17So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it: 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people, 20and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines ( Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); 21 Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon; 22all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair; 24all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert; 25all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; 26all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink.
27″Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’
28″And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: You must drink! 29For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the LORD of hosts.’
Jeremiah continues to deliver God’s message to the people of Judah announcing the impending judgement upon them for their rebellion and intransigence in disobedience. In chapter 24 God says through Jeremiah: .
9I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.
The nation known as the people of God are about to be severely punished by God for their rebellion and stubborn refusal to repent.
There is only one God. There are not, as many have thought, and no doubt many in Jeremiah’s day thought, gods for all kinds of things and all kinds of people. The God of Israel is not some regional deity who might lose some contest against the gods of the surrounding nations. There is only one God and He is sending judgement upon the nation called by His Name. But this in no way means that the surrounding nations can rest easy. God did not just make Israel and He does not just hold Israel accountable for their actions.
All the peoples of all the world are accountable to God. There is hardly anything in the world that is more offensive to the contemporary mind than this. For if it is true today, as it was then, that there is but one God who holds all peoples accountable for their actions, then it must necessarily also be true that this one God is the one who must save from whatever judgements He has upon them. Only this one God can hold us to account and only this one God can save us from the consequences of the judgement once that account has been given.
In Jeremiah 25, God gives Jeremiah a cup for the nations to drink. In the event that they refuse to drink it, God tells Jeremiah to say to them “You must drink”. Whether they acknowledge God or not is not the issue. They have no choice. But the reason God says they must drink? If the city called by God’s name is under judgement, then how much more will the unbelieving cities in the region also be held accountable? God will not treat His own people worse than He treats their pagan neighbours. The fact that they deny Israel’s God does not make things better for them. It makes things worse.
God sent Jeremiah to warn the nations that a judgement was coming. It was coming to nations who did not acknowledge that the God who was sending it existed or, if he did exist, could do anything to hurt them – He simply was not their God. But that did not excuse them or decrease the damage.
Today, there are no nations or cities that can say that they are the people of God, in the same sense that Israel and Jerusalem could in the Old Covenant. God has His people in every city and every country in the world. We have a city not made by hands. But God is still the ruler of the whole world. He still holds the nations of the world accountable for their behaviour. And He will judge them, whether they acknowledge Him or not.
We, like Jeremiah, are given a message to deliver to the nations so that people can flee to God before the judgement comes, and be saved. The predominant belief in the world is that if there is a God He is certainly not the only one and He is certainly not the only way to eternal life. And He most certainly will not judge very severely.
That Jesus Christ is the only way to God is the most offensive teaching on the planet. But it is still the Gospel. And people need to be warned. And those who have been given the truth of the Gospel have also been told to share it with those who are perishing. And they are perishing.
God holds those who know Him to account. He will not let those who are not called by his Name go unpunished. And they need to hear it and they need to believe it. If Jeremiah had refused to give the message of judgement to the nations, God would have made him answer for it. We can expect no less for ourselves.