Jeremiah 16 Commentary

Jeremiah 16

Enjoy this free digital Jeremiah 16 commentary!

In Jeremiah 16 the Lord promises the invasion, exile, and then restoration of Judah.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | God Speaks

To begin with, the Lord speaks to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 16:1-18.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | Introduction

Jeremiah gives an introduction to this section in Jeremiah 16:1.

1 ¶ The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying,

So, this is starting a new section in this book that combines the 16th and 17th chapters of the book of Jeremiah. We’ll cover Jeremiah 16 only today.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | Three Actions & Their Reasons

Well, after that brief introduction we’ll now see in Jeremiah 16:2-9 the Lord commanding Jeremiah to take three actions. He also then gives Jeremiah the reason behind the actions.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | No Marriage

The first action that the Lord commands Jeremiah to take is to avoid marrying and having children in Jeremiah 16:2.

2 Thou shalt not take thee a wife,
neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place.

Now, for most people, God’s plan involves both marriage and children. So, this command to Jeremiah is of course not one for all of God’s people.

And by the way, let’s not let the impact that this would have on Jeremiah slip our notice. We’ve noted recently that the prophet experienced loneliness because of his purposeful avoidance of evil. And now he’s forbidden from marrying and raising a family. He is truly all alone. And that’s by God’s design. And it meets with God’s approval.

So, if it’s normally God’s will for a man to be married and have children, why is he telling Jeremiah to avoid these normal features of life?

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | Why Celibacy?

Well, the Lord gives the reason as to why Jeremiah must not marry and have children in Jeremiah 16:3-4.

3 For thus saith the LORD
concerning the sons
and concerning the daughters that are born in this place,
and concerning their mothers that bare them,
and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land;

4 They shall die of [grievous deaths/deadly diseases];
they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried;

but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth:
and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine;
and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

So, God has a message behind this action he wants Jeremiah to take. That would lead us to classify this action as symbolic. It’s not that the action is not real – it is very real. But the action has an underlying meaning that God himself is intending to convey to the people. It’s symbolic.

And the underlying meaning behind not having a wife and children is that husbands and wives and their children will face indiscriminant slaughter at the hands of the coming army from the north that’s been prophesied so many times in this book. And this slaughter would be so massive and widespread that there wouldn’t be enough people left to bury the dead. The animals would be the only means of disposing of the carcasses.

That’s not a pleasant picture in the least. And that’s exactly why Jeremiah is commanded to avoid having a wife and family. God is wanting to communicate that this is going to happen and he’s going to use the prophet’s actions to do the communicating.

The Lord has revealed this kind of thing before – of certain destruction for all and mass death at the hands of the invading enemy if they don’t repent. So, why use Jeremiah’s actions to communicate this message?

I think again I see God working every angle to let his people know that there is going to be real trouble if they don’t turn to him. He sends a verbal message. They don’t listen. So he sends Jeremiah to take some physical action like wearing a belt or like not marrying – and that’s to be a message to the people. They still don’t listen. So, the Lord sends them a confusing statement like we’ve seen before – something like “every wine jug is to be filled with wine” and then he explains the significance of that statement. And all of this is God changing up his method of communication – I think in hopes that the people will actually catch on to one of the ways that he’s communicating and take the appropriate action of repenting.

It’s like any of us parents know – sometimes you find yourself saying the exact same things in the exact same way to your children – especially as you’re trying to correct them. And how do they respond to that? They can often respond by checking out. There’s something in us that can identify recognizable patterns and just kind of tune them out. Our brains are made to differentiate between noise and things that it considers as important. And so, as a parent you’re mindful to try to not let your instruction become mere noise to your child. And yet, the child is also responsible for recognizing that your instruction isn’t noise, as well.

But God here I think is stooping to human frailty and giving the same message in different forms to try to shake his people out of their complacent disobedience.

Alright, so Jeremiah is told not to marry and have children.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | No Funeral Attendance

The second action that the Lord commands Jeremiah to take is to avoid any funerals for his people in Jeremiah 16:5.

5 ¶ For thus saith the LORD,

Enter not into the house of mourning,
neither go to lament nor bemoan them:

And then the Lord explains why he’s forbidding Jeremiah to attend funerals in the rest of Jeremiah 16:5-7.

for I have taken away my peace from this people,

saith the LORD,

even lovingkindness and mercies.

6 Both the great and the small shall die in this land:
they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them,
nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them:

7 Neither shall men [tear/break] themselves [or, bread] for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead;
neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.

So, no funeral attendance for Jeremiah because there will be a time when those who die won’t have funerals. There will be so many deaths from the battle against the coming army from the north that there won’t be sufficient numbers of living to take care of the overwhelming number of the dead.

And this will happen because the Lord had taken away his peace, his lovingkindness, and his mercy from these people.

And we need to keep reminding ourselves that this is all happening because the people broke their covenant with the Lord.

If the people obeyed the Lord and kept his covenant then they were to be blessed. Deuteronomy 28:1 tells them “that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth”. Deuteronomy 28:7 promises “The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.”

But if the people break God’s covenant, then here’s God’s promise to them in Deuteronomy 28:25-26, “The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.”

And that’s why what we’re seeing promised in this chapter will happen. And that’s why Jeremiah is commanded to take these actions to symbolize what’s to come for this rebellious people.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | No Celebrating

The third action that the Lord commands Jeremiah to take is to avoid celebrating with his people in Jeremiah 16:8. No marriage, no funerals, and now no celebrations.

8 Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink.

Then the Lord gives the reason that Jeremiah is to avoid celebrating with his people in Jeremiah 16:9.

9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;

Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days,
the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness,
the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.

There will be a time in Jeremiah’s lifetime when there would be no celebrating. You can imagine why – all the people by-and-large will be exiled or killed.

And so, Jeremiah was to avoid weddings and other celebrations in order to picture for the people the time to come when celebrations would cease in Judah.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | One Cause

And now that the Lord has laid out for Jeremiah these three actions that he wants the prophet to take, having already given the explanation as to what each one of the actions means and the significance behind each one, the Lord will now explain the need for the actions and for the realities which they symbolize in Jeremiah 16:10-12.

10 ¶ And it shall come to pass,
when thou shalt [shew/tell] this people all these words,
and they shall say unto thee,

Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil [i.e., not moral – disaster] against us?
or what is our iniquity?
or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?

So, God envisions a time when the people, in response to Jeremiah’s symbolic activities, will ask him why the Lord has laid out such destruction for them.

Here’s how Jeremiah is to answer them.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | Answers

First, the destruction is coming because the ancestors of the people had sinned against God and broken his covenant.

11 Then shalt thou say unto them,

Because your [fathers/ancestors] have forsaken me,

saith the LORD,

and have [walked after/followed/paid allegiance to] other gods,
and have served them,
and have worshipped them,

and have [forsaken/rejected] me,
and have not [kept/obeyed] my law;

But the destruction is coming not only because of the sins of the people’s ancestors. Second, destruction was coming because the people themselves sinned against God and broke his covenant – and did so even worse than their ancestors.

12 And ye have done worse than your [fathers/ancestors];

for, behold, ye walk every one after the [imagination/stubbornness] of his evil heart,
[that they may not/without] [hearken/listen/obey] unto me:

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | Two Results

So, with three actions commanded and explained, and then the one cause that underlies those actions and the realities they symbolize, then in Jeremiah 16:13-18 the Lord gives two results – two things that will happen because of what we’ve just considered.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | Exile

The first result is exile according to Jeremiah 16:13.

13 Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not,
neither ye nor your fathers;

and there shall ye serve other gods day and night;
where I will not shew you favour.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | Restoration

The second result is maybe not what you’d think from the general tenor of what we’ve been hearing so far in this chapter. The second result of all of this is restoration – a return of the Jews to the land of Israel after the exile, according to Jeremiah 16:14-15.

14 ¶ Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said,

[i.e., As (an oath)] The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;

15 But,

The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them:

and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | But First, Exile

Well, then the Lord goes back to considering the first result he already mentioned of exile in Jeremiah 16:16-18.

