In our trek through the Word of God arranged chronologically we find ourselves in the middle of Jeremiah 16. The message to what is left of the nation of Israel, i.e., Judah, for quite a long while at this point has been that God will summon a pagan nation from afar to thrash Judah in much the same way that He had summoned Assyria to punish the northern kingdom of Israel. However, as God often does in the middle of declaring judgment and punishment, He pauses to deliver a brief promise of future restoration when the impending judgment is brought to completion.
Jeremiah 16:14-15 is the promise of a sure and certain hope of life after judgment, "Therefore behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when it will no longer be said, 'As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' 15 but, 'As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.' For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers. (NASU) The main prophecy here is that a remnant of Israel will return home safely after the punishment God metes out through the nation of Babylon.
It seems to me that this passage also points to an end-times fulfillment of restoration for the nation of Israel also. God is longsuffering, compassionate, merciful, and gracious. Do not mistake those characteristics for an unwillingness to finally bring about justice and the requisite punishment on those who refuse His kindnesses.
Jeremiah 16:16-18 returns to the message of quickly-approaching judgment, "Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen," declares the Lord, "and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks. 17 "For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes. 18 "I will first doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable idols and with their abominations." (NASU) The guilty will be unable to hide. God sees and knows the fullness of their wickedness, particularly in idol worship.
Finally, we come to the rhetorical question that prompted me to stop and meditate on this passage. Jeremiah 16:19-21, O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, And my refuge in the day of distress, To You the nations will come From the ends of the earth and say, "Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood, Futility and things of no profit." 20 Can man make gods for himself? Yet they are not gods! 21 "Therefore behold, I am going to make them know — This time I will make them know My power and My might; And they shall know that My name is the Lord." (NASU) Men and women in every age have worshiped false gods. We have created idols in our own image and likeness. Please do not entertain, even for one second, that just because you have never literally built a statue and bowed down to it, that you are not guilty of worshiping idols. Anything that occupies more of your thoughts than the Creator is an idol of your creating. My ministry, your grandchildren, my bank account, your hobbies, my approval by others, your status in society, etc. and etc. and etc. can all very, very easily can become idols. Please do not miss verse 21, God will eventually straighten all of that out, but much pain will be involved.