I love the book of Jeremiah! There’s just something about that man and his ministry that I admire. Considering his circumstances it’s easy to identify with him. As we face the difficulties of our day it is encouraging to consider what he experienced and endured. Ray Stedman suggested that “the central lessons of this book is what happened to Jeremiah as God prepared him to minister in a day of decay”. That phrase “day of decay” certainly describes the troublesome times in which we live.
To understand our text we need to see the big picture. The nation’s sins had reached the point that judgement was certain–so much so that God forbid the prophet to pray for the people (vs. 14). Then he discovered that the people he loved had plotted against him to take his life (vs. 18-19). So it is in the light of all this that he prays,”But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.”Notice, he brought his problem to the Lord, rather than ranting against his enemies. He prays that evil would be extinguished. That was the proper thing to do–even though it involved people he cared about deeply.
Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better– so getting “worse” isn’t bad when it is the means of bringing better. Jeremiah knew that God’s judgement is righteous, therefore he prays, “let me see thy vengeance on them”. This was not personal–a plea for God to hurt those who hurt him. His prayer is prompted by the hope for healing, not hatred. The wise prophet knew there was a price to be paid for removing evil from the land. He was aware that his people would have to hurt before they could be helped. Wanting to see God take action is not cruel, especially when there is no other solution. We should desire the destruction of the destroyers who set themselves against God and desire to bring our nation to naught. Praying for such is not “unchristian” as some people would have you to believe. It is in fact our duty to pray that God will do whatever is necessary to stop those who are plotting the downfall of God’s people. Looking at the moral landscape today, the identity of our enemies is clear and just voting against them is not enough– we must also pray ” let me see thy vengeance on them“. Only God can defeat those who would destroy us.–HDS