As I continue on with my Bible study of Jeremiah I am constantly struck by what the Lord wants me to share with you. I'll be honest, I'm starting to wonder why everything I post is a warning for the church! I want some good news to share. I want to talk about how great Jesus is and what He's done and is doing in my life. But when I try to write about those things I'm stopped. I have to be obedient. So here is what I learned today from Jeremiah 14.
Jeremiah continues to hear from the Lord and prophesies that sword, famine and pestilence will come upon the people because of their wickedness.
And those who claim to speak for God, those false prophets who tell the people that there will be no famine, sword or plague – will die by those very things. God says, “by sword and famine they will be consumed” (Jeremiah 14:15). Today’s false prophets do the same thing. From their pulpits they proclaim that a revival is coming. They proclaim that God will restore our country to its former glory and that the revival will reach all the way into the halls of government. They proclaim all kinds of wonderful things that are going to happen to make us a great nation again. But I am learning some hard truths from Jeremiah. I am learning how false prophets work. They tell the people what they want to hear and unfortunately, those who listen to them are, according to the Scriptures, as doomed as they are, for God says He will pour out their wickedness upon them (Jeremiah 14:16).
The first nine verses in Jeremiah 14 are about the droughts and famine that would come to the land. Judah is in mourning because they realize they are being punished for their sins, but at the same time, they are astonished that God would actually follow through with His threats, so they beg the Lord to heal the land.
But God reminds them that they love to wander. Therefore, He will remember their sins now and they will be punished. So He tells something to Jeremiah that is very significant and contrary to what most of us are used to. He tells Jeremiah not to pray for them and goes on to say that He will not hear their cries, nor will He accept their offerings. But He will bring the sword, famine and plague upon them.
Contrast this with Daniel's prayer of repentance for his nation in Daniel 9. His prayer of repentance was answered and explained by the angel Gabriel. Why? Because Daniel was a man highly esteemed by God, and He knew Daniel's heart and his prayers of repentance were sincere. But the people crying to God in Jeremiah 14 were not at all sincere. They just wanted relief from the famine, drought and plague that was coming their way. There was no repentance at all.
The rest of this chapter sees the people pleading with God, asking Him for help from the punishments they deserve. They have the audacity to make a point that He had a covenant relationship with them (vs. 21) and so He cannot forsake them. Yet, they conveniently forget that they had promised to follow Him and not worship other Gods, so they broke the covenant first. So many times we do the same thing to God. He is blamed for everything, when in fact it is man’s own sin that condemns him. If it were not for Jesus we would be eternally doomed.
So what can we learn from this chapter? If you want God to hear your prayers make sure you are right with Him first. Be like Daniel and pray with sincerity. Repent of your sinful behaviour. But don't do it just to get something from God. Do it because you want to restore your fellowship with Him and because you are sincerely sorry for your behaviour. God knows your heart. If you are sincere He will hear your prayers. If you are faking it, He'll know that too.