The Word Made Fresh
1The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:
2“Judah mourns and languishes at her gates.
They lie on the ground in despair
and their cry goes up from Jerusalem.
3Her officials send their servants for water,
but when they come to the well, they find none
and return empty-handed.
They are ashamed. They are in despair and cover their heads.
4The ground is dry and cracked
because there has been no rain on the land.
The farmers are at a loss and cover their heads.
5The doe in the forest will leave her newborn fawn
because there is nothing to eat.
6The wild donkeys stand on the empty hills
and pant like jackals for air,
but they can find no food.”
7Even though our sins convict us,
for your own name’s sake, LORD, do something!
Our misdeeds are many,
and we have indeed sinned against you.
8You are Israel’s hope and savior when we are in trouble.
Why should you become like a stranger to us,
or like a traveler who only stays overnight
and then abandons us?
9Why should you be like one who is confused,
or like a strong warrior who cannot provide help?
Still, you are with us, LORD,
for we are identified with your name.
Don’t turn your back on us!
10This is what the LORD says about you people:
“They have certainly enjoyed wandering,
and haven’t held back from anything they wanted.
That is why the LORD no longer accepts them,
and from now on remembers only their wickedness
and punishes their sins.”
11The LORD told me, “Don’t pray for these people. 12Even if they fast, I will not hear them cry out. Even if they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will refuse to help them. I will let them be consumed by the sword and by famine and by disease.”
13Then I said, “But LORD, the prophets are telling them they shall not be put to the sword nor suffer from the famine because you will give them peace in this land.”
14But the LORD replied, “The prophets are only prophesying lies in my name. I didn’t send them, and I didn’t tell them what to say. They are giving you prophesies of lying visions, of worthless fortune telling and the deceits that come out of their own minds.15So, this is what the LORD says concerning those prophets who say that neither sword nor famine will come against this land: by sword and famine they themselves will be punished. 16The people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem and will become victims of famine and sword, and there will be no one to bury either them or their wives or their children. I will pour their own wickedness over them.
17Say this to them:
May my eyes run with tears day and night without ceasing,
because my people, my virgin daughter,
is stricken by a crushing blow and terribly wounded.
18If I go out and look in the field it will be covered
by the bodies of those who were killed by the sword.
And if I enter the city, I will see the sickness caused by famine.
Both the priests and the prophets perform their acts
throughout the land, but without any knowledge.”
19Have you completely rejected Judah, LORD?
Have you come to hate Zion?
Why have you struck us down until we can’t be healed?
We search for peace but find none.
We long for a time of healing but face terrors instead.
20We confess our wickedness, LORD,
and the mistakes of our ancestors,
for we all have sinned against you.
21But for your own name’s sake don’t turn your back on us.
Don’t allow your glorious throne to be dishonored.
Remember us and do not cast us off.
22Can any of those idols worshiped by the nations bring rain?
Or can the sky itself send showers?
Is it not you, LORD our God?
We place all our hope in you,
for you are the one who does these things.
1-6: These verses depict a prolonged drought. It is not known if it refers to an actual or figurative drought, but the description of it is graphic.
7-9: The prophet (or the people?) cries out for God to come to their rescue.
10-12: God tells Jeremiah for the third (and last) time not to pray for them (see 7:16, 11:14). Their fate is decided.
13-16: Jeremiah reports that other prophets are telling the people that there will be no invasion from the north. God replies that those prophets are speaking on their own authority and will be among the first to suffer when the invasion comes.
17-18: God gives Jeremiah the words to speak to the other prophets. The siege will take place.
19-22: It isn’t clear whether these verses are intended to be Jeremiah’s response to God or the collective plea of the people. I think it is Jeremiah, for we have been told that the people do indeed worship idols and disrespect God.
If we, as a nation under God, turn away from God in pursuit of ungodly things, who will speak out for us? Some of us have to remain faithful or all of us will be lost.