Scriptures

Jeremiah 14

Introduction

This chapter, in the NIV, is headed drought, famine, sword. This is what God’s people will face because they turned their faces away from God. Over the years scholars have tried to date this prophecy. Some are quite amusing. Some have even tried to break up the chapter into units, giving a different date to each ‘unit’.

As I have said before, the exact date of any of these prophecies or all of them for that matter, are of little importance. The general facts are important and well known, even if there is a variation in the actual dates. What is clear from this chapter is, there was a terrible drought that fell upon God’s people.

‘This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought: ‘Judah mourns, her cities languish; they wail for the land, and a cry goes up from Jerusalem. The nobles send their servants for water; they go to the cisterns but find no water. They return with their jars unfilled; dismayed and despairing, they cover their heads. The ground is cracked because there is no rain in the land; the farmers are dismayed and cover their heads. Even the doe in the field deserts her new-born fawn because there is no grass. Wild donkeys stand on the barren heights and pant like jackals; their eyes fail for lack of food.’ Jeremiah 14:1-6

God was disciplining them all of the time. He talks of this drought that affects both man and beasts. The ‘word of the Lord’ came to Jeremiah, concerning this drought. This word about the drought goes on to Jeremiah 15:4. Some versions say, at verse 2,

‘they sit in black upon the ground.’

I use the NIV, and this isn’t mentioned. But wearing black signifies mourning. It is believed that this goes back even further than the time we are looking at in addition to their dress, and humble posture, they were sitting on the ground.

What this suggests is that the people are about to raise a mighty cry to God in heaven. All through their history, when they faced troubled times, they would then remember to call upon God. The effect of this drought will be devastating. It will affect all human beings, children, servants, nobles, farmers, animals, the ground would be cracked, the grass would die, etc.

‘Although our sins testify against us, do something, LORD, for the sake of your name. For we have often rebelled; we have sinned against you. You who are the hope of Israel, its Saviour in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveller who stays only a night? Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save? You are among us, LORD, and we bear your name; do not forsake us!’ Jeremiah 14:7-9

Some question whether it was Jeremiah or the people themselves who prayed this prayer, but it seems that Jeremiah himself is praying on behalf of the people. This section tells how the people will react, they acknowledge their sin to a certain extent.

We have sinned against you and we are backsliders. It looks as if they are listening to God and going to do something about it. But there is no indication that they will cease from sinning or that they will be willing to serve God.

Often, we ask for forgiveness, but never in the same prayer promise to serve. And here things are not as good as they may seem. The people say, yes, we did it, but you made us do it. So, they blame God. You, God, turned away from us. But it was THEM that made God a stranger to them. They speak as though they are doing God a favour, waiting for HIM to return.

Look at verse 8. You are among us, do not forsake us, Lord. God’s heart has been broken, we know that, from previous verses. What a cheek they have, it is your fault, God.

‘This is what the LORD says about this people: ‘They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So, the LORD does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.’ Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.’ Jeremiah 14:10-12

What God says is this, you can’t blame me. This is your fault. This is IT. This is the last straw, you’re going to be punished. You will reap the harvest. You are going to reap what you have sown. Galatians 6:7.

They had only turned back to God because of their need, but they still clung on to their idols. So, their prayers were only lip-service. Their sacrifices were mere formality.

Jeremiah is told not to pray for the good of the people. God knew the end result, their if ritual without repentance. Acts of worship without the right attitude. Religion means nothing if those practising it aren’t right, even if the act is right.

So, God says to Jeremiah, do not pray for their well-being. On two previous occasions God gave Jeremiah the same instruction, Jeremiah 7:15 and Jeremiah 11:14.

But it seems that Jeremiah just keeps on praying. No mother quits praying for a son who has gone astray, no matter what he has done wrong. Perhaps God wasn’t actually forbidding Jeremiah to pray. Perhaps He was just pointing out the uselessness of it all.

‘But I said, ‘Alas, Sovereign LORD! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’ Then the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore, this is what the LORD says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.’ Jeremiah 14:13-16

Jeremiah brings up the subject of the false prophets. These prophets are deceiving the people. They are promising peace and wealth. They are saying that everything will be alright, this is not true. So, God says, they are liars. I didn’t send them, neither have I spoken to them. They are deluded. What they say will not happen, will happen. And it will happen to them.

Why were the people deceived by the false prophets?

Probably because they wanted to be deceived. Even today we believe what we want to believe.

Some so-called Christians actually study the Bible to find verses that will prove that their sins are okay with God, so that they can go on doing them. so, the same thing applies to false teachers today. They are not sincere, misguided men, they are unbelievers who preach a message that they have no confidence in.

These people, in Jeremiah’s day, imagined that violating the terms of the covenant wouldn’t incur God’s wrath. What fools they were I, but even today we have men who teach that

‘we are justified by faith alone.’

‘Speak this word to them: ‘Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for the Virgin Daughter, my people, has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow. If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword; if I go into the city, I see the ravages of famine. Both prophet and priest have gone to a land they know not.’ Have you rejected Judah completely? Do you despise Zion? Why have you afflicted us so that we cannot be healed? We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there is only terror. We acknowledge our wickedness, LORD, and the guilt of our ancestors; we have indeed sinned against you.’ Jeremiah 14:17-20

So, God says, you tell them what 1have said to you. Following false teachers is no excuse for not obeying God’s word. Jesus put it this way,

‘if the blind follow the blind, both will fall into the ditch.’

This seems to be Judah’s reaction to what God is saying. Have you gone for good, for ever? Didn’t we say that we will wait for you, God?

We have acknowledged our sin and we have looked to you to heal us. You see, they are still blaming God and expecting God to heal them, without any action on their part. They also try to twist God’s arm.

‘For the sake of your name do not despise us; do not dishonour your glorious throne. Remember your covenant with us and do not break it. Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, LORD our God. Therefore, our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.’ Jeremiah 14:21-22

Remember your covenant with us and do not break it. But God HAS remembered His covenant. It is they who have broken it. So, God has to deal with the situation. Here is a group of people who had gone so far in sin that they have become ignorant of God. They have forgotten the God of holiness and righteousness. How could they be such fools?

Despite the fact that they had already broken the covenant, they wanted God to go ahead and fulfil His part of it! They stopped being God’s people when they abandoned Him and turned to idols. But they still wanted God to be their God.

They wanted Him to defend, support and bless them, whilst they continued to worship idols instead of Him. They seemed to be ignorant of the fact that if one of the parties broke the covenant, the other one is no longer bound by it.

And look at this final verse in this chapter. What next are they going to resort to? Flattery.

You can do so many things. God. You can do such wonderful things. God. Only you. Lord, can bring rain from the heavens, not the ‘worthless idols’ that we worship.

You can help us can’t you, Lord?

Go To Jeremiah 15

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Philippians 4:13

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