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Drought, Famine, Sword March 31, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Jeremiah 14-15.

Summary: In this passage, God speaks through Jeremiah, declaring that He will bring the following calamities on the people of Jerusalem and Judah:

  • a severe drought
  • a famine that will kill many of them
  • foreign invaders who will kill many of them
  • forced exile for the survivors.

Jeremiah attempts to intercede with God on their behalf – yet He has resolved to punish them and the false prophets who condone their sins. Jeremiah then brings the following grievances before Him:

  • the people of Jerusalem and Judah consistently reject him and his message
  • He has failed to vindicate him.

God then rebukes him for his doubts concerning His faithfulness, assuring him that He will vindicate him.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Jeremiah wrestles with God regarding the extent of His punishment of His people. Based on previous passages, we know that Jeremiah was convinced that the actions of the people of God did merit His punishment. Yet we also know that he recoiled at the extent of that punishment – as it entailed the decimation of the populace via disease, famine and sword. Jeremiah’s mental anguish in this regard caused me to consider those who commit egregious sins today. As a believer, I know that their actions merit His punishment. Yet I also hope that they will repent of their sins and turn to Him for forgiveness. If His punishment would entail their deaths, should I conclude that His punishment is excessive? I suppose that He wants me to place such matters in His hands – yet I still wrestle with the finality of that form of punishment.

We also see that Jeremiah wrestles with God regarding His prophetic calling, as he struggles to reconcile it with his love for his compatriots. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 18 of chapter 15:

Jeremiah had previously shown that he courageously despised all the splendor of the world and had no regard for proud men who boasted they were rulers of the church. But he now confesses his frailty. When we think of the apostles and the prophets we must always distinguish between the pure truth they spoke and their own personal anxieties and fears. Jeremiah’s worries stemmed from this human weakness. That is the meaning of this verse.

It is evident that Jeremiah was overcome by at least two harsh realities:

  • his compatriots despised him, since he consistently preached against their sins
  • God had revealed to him that his compatriots would experience His terrible judgment.

Clearly “weeping prophet” is an apt description of Jeremiah. Now I conjecture that God wanted to use his predicament to show him that he could not trust in anything pertaining to this life – he could only trust in Him and His final deliverance in the next life. As modern-day believers, we should ask ourselves: do we cling to the things of this life? How can suffering help us place our trust in God alone?

This passage is replete with harsh imagery, including bodies being “thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem”, a deer who “deserts her newborn fawn” and God’s plan to “make their widows more numerous than the sand of the sea.” On a related note, I conjecture that modern-day believers who reside in First World countries often grow spiritually complacent – forgetting His holiness and allowing those around us to shape our thoughts. If that is the case, then these harsh images should jolt us out of our complacency and spur us to assess the degree of holiness that we exhibit on a daily basis. While I do not believe that He has called us to cloister ourselves, I do believe that we must strive to avoid being “of the world” – lest He punish us as severely as He punished the people of Jerusalem and Judah. We certainly need His guidance as we strike this fine balance on a daily basis.

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