16 ¶ Behold, I will [i.e., speaking either of the coming exile or the coming restoration] send for many fishers, saith the LORD,
and they shall fish them;

and after will I send for many hunters,
and they shall hunt them from every mountain,
and from every hill,
and out of the holes of the rocks.

Now, it’s easy to interpret Jeremiah 16:16 as speaking of the restoration of the Jews to the land after the exile. I myself have actually stated that this is the case in a previous message I gave from this text.

However, I now have come to think that the hunters and fishers are not pictured as brining the people back to the land of Judah. I think the hunters and fishers are actually equivalent to Babylon – the coming enemy from the north who would invade Judah and take them away.

And I think that change in interpretation is validated by Jeremiah 16:17-18.

In Jeremiah 16:17 God gives the reason that he’s sending the hunters and fishers. It’s the sin of the people.

17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways:
they are not hid from my face,
neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.

So, if the hunters and fishers were bringing the people back to the land, why would the Lord give the reason for their activities as being the people’s sin? I see that as more naturally addressing the reason that he’s sending the people into exile, rather than why he’ll restore them to the land.

Then in Jeremiah 16:18 the Lord goes into more reasons why he’d need to exile the people through these hunters and fishers.

18 And first [i.e., before I restore them] I will [recompense/repay] their iniquity and their sin double;

So, before the restoration comes these hunters and fishers would come to carry away the people out of their land because of the people’s sin. Why?

because they have defiled my land,
they have filled mine inheritance with the [carcases/lifeless statues] of their detestable and abominable things.

Again, this doesn’t sound like justification for sending the people back to their land. It sounds like reason for sending them out of it. And so, I think that’s what those hunters and fishers are doing – sending the people out of the land into exile.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary |:The Prophet Speaks

Then in Jeremiah 16:19-20 the prophet looks forward to a time when the entire world will reject their idolatry and will instead finally worship the Lord alone.

19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction,

If you recall Jeremiah 15, it’s there that the Lord promised the worrying prophet that he would be with Jeremiah and cause the enemy to entreat him in the time of affliction [tsarah]. It seems that Jeremiah got the message. Because right here in the next chapter Jeremiah is confessing this very reality – that God is his refuge in the day of affliction. God would be there for him as a place of protection when affliction comes.

And with that confession, Jeremiah looks forward to a time when all the nations – not just his restored people – but all the nations would come to the Lord and forsake their idols.

the [Gentiles/nations] shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say,

Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.

20 Shall a man make gods [unto/for] himself, [and/yet] they are no gods?

Folks, do you believe this? Do you believe that there is really a time coming when everyone on this planet will throw away their idols and worship the true God – the one we have come to know and worship? And the one who is so ignored and despised by most of the world currently.

Jeremiah 16 Commentary | Gentiles Will Know God

Scripture speaks of the nations coming to know the Lord in the future.

Psalm 22:27 says “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.”

Psalm 86:9 – “All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.”

Zechariah 14:16-19 speaks of the Millennium when Christ reigns in Jerusalem – “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem [i.e., at the Battle of Armageddon] shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.”

Isaiah 2:2-4 – “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established [in the top/as the chief] of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Micah 4:1-4 says something very similar.

Zechariah 8:20-23 says “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. 22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”

And last for now, in Revelation 15:4 those who come out of the Great Tribulation who have been victorious over the Beast sing the Song of Moses which includes this statement “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”

The point is this is really going to happen and the Lord is getting us ready for it in many of his books in the Scripture. The entire world during the literal physical Millennial reign of Jesus Christ our Lord and King will worship him in Jerusalem. They will forsake their idols. They will worship the Lord alone.

It will happen. And you and I will go from the minority to being in the overwhelming majority. You and I are outcasts for believing the truth right now. Jeremiah was, too. But a time is coming when what is being outlawed throughout our land will be the law. Right now in our nation, everyone is going away from the Lord and you and I are staying put and it’s not easy for us. But there is a time coming when everyone will flock to the Lord. And if they don’t they’ll be the ones who get in trouble – not us!

Jeremiah 16 Commentary |  God Speaks

And because there is a future time when all the nations will forsake their idolatry and worship the Lord alone, the Lord is determined to rid his people of their idolatry and expresses this resolve in Jeremiah 16:21.

21 ¶ Therefore, behold, I will this once cause [them/this wicked people] to know,
I will cause them to know mine hand and my might;
and they shall know that my name is The LORD.

If the entire world is going to forsake their idols and come to worship the Lord someday, then can’t the Lord expect this of his very own people? Well, he does expect it, and that’s why he’s going to have to exile them for their sin and to teach them to not commit idolatry.

That’s Jeremiah 16. Invasion, Exile, and Restoration.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary

Jeremiah 15

Enjoy this free digital Jeremiah 15 commentary.

Since Jeremiah 15 shares a section with the 14th chapter of that same book, a review of Jeremiah 14 is in order here.

In Jeremiah 14 we saw Jeremiah three times intercede for his people who were under the condemnation of God for their constant rebellion against him.

And though we saw Jeremiah interceding three times, we saw the Lord responding only twice. That’s because there’s a chapter break at the end of Jeremiah 14 that cuts off God’s last response to Jeremiah’s intercession.

Each of God’s two responses to Jeremiah’s prayers that God would relent concerning his promised punishment of them was basically negative. God told Jeremiah that, no, he would not be changing his mind concerning the coming punishment.

Do you think God’s last response will be any different? What we find out in Jeremiah 15 is that, no indeed, God’s final response will not be any different than his first two responses.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | God’s Response

The Lord’s response to Jeremiah’s last intercession is in Jeremiah 15:1-9.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Intercession is Fine

In other words, as I mentioned at the end of Jeremiah 14, it’s not as if there’s something deficient in Jeremiah’s ministry of intercession for his people. The best intercessors ever known to the Lord – Moses and Samuel – wouldn’t be able to turn God from his planned destruction of his rebellious people.

One thing to note at the end of Jeremiah 15:1 is God’s ironic word choice. “Cast them out” in the KJV is the same Hebrew word (shalach) that’s used in Exodus 5:1 where Moses reports to Pharaoh that the Lord wants him to “let My people go”.

So, it’s as if the coming exile is a sad reversal of the glorious exodus of old.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | How to Answer People

Well, the Lord in Jeremiah 15:2 envisions a scenario in which the people ask Jeremiah where God wants them to go. Most likely, they will ask this mockingly and not sincerely. But God gives Jeremiah a genuine answer to their factitious question.

It’s a pretty terse message. But when people ask questions that are intended to mock God’s threats, this is sometimes what they get. Very short and brief and sobering.

If your lot is to die, then that’s what’s going to happen. If you’re supposed to be killed in war with a sword, then that’s what’s going to happen. Same with those who are supposed to die by famine or starvation and those who will be forcibly removed from their land. If it’s destined to happen, it’s going to happen.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Fours

Then the Lord moves on from those four different destinations where his people will be finding themselves to now in Jeremiah 15:3 four different ways in which his people will meet their end. And the Lord speaks of them as four “kinds” or the KJV translates the word elsewhere many times as “families” [mishpachah].

So, after the sword does its work, these three species or categories of animals will finish the business. How awful.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Captivity

But remember, in Jeremiah 15:2, death wasn’t the only option mentioned. Some in Judah would go into captivity as well.

And so, the Lord adds that option here as well in Jeremiah 15:4. And in addition, he gives the reason for his sending his people into captivity. And it’s a reason we haven’t heard yet in this book.

This reason for God exiling his people is always shocking to me when I’m reminded of it.

This factor behind the exile is given elsewhere in Scripture as well. At the end of Josiah’s life, the author of Second Kings says the following in 2 Kings 23:26-27:

Notwithstanding [i.e., the great reforms that Josiah made] the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, [why?] because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. 27 And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.

Now, we don’t know exactly when Jeremiah 15 was written, but it would have been at least 15 years after the reign of evil king Manasseh ended with his death.

God is stating both here in Jeremiah and in 2 Kings that he’s bringing this punishment on Judah for what a previous monarch of theirs did. And you might say “Why would God punish people for what their former ruler did?

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Punishment for Former Ruler?

