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Jeremiah, Chapter 14
Backsliding nation punished by drought and famine.
Up to Chapter 14, Jeremiah had been prophesying during the reign of Josiah. Now we find him delivering a prophecy during the reign of Jehoiakim. King Josiah during the last part of his reign did a stupid thing. He fought against Nechoh, a pharaoh of Egypt, and there at Megiddo Josiah was killed. Jeremiah mourned for him, for Josiah had been his friend. After Josiah’s death, the nation began to fall back into idolatry . . . so far back that its downward nose dive was swift and terrible.
This chapter begins with a prediction of a drought that would greatly distress the land of Judea, the results of which are described in a most pathetic manner (Jer.14:1-6). The prophet, in the people's name, makes a confession of sins, and petition for pardon (Jer. 14:7-9). But God stands firm on His purpose to punish, forbidding Jeremiah to pray for the people (Jer.14:10-12). False prophets are then complained of, and threatened with destruction, as are also those who join them (Jer.14:13-16). The prophet, then laments their misery (Jer.14:17-18); and even though he had just now been forbidden to intercede for them, yet, like a soft-hearted pastor, who could not cease to be concerned for their welfare, falls on the happy convenience of introducing themselves as interceding in their own name that mercy which the prophet was forbid to ask (Jer.14:19-22).
A Gloomy Description of the Drought (Jer. 14:1-6)
Jer. 14:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth. (KJV)
What drought we are not told, nor when it happened. Some think that it was in the time of the siege of Jerusalem; others say that in the time of Jehoiakim (Jer.36:9), of an astonishing fast proclaimed by him, which many judge was upon this occasion. The restraint here mentioned was God's restraining of rain from them, so that the dearth was occasioned from a great drought, which is well described in the five next verses.
Drought . . . is for the LORD to literally withhold rain (Deut.11:17; 2 Chron.7:13). Drought or withholding rain in those regions was a bad thing, because rain was of all things the one mainly needed (Jer.17:8).
Jer. 14:2 Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up. (KJV)
By Judah is meant the men and women in the whole country of Judah. The gates means their cities; or the men of their cities languished, for want of moisture for themselves and their animals. They all are acting like mourners, their faces looked dark and starved, for want of nourishment, and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up; either their cry unto God by their prayers in His Temple, or their cry by the reason of their misery and grief, is gone up to heaven.
Gates . . . the place of public concourse in each city looks sad, as being no longer visited (Isa.3:26; 24:4).
Black . . . meaning they mourn, blackness indicates sorrow (Jer.8:21).
Cry . . . of distress (1 Sam.5:12; Isa.24:11).
Jer. 14:3 And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads. (KJV)
This scarcity of water afflicted not only common people, who have no means to supply their necessities as others; but included their greatest people. They did everything to receive and retain water; but found no water in the pits, they came back again with their vessels empty, like men ashamed and confused, and troubled that their expectations were frustrated.
Little ones . . . their inferiors, domestics. Pits . . . cisterns for collecting rain water, often were in the East where there are no springs. Covered their heads . . . (2 Sam.15:30). A sign of humiliation and mourning.
Jer. 14:4 Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads. (KJV)
Because the ground is chapt . . . the Hebrew word means more than broken, spoiled and turned into dust, as is usual in great droughts. The word also can be husbandmen, there having been no rain upon the Earth, it brought forth little or no grass for those that worked in raising or feeding cattle. The ground was so hard, and needed moisture so desperately, that they could not plow or sow, but were men ashamed and confused, who knew not what to do.
Jer. 14:5 Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass. (KJV)
The animal creation is reduced to the utmost extremes for the lack of food. The deer, well known for her affection to her young, abandons them, for she could not make milk to feed her calf.
Jer. 14:6 And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass. (KJV)
Wild asses go to high places, most exposed to the winds, which they snuff in the wind to relieve their thirst (Jer.2:24). The glazed condition of the eyes of the wild ass gives us the picture of eyes that they are almost motionless because the death of the animal is near.
*****The devastating nature of this drought is seen in the fact that all living things were affected by it: (1) human beings of all classes, (2) nobles, (3) servants, (4) children, (5) farmers, (6) wild animals, (7) even the ground cracked under the strain, (8) the grass had all died, and (9) there were not even any twigs upon which the wild ass could live. Even the deer when she calved, forsook her offspring. The reason why the calf was abandoned was that the mother could not produce milk due to the shortage of grass.
