Jer. 14:1 ¶ The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.
“dearth” = restraint of rain; drought
It would seem that the LORD is going to explain to Jeremiah the reason for the
time of drought that Judah was experiencing at that time.
Jer. 14:2 Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto
the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
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.
Jer. 14:4 Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the
plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.
Jer. 14:5 Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there
was no grass.
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.
In this section of verses the people of Judah are pictured in mourning because of
the lack of rain. “Black unto the ground” references mourning in the Hebrew.
Even those in positions of power among the people, the nobles, who usually
congregate around the gates of the city find that they are without any influence
when it comes to getting water. Their children and/or servants are returning
home from the wells with empty water pails just like everyone else. The people
are disappointed (from the Hebrew for “ashamed”) and hurt/confused by the
situation. Covering their heads was a sign of mourning. Those who were
attempting to plow the earth for planting were disappointed because the ground
is dry and cracked; agriculture is basically at a standstill. Even the animals were
feeling the desperation of the situation. When the deer (usually known for
taking good care of their young) gave birth, they abandoned their young because
of the lack of grass for food. The wild asses went to the high places to sniff the
wind and scan the countryside looking for grass, but they could see nothing to
It is quite clear that the land and people of Judah were experiencing a severe time
of drought, and the LORD wanted to make sure that the people recognized that
it was in judgment for their sin.
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.
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?
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.
It seems the people realized that God was aware of their sins. So, instead of
approaching God on their own behalf, they decided to address Him regarding
the honor of His name. They knew that the nations around them would interpret
these conditions as due to the inability of Judah’s “God” to provide for them
properly. They even go so far as to admit that their sins are “many” and have
been committed “against Thee” [the LORD]. They appeal to the LORD as “the
hope of Israel,” their “savior” in times of trouble. They question why He should
decide to treat them like strangers or like any foreign traveler who might be
passing through the land. They question why He is presenting Himself as one
who is surprised at the condition of His people and is helpless to do anything on
their behalf. They are aware that His covenant with Abraham is sure and that
He has not totally abandoned them. They continue to appeal to Him on the fact
that they are called by His name. His honor is at stake among the nations.
It seems that suffering all of a sudden reminded the people of their history and
they decided to model their prayer after those recorded by Moses in which he
sought God’s mercy and/or forgiveness of the people based on His honor among
Numbers 14:11–16 “And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke
me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed
among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of
thee a greater nation and mightier than they. And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the
Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among
them;) And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou
LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud
standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud,
and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the
nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the LORD was not
able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain
them in the wilderness.”
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.
The LORD sends his answer to the people through His prophet. It’s interesting
that He says “this” people, and not “My” people. He basically says that since the
people so love to wander outside His will and act in disobedience according to
their own will, He no longer takes pleasure in them. The time has come for them
to be judged according to their sins.
The people of Israel/Judah had taken their relationship with God for granted
and mistakenly thought that His love and mercy would override their need for
punishment/judgment. I think that is often the mistake of many in the church
God is the source of love, and true love is motivated by what is right and best for
those He loves. Sometimes love is best manifested in what is known as “tough
love”—actions meant to put an end to bad behavior and bring about good
behavior—actions that will result in future blessing, not cursing.
Jer. 14:11 Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.
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.
The LORD’s response seems harsh and determined. It would seem that the
pleadings of the people were being made with an insincere heart. He commands
Jeremiah that he is not to pray on behalf of his people again. The LORD is
declaring that His ears are closed to the cries of the people and He will not accept
their offerings and gifts. Instead, He intends to destroy the people by sword,
famine and pestilence.
This wording is interesting because I believe God still uses these judgments
today. Most would regard these as simply the evil actions of men against other
men or normal cycles of nature—and sometimes they are. But I think one should
always soberly consider the possibility that God is trying to get man’s
attention—both reprobate and man of faith. Scripture is replete with references
to the Creator making use of His creation to get the attention of both His people
and His enemies, the enemies of His people.
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.
The tenderhearted Jeremiah tries to intercede with the LORD based on the lies
that had been prophesied by the false prophets in His name. They had told the
people that the LORD was going to give them peace, provide for them and
protect them from the attack of their enemies.
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.
The LORD stands firm. He declares that these prophets had not been sent by
Him nor did they speak for Him. They were declaring false visions using
witchcraft and deceit.
I believe they had opened themselves to and were being used by evil spirits.
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
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.
YHWH now declares that these false prophets would die at the hands of their
enemies or from hunger. Those who listened to their prophecies would meet the
same end. Death would come so suddenly to so many that there would not be
enough people left to bury the dead. The LORD was going to give them over to
the consequences of their wickedness.
I think it is significant to note that the LORD always holds His people
accountable for discernment regarding those they choose to believe. He had
revealed His will through Moses regarding what was acceptable and
unacceptable behavior before Him. The people had chosen to reject His will and
follow their own. The fact that they had been deceived by false prophets was a
direct consequence of choosing to disobey God. That this was the choice of the
people was revealed earlier in this study.
Jeremiah 5:31 “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means;
and my people love to have it so:”
The same is true today. God has revealed His truth and preserved it for the
nations through His word. Even those without His word have the revelation of
creation regarding the Creator, and God declares that sufficient to make them
without excuse. His word is clear that those who seek Him will be found by
Romans 1:19–20 “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God
hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and
Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
Psalms 9:9–10 “The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of
trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast
not forsaken them that seek thee.”
Jeremiah 29:13 “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
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.
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.
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!
In this section of verses the Lord is declaring His sorrow in light of the sins of His
people. Maybe He is allowing Jeremiah to express His heart as he weeps for his
people. Their sin had caused a great break in their relationship with the LORD
and had resulted in severe judgment. The fields would be covered with the dead
killed by the enemy. Those that had remained in the city would perish from
hunger. The prophets and priests had been failures.
Because they listened to the false prophets it seemed that God had rejected
Judah; the people wonder—Is it forever? Had God totally cast off His people?
They also seemed to question why He would judge them so harshly and wonder
if He is going to restore them to covenant relationship. They were expecting
peace and healing, not war and trouble.
This is always the result of listening to false teachers. It establishes unrealistic
expectations based on lies and deceit.
Jer. 14:20 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our
fathers: for we have sinned against thee.
Following the previous verses this seems a bit confusing. On the one hand, the
people wonder why God would judge them; on the other hand, they
acknowledge their sin and wickedness against the LORD.
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.
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.
Again, the people plead with God based on His honor before the nations. They
implore Him not to break covenant with them. It seems that they try to bribe
Him by acknowledging that He is mighty in comparison to the “gods” of the
heathen nations. He can cause rains at His will. In the light of His judgment
they now declare that their trust is in Him.
It’s interesting that the people are quick to remind God about keeping covenant
with them even though they had broken covenant with Him. It reminds me of
those today who refuse to show any effort at trying to please God or serve Him
in any way; yet when disaster comes, they are so ready to blame Him for
allowing these bad things to happen. We always want to make God accountable
for His actions without being held accountable for our actions, and we want that
accountability to be according to our own standards—not His.