Sometimes as we look at all the evil that is around us, we wonder where God is? Why doesn’t he do something? Is he doing anything at all? Does he even care?
And indeed, that seems to be the case in this passage. In the face of a people who “were feared far and wide, who were an aggressive nation,” God remained quiet, looking down on events from his dwelling place, seemingly with disinterest. (4)
But then God says, the time will come when he will no longer just sit back and watch. Instead,
[God] will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches. They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey and to the wild animals; the birds will feed on them all summer, the wild animals all winter. (5-6)
In other words, although God may be sitting back now, he will bring judgment. He brought judgment on this aggressive nation, and the time will come when he will bring judgment on those who oppose him and his people.
But here’s the interesting part: God is working that even his enemies would turn to him and repent. And it says in verse 7 that this same aggressive people that used to be feared, and that were hostile to God and his people, would bring gifts to God and submit to his Lordship.
I think it’s important to remember the words of Peter who wrote,
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (II Peter 3:9-10)
Always remember that God’s will is to save, not destroy. The day will come when people who refuse to repent will eventually be destroyed. But God desires their repentance, and that’s why he’s putting off his judgment.
So as his people, how should we respond? Let us pray for the people around us, even those who hate us, that they may escape the judgment to come, and find the life that we ourselves have found in Christ. As God’s children, trying to be like our Father, how can we do any less?