And we’d have to respond to that question with a few thoughts.

First, the Lord has made it abundantly clear in these 15 chapters of Jeremiah so far that Judah is getting what they deserve. They have sinned and broken the covenant. It’s they who have earned this punishment themselves. And God is not denying that here.

Second, though, Manasseh did certainly play a large role in the demise of his people, and God won’t deny that. Even the sin that the people themselves were so prone to – the idolatry and all that goes along with worshiping false gods – so much of that which even outlasted the reign and ministry and reforms of Josiah was introduced or zealously encouraged by this wicked king Manasseh. The role of an authority figure can outlast his time on earth.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Talking to Judah

Well, there’s a small shift when we move from Jeremiah 15:4 to Jeremiah 15:5. For the first four verses of Jeremiah 15 the Lord is speaking about Judah, using pronouns like “they” and “them”. But starting in Jeremiah 15:5 the Lord takes two verses to address Judah directly.

The answer? No one. What would Israel have been without the Lord’s care and constant concern? If the Lord hadn’t chosen Abraham and his descendants, no one would know about this tiny nation. We wouldn’t be considering them right now today. They would have remained in obscurity.

And so, the answer to the questions in Jeremiah 15:5 is “no one”. No one will mourn the destruction of Judah. The Lord alone – who was himself administering the punishment – he would be the only one who would care about this calamity to come on his people.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Why the Punishment?

And then in Jeremiah 15:6 the Lord gives the reason for punishing his people.

God is so merciful and long-suffering. He is indeed slow to anger. But there’s a time where he needs to exact punishment for disobedience. He says at the end of Jeremiah 15:6 that he’s actually tired of turning from his just punishing of these people for their constant sins. And he’s not going to restrain himself anymore.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Talking About Judah

Then in Jeremiah 15:7 the Lord changes again from speaking to Judah to now speaking about Judah. He begins by speaking of the devastation to come to all of the people.

Again, if only the people would repent, the Lord could avoid destroying them.

By the way, isn’t that significant? We have several times in this series noted that there is a difference between the Old and New Covenants and how the Lord dealt and is dealing (respectively) with his people through them.

All this calamity was coming on Judah because as the Lord says in Jeremiah 11 they had broken the covenant he made with them – the Old or Mosaic or Sinai Covenant. They broke it and so they needed to face the curses listed in Deuteronomy. One of those curses was drought. And that’s what the people were experiencing as Jeremiah was relaying the message we’re reading about right now.

In addition, we’ve acknowledged also that it seems that those who are in the New Covenant cannot break it. The Lord writes the Law on our hearts. He remembers our sins no more. There is total forgiveness. His Holy Spirit indwells and occupies and seals us.

But how do we enter that New Covenant? What was the message of John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles? Repent and believe the Gospel!

And not unrelated, what is the one “out” that God keeps offering the Judeans of Jeremiah’s day? Repent! The Lord will turn from his punishing the people if they repent!

We who are in the New Covenant enter it by repenting. And that isn’t the way Israel entered into the Old Covenant. But even back then God was desiring this response from sinners.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Mothers

Back to the text. I must say that I am really quite glad that I didn’t get to teach this chapter on Mother’s Day – just a few weeks ago (in 2016). Because the next two verses are focused squarely on the effects on mothers in Jeremiah’s day of the wrath that God will have to pour out on his sinful rebellious people.

Note the bitter irony of that statement. The Lord tested the ancestor of these people – Abraham. He promised Abraham a son and finally fulfilled his promise in Abraham’s old age by causing his wife Sarah to conceive and bear Isaac. But then a few years later the Lord commanded Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son. As you know, the Lord delivered Isaac and commended Abraham’s obedience. And as a result, the Lord in Genesis 22:17 promised Abraham descendants that would rival the sand on the seashore for numbers. That’s a blessing!

And there are promises similar to that blessing in the Law. If the people obeyed, their children would be blessed – Deuteronomy 28:4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body”. Deuteronomy 28:11 “And the Lord shall make thee plenteous … in the fruit of thy body.”

But if the people broke the covenant then Deuteronomy 28:18, “Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body.” Deuteronomy 28:53, “And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body.”

And it’s these promised threats from the Lord in Deuteronomy 28 that are now shifting things from God making Judah’s children like the sand of the sea – which is very positive and blessed. And now that they’ve broken his covenant, not their children, but rather their widows will be like the sand on the sea shore.

What a tragic reversal of things.

The rest of Jeremiah 15:8 tells the people why their widows are going to be so numerous.

Babylon will come and destroy so many of the men of war – the husbands and fathers. And really, the invasion of the land and the siege that would take place against Jerusalem all would leave so very many people dead. This is the source of all these widows.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Children

Even women at that time who were blessed to have borne several children wouldn’t escape this fate according to Jeremiah 15:9.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Lament for Mothers

Well, based on this very dark prognostication concerning the wives and mothers of Judah, Jeremiah considers his own mother in Jeremiah 15:10.

We might sense some self-pitying going on here with Jeremiah.

But he has a point. This – the gloomy content of this chapter and the entire book – is the message that he had to give to his fellow countrymen throughout his entire ministry. Basically, “you are all going to be killed because you’re sinners and you broke the covenant”. It certainly wasn’t a popular message. It made Jeremiah an outcast. As he says, everyone cursed him.

Money – and particularly the borrowing and lending of it – can cause some hard feelings. And Jeremiah isn’t in that business, and yet it’s as if he is because of all the animosity that his message has earned him.

And now he hears that mothers are going to be bereaved of their children and that life is going to be really hard for them – maybe he’s even thinking about his father and the fact that he might be killed when Babylon comes – and he utters woe upon himself. He’s saying that it would be better if he hadn’t been born.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | God Responds

The Lord then in Jeremiah 15:11-14 responds to Jeremiah and also continues speaking of the coming punishment.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | It Will Be Well

To begin with, the Lord responds to Jeremiah’s lament in Jeremiah 15:11.

So, the Lord reminds Jeremiah that things will be well for him. God will strengthen him for good. It’s as if God is saying, “Jeremiah, remember when I commissioned you? I told you (in Jeremiah 1:8) that I would be with you to deliver you. Everything is going to be OK for you.

The enemy will come and entreat Jeremiah. That same enemy – if it’s speaking of Babylon – will kill or exile everyone else more or less, but they will actually entreat Jeremiah. Or maybe the enemy there is a reference to his fellow-Judeans who had become his enemies. Well, there is a time when they’ll entreat Jeremiah. He’ll have a king – Zedekiah – just a number of months before Jerusalem finally falls ask him what the Lord has said and what he should do in light of it. Jeremiah will have the people entreat him before they foolishly go down into Egypt. Jeremiah will indeed have his enemies – both foreign and domestic – entreat him.

And so that’s the Lord’s response to Jeremiah concerning his fears.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Doom

And with that out of the way, the Lord resumes predicting doom for Jeremiah’s people in Jeremiah 15:12.

So, iron – can anyone break it in Jeremiah’s day? The answer: a mere man couldn’t. But then this mention of the north. What else is associated with the north in this book? Babylon, the coming enemy. So, the Lord is alluding to the fact that he’s bringing a powerful force from the north which no man will be able to resist.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Everything Taken

And when that force comes, the Lord will let them take everything from Judah according to Jeremiah 15:13-14.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Worry

And so in Jeremiah 15:15-18 Jeremiah continues to worry about what will happen when this all takes place.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Deliverance

He asks the Lord for deliverance in Jeremiah 15:15.

So, deliver me from my persecutors, is Jeremiah’s request.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Love for God’s Word

Jeremiah then goes on to confess his love for God’s word and his belonging to God alone in Jeremiah 15:16.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | He Did Right

So, Jeremiah did right. That’s his point. In addition, Jeremiah avoided doing wrong or even associating with those who did wrong according to Jeremiah 15:17. And that often resulted in loneliness for the prophet.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | God is Lying???

And all of this seems fine so far. But I think Jeremiah 15:18 is where our beloved prophet goes off the tracks a bit. He starts to entertain thoughts that maybe God is not telling him the truth.

Like, you told me that things would be well for me and that you’d be with me to deliver me – but I don’t sense that happening right now!

