We had told my daughter not to play around with the eighty-dollar foam insert from her baby brother’s car seat. As her mother and I cleaned the car seat we realized her playful chirps and hums had gone rather quiet. Around the corner in the living room, there was my young daughter—with pieces of the foam insert spread around the room. After sending her to her room, my wife and I had to discuss the “D” word: discipline.
God’s attribute of wrath is not one that gets too much playtime in our culture. It seems rather contrarian to talk about a God of love and at the same time consider that God is also just. His wrath is not the capricious, spur-of-the-moment anger that often overtakes us at our frustration over the smallest of things. Instead, God’s wrath is the rightful display and action of His anger against sin, which is the desecration of His glory.
Here in Jeremiah’s prophecies, we find God proclaiming that the day of His wrath is coming. Lest we think that God is just a cranky old ogre, He tells us of His persistence to warn Israel from their infidelity: “The LORD sent all his servants the prophets to you time and time again, but you have not obeyed or even paid attention. He announced, ‘Turn, each of you, from your evil way of life and from your evil deeds. Live in the land the LORD gave to you and your ancestors long ago and forever’” (Jeremiah 25:4–5). But like children with their fingers in their ears refusing to obey their parents’ warnings, so Israel refused to listen to God.
A visual image is given to Jeremiah in the second section of this chapter: a cup of the wine of wrath. Symbolically, each nation would drink that cup. Each people group and power would be forced to reckon with the wrath of God because of their rebellion against Him. This chapter points to the deep reality that the Day of the Lord is coming, and He is coming with His vengeance and wrath against all sin. “The LORD brings a case against the nations. He enters into judgment with all people. As for the wicked, he hands them over to the sword—this is the LORD’s declaration” (v.31).
As I sat on the bed with my daughter, I told her that her disobedience made me sad. She had been warned not to play with the foam insert, and now it was broken and was expensive to replace. She asked how much it would cost to replace the insert, and after telling her, I watched as big tears of fear and sadness welled up in her eyes. “Daddy, I can’t pay that, I don’t have enough!” And the message of the gospel hit home to me at that moment. “Allison, I know, but I will repay it.”
The cost of our sin was so great that we could not repay it. But Jesus went to the cross on our behalf to drink the cup of the wrath of God on our behalf, so we would never have to taste the wrath of God. We lament our sin today but in faith trust the Savior who took the wrath of God in our place.
Written by Jeremy Writebol