Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it (Jer 30:6-7).
For many years, I read about the people in both the Old and New Testaments and wondered at the depths of sin into which they had fallen. The OT, for example, is full of accounts of sexual sins. These, along with many other sins, caused the Lord to discipline the nation of Israel. I used to think in my head, “Those folks were really bad!” I could not imagine how our society or world could ever reach the severity of the depravity I read on those pages.
I was reading in the book of Jeremiah recently and realized we are just as bad. A verse caught my eye that would have been easy to pass over. But I realized that in one way, a small comment in the verse showed that we are just as bad as the Jews of Jeremiah’s day. In fact, if we look at moral depravity as a competition, this comment might suggest that we beat them in the race to the bottom. If they were alive today, they would surely say about us, “You guys are really bad!” They would say we are crazy.
Part of the reason it caught my eye is because it occurs in a section in which the Lord is going to judge the world for its sin. In the midst of that judgment, God will deliver His people Israel (Jer 30:3). This, of course, is talking about the last days, when the nation of Israel will be saved both spiritually and physically. They will believe in Jesus as the Christ, and He will deliver them from their enemies in the Great Tribulation. These enemies will be led by the Man of Sin (Rom 11:26; 2 Thess 2:8).
In this section of Jeremiah, then, God says He will judge the world because of its sin and its rebellion against Him. Man’s sin will have reached its apex. The judgment that falls upon the world will be deserved.
It will be a terrible time. Jesus said it would be so bad that unless the time of it was cut short, no one on earth would survive (Matt 24:22). The book of Revelation goes into detail about this incredible future day of judgment. Jeremiah described it as a time when every man will place his hands on his loins and his face will turn pale (Jer 30:6). Every man will look like a woman who is going through the pain and discomfort of giving birth. Jesus Himself also described this time as being like a woman giving birth because of the pain the world will experience (Matt 24:8).
But the appearance of men on that day, of course, will not show that they are about to give birth. That, of course, is impossible. It is only an illustration that the Lord gives to show the severity of the judgments that men will see. The readers of Jeremiah would have understood all of that. It is understood by everybody. For Jeremiah points out that what “man is ever in labor with child?” (Jer 30:6). It is almost said as a joke, making an illustration of a truth.
That is the phrase that caught my attention. The depravity of people today is such that many would deny what is obvious. We are told that men can indeed be in labor. They can give birth. This shows that they have rebelled against God’s created order and deny it even exists.
If Jeremiah were prophesying today, the Lord would have to give him a different illustration! The one the Lord gave him wouldn’t work. Many might hear these words and say, “Well, of course men can give birth. That is why they will have their hands on their loins and pain on their faces!” The point would be lost because of the depraved thinking of many today.
The people in Jeremiah’s day faced the discipline of God because of their rebellion against Him. Babylon was going to take them off into captivity. No one who reads the book would conclude that this judgment was not deserved. I wonder, though, what they would say if they saw our own depravity? I am pretty sure they would say we have lost our minds.
Judgment is coming to our world. Christ is going to return when that judgment has fallen. As crazy and sinful as our world has become, which one of us could not say God’s judgment on mankind is deserved and will likely be very soon? In a race to the bottom, we are leading the pack.