Jeremiah, no doubt under a great deal of stress and pressure, is struggling with thoughts that perhaps God wouldn’t come through for him. The Lord was promising to be with him and deliver him. But … that doesn’t really match what the prophet is feeling. What if the Lord failed him?

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | God Corrects the Prophet

And this is where the Lord has to pause from his message to Judah and really fix his gaze on his prophet, Jeremiah. The Lord is very patient. He takes a surprising amount of accusation from his own people – especially in the Psalms. But he does have limits. And so the Lord has to gently correct Jeremiah for the rest of this chapter in Jeremiah 15:19-21.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Repent!

To begin, the Lord tells Jeremiah that he needs to repent of that way of thinking that he’s just expressed – that perhaps God is unreliable. In Jeremiah 15:19 the Lord uses the Hebrew term for “repent” four times.

So, Jeremiah needs to repent, just like everyone else in that society. If he does, God will continue to use him. And the inverse is implicit rather than explicit. If Jeremiah doesn’t turn? Well, the Lord doesn’t say. He leaves that for the prophet to guess.

Jeremiah must present the precious words that God has him to speak and leave out the vile or the words that are worthless and untrue – like what Jeremiah just suggested concerning God perhaps being unreliable. He’s to nix that kind of talk.

And I think the Lord’s last statement in Jeremiah 15:19 indicates that perhaps Jeremiah was being influenced negatively by his rebellious culture around him. Accusing God would have been common among Jeremiah’s contemporaries. But it was not to affect him. Jeremiah needed to be different than they were in order to win them. He must not let himself be brought down to their level of sin and rebellion.

Jeremiah 15 Commentary | Promise

Then in Jeremiah 15:20-21 God reiterates his promise to Jeremiah that he issued to him all the way back in Jeremiah 1:8 and Jeremiah 1:19 and the surrounding verses. God is with him to deliver him! Don’t worry!

And that ends this section of Jeremiah that has consisted of Jeremiah 14-15. Next time, Lord-willing, we’ll consider Jeremiah 16 with God’s command to Jeremiah against having sympathy for his people.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary

Jeremiah 14

As we begin this Jeremiah 14 commentary, we’ll be studying Jeremiah 14 in just a moment.

But first I want us to consider Deuteronomy 28. You can turn there if you’d like, but you probably don’t have to.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Deuteronomy – Retelling the Law

Deuteronomy is – among other things – Moses’ retelling of the Law that he received from the Lord back in the book of Exodus. A lot had transpired in the 40 years between Exodus and Deuteronomy. And so at this point in Deuteronomy 28, Israel was ready to finally enter the Promised Land. And Moses was compelled to remind this new generation of their responsibilities under this covenant that God made with this nation about 40 years previous.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Deuteronomy 28 – Blessings and Curses

Deuteronomy 28 then – right at the end of the book –is Moses telling the people of the blessings promised for keeping this covenant. Those are listed in Deuteronomy 28:1-14.

But the rest of that chapter – Deuteronomy 28:15-68 is a listing of all the bad things that would happen to the people if they broke this covenant.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 11 – Broken Covenant

Now, let’s turn our attention from Deuteronomy 28 to the book we’re studying – Jeremiah. And not Jeremiah 14 just yet. Three chapters prior in Jeremiah 11:10 we have recorded God saying the following of his people, Israel: “…the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.”

The covenant has been broken! The people have taken themselves out of the realm of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 with all the blessings for obedience. And they have transferred themselves into the realm of Deuteronomy 28:15-68 and all the curses and bad things that they deserve for disobeying their God.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Comprehensive Effect

Now, this will affect everything for them. The Lord is pretty comprehensive in Deuteronomy 28 about how he planned to bless or curse based on the people’s choice to obey or disobey.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Rain, in Particular

One of the areas that the Lord speaks of in Deuteronomy 28 is the matter of sending rain.

In the blessings section of Deuteronomy 28:12 the Lord wants to bless his people with rain. He says there, “The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season…”

But the Lord can’t do that anymore – especially not after Jeremiah 11:10 and the Lord’s declaration that the people had broken the covenant. Now, they’ve brought upon themselves this word from the Lord in Deuteronomy 28:24 – “The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14 – A Drought!

With all that in mind, then it’s no surprise that we find what we find in Jeremiah 14. There’s a drought in the land of Judah – just as the Lord told them would happen if they broke his covenant with them.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:1 | Introduction to the Section

So, let’s notice the introduction to this chapter of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 14:1.

Jeremiah 14:1 ¶ The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the [dearth/drought].

I want us to notice one thing from this introduction to Jeremiah 14. God keeps his word. In the Mosaic Covenant he promised a drought if the people broke that covenant. They broke that covenant. He sends a drought. God keeps his word.

In the New Testament, the church is – we are – told that if we sow to the flesh – if we give in to our sinful nature and carry out its desires – we are promised that we will reap corruption.

Thankfully, as we noted last time, we apparently cannot break the New Covenant like Israel broke the Mosaic Covenant. Halelujah for that!

But – to the extent that we engage in fleshly thoughts and practices, we will receive corruption for it.

And it might not come right away. When you sow seed it doesn’t become a full plant the next day. There’s delay. But it happens eventually. So too for our entertaining sin in our lives. The corruption will eventually develop and we will be forced to reap its results. Because God keeps his word.

So, that’s an example of how the Lord keeps his word to his church in a way that’s more negative for us. Positively though we have so many promises that we can bank on because we have a God who keeps his word.

For example, God will never leave us. And no one can pluck us out of Christ’s hand or the Father’s. And Christ is with us always. And he’s coming quickly with nothing needing to happen before he returns. And if you’ve called upon the name of the Lord you shall be saved. And the sufferings we endure now are not to be compared to the glory that’s stored up for us.

All these promises and more will certainly happen because we have a God who keeps his word.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:2-6 | Effects of the Drought

Well, as I say, God indeed kept his word to his people Israel – in a way that was decidedly disadvantageous for them. And so in Jeremiah 14:2-6 we have the effects of this promised drought graphically pictured for us.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:2

To begin, Jeremiah 14:2 speaks of the effect of the promised drought on the nation of Judah and city of Jerusalem – as well as their inhabitants, generally.

2 Judah mourneth,
and the gates thereof languish;
they are black unto the ground [i.e., in black mourning clothes, on the ground];
and the cry of Jerusalem [is gone up/has ascended].

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:3-4

Then Jeremiah 14:3-4 highlight the effect of this promised drought on individuals in a more focused fashion.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:3

Jeremiah 14:3 speaks of the nobles or “majestic ones” of Judah trying to find water with no success.

3 And their [nobles/leading men/majestic ones] have sent their [little ones/servants] to the waters [i.e., to get some water]:
they [i.e., the “little ones”] came to the [pits/cisterns], and found no water;
they returned with their vessels empty;
they were [ashamed/put to shame/disappointed] and [confounded/humiliated/dismayed], and covered their heads.

So, nobles send their servants to find water. The servants come back ashamed because they can’t find any because of the drought that God promised for Israel’s disobedience.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:4

Then Jeremiah 14:4 speaks of the effects of the promised drought on the farmers of Judah.

4 Because the ground is [chapt/cracked],
for there [was/has been] no rain [in/on] the [earth/land/eretz],
the [plowmen/farmers] were [ashamed/put to shame],
they covered their heads.

Again, you see mention of shame and covering of heads by the people. The servants did this because they couldn’t find water. The farmers now do it too because without rain, nothing in their ground will grow. And when nothing in their ground grows, they can’t eat anything. And if they can’t eat, they don’t live. Neither crops nor people can live without water.

Let’s consider rain for a moment. Rain is such an interesting thing. It’s totally free. I get a bill every month from my city’s water department. But I never get a bill for the rain that falls on my grass and on my garden crops and on my trees and bushes. And in fact I’ve never paid a cent my whole 33 years of existence for rain.

And so it’s free, and that’s a really good thing. And yet if you need it and it doesn’t come, you can’t pay enough to get it to come. The richest man in the world – a conglomeration of the richest men in the world – can’t pay for rain to come. God is the one who decides when it falls and when it doesn’t. He apparently uses natural processes. And yet, behind those processes is his sovereign decision-making at work.

