Jeremiah 18:21 (NIV)
So give their children over to famine; hand them over to the power of the sword. Let their wives be made childless and widows; let their men be put to death, their young men slain by the sword in battle.

In this verse, is Jeremiah petitioning the LORD for Judah's destruction? If so, how are such prayers consistent with the LORD's injunction to love our neighbour as ourselves1?


  1. Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)

    18Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

  • 2
    You are taking the first passage completely out of context. In Jeremiah 18:21, the Prophet is speaking in reply to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem who are attacking him because of his message from God - that was not to their liking. And, being a Prophet, his messages is inspired by the Holy Spirit and in that sense is directly from God. Leviticus 19:18, and so the Gospels, are given as commandments for all men in general to follow.
    – user33515
    Dec 11 '19 at 11:15
  • 2
    In other words, we can't take a snippet of something a Prophet said on some particular and specific occasion and assume that it applies in all cases to all people at all times.
    – user33515
    Dec 11 '19 at 11:20
  • 2
    I totally get that we take the Bible out of context, but God being the same yesterday, today and forever, wouldn't His word apply today as it did then? Even in this day we still transgress and turn our hearts away from Him. We see occasions such as the one Jeremiah was in on a daily basis; non-believers publicly shaming Christians as we try to advance God's Kingdom etc. I hope you interpret my tone and register the way I intend (curious). I'm only here to learn. Dec 11 '19 at 19:46
  • @ShepherdMatsongoni: Sometimes, in order to ensure a person's spiritual well-being during their eternal afterlife, God, whose Spirit dwells within the Prophets, allows for their bodies to be physically afflicted within this transient and temporary life, so that they might repent.
    – Lucian
    Dec 24 '19 at 11:06

In the previous verse to the one which you quote, Jeremiah says :

Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, to turn away thy wrath from them. [Jeremiah 18:20, KJV.]

In the previous eighteen chapters, Jeremiah has recounted the repeated warnings of God, through the prophet, to Judah. All of it has been resisted.

Again and again, the Lord remonstrates, by the prophet, with a disobedient and idolatrous nation to turn from their ways. And all of it is refused.

Finally, the tone changes. And inevitable judgment is the only possible consequence.

Everything possible had already been done to save Judah. Every attempt had already been made to show mercy. All was rejected.

Now, only now, Jeremiah cries to the Lord for a righteous end to this state of affairs.

What more grace could have been shown ?

What greater pity could have been expressed ?

But, in the end, righteousness must go forth and judgment must fall.

Should we pray for such things ? Well, are we called, by God himself, to prophecy to a whole nation ? Are we prophets who can pray and the rain will stop falling (see Elijah) ? And pray again and it starts again ? Do we have the discernment to know when a whole nation deserves a prayer of mercy or a prayer of judgment ?

It depends who 'we' are, I would say.

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