As part of the blessing that God promised Israel when He gave them the promised land they inherited a rich, productive land. They were given houses that they didn’t build. They were given water, a precious commodity, from 27 no godwells that they didn’t dig. They were given food from crops and trees and vines that they didn’t plant. God’s favor rested solidly upon His people. Yet they became complacent with God’s blessings and followed after the lusts of the pagans of the land and turned their backs on the God who blessed them with so much. Along with the promised blessings that God gave to the Israelites when He gave them the land was the promise. As long as they remained faithful to Him they would enjoy a rich rewarding life. If they were to turn away from Him they would experience the consequences. The lands would be taken from them, their houses would be destroyed, and their children made slaves.

This is exactly what Jeremiah was referring to when he told of the invading nation coming against Israel because of their unfaithfulness. In Jeremiah 5:17, he says, “They shall eat up your harvest and your food; they shall eat up your sons and your daughters; they shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees; your fortified cities in which you trust they shall beat down with the sword.” As Willis explains, “The judgment pronounced here on the …is highly reminiscent of Deuteronomy 28:49–52. There, Moses foretold that the Lord would ‘bring a nation … from far away, whose language you will not understand,’ who will ‘devour … livestock … and crops …; they will leave you no grain, new wine or oil, nor any calves … or lambs;’ and they will fight ‘until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down.’ Jeremiah draws on this ancient prediction to get the people to see that the destruction he is announcing is totally consistent with the Lord’s previous words. They are without excuse.”[1]

Just as Israel was “without excuse” so too is the mass of sinful humanity today. Like Israel the world wants to lock God out of their lives, yet, as Ryken observes, “The truth is that even a bucket of pond scum provides incontrovertible evidence of intelligent design. One does not have to be a scientist to know this. Even a glimpse of the first colors of autumn on the far hills reveals the work of the great Artist.” I’ve commented often on Paul’s references to Jeremiah’s prophecy and here is one that seems perfectly clear to me. He writes in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Ryken continues, “Wherever we find intricate and beautiful design, we know there is a designer. The designer has a name. He is called God, and he made everything there is just the way it is.”[2] Even more, in the face of man’s sin God provided a Passover lamb. Anyone who believed could escape the coming Judgment. God provided an ark. Anyone who believed could be saved from the coming judgment. In Christ, he provided a way! Anyone who believes can be saved from the coming judgment. We are, like Israel, without excuse.

[1] Timothy M. Willis, Jeremiah/Lamentations, College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 2002), 83.

[2] Philip Graham Ryken, Discovering God in Stories from the Bible (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1999), 87–88.