And so, because his people Israel had broken his covenant, he was obliged to withhold the rain. I imagine some of this was to punish them, yes. But some of the reason behind this withholding rain no doubt was to get them to turn back to him whom they had forsaken.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:5-6

Alright, now people aren’t the only ones affected by God’s promised drought here in Jeremiah. In fact, in Jeremiah 14:5-6 animals are presented as suffering as well.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:5

First, we see the effects of this drought on the deer in Jeremiah 14:5.

5 Yea, the [hind/doe] also [calved/gave birth] in the field, and [forsook/abandoned] it,
because there was no grass.

The grass is all dead because there’s no rain. Without grass, the mother deer doesn’t have enough strength to take care of her young. So she just leaves them to die in the field.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:6

And of course deer aren’t the only animals affected by this promised drought. Donkeys are as well in Jeremiah 14:6.

6 And the wild [asses/donkeys] did stand in the [high places/bare heights/hilltops],
they [snuffed up/pant for] [the wind/breath] like [dragons/jackals – apparently, some beast that’s known for panting];
their eyes [did fail/are strained],
because there was no [grass/vegetation/food] [i.e., they were trying hard to look for food but couldn’t find it].

So, again, no grass means great hardship for these animals of Judah.

And this drought came because of the people’s sins. And yet, the results effect not only the sinful people, but also the animals. That makes me think of Romans 8:22 where we’re reminded that the whole creation groans – not just you and I – but the whole creation groans as a result of sin and its consequences.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:7-9 | Jeremiah Intercedes for Judah

Well, in light of this severe drought, Jeremiah shows himself to be a faithful prophet and priest on behalf of the people – because, again, remember, he was both a prophet and a priest.

So, he prays for his people in Jeremiah 14:7-9. He intercedes for them to God.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:7

Jeremiah confesses the collective sin of the people and asks the Lord to act and reverse the drought in Jeremiah 14:7.

7 [Jeremiah says] O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us,
[do/act/intervene] thou it for thy name’s sake:

for our [backslidings/apostasies/turnings from you] are many;
we have sinned against thee.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:8

Jeremiah then confesses to God that he’s their only hope and savior in Jeremiah 14:8.

8 O the hope of Israel [i.e., the object of Israel’s hope],
the saviour thereof in time of [trouble/distress],

Jeremiah next laments the Lord’s apparent aloofness from his people’s distressing circumstances.

why shouldest thou be as a [stranger/resident foreigner] in the land,
and as a [wayfaring man/traveler] that [turneth aside to tarry/pitches his tent/stops in only] for a night?

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:9

In fact, Jeremiah goes so far as to even suggest that God is looking kind of weak for not helping his people in their distress in Jeremiah 14:9.

9 Why shouldest thou be as a man [astonied/dismayed/helpless],
as a [mighty man/champion] that cannot save?

And yet, Jeremiah knows that the Lord is far from weak. He’s the epitome of strength. And he’s also in the midst of Judah. And Judah is uniquely the Lord’s.

yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us [i.e., you’re with us],
and we are called by thy name [i.e., we belong to you];

And therefore, Jeremiah begs the Lord to help them.

[leave/forsake/abandon] us not.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:10 | The Lord Justifies the Drought

Now, the Lord is compassionate and gracious. Slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness according to Psalm 103.

And yet, a promise is a promise. And the Lord promised Israel to withhold rain if they broke his covenant with them. And therefore, the Lord responds by justifying his sending the drought in Jeremiah 14:10.

10 Thus saith the LORD [unto/about] this people,

[Thus/Even so/Truly] have they loved to [wander/go astray],
they have not [refrained/kept in check] their feet [i.e., from running away from God],

therefore the LORD [doth not accept/is not pleased with] them;

he will now [remember/call to mind] their iniquity,
and [visit/call to account/punish] their sins.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:11-12 | The Lord Refuses to Hear Intercession for Judah

So, that’s the Lord’s word to Jeremiah about the people as a whole.

In addition, the Lord also has a word to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 14:11. After that, he goes back to the people again in Jeremiah 14:12. The message in these two verses is – God is not going to hear intercession for Judah anymore.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:11

First, God’s word to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 14:11.

11 ¶ Then said the LORD unto me,

Pray not for this people for their [good/welfare].

So, God tells Jeremiah that he doesn’t want that faithful prophet to intercede for his people anymore. He doesn’t want Jeremiah to ask for God to revoke the promised drought. The people broke the covenant. God must send the drought.

This is now the third time in this book that the Lord has to tell Jeremiah to stop interceding for his people (Jeremiah 7:16, Jeremiah 11:14, and Jeremiah 14:11 (here)).

This tells me two things.

First, Jeremiah is an example for us of steadfast intercessory prayer for sinful people. He’s a model of persevering in prayer – even for his enemies. Right?! These people wanted to kill him! And yet he prayed for them to the point where the Lord has to tell Jeremiah 3 times to stop it.

Second, though, there’s a time when human intercession with God fails. When God refuses to hear it. Here in Jeremiah, God has promised drought for breaking the covenant. God had to keep his word and punish with drought.

But under the New Covenant though we have a merciful and faithful high priest who ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).

As the hymn “Arise My Soul, Arise” by Charles Wesley says,

He [Christ] ever lives above for me to intercede.
His all-redeeming love, his precious blood to plead.

And then another stanza concludes that thought,

The Father hears him pray [interceding for us], His dear anointed one.
He cannot turn away the presence of his son.

God could turn away Jeremiah. But he cannot and will not turn away his interceding son – our Lord Jesus Christ – whose primary activity currently is to pray for you and me to the Father. He’s doing that right now.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:12

But the Lord had to reject Jeremiah’s intercession.

Further, God also had to reject the prayers of his sinful people according to Jeremiah 14:12.

12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry;
and when they offer burnt offering and [an oblation/grain offering], I will not accept them:

but I will [consume/make an end of/kill] them
by the [sword/wars], and
by the famine, and
by the [pestilence/plagues].

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:13 | Jeremiah Points to False Prophets and Their Influence

Now, at this point, Jeremiah has attempted to intercede for his people. His intercession has been rejected because they’ve broken the covenant and basically have no right to good things from the Lord. They need to repent.

And so, Jeremiah recognizes those realities. But he doesn’t immediately give up on interceding for his people. In Jeremiah 14:13 he brings to the Lord’s attention that a good deal of the blame for the people’s disobedience and breaking of the covenant falls on their teachers and religious leaders.

13 ¶ Then said I,

Ah, Lord GOD! [behold/look!], the prophets say unto them [i.e., on your behalf],

Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine;
but I [i.e., speaking for the Lord] will give you [assured/lasting] peace in this place.

So, the people who are supposed to be representing the Lord to the people – his prophets – are actually saying the exact opposite of what God is promising to do to them. That’s confusing. Surely, God will relent and deal only with those false prophets! Right?

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:14-16 | The Lord Will Punish the False Prophets and the People Who Listen to Them

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:14-15

Well, the Lord does recognize the corrupting influence of the prophets on the people in Jeremiah 14:14-15.

14 Then the LORD said unto me,

The prophets prophesy lies [in my name/while claiming my authority]:

I sent them not,
neither have I [commanded/commissioned] them,
neither spake unto them:

they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination,
and [a thing of nought/futility/worthless predictions],
and the [deceit/deception/delusions] of their [heart/own minds].

And so here’s the promised punishment for the false prophets.

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/starvation] shall those prophets [be consumed/meet their end/be killed].

So, the prophets will not get away from the punishment that God had determined for his covenant-breaking people. Even though they say there’s no punishment coming, they will be punished just like all the rest of the people.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:16

But – at the same time that God recognizes the influence of the false prophets on the people’s behavior and thinking – he doesn’t let the people off the hook. God holds them accountable for what they listen to and what they believe and what they follow in Jeremiah 14:16.

16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem
because of the famine and [the sword/war];

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.

