Ah Lord God, Behold The Prophets Say To them
Read Jeremiah 14:1-18
Jeremiah would now receive a word from the Lord to share with the people concerning the drought. It is important for us to remember that Israel lived in covenant relationship with the Living God. The covenant included both blessings and curses. Blessings were dependent on the obedience of the people to live according to God and His word. But curses were poured out when the people continued in rebellion and refused to repent. The nature of God has not changed. God still today honors obedience and faithfulness to His word. Though we are not saved by our works, it is still true faith without works are dead. Jesus said those who love me will obey my commands. If we would truly claim to follow Christ, we must live according to the word of God.
The word of the Lord begins by highlighting that the people mourn, the gates languish, people lament, and a cry goes up. A lack of rain was devastating. Israel depended on the rain that God provided. Unlike Egypt where the Nile existed, if Israel didn’t receive rain in due time it would mean a great lack which ultimately would lead to death because of a lack of water and a lack of food. God even said this in Deuteronomy 28:22-24 “22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought[a] and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.” The pain and heart ache Israel was suffering was a result of their own actions and rebellion. God was simply doing what He promised in His word.
Sometimes we simply believe that God is simply loving, gracious, and merciful. Like a grandfather in Heaven, He is simply here to bless us and make us happy. But when we examine the scriptures and truly come to know the character and nature of God, we find out that He takes obedience to His word very seriously. Those who would call themselves followers of Christ and not live according to the word of God are simply deceived and still in darkness. The purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him. But if we fail to live according to His word, that is impossible. The devil truly robs what God has for us when we reject the word of the Lord.
God begins by highlighting the nobles. They send their servants to find water. The cisterns are empty. The purpose of a cistern was to collect water so in a time of lack water would be available. But the drought has become so bad that water no longer is found in the cistern. The lack of rain is a direct result of the depths of their sin. The discipline of God is always perfect. It is meant to bring a course correction. The servants return and they are ashamed, confounded, and they cover their heads. They are in mourning because the situation is dire. But it isn’t that God is being cruel or mean, they have rejected the Lord and His word and therefore He is faithful to do what He has commanded in His covenant.
The ground is cracked from being dry. The farmers are dismayed. There are no crops, and the situation is becoming more dire by the day. You would think that the people would remember their God. They would remember the covenant established with Him. But sadly, many of them have given themselves over to the worship of Baal. Baal was seen as the storm god and the one who answered by rain and lighting. If they cry out to Baal it is a hopeless situation. But if they will simply humble themselves, repent, and turn to the Living God they will find healing and restoration. But they simply refuse.
Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn because there is no grass. It shows how truly hard and difficult things have become. Animals will rarely abandon their young. Unlike humans who are created in God’s image who will discard their children through abortion in our present day, animals will fight and defend their young. But in this situation because of the lack of grass the fawn is abandoned.
Even the wild donkeys in the barren heights pant for air like jackals because there is no vegetation. God has touched every inch of the land. Again, not because He is cruel or mean, but because the people have abandoned Him and forgotten Him. What is amazing when you study the history of Israel the only time the people suffered and faced defeat is when they abandoned God, His word, and His ways. God desired to glorify His name through His people, but they had to live according to His covenant.
It would seem the people confess as they say our iniquities testify against us, our backslidings are many, and we have sinned against you. The issue often for those the Lord is disciplining and especially in this case is they have sorrow over their sin but refuse to repent. God is concerned with us turning from sin because sin destroys us and destroys what God is doing in our lives. The sin and wickedness that Israel was pursuing was destroying and corrupting them as a nation. To simply cry out to God and say you’re sorry without turning from the sin you are sorry about means nothing. Repentance will always proceed restoration and healing.
The people cry out to God and call Him the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble. This is a true statement, but the issue is this is simply lip service from the people. They are not concerned about the Lord or His reputation, they are concerned with their safety and their comfort. They are unwilling to turn from their sin and would rather just say they were sorry, and that God would intervene. But the Lord is more concerned with their spiritual welfare. He is a loving Father who desires the very best for His children. Sadly, this is how some treat their relationship with Jesus today. They want Jesus to heal and restore their lives, but they fail to truly surrender all to Him.
Again, they answer the Lord why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot say. In essence they are asking God why can’t you simply save us and intervene in our situation. Why do you act as if you are powerless and the things, we face greater than you? But it is all lip service. God loves His covenant people with an everlasting love. But because of His love for them, He is bringing the Babylonians from the north to remove them from the land. Sometimes God allows hard and difficult things to come because it is the only way to truly correct the course of those who have truly gone off course.
The people state that the Lord is in their midst and that they are called by His name. Asking the Lord not to leave them. But the sad reality is if they are called by His name, they need to live like it. If we claim to be in covenant with the Living God, it is God who establishes the covenant. If God establishes the covenant, then those who live under that covenant need to live according to that covenant. But the people of Judah have chosen to reject and forget the Living God. Instead, they have chased after the evil desires of their hearts. They have become ruled by their selfish sinful nature and only cry out God when they hit rock bottom. God wants far more than this. He desires deep intimacy with His people. That they would surrender their hearts to Him.
