JEREMIAH CHAPTER 14.
The Rejection of the Prophet's Intercession for Judah.
THE PROPHET INTERCEDES FOR THE FIRST TIME. — V. 1. The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth, the various periods of drought which Jehovah sent in order to call His people to repentance, this form of punishment being expressly threatened in the curses which the Lord attached to His proclamation of the Law. Cp. Lev. 26, 19. 20; Deut. 11, 17; 28, 23. V. 2. Judah mourneth, the entire nation being plunged in grief, and the gates thereof languish, the people who usually assembled in this public meeting-place being in trouble; they are black unto the ground, as a token of deep sorrow, and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up, as the people give expression to their bitterness of heart. V. 3. And their nobles, the mighty ones, the rulers of the nation, have sent their little ones, either their own servants or the common people generally, to the waters; they came to the pits, the cisterns for collecting rain-water, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty, the last drops of the precious fluid having disappeared; they were ashamed and confounded and covered their heads, in an excess of sorrow and grief. V. 4. Because the ground is chapped, literally, "dismayed," joining the people of Judah in their attitude of horror, for there was no rain in the earth, so that apprehension and consternation seized the soil; the plowmen were ashamed, because they could not till the land, they covered their heads, in the same feeling of humiliation which took hold of every animate and inanimate thing. V. 5. Yea, the hind also calved in the field and forsook it, abandoning her offspring, although noted for her affection toward her young, because there was no grass, no green thing to sustain life. V. 6. And the wild asses did stand in the high places, the bare hills most exposed to the wind, they snuffed up the wind like dragons, like jackals, eagerly seeking a breath of cooling air; their eyes did fail, unable to find so much as one blade of green grass, because there was no grass. V. 7. O Lord, so the prophet now makes his appeal for his countrymen, though our iniquities testify against us, serving as a most serious obstacle to the assistance and salvation of the Lord, do Thou it for Thy name's sake, relieving the distress of the terrible drought in order to bring honor upon Himself; for our backslidings are many, thus preventing His interposing in their behalf so far as they were concerned; we have sinned against Thee, whence they must throw themselves entirely upon His mercy. V. 8. O the Hope of Israel, He who was properly the One in whom all true children of Israel trusted, since His covenant with them stood secure, the Savior thereof in time of trouble, as He had so often proved Himself, why shouldest Thou be as a stranger in the land, who has no interest in its welfare, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? pitching his tent for only a very short period of time and feeling no sympathy for the inhabitants. Surely the Lord and Owner of Israel would not act in this manner! V. 9. Why shouldest Thou be as a man astonied, taken by surprise and therefore unable to lift His hand, stunned by a sudden calamity, as a mighty man that cannot save? having become weak and helpless in an unexpected extremity. Yet Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, namely, in His Sanctuary, which He had established at Jerusalem, and we are called by Thy name, bearing the name of Jehovah's people; leave us not! Thus Jeremiah turned to the God who had revealed Himself as the God of salvation, pleading in behalf of a people that had become guilty of rebellion against their one Source of help.
THE LORD REFUSES JEREMIAH’S REQUEST. — V. 10. Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, like the wild beasts whose behavior had been described in the previous section, they have not refrained their feet, not restraining them from the ways of idolatry, therefore the Lord doth not accept them, He confirms them in their idolatrous practices; He will now remember their iniquity and visit their sins. Cp. Hos. 8, 13. V. 11. Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good, so that any kind of benefit is given them. V. 12. When they fast, with a show of devotion toward Jehovah which they were far from feeling, I will not hear their cry, pay no attention to their appeals, and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, professing adherence to the God of Israel, I will not accept them, because their service was thoroughly hypocritical; but I will consume them by the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence, the three great scourges of ancient times. V. 13. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets, namely, the false prophets who were influencing the people for evil, say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place, literally, "peace of truth or faithfulness," that is, a sure and lasting peace. By such vain promises the false prophets tried to maintain their leadership among the people and to lead them astray. V. 14. Then the Lord, brushing aside this excuse offered on behalf of the people of Judah, said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in My name, insisting that they were proclaiming their messages by authority of Jehovah; I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them, thus stating most emphatically that they were not engaged by authority from Him; they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination and a thing of naught, literally, "nothingness," to set forth the utter emptiness of their message, and the deceit of their heart, evil plans which they had laid in order to work mischief. V. 15. Therefore, thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in My name and I sent them not, who were acting entirely without authority in bringing people a message of their own invention, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land: By sword and famine shall these prophets be consumed, perishing by the very punishments whose existence they had denied. V. 16. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, suffering a shameful death, because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, thus being deprived of even the last honor usually accorded to men, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters, all of these being in the same guilt and therefore in the same condemnation; for I will pour their wickedness upon them, so that us consequences will submerge them. V. 17. Therefore thou shall say this word unto them, Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day and let them not cease, nothing but weeping being left for the prophet; for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a wound which is very dangerous, with a very grievous blow, a fact which stirs the love of the prophet to its very depths. V. 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! no matter where he turns, the prophet's eyes encounter the ravages of war. Yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not, the destruction having rendered the country strange in their eyes, as familiar as they were formerly with every feature of the landscape on account of their frequent journeys. Thus had the Lord fulfilled the words of His threats and rebukes upon Judah.
THE PROPHET AGAIN INTERCEDES. — V. 19. Hast Thou utterly rejected Judah? so the prophet sorrowfully asks Jehovah. Hath Thy soul loathed Zion? feeling nothing but disgust for her. 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! Terror beset them on every hand, and there was no respite in sight. V. 20. We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers, the guilt which was found in the children also, for we have sinned against Thee. It is a confession in the name of those who were still Israelites in truth, since He, in the event of their repenting, had promised them forgiveness. V. 21. Do not abhor us, in an utter rejection, for Thy name's sake, which guaranteed to them the true covenant relation with all its benefits, do not disgrace the throne of Thy glory, namely, by repudiating Jerusalem and the Temple of Jehovah. Remember, break not, Thy covenant with us, upholding His promise made to the patriarchs. The prophet finally urges, as a consideration which ought to influence Jehovah, the fact that He alone is able to help in this emergency. V. 22. Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles, their empty idols, that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? God, as the only Creator, the one true God, is the only One who can dispense rain and give showers as He sees best. Art not Thou He, O Lord, our God? Since He had sent the dreadful droughts under whose hardships the land was groaning, therefore He alone could provide relief. Therefore we will wait upon Thee, for Thou hast made all these things. It is this understanding which is required of all men who would stand in the proper relation to Jehovah, the one God of mercy.