And this is informative for us regarding how God thinks about false teachers and those who follow them. The people who buy the books, and listen to the messages, and attend the services, and contribute to the so-called “ministry” of modern-day false teachers will not escape the punishment that those false teachers themselves face. When people chose to listen to these unorthodox unsound people, they really are making their own choice. And they will be judged accordingly.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:17-18 | Jeremiah Commanded to Lament the People’s Fate

Well, so, the Lord just laid out certain punishment on both the false prophets and the people. This punishment is certain, unless they turn to the Lord.

And yet, amazingly, the Lord still wants Jeremiah to plead with the people – which is why I think repentance is still an option for them. In Jeremiah 14:17-18 the Lord commands Jeremiah to recite a lament to the people concerning their fate if they don’t repent.

17 Therefore thou [i.e., Jeremiah] shalt say this word unto them;

Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day,
and let them not cease:

Well, why the tears?

for the virgin daughter of my people is [broken/crushed] with a [great breach/sorely infected wound/serious wound],
with a [very grievous blow/mighty blow/crushing blow].

Ok, so, what will that look like in reality? Answer: It will look like death everywhere.

18 If I go forth into the [field/country], then behold [the/those] slain [with the sword/in battle]!
and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick [with famine/because of starvation]!

yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land [that they know not/without any real understanding].

And that last statement about the prophet and the priest can be indicating that these groups of people will be exiled. Or it could be stating that all of this is happening in part at least because these two groups who should know where they’re going so that they can lead others right are wandering just like everyone else from where they should be.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:19-22 | Jeremiah Intercedes Again for the People

Now, as we move past Jeremiah 14:18, we enter the last sub-section of this chapter. And to me it’s pretty amazing that we see what we see here again.

Jeremiah has interceded for his people. God rejects that intercession.

Jeremiah points to the false prophets’ fault in the matter. God still holds to punishing the people in addition to the false prophets.

So, Jeremiah has been turned back by the Lord twice. But that doesn’t stop him from coming back to the Lord one more time in Jeremiah 14:19-22 and interceding for the people.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:19

19 [i.e., Jeremiah says/People say?] Hast thou [utterly/completely] rejected Judah?
hath thy soul [lothed/loathed] 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/terror]!

Folks, I guarantee you that Jeremiah knew the answer to the question he’s posing. Why has God struck them? It’s because they broke the covenant! Jeremiah knew that.

And yet, do you find yourself asking the Lord questions – the answer to which you know very well? Especially when times are hard?

That’s what Jeremiah is doing here. Interceding for the people. Asking questions with obvious answers.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:20

He even goes on to confess the people’s sins once more in Jeremiah 14:20.

20 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness,
and the iniquity of our fathers:
for we have sinned against thee.

Both they and their ancestors had sinned. They deserve what the Lord is doing to them. At least Jeremiah is acknowledging that fact.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:21

And based on the confession of their sin, Jeremiah pleads with God for mercy in Jeremiah 14:21.

21 Do not [abhor/despise/treat with contempt] us, for thy name’s sake,
do not [disgrace/treat with disdain] the throne of thy glory [i.e., the Temple]:
remember, [break/annul] not thy covenant with us.

Jeremiah is indicating that if God totally destroys Judah, then the Lord’s name and reputation will suffer some damage. His Temple – his throne will be disgraced. Bringing punishment on God’s people – according to Jeremiah, the intercessor – will not look good for God, in other words.

This kind of wording is very similar to another man who interceded with God for his rebellious people. I’ll read Exodus 32:10-14 and you see if you can pick up on the similarities.

[God said to Moses] Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them [id est, the Israelites for making and worshipping the golden calf], and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? [i.e., in other words, people will impugn God’s character for destroying his sinful people] Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

So, keep Moses in mind as we look at the last verse of Jeremiah 14. We’ll get back to him.

Jeremiah 14 Commentary | Jeremiah 14:22

Jeremiah ends this chapter by acknowledging to God his totally unique power and essence – he’s the only God there is! No one and no thing can do what he does – not even his creation. And therefore, Jeremiah hopes against hope in this God that he will show mercy once more to his rebellious covenant-breaking people.

22 Are there any among the [vanities/worthless idols] 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/hope in] thee:
for thou hast made all these things.

Now, I mentioned Moses a few moments ago. He successfully interceded for God’s sinful people. God heard his intercession. God showed mercy to his covenant-breaking people just a few hours after that covenant was given!

And Jeremiah has shown himself to be in the same league as Moses, the intercessor of old. But next time in Jeremiah 15 we’ll hear the Lord’s response to Jeremiah’s follow-up attempt at intercession. In short – the Lord will tell Jeremiah that even if that legendary intercessor – Moses – as well as another godly man like Samuel – even if those two were to intercede for Israel, God would not hear them. It was too late.

And once again, for us, folks, this was all coming on Israel because they had broken the Mosaic Covenant – a covenant which could be broken. A covenant that had built-in stipulations for what happened if the people broke it. A covenant based on performance and laws. A covenant that was written externally on stone.

Brothers, we have a New Covenant. One that’s internally-written on our hearts. One that’s based on God’s gracious choice. One that as far as I can tell doesn’t have built-in instructions for what happens if we don’t keep it. One that is, therefore, unbreakable.

Praise God for bringing us into this “better” covenant – and himself being in us and working in us to both want to do – and to actually do – his good pleasure.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary

Jeremiah 13

Jeremiah 13 Commentary: There’s no denying that we’ve seen a lot of talk about judgement in the book of Jeremiah. And I think we’re all acquainted with the fact that most of this book is God declaring judgement on his people. And we’ve seen that in detail so far in this series.

What’s more, this is a main component in all of the Old Testament prophets’ writings. There’s a lot of speech about how God needs to judge his people in all of the prophets.

So, let’s remind ourselves of why this is. God made a covenant with Israel at Sinai. He saved them from Egypt and he wanted them to be his very own people. So, he made a covenant with them stipulating that all they had to do was to obey him and he’d be their God and would bless them for keeping the covenant. Seems like a pretty simple plan. But it turned out that the people would not keep their side of the bargain. And so for hundreds of years God patiently dealt with his disobedient people – enacting parts of the curses that come from breaking their covenant with God.

And now finally in this book of Jeremiah, we’re a mere three decades or less away from God finally enacting the worst of the curses detailed in Deuteronomy for breaking the covenant – exile from the land promised to God’s people.

So, let’s turn to Jeremiah 13 where we again step into a new section of this book. We’ll study just the 13th chapter this time. The next chapter, Jeremiah 14 starts a new section.

I come away from Jeremiah 13 with three main thoughts presented in the text. They are: Belt, Bottles, and Pride. Jeremiah wears a belt. The people are compared to bottles – they’re also compared to that belt that Jeremiah wears. And those two concepts so far – belt and bottles – are used as warnings to Jerusalem that God will have to destroy them. But why? That’s where pride comes in. Several times in this chapter, the Lord points to the pride of Judah as a big reason that he needs to judge them. So, Jeremiah 13 – Belt, Bottles, and Pride.

Now, in Jeremiah 13:1-7, the Lord has Jeremiah engage in an activity that carries an underlying meaning for the people of Jerusalem. The Lord then explains the significance of it in Jeremiah 13:8-11.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | The Symbolic Activity

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Buy the Girdle

So, here’s the first part of Jeremiah’s symbolic activity. He’s to buy a girdle or belt in Jeremiah 13:1.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | The Lord’s Command

KJV Jeremiah 13:1 ¶ Thus [saith/said] the LORD unto me,

Go and [get/buy] thee a linen [girdle/waistband/shorts/ezor – belt like Elijah wore around his waist or like soldiers wear around the waist],

and put it [upon/around] thy [loins/waist],

[and/but] put it not in water.

So, the Lord commands Jeremiah to buy a belt made of linen.

And he’s not to put it in water. I think the idea is that he’s not supposed to take it off even to wash it. Keep it close to him at all times. Let it cling uninterruptedly to him.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Jeremiah’s Obedience

And so Jeremiah does just that in Jeremiah 13:2.

2 So I [got/bought] [a girdle/the waistband/the shorts] [according to the word of the LORD/like the Lord commanded],

and put it [on/around] my [loins/waist].

