9 Thus says the LORD of hosts: Glean thoroughly as a vine the remnant of Israel;
like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again over its branches.
10 To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear?
See, their ears are closed, they cannot listen.
The word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.
11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD; I am weary of holding it in.
Pour it out on the children in the street,
and on the gatherings of young men as well;
both husband and wife shall be taken, the old folk and the very aged.
12 Their houses shall be turned over to others,
their fields and wives together;
for I will stretch out my hand against the inhabitants of the land, says the LORD.
13 For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.
14 They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying,
“Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.
The posting of the 95 Theses by Martin Luther for debate in Wittenberg touched off a firestorm in Europe that would rage for a century, and most people think of the beginning of the reformation as a theological movement, which it was, but the 95 theses gained the immediate attention they did because they addressed an economic reality. I think it is telling that thesis 92 (which sets up the final three theses) explicitly refers to Jeremiah 6: 14:
92. Away then with the prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! [Jer. 6:14]
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their head, through penalties, death, and hell;
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace [Acts 14: 22] (Luther 1989, 29)
Luther felt that the people had placed their trust in the wrong place; in the reformation context they had placed their faith in the church and not in Christ. In Jeremiah’s context the people have trusted the rulers and the temple, but not God- and the consequences of that misplaced trust are devastating. Rather than making a single pass over the grapevine of Israel, Jeremiah is told to make a second pass so there is very little remaining for the people do not hear the prophet’s warning-others have told them a more pleasant message. The prophet is at the point where he has been the bearer of this message that has fallen on deaf ears, and he feels ready to break, even though he knows the result will be devastation. The litany of children, husband and wives, old and aged, least to greatest, prophet and priest, everyone is to be caught up in the tide of wrath.
We live in a culture that doesn’t deal with God’s wrath very well. Churches in the United States that tend to talk about God’s wrath tend to direct it towards primarily moralistic (and particularly sexual) behaviors. But in the Bible God’s wrath is a function of God’s grief over the turning of the people away from their vocation as the people of God and the ways in which injustice and greed have taken over the narrative of who they are.
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