Futile Fury (Jeremiah 48:30)

“I know his fury,” declares the LORD,
“But it is futile;
His idle boasts have accomplished nothing.”

Jeremiah 48:30

This verse occurs in the midst of a rather extensive run of judgments against various nations. This particular statement is made of Moab.

Little backstory on Moab. Back in Genesis, Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees and made his journey toward what would come to be known as Israel. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, came along for the trip. Now Lot was a large serving of trouble for his uncle and the two eventually parted ways. Lot settled near an infamous place known as Sodom. Sodom was eventually wiped off the map by God and Lot and his family were spared. Most of his family, anyway. His wife got all misty-eyed over the allures of the wicked city they were leaving and she was turned into a pillar of salt. The remaining family consisted of Lot’s two daughters. Once they had reached safety, the girls took a look back across the plains and saw the ruin of Sodom and figured that they and their father were all that was left of humankind on Earth. So the girls decided they needed to repopulate the world. They got their father drunk and each was impregnated by him. One of the resulting children was named Moab. This Moab is the one who goes on to found what would become the nation of Moab upon which God is pronouncing judgment through Jeremiah.

The background is important for a few reasons. First, that sort of history marks a person. It is not just that a person with an inappropriate past carries that around with them, but that Moab could not have gone anywhere without people wondering who his father was. And, in the ancient world, who your father was determined a great deal about who you would become. Second, Lot was not dedicated to God the way that Abraham was. There are verses that refer to him as “righteous Lot” and I will not contradict those, but Lot was a man, as the hymn states it, “prone to wander”. This penchant showed itself in his daughters and in his (grand)sons. There are more, but I do not want to go off on too much of a tear about Lot. Suffice it so say, Lot was not a great role model and Moab and his brother/cousin would have ha a difficult childhood.

All of that to arrive at the statement made by God. God says that He knows Moab’s fury. We all get angry and each of us has the potential for rage. But the same thing that is said of Moab’s fury could be said of ours: it is futile. I am a huge science-fiction nerd, and this makes me think of the Borg and their whole “Resistance is futile.” shtick, but there is a key difference: When God says something is futile, it is. Moab can be as angry as they want to be about God’s judgment on them, but their anger will not change the judgment nor will it make it anything other than just.

Moab talked a good game, too. God notes that His idle boasts have accomplished nothing. Essentially, God heard what Moab had to say, acknowledged it, and went along with what He (God) had purposed to do. Moab’s words were noise that accomplished nothing.

How often does this describe us? Right this moment, this could as easily be a charge leveled at various factions and interests within the United States. They are making a lot of noise, trying to legitimize themselves or what they do, but they cannot legitimize what God has declared sinful. It remains sinful regardless of what they say or do. Likewise, I cannot legitimize my own sins — they remain utterly sinful. Yet how often do I rage and cry against what God is doing in my life? I have done wrong and discipline and consequence naturally follow wrongdoing. All that my anger accomplishes is to tire me out.

Instead of fury, let me meet God’s judgment; His discipline with the knowledge that I, in all likelihood, deserve much worse than I will receive. Instead of boastful words, let me meet the discipline of God in silence and seek to learn the lesson that God wishes to teach. God is in His holy temple, let all the Earth (myself included and especially) be silent.

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