Scripture reading – Jeremiah 14
Jeremiah 14 – A Judgment of Drought
Jeremiah 14 opens with an ominous statement, for it appears the long-foretold judgment of the LORD had befallen Jerusalem. We read, “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth” (14:1). The “dearth” was a prolonged season without rain (14:3-4) that was apparently accompanied by the siege of Jerusalem (14:18).
Knowing the LORD often chastises a nation physically for its sin and wickedness, we are not surprised to read there was a dearth in Judah. The LORD had withheld rain and the result was a great famine (Jeremiah 14:1-22). Politicians often appear to be exempt from the hardships that come upon a nation’s people, but not even the nobles and their families had escaped the hardships of a prolonged drought (14:3). “There was no rain in the earth” (14:4) and the farmers could neither plow nor plant their crops (14:4). The deer forsook their fawns in the field, for “there was no grass” (14:5), and the young donkeys sniffed the air for the smell of water, but found none (14:6).
In the midst of the famine and being desperate for help, the people began to pray to the LORD, but their prayer was a pretense. It was a sham of repentance. They merely sought relief from hunger and parched ground. They lacked heart, and were far from YHWH (14:7-9). God, however, knew the reality of their hearts, just as He knows your heart and the hearts of all men (Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Romans 8:27).
Hearing God’s command, “Pray not for this people for their good” (14:11), and His determination to refuse the cries of His people (14:12), Jeremiah interceded with the LORD (14:13a). The prophet suggested the sins of Judah were due to the false prophets who had led them astray (14:13). The LORD conceded there were false prophets in Judah; however, He declared, “I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them” (14:14).
Nevertheless, Judah had turned from God’s Law and Commandment, and because of their wickedness, the LORD declared the people would die by famine and the sword (14:16). So great would be the judgment, there would be none left to bury the dead (14:16).
Closing thoughts – When Jeremiah considered all that had befallen His people, he did three things (14:17-22).The first, he wept, saying, “Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: For the virgin daughter [Jerusalem] of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow” (14:17). Jerusalem had fallen, and death and suffering were everywhere (14:18).
Jeremiah then questioned the LORD out loud, wondering if all was lost. Was there any hope for Judah? LORD, “hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion [Jerusalem]? (14:19a) The people looked for healing and peace, but there was none (14:19). Lastly, Jeremiah prayed. He confessed the sins of the nation and implored the LORD to remember His covenant with Israel, not for their sake, but for His “name’s sake” (14:20-21).
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