While Judah faced an invading force from the north, this was not their only difficulty. Jeremiah 14 begins with these words: “The Word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought.” We cannot know the exact date of the problem referred to here. We do know that such difficulties could be devastating, and that they were not uncommon.
In the midst of this divine oracle delivered by the prophet, Jeremiah interceded for the Lord’s people—not based on their own merit, but pleading for the glory of God’s own reputation. “Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for Your Name’s sake.”
God’s reply included an acknowledgment of the guilt of the chosen nation, for “they have loved to wander.” The Lord often exercises His fatherly discipline with words that underscore the seriousness of their fault. In this case He said to Jeremiah, “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.” He added, “I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”
When Jeremiah sought to excuse the people based on the words of some of the other contemporary prophets, the response of the Almighty was clear: “The prophets are prophesying lies in My Name. I did not send them.”
We should not conclude that the Lord had no feelings for the troubles of His chosen people. He instructed Jeremiah to speak these words of mourning to Judah: “Let My eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter of My people is shattered with a great wound, with a very grievous blow.”
Jeremiah questioned God: “Have You utterly rejected Judah?” He knew that none of the false gods of the nations could bring the rain that they so desperately needed. The prophet’s conclusion: “Are You not He, O Lord our God? We set our hope on You.”
Who is this God, in whom His people hope? He is not a flatterer. He has no interest in false representatives teaching His people inaccurate words. When He came to help His elect, He did not come with lies. Jesus said, “I am the truth,” (John 14:6). By His Word of truth, we have been granted eternal life.
The Lord of glory knows how to supply the best water to His children. He surely cares about our physical needs for food and drink, but He also recognizes our deeper thirst for “living water.” (John 4:10). He intends to provide a refreshing spring within our souls. Though He is aware of our guilt, He has given a gift to us that no one else could ever have provided. This is the reason we “set our hope” on Him.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, hear our cry to You, for we are still Your children. We have been marked with the waters of baptism, and named with Your holy Triune Name. We know that our iniquities testify against us. Act on our behalf for the glory of Your own Name. You are in the midst of us. Do not leave us. We confess that we have loved to wander, yet surely nothing can separate us from Your love that has come to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. The prophets have spoken to us of a real peace—not the lying peace of false prophets that You have not sent, but the full peace spoken of by true prophets who saw in shadows Your glorious plan of redemption. They wondered how You could every justify the ungodly and retain Your own righteousness. We now see in Christ what they longed to see. Your Son has come as our Substitute. You have kept Your covenant, vindicated Your righteousness, and poured forth Your abundant mercy to sinners who are called by Your Name. We repent of our sins, and we pray for Your church.
If you wanted someone to plead your case before God, to whom would you turn? From an Old Testament perspective, you could not do much better than Moses or Samuel. Moses was the Mediator of the Sinai Covenant. On many occasions he was brought to plead before God for the life of God’s people. The Lord suggested at one point that Moses should get out of the way and God would destroy the people in the wilderness and start all over again with Moses as the beginning of a new nation. Yet Moses interceded on behalf of Israel. Samuel warned the people about the dangers of turning away from God as King, and was distraught as the people insisted that they would have a king like the other nations. God comforted him by saying that the people had not rejected Samuel. They had rejected the Lord.
These two men were highly favored by God and were examples of unusual integrity. Yet here in speaking through Jeremiah at this late stage in the Lord’s dealings with Judah, God indicated that He would not listen to even Moses or Samuel if they asked Him to turn His heart again toward Judah and rescue them from the coming disaster. His message was simple: “Send them out of my sight.”
These were devastating words. They would face disease, warfare, hunger, and slavery. The wild animals would be appointed to tear them apart, and the name of one king was cited as the reason: Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was a great king of Judah during the time when the Assyrians had conquered the northern kingdom and were threatening the destruction of Jerusalem. God heard the petition of the king and the prophet Isaiah, and He gave Judah a reprieve from exile until the days of Jeremiah. Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, who reigned for fifty-five years in Jerusalem, did great evil in the eyes of the Lord. He went about reversing the good spiritual faithfulness of His father, rebuilding places of idolatrous worship that his father had destroyed. Even though he repented at the end of his life, it would be based on the evidence of the reign of Manasseh that the mind of the Lord would be settled upon the exile of His people.
It was not as if God had been a weak Father. He had disciplined His chosen ones over and over again. God has sent Judah times of great affliction, but they would not listen. The day had finally come for their removal to Babylon. Perhaps there they would learn the lessons that they seemed so unwilling to hear while in their Father’s land.
Jeremiah had reached a point of despair in this hard ministry. Speaking as if to his mother, he wondered why he was ever born. He was considered a man of strife and contention by everyone, and for what reason? Because he was the one who had brought the true Word of God to the people.
God heard the cry of His prophet and called him to renewed faithfulness. He promised to make him like a “wall of bronze” to his enemies, provided that he would not try to be a popular preacher in the eyes of an utterly unfaithful people.
When Jesus came, He endured disrespect at every turn. He was completely faithful in speaking the message of His Father, and it cost Him everything in terms of the applause of men. It is this divine Messiah who now intercedes for us before the same Father who said He would not listen to even Moses and Samuel if they pleaded for Judah in the days of Jeremiah. But we have One who is better than Moses and Samuel pleading for us on high. Our Father always hears His Son’s voice, and He will surely grant Him His every request.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, we have a better Mediator than even Moses or Samuel. There is One who now pleads for transgressors. Surely there is no peace for Your people through the Law, but in Christ there is abundant and eternal peace. We have great trouble among us, O Lord. We acknowledge our shameful behavior. We deserve every frightening discipline that could come upon us now. Though we serve as slaves for our enemies, Your Son came from above not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. We are part of the many that He has saved from worthlessness and destruction. Do not let the wicked prevail over us forever, O Lord.