For Yahweh says concerning the house of the king of Judah:
“You are Gilead to me,
the head of Lebanon.
Yet surely I will make you a wilderness,
cities which are not inhabited.
I will prepare destroyers against you,
everyone with his weapons,
and they will cut down your choice cedars,
and cast them into the fire.
“Many nations will pass by this city, and they will each ask his neighbor, ‘Why has Yahweh done this to this great city?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they abandoned the covenant of Yahweh their God, worshiped other gods, and served them.’ ”
God has repeatedly told Judah about His plan to destroy them hasn’t He? Sometimes I worry about what God’s will is. I wonder if I missed the memo somehow, especially when I suffer for one of my decisions, but when I read Isaiah and Jeremiah, I remember that if God had wanted me to know something, He would have probably repeated it several times like He did for Israel and Judah. When we are punished by God, it’s because we didn’t obey the clear direction that God gave us. God loves Israel and didn’t want to punish them, but just like when a parent threatens a child with punishment, they may become complacent and rebellious thinking that they will get out of it and still do whatever they want. Eventually, a loving parent has to take action to punish a child. At that time the child will know what they are getting punished for, that’s for sure.
One of the reasons that God must punish rebellion is because His reputation is important for those who are watching from the outside. If God’s people were to get away with murder, everyone would learn that God is a push over. He doesn’t really mean what He says when He tells them to follow His laws. It’s interesting that Moses was concerned that if God destroyed the people, He might get a bad reputation, but the exact opposite is true. If God were to not destroy a wicked people like Judah, people would not understand the seriousness of His law. So, we read here that one good result of God’s destruction of Judah and Jerusalem will be that people will walk by the destruction and know why it happened. It will actually promote the fear of God among the nations. God intended for Israel to participate in causing the nations to fear God, and here we see that God is able to accomplish that with or without them.