So, God spoke. Jeremiah obeyed. He has a linen belt on him now. For how long? We don’t know. A little while at least.

By the way, Jeremiah is an example for us in his unquestioning obedience even when what God told him to do didn’t make immediate sense to him. And this buying of the belt and what’s to follow certainly wasn’t understood by Jeremiah for a while – until the Lord revealed to him the meaning behind the activity. We, too, need to obey the Lord even when it doesn’t make sense.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Hide the Girdle

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | The Lord’s Command

Well, now the Lord issues a second command to Jeremiah concerning this belt in Jeremiah 13:3-4. He must now hide the belt.

3 And [the word of the LORD came unto me the second time/the Lord spoke to me again], saying,

4 Take the [girdle/belt/waistband/shorts] that thou hast [got/bought], which is [upon/around] thy [loins/waist],

and arise, go to [Euphrates/Perath] [Jos 18:23],

and [hide/bury] it there in a [hole/crevice/crack] of the rock.

So, the Lord has Jeremiah change direction a little. At first he was to get a belt and not take it off. But now he’s telling Jeremiah to take it off and go somewhere.

The text says “Euphrates” or Perath in the Hebrew text. There’s some debate about what location God is identifying here.

It could be the Euphrates River over in the area of Babylon and Assyria. That would be a journey of several months, which is why some think it’s not talking about the river in Mesopotamia. But that doesn’t make such a trip impossible – just very long. Another reason some don’t think this is speaking of the river is because there’s no article on the word in Hebrew – and even in English in the KJV. Usually if the author is speaking of the river then he puts an article on the word Perath.

So, those are some reasons that this might not be speaking of the Euphrates River. So then, what location is the Lord commanding Jeremiah to go to?

Well, there’s a place just a few miles away from Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth named Perah. We see it mentioned in Joshua 18:23.

But you might say – “well then how is Jeremiah supposed to put the belt in the water?” That’s the thing – he’s not commanded to put the belt in the water. He’s commanded to put it in a hole or crevice or crack of a rock there.

So, whether Jeremiah is going to the Euphrates or to Perah – he has his orders. Find a rock and take that belt off and bury it in a hole in that rock.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Jeremiah’s Obedience

And as before, Jeremiah obeys the Lord in Jeremiah 13:5.

5 So I went, and [hid/buried] it by [Euphrates/the Euphrates/Perath], as the LORD commanded me.

And now, we have the last phase of this symbolic activity – not that the activity didn’t happen, mind you. It did happen. Jeremiah says so. But the activity served as a symbol to Jeremiah and to those to whom he was preaching.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Retrieve the Girdle

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | The Lord’s Command

So, lastly, Jeremiah was to get the belt back from the cleft of the rock in Jeremiah 13:6.

6 And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me,

Arise, go to [Euphrates/the Euphrates/Perath], and take the [girdle/waistband/shorts] from thence, which I commanded thee to [hide/bury] there.

So, we’re given a time frame here finally. Jeremiah left the belt in the hole in the rock for “many days”. And then finally the Lord tells him to go get it again.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Jeremiah’s Obedience

And yet again Jeremiah obeys in Jeremiah 13:7.

7 Then I went to [Euphrates/the Euphrates/Perath], and digged, and took the [girdle/waistband/shorts] from the place where I had [hid/buried] it:

and, behold, the [girdle/waistband/shorts] was [marred/ruined/shachath (147x) – in KJV 7x as “mar”, 96x as “destroy”, 22x as “corrupt”; modern “mar” involves impairing the appearance or quality – which seems a little less severe than what the passage is communicating],

it was [profitable for nothing/good for nothing/totally worthless].

So, the belt that once continually clung to Jeremiah’s waist was now utterly ruined.

And that’s the end of the activity.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | The Meaning of the Action

Well, what does all of that mean? That’s what God explains in Jeremiah 13:8-11.

8 ¶ Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

9 Thus saith the LORD,

After this manner [i.e., how the girdle was ruined] will I [mar/destroy] the pride of Judah,

and the great pride of Jerusalem.

So, that’s the meaning behind Jeremiah’s actions. Jeremiah destroyed the belt by burying it in Perath. And just like that, God was promising to destroy the pride of Jerusalem.

Why? Why the destruction? Jeremiah 13:10.

10 This evil people,

which refuse to hear my words,

which walk in the [imagination/stubbornness/stubborn inclinations] of their heart,

and [walk/go/pay allegiance] after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them,

shall even be as this [girdle/waistband/linen shorts], which is [good for nothing/totally worthless].

So, the people of Judah would be destroyed because they didn’t listen to God and they turned from him to worship other gods.

And since these activities of disobedience and idolatry rendered these people good for nothing in God’s sight, he would add to that worthlessness with his punishment of them.

The Lord continues to explain the application of the symbolic action with the belt to Judah in Jeremiah 13:11.

11 For as the [girdle/waistband/shorts] [cleaveth/cling] to the [loins/waist] of a man, so have I caused to [cleave/cling] unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah,

saith the LORD;

that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: [i.e., to bring me these things]

but they would not [hear/listen/obey].

Here we see God’s heart. We hear so much of judgement in this book and really in all the prophets. And yet, let’s not miss where God’s mercy and tenderness appear. He pictures his people as a belt that clings to him. He intends for them to be close to him. Just like Jeremiah was to not remove his belt even to wash it – so the Lord wanted his people to be near to him always.

This is the same God we worship today. But we’re not Israelites. We’re the Church. And yet God’s desire for constant closeness is no different for us than it was for Israel. We’re commanded in the New Testament to draw near to God and we’re promised that in return he will draw near to us. Jesus commands us to come unto him – all of us who are weary and heavy-laden and he’ll give us rest. Jesus is right now preparing a place for us for all eternity and he gives his purpose behind doing that — so that where he is there we may be also. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord – to be near him and close to him forever! God wants his people close to him.

And yet for Israel – they wouldn’t have it. They didn’t want to be close to this God. And so he lets them have their own way.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Wine Bottles

Well, the Lord continues painting pictures in the people’s minds in an effort to get through to them. He compared them to a belt. And now in Jeremiah 13:12-14 he pictures them as wine bottles.

12 ¶ Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word;

Thus saith the LORD God of Israel,

Every [bottle/jug/wine jar] [shall/is to/is made to] be filled with wine:

So, Jeremiah needs to tell the people of Judah that wine bottles are meant to be filled with wine. That’s a no-brainer. And so they’re going to respond like this:

and [i.e., when] they shall say unto thee,

Do we not [certainly/very well] know that every [bottle/jug/wine jar] [shall/is supposed to] be filled with wine?

So, the people will feel like Jeremiah is talking down to them. They might mock him for saying what he’s commanded to say. But then that’s where Jeremiah is to explain the meaning behind this statement which seems so childish to the people. Jeremiah 13:13…

13 Then shalt thou say unto them,

Thus saith the LORD,

Behold, I will fill

all the inhabitants of this land,

even the kings that sit upon David’s throne,

and the priests,

and the prophets,

and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

with [drunkenness/stupor].

Now, what is God threatening here? He’s saying that he’s going to deal with everyone in Judah and Jerusalem – even the highest officials. He’s going to bring upon them effects that mimic intoxication – relating to the wine he just mentioned before. God resists the proud. That’s what he’s doing here.

Some of us might wonder at the decisions made by people in this country – from those in highest office to just ordinary fellow-citizens. The only reason you can think of in your mind for some of these actions and decisions might be to think that the people were inebriated when they made them. And wherever that’s the case, you do need to wonder if the explanation for such awful decisions and thoughts and actions is possibly a result of God’s judgement.

Well, the Lord continues to threaten the people along this wine-related theme in Jeremiah 13:14.

14 And I will dash them one against another [i.e., like wine bottles], even the fathers and the sons together,

saith the LORD:

I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.

So, the Lord will deal with them in such a way that makes it seem that they’ve drank too much wine, as has already been said. And he’ll deal with them to such an extent that their ruin will be like the results of smashing two clay bottles together. Not a positive picture – but definitely intended to be sobering to a people characterized by insobriety.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Repent While There’s Time!

