Because of his people’s rebellion, God will pour out his judgment on “this place.” Jeremiah 7:20 says, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, my anger, and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.’” Some argue that “this place” refers to either the Temple where the Israelites had corrupted the worship of the one true God or the land of Israel that had been given to the Jews as their dwelling place upon the earth. But “this place” in the context used by Jeremiah refers to the physical realm as a whole, all the earth. When man sinned, God cursed the ground. He said that because of man the ground from which man was taken shall be cursed. Man’s sin brought a curse upon the whole creation. God’s curse upon the created order is also mentioned by Hosea. Hosea 4:3, also speaks of God’s justice being poured out on the created order. It reads, “Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away.” The creation was made for man and now that creation would suffer for man’s sins. Calvin said, “Strictly speaking, God does not punish animals and trees; this happens because of mankind, so that this spectacle may fill men with fear.”[1]

Filled with fear! The most frightening aspect of this verse is the phrase, “and it shall not be quenched.” God’s anger and wrath shall be poured out on earth and upon man forever and ever. This has been used by some of the more ancient commentators to support the theme of eternal torment. John Donne, writes, “God threatens that for their grievous sins he will multiply lives upon them and make them immortal for immortal torments. They shall be ‘a generation of his wrath’; for they shall die in this world in his displeasure and receive a new birth, a new generation in the world to come with a new capacity for new miseries; they shall die in the next world every minute, deprived of the sight of God and every minute receive a new generation, a new birth, a new ability to experience real and sensible torments.”[2] This has filled every generation with fear.

But God promised a remedy for both the created order and for the children of Adam. Isaiah 11:1-3 says, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.”  Nick Batzig, of Ligonier Ministries, writes, “In the Gospel, God promised to redeem–not just His believing people, but also the whole of the cosmos. The promise of redemption is the promise to all those who have trusted in Jesus, the second Adam, that they will live forever with Him in the New Heavens and the New Earth. When He sweat a great drop of blood in the Garden, the blood of the Second Adam fell into the cursed ground. When He hung on the tree, with a crown of thorns on his head, He shed His blood into the ground. The writer of Hebrews draws out this parallel between the blood of Abel (which cried out to God from the ground for judgment on Cain) and the blood of Jesus ‘speaking better things than that of Abel.’ Jesus’ blood cries out for mercy. There is a sense in which we can say that Jesus’ blood–being poured out into the cursed ground–also secures the new creation. There are depths here–depths that ought to make us fall on our knees, confess our sin and worship the God who sent His eternal Son to become the sin-bearing, curse-removing Second Adam!”[3]

[1] Calvin, John. 2000. Jeremiah and Lamentations. Crossway Classic Commentaries. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Tyler, J. Jeffery, and Timothy George, eds. 2018. Jeremiah, Lamentations: Old Testament. Vol. XI. Reformation Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press.