What a gut-wrenching and simultaneously comforting thought:
“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord;remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire,and burn with none to quench it,because of the evil of your deeds.”
Circumcision, as we know from Genesis and the rest of Torah, was a practice given by God to the Israelites. For one, it was a sign of the covenant between Abraham and God. God changes his name from Abram to Abraham, and He makes him fruitful, promising to make him the father of many nations. For two, circumcision had great health benefits. Less disease and less infection is always a plus. For three, it would distinguish them from the surrounding nations. No other nations practiced circumcision in those days.
Now, here is God (thru Jeremiah), bringing to mind a common physical practice and applying it metaphorically to the people’s hearts. They need to repent and rid themselves of infection, disease, SIN. If they don’t there will be consequences. Think of how painful the physical act of circumcision is.
Then think of how much it hurts when you realize you have idols, sin, and disease in your heart.
Moving to chapter 5, verse 17: “They shall…they shall…they shall…” meaning it’s going to happen. And the other repeated phrase, this coming as God asks a rhetorical question, “Shall I not punish them for these things? Shall I not avenge Myself on a nation such as this?” We know that these are heavy truths. The people will go into captivity. That is their punishment. It is the Lord’s way of avenging Himself.
How painful. How comforting.