Near the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote these words: “Now all has been heard. Here is the conclusion of the matter.”
Those same words might well apply to chapter twenty-four. The first eleven chapters of the book detailed the coming punishment of God’s people. The previous twelve chapters have detailed many of the objections to punishment raised by the people. They are not all objections in the strictest sense. Many of them are reasons given by the people for not believing the promised destruction will come. But each statement has been met and answered. The time for remonstration is over. It is January, 588 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar has arrived at the gates of Jerusalem to do precisely as the Lord has decreed.
“Mark down this date” the Lord says. It would become a date of fasting for Israel during the exile (Zechariah 10:19). What follows (vss. 3-5) may well be a popular cooking song in Israel, but the Lord is adding verses to it in this case. God is about to cook Judah, but He’s not making a meal. He is burning the meal and the meal will continue to burn until the fury of God’s wrath subsides. “I will not hold back. I will not have pity, nor will I relent,” He says.
Can this really be the same God of the New Testament, the God who sacrificed His son, Himself, for the sins of the world?
The Lord has not over-reacted to a casual dalliance of his people. He has patiently urged his children to repent for centuries. He’s tried everything. Nothing has worked. An offended father now brings the full weight of punishment to bear on a recalcitrant people. God will only be abused so long. A judgment day is coming.
Why would a kind, loving, benevolent God act with such violence toward those He loves?
Because this kind, loving, benevolent God is supreme. He expects to be honored by His creation — especially those He has been kind, loving and benevolent toward.