a section stood out to me like a sore thumb. After several dozen chapters devoted to warning Israel, Jeremiah carves out six chapters to warn other nations: Egypt, Philistia, Moab, and Babylon at the targets of Jeremiah’s warnings. In the middle of a book of warning and prophecy to Israel, God sends his warning to the nations.
These are not sugar-coated prophecies. These have all the brashness of the graffiti on the subway wall. God says things like: