Drought and a Prayer for Mercy
The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:
And her gates languish;
Her people sit on the ground in mourning clothes
And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up.
“Their nobles have sent their servants for water;
They have come to the cisterns and found no water.
They have returned with empty vessels;
They have been shamed and humiliated,
And they cover their heads.
“The ground is cracked
Because there has been no rain on the land;
The farmers are distressed,
And they have covered their heads [in shame].
“The doe in the field has given birth only to abandon her young
Because there is no grass.
“And the wild donkeys stand on the barren heights;
They pant for air like jackals,
Their eyesight fails
Because there is no grass.
“O Lord, though our many sins testify against us” [prays Jeremiah],
“Act now [for us and] for Your name’s sake [so that the faithless may witness Your faithfulness]!
For our backslidings are countless;
We have sinned against You.
“O Hope of Israel,
Her Savior in time of distress and trouble,
Why should You be like a sojourner (temporary resident) in the land
Or like a traveler who turns aside and spreads his tent to linger [only] for a night?
“Why should You be [hesitant and inactive] like a man astounded and perplexed,
Like a mighty man unable to save?
Yet You, O Lord, are among us,
And we are called by Your name;
Do not leave us!”
Thus says the Lord to this people [Judah], “In the manner and to the degree [already pointed out] they have loved to wander; they have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will now remember [in detail] their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” So the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for good things for this people. Though they fast, I will not hear their cry; and though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them [because they are done as obligations, and not as acts of loving obedience]. Instead I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”
But I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, the [false] prophets are telling them, ‘You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I [the Lord] will give you lasting peace in this place.’” Then the Lord said to me, “The [counterfeit] prophets are prophesying lies in My Name. I have neither sent them nor authorized them nor spoken to them. They are prophesying to you made-up visions [pretending to call forth responses from handmade gods], a worthless divination and the deceit of their own mind. Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning the [false] prophets who are prophesying in My Name, although I did not send them—yet they keep saying, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’: by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end and be consumed. And the people to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they will have no one to bury them—neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters. For I will pour out their [own] wickedness on them [and not only on the imposters posing as prophets, for the people could not have been deceived without their own consent].
“Therefore [Jeremiah] you will say this word to them,
‘Let my eyes flow with tears night and day,
And let them never cease;
For the virgin daughter of my people has been crushed with a great blow,
With a very serious and severely infected wound.
‘If I go out into the field,
Then I gaze on those slaughtered with the sword!
And if I enter the city,
Then I gaze on [those tormented with] the diseases of famine!
For both prophet and priest [who should have guided the people]
Go about [bewildered and exiled] in a land (Babylon) that they do not know or understand.’”
Have You [O Lord] completely rejected Judah?
Do You loathe Zion?
Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us?
We looked for peace and completeness, but nothing good came;
And [we hoped] for a time of healing, but behold, terror!
We know and acknowledge, O Lord,
Our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against You.
Do not treat us with contempt and condemn us, for Your own name’s sake;
Do not disgrace Your [a]glorious throne;
Remember [with consideration] and do not break Your [solemn] covenant with us.
Are there any among the idols of the nations who can send rain?
Or can the heavens [of their own will] give showers?
Is it not You, O Lord our God?
Therefore we will wait and hope [confidently] in You,
For You are the one who has made all these things [the heavens and the rain].
- Jeremiah 14:21 The temple in Jerusalem.
Judgment Must Come
Then the Lord said to me, “Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me [interceding for them], My heart would still not be [turned with favor] toward this people [Judah]. Send them away from My presence and out of My sight and let them go! And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord:
“Those [destined] for death, to death;
Those for the sword, to the sword;
Those for famine, to famine;
Those for captivity, to captivity.”’
I will appoint four kinds of destroyers over them,” says the Lord, “the sword to slay, the dogs to tear and drag away, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and to destroy. I will make them an object of horror to all nations of the earth because of Manasseh [the despicable] son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for the [evil and detestable] things which he did in Jerusalem.
“For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem,
Or who will mourn for you,
Or who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?
“You have abandoned (rejected) Me,” says the Lord.
“You keep going backward.
Therefore I shall stretch out My hand against you and destroy you;
I am tired of delaying [your punishment]!
“I will winnow (sort, separate) them with a winnowing fork
At the gates of the land;
I will deprive them of children, I will destroy My people;
They did not repent and turn from their [evil] ways.
“I will make their widows more numerous before Me
Than the sand of the seas;
I will bring against them, against the mother of the young men,
A [a]destroyer at noonday;
I will suddenly cause anguish and terror
To fall on her.
“She who has borne seven [sons] languishes;
She has breathed out her soul.
Her sun has set while it was still day;
She has been shamed and humiliated.
So I will hand over [the rest of] the survivors to the sword
Before their enemies,” says the Lord.
Woe to me, my mother, that you have given birth to me
To be a man of strife and a man of contention to all the earth!
I have not loaned, nor have men lent money to me,
Yet everyone curses me.
The Lord said, “Surely [it will go well for Judah’s obedient remnant for] I will set you free for good purposes;
Surely [Jeremiah] I will [intercede for you with the enemy and I will] cause the enemy to plead with you [for help]
In a time of disaster and a time of distress.
“Can anyone crush iron,
The iron from the north, or bronze?
“Your [nation’s] riches and your treasures
I will give as plunder without price [to the Babylonians],
Because of all your sins
And within all your territories.
“Then I will make your enemies bring [you along with] your possessions
Into a land which you do not know [for there you will serve your conquerors];
For a fire has been kindled in My anger,
Which will burn upon you.”
Jeremiah’s Prayer and God’s Answer
O Lord, You know and understand;
Remember me [thoughtfully], take notice of me,
take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away;
Know that for Your sake I endure [continual] rebuke and dishonor.
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became a joy to me and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
I did not sit with the group of those who celebrate,
Nor did I rejoice;
I sat alone because Your [powerful] hand was upon me,
For You had filled me with indignation [at their sin].
Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will you indeed be to me like a deceptive brook
With water that is unreliable?
Therefore, thus says the Lord [to Jeremiah],
“If you repent [and give up this mistaken attitude of despair and self-pity], then I will restore you [to a state of inner peace]
So that you may stand before Me [as My obedient representative];
And if you separate the precious from the worthless [examining yourself and cleansing your heart from unwarranted doubt concerning My faithfulness],
You will become My spokesman.
Let the people turn to you [and learn to value My values]—
But you, you must not turn to them [with regard for their idolatry and wickedness].
“And I will make you to this people
A fortified wall of bronze;
They will fight against you,
But they will not prevail over you,
For I am with you [always] to save you
And [b]protect you,” says the Lord.
“So I will rescue you out of the hand of the wicked,
And I will redeem you from the [grasping] palm of the terrible and ruthless [tyrant].”