Prayer to God to End This Calamity (Jer.14:7-9)
Jer. 14:7 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee. (KJV)
O LORD . . . Jeremiah (from Jer. 14:7 to 15:21), follows a series of prayers in which he talks with the LORD, Who hears and responds. Five exchanges occur (Jer.14:7-12; 14:13-18; 14:19 to 15:9; 15:10-14; 15:15-21).
Jeremiah tries to repent for these people, which cannot be done. Each person must repent personally. When God told Jeremiah not to pray for them (Jer.7:16), God would not answer his prayer for them, because the drought is similar to the captivity. It is to cause the people to return to the worship of the One TRUE God. The only way to stop the drought would be for all the people themselves to repent and return to God. Jeremiah even tries to get God to stop the drought by reminding Him that this is His people.
Jer. 14:8 O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? (KJV)
The LORD is the Author, the Object, the Ground and the Hope of Israel (Ezra 10:2; Jer.14:8; 17:13; Acts 28:20) for all good things. Only in the LORD, had Israel been accustomed to hope in times past, and had great encouragement so to do (Ps.130:7). The expectation of Israel (Ps.9:18; 62:5) whom they looked for to come (Zec.14:1-9; Acts 1:11; 2 Thes.1:7-10; Rev.1:7). The Hope of Israel well agrees with Him (1 Tim. 1:1).
The LORD is the Saviour thereof in time of trouble (Ps.37:39; 41:1; Dan.12:1). The LORD is Saviour of all men in a way of providence, but especially of the TRUE Israel of God (Gal 3:26-29), and of them that believe (1 Jn.5:10-13). Although they have their times of trouble and affliction, because of sin, Satan, wicked men and other things, yet the LORD saves and delivers them out of them all in due time.
Why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land . . . or a sojourner who abides but for a short time; not being his native place, is not so concerned for the welfare of it. Some interpret this of Christ Jesus when He was here on Earth, who was as a Stranger, and not known by men (Ps.69:8-9).
And as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? . . . a wayfaring man or traveler, that stops in an inn to spend the night, and that only . . . is not concerned what becomes of it, or the people in it. He is only there for a night, and is gone in the morning. Jeremiah represents the LORD by these images, as if He were hardhearted, or at least seemed not to care for His people. The prophet therefore, disagrees and rebukes the LORD on it, as the disciples did with Christ Jesus (Mk. 4:38).
*****The LORD God is the only hope there is for them or us. In time, God would send His only begotten Son as Saviour for all mankind. A stranger or sojourner just passes through. They are not permanent dwellers. This is what Israel is compared to. They were God's people, but they had wandered far away from God. The LORD had formerly been their Saviour in their times of their trouble, and He alone can save them in such times of trouble as they have now brought themselves into (Ps. 9:9-10; 46:1).
Jer. 14:9 Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not. (KJV)
Astonied (Ezra 9:3-4; Job 17:8; 18:20; Isa.52:14; Eze.4:17; Dan.3:24; 4:19; 5:9). Astonied can mean astonished, frightened, overwhelmed, surprised, weak . . . like a person because of great troubles, is not able to do anything.
As a mighty man that cannot save? . . . like a man who is normally strong and mighty, but through sickness or trouble is so weak that he cannot put forth any strength for the help and relief of his friends.
Yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us . . . Jeremiah says, You art in the midst of us, we have the Temple, to which you have promised Your special Presence; or rather it is to be understood of the whole land, according to what God had declared (Num. 5:3; 35:34). Defile not the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel.
We are called by God’s Name; that is, we are called the LORD'S people, and that not only by others, amongst whom we have that repute, but by God Himself. God often called Israel in Scripture His people, His portion. Therefore Jeremiah begs God would not leave them; he means as to that special providence by which God had formerly watched over them, and cared for them, and been a protection to them; and as to His ordinances, and His gracious Presence with them in His Temple.
A Warning That God Would Proceed in His Threat,
Because They Proceeded in Their Sin (Jer. 14:10-12)
Jer. 14:10 Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. (KJV)
This begins the Divine revelation mentioned in Jer.14:1, as an answer to the prophet's complaint and prayer in the first nine verses; the substance of which is, that for their manifold sins the LORD was determined to punish them, and therefore there would not be any more pleading on their behalf.
Thus have they loved to wander . . . they have gone far out of the way of God’s laws, out of their love and pleasure that they have with their vain idols. They have persisted in those sinful courses, even with all counsels and warnings brought to them to stop, they refused to listen.
Therefore the Lord doth not accept them . . . therefore even though they pray, and cry, and fast, God will not accept them.
He will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins . . . but by His punishment of them for their sins, He will let them know, that as He hath seen and taken notice of, so He has not forgotten what they have done.