The Lord says they love to wander and have not restrained their feet. Though they have cried out to God about saving them and intervening because He is a mighty warrior, they refuse to turn from their sin. It would actually be cruel for God to intervene and save them if they were simply determined to chase after sin because in the end they would be consumed by their own wickedness. God makes it clear that the Lord is not going to accept them, and He is going to remember their iniquity. God will indeed punish them for their sins. There are some who believe that God is simply loving and His only purpose is to make us happy. But when we truly study the scriptures, we find that God is not only loving, but He is holy, righteous, and just. He examines the human heart. Regardless of our words, the Lord can see the motivations that drive us.
If God is telling you not to pray for the welfare or for their good, you know that the situation has become critical. God has told Jeremiah multiple times not to pray for the people. It isn’t because God has abandoned them or God desires to be cruel to them, it has more to do with the hearts of the people and their unwillingness to fully turn to God. The only way restoration and healing can come is repentance must first take place. There must be a turning from sin and wickedness, back fully to the Lord. God desires to heal and restore, but we must respond to the word of the Lord in obedience. God takes obedience to His word very seriously and the people of Judah failed to understand this time and time again.
God says “when they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them”, the people of Israel had treated the Living God like the pagan false gods they were serving. Those who served the pagan false gods believed they could manipulate them through ritual. But simply taking part in ritual, they could get them to do what they wanted them to do, as if they were the ones in control. But what the people fail to understand is religious exercise without a heart and life surrendered means nothing. No amount of sacrifice or offering would move the Living God to do anything because their hearts didn’t belong to Him. They would continue to seek after sin and because of this God would remove them from the land. The Lord would use three things to bring correction to the people of Israel the sword, famine, and pestilence. God would use the nation of Babylon as His instrument of correction to bring the hearts of the people back to Him.
God’s love for His people is unconditional and eternal. It is far greater, deeper, and more extravagant than we can comprehend. But because of how much He loves us, He desires the very best for us. He knows the destructiveness of sin and if we continue to pursue sin, the Lord will bring a course correction so that His purpose and plan can be accomplished in our lives. He has given us freewill, and we must choose to surrender our hearts and minds fully to Him.
The false prophets were falsely prophesying that the people would have peace. That the sword, famine, and pestilence would not come as Jeremiah declared. They were actually calling Jeremiah a false prophet and falsely stating that he was simply trying to scare the people. But a true prophet of God is anointed and called by God. His word aligns with the word of God and the character of God. The people clearly were violating the word of God with their spiritual adultery and correction was needed. Jeremiah’s heart was broken for the people and was pointing to the influence of the false prophets as to why the people had gone astray. But God would not only hold the false prophets accountable, but the people also had a freewill and those who heard and heeded the word of the Lord had hearts that were sensitive to the Lord and His ways.
The Lord makes it clear that the false prophets prophesy lies in His name. They are using the name of God to bring credibility to their message. But instead of speaking truth they prophesy false vision, worthless things, and the deceit of their heart. They were speaking from their own imagination and because of demonic deception they were leading the people to destruction. Today we still have false teachers and preachers of God’s word who speak from their own imagination and comfort people in their sin and fail to challenge them to live for God. The only right way to walk with God is according to His word.
The false prophets of Jeremiah’s day told the people that there would be no sword of famine in the land. They continually spoke of peace and blessing even though the people lived in ways that were against God and His commands. But God was clear that the way He would deal with the false prophets is they would experience sword and famine themselves. God in His time and in His way would rightly deal with them. Those who continue in wickedness harden their hearts before the Lord. Those who prophesy false things, do so on the Lord’s behalf. We truly will reap what we sow.
Though the false prophets said that sword and famine would not come. The Lord made it clear that the people would encounter famine and sword, they would be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem and would lie in graves unburied. To die and be unburied was a great dishonor in Jewish culture. The Lord is making it clear that not only are the things coming that Jeremiah has said, but they are coming because of the wickedness of the people. For God would bring their own wickedness on themselves. The way the Lord deals with the wicked is they are destroyed by their own schemes. The very things they use to destroy the lives of others, will be turned back upon them by the Living God.
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. The Lord says that Jeremiah will say “let my eyes run down with tears day and night, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter of my people is shattered with a great wound”. The people of Judah refused to repent. The pain and suffering they would experience as a result of their sin was great. The people would be shattered with a great blow and grievous wound. All a result of refusing to repent. When God sends forth His word to His people, it is with a call to obedience. When we reject the Lord and His word, we only bring pain and heart ache into our lives. The safest place we can be is surrendering to the will of Almighty God.
Regardless of where Jeremiah went, the people of Israel were afflicted. In the field they were overcome by the sword. In the city they were destroyed by plague and famine. God’s justice and righteousness would be thorough. It would hold Judah accountable and rightly deal with those whose hearts had fully turned away from God. In their pride they believed themselves to be untouchable. But when we deal with the Living God, there is no escape when it comes to His justice and righteousness. Our only hope is to humble ourselves before His mighty hand.