He Does Not Budge
A daily devotion for August 11th
Drought, Famine, Sword
14 This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:
2 “Judah mourns,
her cities languish;
they wail for the land,
and a cry goes up from Jerusalem.
3 The nobles send their servants for water;
they go to the cisterns
but find no water.
They return with their jars unfilled;
dismayed and despairing,
they cover their heads.
4 The ground is cracked
because there is no rain in the land;
the farmers are dismayed
and cover their heads.
5 Even the doe in the field
deserts her newborn fawn
because there is no grass.
6 Wild donkeys stand on the barren heights
and pant like jackals;
their eyes fail
for lack of food.”
7 Although our sins testify against us,
do something, Lord, for the sake of your name.
For we have often rebelled;
we have sinned against you.
8 You who are the hope of Israel,
its Savior in times of distress,
why are you like a stranger in the land,
like a traveler who stays only a night?
9 Why are you like a man taken by surprise,
like a warrior powerless to save?
You are among us, Lord,
and we bear your name;
do not forsake us!
10 This is what the Lord says about this people:
“They greatly love to wander;
they do not restrain their feet.
So the Lord does not accept them;
he will now remember their wickedness
and punish them for their sins.”
11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. 12 Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”
13 But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”
14 Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries[a] and the delusions of their own minds. 15 Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. 16 And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.
17 “Speak this word to them:
“‘Let my eyes overflow with tears
night and day without ceasing;
for the Virgin Daughter, my people,
has suffered a grievous wound,
a crushing blow.
18 If I go into the country,
I see those slain by the sword;
if I go into the city,
I see the ravages of famine.
Both prophet and priest
have gone to a land they know not.’”
19 Have you rejected Judah completely?
Do you despise Zion?
Why have you afflicted us
so that we cannot be healed?
We hoped for peace
but no good has come,
for a time of healing
but there is only terror.
20 We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord,
and the guilt of our ancestors;
we have indeed sinned against you.
21 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.
22 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.
Then the Lord said to me,Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.But I said,Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them,Jeremiah 14:11-13You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.
Jeremiah goes on to describe the land, how the cisterns have no water, the ground is dismayed, there is no rain on the land, the crops are dried up, and wild asses stand and pant, and there is no water in all of the land. This is part of the judging hand of God.
Once again this arouses questions in Jeremiah's heart. He asks in verse 7,
Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for thy name's sake... (Jeremiah14:7 RSV). Do you see what he is saying?
I understand that you have to judge this people because of their wickedness, Lord, but what about you? You're the healer, you're the God who can restore wicked people. For your name's sake, do this.
...for our backslidings are many, we have sinned against thee. O thou hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, Why shouldst thou be like a stranger in the land, like a wayfarer who turns aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldst thou be like a man confused, like a mighty man who cannot save? Yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not. (Jeremiah 14:6b-9 RSV)
Have you ever come to that place? Many a man of God, in the record of the Scriptures, has turned away the judging hand of God by pleading for the glory of God himself. Moses did, Samuel did, and others had stood before God and said,
Regardless of what we're like, God, remember what you're like. Surely, for your own name's sake you won't let this thing happen, lest your name be defiled among the nations. And this is Jeremiah's cry. Now, that is great praying. Jeremiah is reaching out to God on the highest level of prayer possible. He calls to God in these terms, and he closes the chapter with an eloquent plea to God.
Consider these words, beginning with Verse 19:
Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? Dost thy soul loathe Zion? Why hast thou smitten us so that there is no healing for us? We looked for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror. We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against thee. Do not spurn us, for thy name's sake; do not dishonor thy glorious throne; remember and do not break thy covenant with us. Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Art thou not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on thee, for thou doest all these things. (Jeremiah 14:19-22 RSV)
That is great praying, is it not? But look at God's answer: Then the Lord said to me,
Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! And when they ask you, (Jeremiah 15:1-2 RSV).
Where shall we go? you shall say to them,
Thus says the Lord: Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity
God does not budge an inch. Now, what are you going to do with a God like that? When God gets that immovable, it is a great threat to faith. What do you do? Well, God is not yet through with Jeremiah. Though he seems to be adamant and harsh and unyielding, and goes on to repeat his threats to the nation and refuses to be moved, he has something yet to say.
Father, regardless of our situation may we hold to your truth as being unshakable.
Life Application: Do we resort to counseling God in our prayers? Are we acknowledging that His judgments are unsearchable and His ways inscrutable? Do we wrestle with God, or do we nestle in His sovereign character?
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