Jer. 14:11 Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. (KJV)
Pray not for this people . . . they are ripe for destruction, intercede not for them. Consider how dreadful the state is of those people in reference to whom the LORD says to His ministers, Pray not for them. This amounts to nearly a prohibition, to withhold from His ministers the spirit of prayer and intercession in behalf of the people! Twice before God had given Jeremiah this charge (Jer.7:16; 11:14).
Jer. 14:12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. (KJV)
When they fast, I will not hear their cry . . . similar threatening is found in (Pro.1:28; Isa.1:15; Jer.11:11; Eze.8:18; Mic.3:4).
When they offer burnt-offering and an oblation, I will not accept them . . . people can for so long scorn God's appeals, calls and counsels, as their case may be desperate, as to the prevention of temporal judgments by such religious applications to God as ordinarily have their effect to prevent and remove judgments (Jer.15:1; Eze.14:14, 20).
But I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence . . . He threatens to add to their plague three painful judgments, normally accompanying one another, both in God's threats, and in the execution of them (Jer.29:17; 34:17).
Sword, famine, pestilence . . . this dreadful trio throughout the ages has been the permanent destroyers of human life. They are often mentioned in Scripture:
(2 Chron.20:9; Jer.21:7, 9; 24:10; 27:13; 29:17-18; 32:36; 34:36; 38:2; 42:17, 22; 44:13; Eze.5:12, 17; 6:11-12; 12:16; 14:21).
The Prophet Lays the Blame on Their False Prophets;
Doom Passed on Both Deceivers and the Deceived (Jer.14:13-16)
Jer. 14:13 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. (KJV)
There are many complaints of Jeremiah against false prophets that contradicted his prophecies (Jer. 5:31; 6:14; 8:11; 14:13-15; 23:9, 17, 25-26; 27:10, 14-18; 28:13; 29:21, 31; 37:19), and we shall meet with the names of some of them. Much of the sin of the people is due to the false prophets' influence. Assured peace is solid and lasting peace, and it is literally, peace and truth (Isa.39:8), it is never brought by false prophets, false shepherds or false teachers . . . it is only brought by the LORD God when we obey Him..
Jer. 14:14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. (KJV)
The false prophets not only prophesied falsehoods, but gaping lies, what they knew to be false. They pretended that God had revealed certain things to them; and it was a lie for them to pretend that God had told them any such things. The things were certainly false in themselves, being contrary to God's revelation; also for them to pretend God had revealed that to them which He had not revealed, was an outright lie. God denied that He ever commanded them to speak any such things, nor did He send them on any such errands. They prophesied what came in their own silly heads, and the deceptions of their own hearts. Jer.23:21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. (KJV) Jer. 27:15 For I have not sent them, saith the LORD, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you. (KJV) Jer. 28:15 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. (KJV)
Jer. 14:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. (KJV)
It is very dangerous for ministers to deliver to people as the will of God, something that is not so. The LORD here threatens that these false prophets, in testimony of the Truth of the Word of God delivered by Jeremiah, would die by the very judgments which they falsely prophesied to this people, as from God (Jer.6:15; 20:6; 1 Ki. 22:25).
By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed . . . punishment in kind both to the false prophets and to those who listen and believe them and turn away from the TRUE God! (Jer 14:16).
Jer. 14:16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them. (KJV)
The people who listen to these false prophets will be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword. There will be none to bury them (Jer.7:33; 9:22; 15:2-3; 16:4; 18:21). The deceptive security promised by these false prophets would be no excuse to the people for giving credit to them. The false prophets shall perish for prophesying falsely in God’s Holy Name, and the people that listen to them and believe what they say, shall perish for their lack of light and vain trust. Just as the sinful commands of superiors in civil things will not free those from guilt that execute their commands, so the lies and false teachings of ministers will not excuse those that run into error, by believing their words. Both owe their first reverence and allegiance to God, by whose Holy Word they should examine the laws of the one, and the prophesies of the other. BEWARE!!! Check out everything that you hear or read, including me, with the Holy Word of God!
Instead of Interceding for Them, He was to Lament.
But He Continues to Intercede for Them (Jer.14:17-22)
Jer. 14:17 Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow. (KJV)
The dreadful state of Judah and Jerusalem is what caused the prophet's lamentation, and the reason for his prayer and intercession for them. Jeremiah stands weeping over the ruins of his country, as the LORD directs him to do, showing how affected he was. Jeremiah must say it not only to himself, but to them too: Let my eyes run down with tears, for he must point out to them that he foresaw the sword coming, and another kind of famine, worse even than what they were now groaning under. The prophet speaks as if he already saw the miseries coming from the descent that the Chaldeans made upon them.
