Sword, Famine And Pestilence

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Superficial

These verses describe a great drought upon the land (vv. 1-2). One of the covenant curses God threatened to send on the disobedient nation was drought (Duet. 28:22-24). In a land where rainfall is marginal, a drought can have far-reaching effects. As a consequence of the people’s sin, a severe drought had come upon the land (v. 1). The country and cities mourn (v. 2). There is no water to fill their cisterns (vv. 3-4). The nobles sent their children to the cisterns in search of water, but to no avail. The “lads” and “plowmen” covered their heads from shame. Even the “deer” (v. 5) gave birth and then left their young because there was no grass. The “wild donkeys” (v. 6) sniff the air for moisture. Their “eyes” have “failed” from weakness because there is no grass.

Jeremiah testifies to the Lord that our backslidings are many and we have sinned against You (v. 7). He questions God as to why He should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night (v. 8)? Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not leave us"  (v. 9). The severity of the drought forced the people to cry to God for deliverance. However, God knew that their confession was only superficial. They claimed God as their Lord, but they refused to restrain their feet from following evil (v. 10). Though God had the power to help, He did not answer the people’s pleas for rain. He even told Jeremiah not to pray for the people because their fasting and sacrifices were not from the heart (v. 11). He vowed to destroy them with the sword, famine, and plague (v. 12).

Application

God told Jeremiah not to pray for the people. Why pray when He was less important to them than the handmade idols they were worshiping. If I am trusting something other than God when things are going well, I will be content to trust in this false god when trouble comes?

Jeremiah 14:1-12 (English Standard Version)

The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought: "Judah mourns, and her gates languish; her people lament on the ground, and the cry of Jerusalem goes up. Her nobles send their servants for water; they come to the cisterns; they find no water; they return with their vessels empty; they are ashamed and confounded and cover their heads. Because of the ground that is dismayed, since there is no rain on the land, the farmers are ashamed; they cover their heads. Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn because there is no grass. The wild donkeys stand on the bare heights; they pant for air like jackals; their eyes fail because there is no vegetation. "Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O LORD, for your name's sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you. O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save? Yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not leave us." Thus says the LORD concerning this people: "They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins." The LORD said to me: "Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence."

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