John T. Willis

Monday, February 07, 2011

The People of God react to a Drought--Jeremiah 14:1-15:4

The following paragraph in the Book of Jeremiah is about a drought that occurred during the lifetime of Jeremiah. No one knows exactly when this occurred, but it must have happened before the fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 BCE, because in this paragraph Yahweh is announcing through Jeremiah that the Babylonians will overthrow Judah because of the sins of the people of God. Jeremiah 14:1-15:4.

This paragraph consists of a dialogue between Yahweh through Jeremiah and the people of God who react or respond to Yahweh. Thus, this paragraph falls into five parts:

I. Yahweh through Jeremiah explains Judah's mourning because of the drought. Jeremiah 14:1-6.
a. Yahweh came to Jeremiah concerning the drought. 14:1.
b. The drought is extensive, and affects people, animals, and vegetation: Jerusalem's nobles and farmers; the doe and the wild asses in the fields, and the ground, the grass, and the herbage. Judah mourns, her gates languish, they lie on the ground, the cry of Jerusalem goes up, the ground is cracked, the people cover their heads, the doe forsakes her newborn fawn, the wild asses pant, and their eyes fail. 14:2-6.

II. The people of God repent. Jeremiah 14:7-9.
a. Suddenly the speakers ["our, us, we"] address Yahweh directly. These are undoubtedly the people of God speaking in response to Yahweh's declaration about the drought in 14:1-6.
b. The people of God admit or confess that they are guilty of their "iniquities" and "apostasies." They confess: "we have sinned against you." 14:7.
c. Then, they plead with Yahweh "not to forsake" them. They attempt to flatter Yahweh. They extol him as their "hope," their "savior," their "mighty warrior" in time of trouble. They do not want Yahweh to be a "stranger" or a "traveler," but to be "in the midst of" his people. 14:8-9.

III. Yahweh replies: You are counterfeits=hypocrites; therefore, I am about to punish you. Jeremiah 14:10-18.
a. Yahweh proclaims that he sees clearly through the fake words of his people. In reality, they "have loved to wander" and not restrained their feet. God does not accept them; he will punish them. 14:10.
b. Before Jeremiah can attempt to offer a prayer of intercession in behalf of God's people, Yahweh strictly charges Jeremiah: "Do not pray for the welfare of this people." They go to church and fast and offer sacrifices, but this is mere veneer. God will bring SWORD, FAMINE, and PESTILENCE on his sinful people. 14:11-12.
c. Jeremiah turns to Yahweh and observes that the prophets of Israel announce that sword and famine will NOT come upon the people of God. Yahweh responds: these prophets are prophesying lies. I will bring sword and famine on my sinful people. 14:13-16.
d. Yahweh tells Jeremiah to tell these people: Weep and cry and mourn, because sword and famine are coming. 14:17-18.

IV. The people of God respond a second time, insisting they are truly penitent. Jeremiah 14:19-22.
a. Again, the words "we, us, our" indicate the speakers are the people of Israel in the days of Jeremiah.
b. The people of God first attempt to persuade Yahweh to yield to their pleas. They ask: Yahweh, have you totally rejected Judah? Do you loathe Zion? Why have you struck us down? We are seeking peace and healing, but you bring terror on us. We openly declare that no god but YOU can bring rain on the devastated land. We set our HOPE in YOU. 14:19, 22.
c. Then the people of God freely acknowledge their sin. "We have sinned against us." We are guilty of wickedness and iniquity. Thus, we beg you not to break your covenant with us. 14:20-21.

V. Yahweh rejects the pleas of his people because of sin long standing sins of the wicked king Manasseh. Jeremiah 15:1-4.
a. Yahweh responds to Jeremiah: Even if Moses and Samuel interceded on behalf of his people, Yahweh will still bring upon them PESTILENCE, SWORD, FAMINE, and CAPTIVITY. 15:1-2.
b. Yahweh will appoints four kinds of destroyers against his sinful people: the sword, dogs, birds, and wild animals. This is all because of what Manasseh king of Judah did. See 2 Kings 21:1-18.

This is indeed a powerful, moving, sobering message. We need to hear this message.

Share YOUR thoughts and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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