“Come inside this instant, or I’ll throw your bicycle away!”
That was the threat I overheard my next door neighbor shout to his son one summer evening when we lived in Orlando.
The boy, accustomed to his father’s empty threats, practically ignored his command.
Unlike my neighbor, God never makes empty threats. If He did, we would have no motivation to take Him seriously.
The irony is, we sometimes fail to do so anyway, despite His resolute warnings against disobedience—like the Jews of Jeremiah’s day.
Because of Judah’s unrelenting idolatry, God had no choice but to send the nation into Babylonian captivity. Jeremiah, the prophet tasked with communicating this divine verdict, made one point crystal clear: God means what He says.
“I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened,” blasted Jeremiah. “And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets again and again, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear” (Jer. 25:3-4).
Despite Jehovah’s repeated efforts to warn the people of future judgment, they completely ignored His threats.
Jeremiah continued, “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation” (Jer. 25:8-9).
Babylon invaded Judah that same year and eventually destroyed the entire nation, just as God promised.
Although we are not under the old covenant, the principle in Jeremiah 25 applies to us: God does not bluff. He means what He says. Therefore, when He warns us in His word, we must take Him seriously.
Consider the following New Testament warnings:
- The outcome of sin is spiritual death (Rom. 6:21, 23).
- Those who sow to the flesh will reap corruption from the flesh (Gal. 6:8).
- Those who preach a gospel contrary to the one revealed in the New Testament will be cut off from God (Gal. 1:6-9).
- If we refuse to forgive others, God will refuse to forgive us (Matt. 6:15).
- If we are ashamed of Christ, He will be ashamed of us (Mark 8:38).
- Those who do not know God or obey the gospel of Christ will suffer eternal destruction (2 Thess. 1:6-10).
These are not empty threats. Do not interpret God’s patience as a lack of followthrough (2 Pet. 3:3-9). Do not assume that if you are getting away with sin, for now, you’ll always get away with it. You won’t. None of us will.
Listen to God’s threats. Believe them. Then change your actions in accordance with that belief so you will avert God’s judgment and, instead, find mercy.