For the virgin daughter of my people is broken . . . (1). The land was sadly distressed by Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt. (2). It was laid under a heavy tribute by Nebuchadnezzar. (3). It was nearly desolated by a famine afterwards.
*****The message was breaking Jeremiah’s heart. He wept as he gave the message to his people. God wanted the people to know that His heart was breaking. Jeremiah was not only giving the message from God, but he was also expressing the feelings of God as well. We must realize that we all are witnesses for God. If you are a TRUE child of God, you are His witness . . . and you are saying something by the way you live.
Jer. 14:18 If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not. (KJV)
Every place in the cities and in the country presents horrific spectacles; the wounded, the dying, the starving, and the killed . . . and there was none to bury the dead, none to console the dying, none to bring relief or comfort. Even the false prophets and the priests are forced to leave the cities, and wander about in unknown places, searching for the bare necessities of life.
*****Jer.14:17-18. God directs Jeremiah to speak of the calamities of these people as a thing past, even though it is yet to come . . . according to the usual style of prophetical writings. He was to tell them that whatever their false prophets told them, God knew the Truth. Both the false prophets and the priests go into a land that they do not know. The sense seems to be, that priests and prophets although they were thought to be sacred persons, would also be made captives, and wander in a land where they were strangers. This is thought to relate to the first captivity in the time of Jehoiakim, when the people of the best manner were carried into captivity (Dan.1:1). Jehoiakim (named Eliakim at birth, 2 Chron. 36:4) was one of the last kings of Judah before the Babylonian Captivity. Jehoiakim was a son of good King Josiah (Jer.26:1) of Judah.
Jer. 14:19 Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble! (KJV)
The prophet again returns to God, disagreeing with him, and humbly pleading mercy for his people, which lets us know that he did not understand God's words to him (Jer.14:11), which forbid him to pray for these people.
Zion was a place whose gates God loved, and Judah was His pleasant portion (Jer.12:10). LORD, said the prophet, is it possible that You should hate a place which You loved so much, or cast off a people which You have owned for so long?
Why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? . . . the prophet acknowledged God to be the One that had smitten them, and the peoples condition without Him would be helpless and hopeless; and that all their hopes and expectations would be frustrated.
Jer. 14:20 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. (KJV)
They admit and realize that both they and their fathers have sinned against the LORD, and have given Him good reason to punish and destroy them. They did not want to cover or hide their sin, they owned and acknowledge it.
Jer. 14:21 Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. (KJV)
The thing which Jeremiah denounced is, the judgments that had already come and the further judgments upon this people, the famine, sword, and pestilence, along with the drought, under the sad results of which they presently labored. He prays for the removal of the present judgments, and the stopping of those that were yet to come. Do not abhor us; noting that the love of God to a people is the root of all good which they can expect, and His hatred and anger being the root of all the evil that can take place with them. The prophet speaks of a glorious high throne from the beginning is our Sanctuary. LORD, said the prophet, we deserve all the disgrace You can throw upon us, but do not disgrace the throne of Your own glory. Break not Your covenant with us. Despite the fact that they had already broken that covenant, still they wished God would go forward and fulfill His part of it.
*****They ceased to be God's people when they abandoned themselves to idolatry; yet they still wanted God to be their God, to defend, support and bless them. They seemed to be ignorant of the fact that when the conditions of a covenant are broken by one party, the other is no longer bound by it. The covenant is automatically annulled.
Jer. 14:22 Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things. (KJV)
The present judgment under which they groaned was a drought, which Jeremiah had described in the six first verses; the prophet pleading with the LORD to remove it, argues that the impossibility of help from any other way; none of the idols of the heathens, which he calls vain things, nothing in themselves, and of no use or profit to those that ran after the idols, could give rain. Only the heavens can give rain at the LORD’S command.
Art not thou he, O LORD our God? LORD, are You not able to do it? asks the prophet, are not You, He who alone is able to do it? Are not You He, who can give us rain?
The Scripture constantly gives God the honor of giving rain (Gen. 2:5; Deut.28:12; 1 Ki. 8:36; 2 Chron.6:27; Job 5:10; 38:26, 28; Ps. 147:8; Jer.5:24; 51:16; Joel 2:23; Zec. 10:1; Mat. 5:45; Acts 14:17).
Therefore, saith the prophet, we Your people will wait upon You by prayer, and the payment of those respects and worship that You require; for You have made all these things; You have caused all these judgments, or afflictive dispensations; and only You can make it rain.
Book of Jeremiah
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