I did a study of Jeremiah a little while back and God gave repeated pronouncements of judgment on Israel, sounding like he was FINISHED with them:
Jeremiah 7:20 20“This is what the Almighty LORD says: My anger and fury will be poured out on this place, on humans and animals, and on trees and crops. **My anger and fury will burn and not be put out.
14Then I will smash them like bottles against each other. I will smash parents and children together, declares the LORD. **I will have no pity, mercy, or compassion when I destroy them.’ ” **
5No one will take pity on you, Jerusalem. No one will mourn for you. No one will bother to ask how you are doing. 6You have left me,” declares the LORD. “You have turned your back on me. So I will use my power against you and destroy you. **I’m tired of showing compassion to you. **
4You will lose the inheritance that I gave you. I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you haven’t heard of.** I will do this because you have stirred up the fire of my anger.
It will burn forever. **
There were several statements that gave the impression that God’s punishment would not end. It seemed to contradict what I had originally thought about God’s punishment. God said it would be forever. Then came the clincher:
7“At one time I may threaten to tear up, break down, and destroy a nation or a kingdom. 8But suppose the nation that I threatened turns away from doing wrong. Then I will change my plans about the disaster I planned to do to it.
And the very famous passage:
Jeremiah 29 -
10This is what the LORD says: When Babylon’s 70 years are over, I will come to you. I will keep my promise to you and bring you back to this place. 11I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. 12Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13When you look for me, you will find me. When you wholeheartedly seek me, 14I will let you find me, declares the LORD. I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I’ve scattered you, declares the LORD. I will bring you back from the place where you are being held captive.
Even when God made straightforward, unequivocal, seemingly irreversible statements about punishment, he would in fact change his mind because of his compassion because that’s the way he is. God does NOT punish or remain angry forever!
Jeremiah 3:4,5 “Have you not just now called to Me, My Father, You are the friend of my youth? Will He be angry forever? Will He be indignant to the end?’ Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD; I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the LORD; **‘I will not be angry forever.”
So God said that he would be angry forever, and that forever turned out to be seventy years, in this case. If God can say, cleary, in a straight forward manner that his punishment will be forever (I’m not sure forever is the right translation here, btw), and NOT have it be forever, because of his mercy, why would we think he changes in the new testament?