So, we’ve seen so far two parts of this message that have been adorned with poetic imagery or symbolic actions. But now it seems like in the rest of Jeremiah 13, God sets all of that aside and just lays out another very direct plea for the people to repent.

In Jeremiah 13:15-17 Jeremiah himself urges the people to repent while there’s still time – because at this point there apparently was still time to turn back to the Lord.

15 [i.e., Jeremiah says:] Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken.

16 [Give glory/show due respect] to the LORD your God,

before he cause darkness [i.e., of disaster],

and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains,

and, while ye [look/hope] for light, he turn it into [the shadow of death/deep darkness],

and make it [gross darkness/gloom].

You can sense the urgency in the plea. It’s as if darkness is casting its shadow on a mountain. The people are to imagine themselves as on this mountain and being plunged into darkness. There’s danger and insecurity that’s coming to them – if they refuse to repent.

So, Jeremiah just said what the Lord will do to the people of Judah if they don’t repent. But now in Jeremiah 13:17 he lets them know what he himself will do if they don’t repent of their pride.

17 But if ye will not hear [it/this warning], my soul shall weep [in secret places/secretly/alone] for your pride;

and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears,

because the LORD’S flock is carried away captive.

This is one of those passages that has earned Jeremiah the label of “the weeping prophet”. This is how Jeremiah will react to Judah’s unrepentant pride – with tears. The Lord will react with punishment. Jeremiah with tears.

And this is another area where I think we can find easy application to our lives.

How do you respond to these bizarre new bathroom rules where men can now use women’s bathrooms and vice versa? And the godless in this society are pushing this on us. How do you respond to this? Frustration and anger are understandable responses. But have you wept?

What about the way you respond to someone to whom you’ve witnessed? You’ve told them about their sin and their need to be delivered by Jesus Christ from the wrath to come. And they just ignore you. Or they mock you. Or they pretend like they’re fine with God. What’s your reaction? Anger? Loathing? But what about weeping?

I was not at Seminary very long before I found myself in a group of really good folks my age who genuinely loved the Lord. One of them is currently a missionary in Asia. But this man once said to all of us something to the effect that he doesn’t remember the last time he cried. It’s just something he just — at that point at least — didn’t do.

But it’s OK to weep over sin – both yours and others. Jesus – around 500 years after Jeremiah’s ministry – lamented and maybe even wept over the pride of Jerusalem just like Jeremiah did. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets – How often I would gather you like a hen but you would not!” Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Why? It was because of the death of Lazarus and the pain which sin and its resulting death has caused. Sin brought death into the world and its effects don’t leave the Son of God unmoved.

Neither should we be unmoved by sin and its effects in our own lives and in the lives of others all around us.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Message to the King & Queen

Well, at this point in Jeremiah 13 the Lord seems to break in once more. And at this point he communicates a message to the royal family of Judah.

18 Say unto the king and to the [queen/queen mother],

[Humble yourselves, sit down/Take a lowly seat/Surrender your thrones]:

for your [principalities/what is at the head] shall come down,

even the crown of your glory.

So, God tells the king – maybe Jehoiachin – to abandon his throne and his crown. And if it is Jehoiachin then we know that he was actually exiled in 597 BC, about 10 years before all of Judah was exiled. And so this really did happen – he left his throne, and his crown was taken from him.

Then the Lord speaks of this exile – either the one Jehoiachin experienced or the one all Judah would experience in Jeremiah 13:19.

19 The cities of the [south/Negev] shall be [shut/locked] up, and none shall open them: [cf Jos 6:1]

Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive.

There was once a city in Canaan that was recorded as being “shut up”. That city was Jericho in Joshua 6:1. And in that case it was shut up because of an invading army – the army of Israel. But now – how things have changed! Now it’s Israel’s cities that will be shut up against an invading army. But this time the army will be Babylon – not Israel. And Israel will be the one defeated.

Jeremiah 13 Commentary | Message to Jerusalem

Then the Lord turns to addressing Jerusalem, though the royal family which he just spoke of is probably not far from his mind in Jeremiah 13:20-22.

20 Lift up your eyes [i.e., Jerusalem], and behold [them/the enemy] that come from the north:

Where [i.e., now] is the flock [i.e., of people] that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?

21 What wilt thou say when he shall [punish/appoints over] thee?

[-] for thou hast taught them [-] to be captains, and as chief over thee:

shall not sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail?

22 And if thou say in thine heart,

Wherefore come these things upon me?

For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts [discovered/removed], and thy [heels/limbs] [made bare/exposed].

So, as I say, this is a message to Jerusalem. I think the king is also still in view though. And the message to the king and his city is basically another warning of coming punishment at the hands of this invading army from the north.

The Lord gives a few pictures of this coming destruction.

First, in Jeremiah 13:20 he portrays Jerusalem and her king as a shepherd and her inhabitants and probably everyone who remains in Judah as sheep. And these sheep have been taken from the shepherd. This is a sad development.

The second picture the Lord paints of the destruction to come is the concept of appointing someone else over the kingdom of Judah. That’s in Jeremiah 13:21. And the idea is that the Lord will appoint over Judah and her king the very allies that she tried so hard to attain and appease. In that sense, since Judah had so often treated these allied nations as sovereign over them, it just makes sense that the Lord would give one of these nations total control over them. So often, Judah would run to these ally nations – Assyria and Egypt in particular, but there were others – when they should have been running to God. So, God is going to finally give his people over to be totally controlled by another nation – Babylon, as we’ll discover later in this book.

And God reiterates once more that this is all happening because of Judah’s sin and breaking of their covenant with God.

And this sinning and rebellion run deep with Judah. That’s what the Lord asserts in Jeremiah 13:23.

23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin [i.e., color],

or the leopard his spots?

then may ye also do good,

that are accustomed to do evil.

God is saying here that doing evil is as fundamental to Judah’s nature as is the color of a person’s skin or the markings on an animal’s coat.

And because doing evil is so ingrained into Judah’s very fabric, the Lord needs to carry out the action of Jeremiah 13:24.

24 Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness.

In other words: Exile.

And they deserve this treatment. This is all happening because of their idolatry – which was a violation of the covenant that their ancestors made with God. And because of that, they have brought upon themselves the curses of that covenant for breaking it.

25 This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD;

because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in [falsehood/false gods].

And because of their idolatry God needs to expose their shameful behavior.

26 Therefore will I [discover/strip/pull up] thy skirts [upon/over] thy face,

that thy shame may appear.

God has seen all their sins against him.

27 I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings,

the lewdness of thy [whoredom/prostitutions], and thine abominations on the hills in the fields.

And here’s the final word from the Lord in this chapter.

Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! [wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?/How long will you continue to be unclean?]

Folks, let me ask you something. Why did God need to punish his people in this book? It’s because they broke his covenant with them. That was the Old Covenant or the Mosaic Covenant. It could be broken and they broke it.

Are we under that covenant? No. We’re not “under the law”. We’re under grace. We’re actually partaking of the New Covenant at least partially.

And let me ask this – can you break the New Covenant? Can you sin your way out of the New Covenant that was inaugurated by Jesus’ blood? Is there listed for us curses for breaking the New Covenant? I’m not aware of any. The New Covenant is different from the Old in that the Old was made between God and some who knew him and many who didn’t. The New Covenant is made only with those who know God. That’s why no one in the New Covenant will need to go over to his neighbor who’s also under the New Covenant and tell him “hey, you better come to know God!” All of us in the New Covenant know God. God writes his law on our hearts, not externally on tablets but internally. I don’t think we can break the New Covenant!

So in one sense that makes it harder to apply what we’re hearing in the book of Jeremiah. I mean, we can’t say “well look, Israel was being punished for breaking her covenant with God and so will we if we break our covenant with God.” We can’t break his covenant with us! The New Covenant is unbreakable. And therefore, when we’re reading of what God had to do to Israel for breaking his covenant – we can rejoice at God’s abundant, overwhelming, gratuitous, free mercy and grace to us who are the least deserving of such things. The Lord Jesus Christ has made a covenant with those of us in this room who trust him. And he’s not going to let us break that covenant.

Praise the Lord!