Jeremiah 14-16
(Turn To the LORD)
August 8th


Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“If you repent, I will restore you
   that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
   you will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
   but you must not turn to them."

- Jeremiah 15:19 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

Chapters 14-16 focus on further lamentations over Judah's sins and the declaration of an opportunity for safety for those who turn the right way. As with the previous set of chapters, there is a dialog taking place between the LORD and Jeremiah, but the speakers are not always explicitly introduced.

For example, in chapter 14, Jeremiah records the LORD observing the people of Judah mourning over their suffering in a drought that affects all men equally (Jer 15:2-6 - NIV). Jeremiah then responds with a confession on behalf of the people and asks for the LORD's intervention to save them from drought and death (Jer 14:7-9 - NIV). The LORD counters by instructing Jeremiah not to pray for these people (Jer 14:10-12 - NIV). The pace of response then accelerates as the LORD explains the justice that he will carry out and Jeremiah attempts to plea bargain for the people and reminds God of the covenant with Israel:

    For the sake of your name do not despise us;
       do not dishonor your glorious throne.
    Remember your covenant with us
       and do not break it.
    Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain?
       Do the skies themselves send down showers?
    No, it is you, LORD our God.
       Therefore our hope is in you,
       for you are the one who does all this.

    - Jeremiah 14:21-22 (NIV)

The appeal to retain the integrity of the LORD's name may seem familiar because we have seen it in a number of places, including Psalm 23:3, Psalm 25:11, other Psalms, and Isaiah 48:9-11. We will also see it again in Ezekiel 20:9 (1). Unfortunately, this plea was not going to seal the deal for Jeremiah's peers.

Chapter 15 begins with the LORD emphasizing the seriousness of the current situation: "Then God said to me: 'Jeremiah, even if Moses and Samuel stood here and made their case, I wouldn't feel a thing for this people. Get them out of here. Tell them to get lost!' (Jer 15:1 - MSG)"

The LORD describes four types of destroyers that he will send: Sword, dogs, birds, and beasts of the earth. Jeremiah then appears to plead for mercy for himself, as he has led an honest and sober life. The LORD offers Jeremiah an opportunity to repent and be his spokesman, as long as he seeks to have the people turn to him and does not turn to the people.

In chapter 16, the LORD adds further requirements for Jeremiah's service: He must not marry, mourn, or feast because the day of disaster is coming. Jeremiah's refusal to participate in these events will draw attention to him and give him the opportunity to tell people why they are to be punished (because they have been stubborn and evil).

The LORD says he will one day return the people of Judah from the north and restore them to their land, but for now, he is sending "fishermen and hunters" to catch them for judgment. The chapter ends with a proclamation from the LORD:

    "Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The Lord."

    - Jeremiah 16:21 (KJV)

Reflection and Application

At this point, the immediate future for the people of Judah is grim. There is a promise of redemption for some remnant of the people, and a commitment of protection for Jeremiah as the loyal spokesperson, but there will be much suffering all around. Not even the rich will be spared.

If we are to be God's spokespeople in our time, we need to be sure we do as Jeremiah says in chapter 15:

    Let your words change them.
        Don't change your words to suit them.
    I'll turn you into a steel wall,
        a thick steel wall, impregnable.
    - Jeremiah 15:19 (MSG)

The allure of our culture makes it hard not to be influenced by our own people. We might want to pray to God to help give us strength and guidance so that we can lead to the light and not follow into the darkness.

Earlier chapters emphasized that fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. In Jeremiah chapter 16, the LORD explains how he is going to re-institute the fear of him by delivering an overdue punishment to the people who broke the covenant, refused to repent, and inexplicably clung stubbornly to their false idols who were unable to promise anything.

It's hard to understand the character of the LORD when we read the anger in these chapters, such as his plan to send four destroyers and his command to "Send them (the people of Judah) away from my presence! (Jer 15:1)" However, we also read in these chapters his plan for mercy, when he says that there will be an opportunity for people to return. This promise is fulfilled, as described in earlier books.

The LORD also sends his own son as the ultimate redeemer. We may not fully understand the complexity of the LORD's being, but we should be able to understand his commands, recognize when we have broken them, humble ourselves to confess, and ask for his help in keeping our hearts, eyes, and ears open to hearing his instructions. It's better to learn his lessons now then through future suffering.

In verse 14:22, Jeremiah says, "Our hope is in you (LORD)." This phrase is captured in a number of songs including the one below:

"My Life is In You, Lord," performed by Bishop Joseph Garlington, Sr., PhD and Choir


You can read more about Bishop Garlington, who is the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Pittsburgh, at http://ccop.org/about-bishop/

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the most severe drought that you have witnessed?
    2. To what degree are you influenced by the world and to what degree do you influence it?
    3. How can we re-balance our spheres of influence?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we acknowledge that you made the earth and all the planets and created the clouds and the rain. Please help us to point ourselves and others towards your light.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People suffering in droughts

    Footnotes

    (1) Boadt, Lawrence, Jeremiah 1-25, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 1982 p. 111


    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Jeremiah 17-20 (Speak Up)

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