The Retribution of God
Jeremiah 39:1-8
In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem…

What an accumulation of woe do the eight verses with which this chapter opens present! Let thought dwell on the several statements made here, and let imagination seek to realize what they must have meant to those upon whom the calamities they speak of came; and it will be seen, in vivid lurid light, that the retribution of God upon sin and sinners has been in the past no mere empty threat, and it will lead to the salutary suggestion, so questioned now, that his like threatened retribution in the future is no empty threat either. How unreasonable, in the face of historic facts such as those told of here, and in the face of actual facts of today in which dread suffering and awful calamity are seen overtaking wicked doers, to doubt that God will do the like again should necessity arise! But yet many do doubt and deny the teachings of God's Word on this matter. Note, therefore -


1. Death ends all. But who can prove this? Why is it less possible that we should live in another condition than that we should have been born into the one in which we now are? Resurrection is not antecedently more incredible than creation.

2. God too merciful. But is he? Does he not do or suffer to be done fearful things now?

3. Retribution comes in this world. In part it does to some, but to others sin seems one long success.

4. Christ's death atones for all. Yes, but in what sense? Certainly not in the sense of saving from suffering now. Why, then, if the conditions of salvation be not fulfilled, should the atonement avail hereafter more than now?

II. THE PROBABLE MOTIVES OF THIS DENIAL. Not irresistible conviction or any satisfactory knowledge of the falsity of what is denied, but such as these:

1. The desire that the doctrine denied should not be true. How often in questions like these the wish is father to the thought! Our opinions follow the line of our interest.

2. The belief that the doctrine renders impossible men's love and trust in God. Without question there are and have been settings forth of this doctrine which to all thoughtful minds must have this effect. The conception that God has created - of course, knowingly - myriads of human souls to sin and suffer forever is one that must darken the face of God to the thoughtful soul. Why, it will almost passionately be asked - "Why, if it were so much better that they should never have been born, were they born?" It is "he, the Lord, that hath made us, and not we ourselves." But we are not shut up to such conception. God "will have all men to be saved;" still through what fiery disciplines may he not have to compel the perverse and unruly wills of sinful men to pass ere they shall come to themselves and say, "I will arise," etc.?

3. Atheistic, agnostic, or materialistic. They who come under such names alike will dislike such doctrine as this. They will not simply disbelieve, but protest against them.


1. They have dulled and sometimes deadened the fear of the Lord in many souls. But:

2. They have never been able to convince any that there is no judgment to come. The dread of it haunts them still, the evidence for it being too strong and clear. Hamlet's soliloquy, "To be or not to be, that is the question," etc., still expresses men's fear of death. "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come!"

3. It is difficult to see aught of good that has been done - nothing but more or less ill. Therefore note -

IV. THE WARNING THAT COMES TO US FROM THESE DENIALS. Cherish a deep and holy fear of God. Judge each one ourselves, that we be not judged of the Lord. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it.

WEB: It happened when Jerusalem was taken, (in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and besieged it;

The Last Agony
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