As Ryken observes in his commentary on Jeremiah, “Jerusalem is Sin City. There is always a fresh supply of evil welling up like poison within her and overflowing into her streets. Her 26 love one anotherstreets are noisy with violence. Sin covers the city like an open sore.”[1] He takes that thought from Jeremiah 6:7 where God, speaking through the prophet, declares, “As a well keeps its water fresh, so she keeps fresh her evil; violence and destruction are heard within her; sickness and wounds are ever before me.”

According to Wikipedia, New York, New Orleans, Chicago and Miami have all been known as “Sin City” at one time or another in the past. But most popularly referred to as “Sin City” is Las Vegas, Nevada. The article begins by saying, “Examples of vices include sex-related services (prostitution, strip clubs, sex shops, etc.), gambling (casinos, betting shops, etc.), or drug use (alcohol, marijuana, etc. consumption), and even excessive organized crime and gang activity.” If you look at Jeremiah’s description, however, you see something a little different. In this description you see “violence, destruction, sickness and wounds.” Violence, destruction and wounds all seem to relate to the injuries of people on people. Sickness doesn’t fit that model. But Martin Luther translates the phrase “sickness and wounds” as “murder and blows.” Other translations agree with Luther’s rendering which makes the passage more consistent.  God’s judgment in Noah’s day was also the result of man’s ill treatment of man. According to Genesis 6:11 (English Standard Version) what God saw that moved him to bring judgment was “the earth was filled with violence…”

Ryken’s focus on “violence” being the key to understanding God’s judgment seems to be accurate and it’s this behavior that brought God’s judgment on Jerusalem and His chosen people. Jesus clarified all this for us when He talked about what the most important thing in life is. In contrast to the world’s tendency to use others for their own benefit and to take instead of give, Jesus taught us in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

[1] Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 96–97.