Jeremiah 14:11-21 (ESV)

The Lord said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. [12] Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

[13] Then I said: “Ah, Lord God, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ ” [14] And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. [15] Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. [16] And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them.

[17] “You shall say to them this word:

‘Let my eyes run down with tears night and day,

and let them not cease,

for the virgin daughter of my people is shattered with a great wound,

with a very grievous blow.

[18] If I go out into the field,

behold, those pierced by the sword!

And if I enter the city,

behold, the diseases of famine!

For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land

and have no knowledge.’ ”

[19] Have you utterly rejected Judah?

Does your soul loathe Zion?

Why have you struck us down

so that there is no healing for us?

We looked for peace, but no good came;

for a time of healing, but behold, terror.

[20] We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord,

and the iniquity of our fathers,

for we have sinned against you.

[21] Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake;

do not dishonor your glorious throne;

remember and do not break your covenant with us.

The die is cast. God has determined that the day of repentance and forgiveness for Judah, is over. He would not hear and answer these rebellious people even if they did call out. So, Jeremiah tells them that there is certain judgement coming. This is considered treasonous by the nation. Despite Jeremiah’s warnings people reason that God will not abandon them now that the wolves are at the door and that the horrible calamity that Jeremiah is predicting will not come to pass. So the preachers and prophets and priests soothe the people with messages of safety and peace.

And God says “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. ”

They make up a message and claim that it is from God.

God sends a famine (14:1) and the people therefore start to call upon God. And God, in keeping with His Word, does not hear them. Their prayer, as we understand prayer, is quite a good one. They acknowledge their wickedness (verse 20), they say that they want to be spared for God’s name sake (verse 21), and they remind God that He is a covenant keeping God and therefore He should remember His covenant with them.

The prayer is both late and insincere. They honour God with their lips and their hearts are far from Him. They believe but God looks deeper than the profession of an orthodox sounding prayer.

People have not changed. People pray in a pickle and wonder why God does not come through. There seems to be no understanding that God is not required to come through for them at all. They remind God of His covenant but they do not realize that the covenant came, as all covenants do, with conditions. They remember well God’s side of the covenant but conveniently forget their own. God is very plain. If Moses Himself pleaded for them He would not hear and answer (15:1).

It is a dangerous thing to presume upon the mercy of God. False confidence, ignorance, planned repentance, are all evidence of a very hollow belief system. It will burst in the day of calamity and will resort to blaming God for its troubles. We are so accustomed to hear that God always hears and always answers that people think that it is God’s responsibility to come through for them when things get tough and they call out for help. When it does not come, then the angry “Where was God?” is spit through the teeth.

But there is more here that addresses us. God is not to be tinkered with. He is not some magic potion that we sprinkle on our problems to make them go away when things get too tough for us to handle. God’s patience with people is not eternal. He gives up on people. This is the plain teaching here and in other texts of Scripture, notably Romans 1:18-32 (especially verses 24, 26, 28).

What do you think of God’s response to the people of Judah in Jeremiah 14 and 15? Was He cruel, unloving, unfair? Was He true to His Word, faithful to His own glory and righteous? How you answer the question is an indication of where your heart may be. In His providence God has allowed you to read this little article. Are you tinkering with sin as if it is not a serious thing? Do you rest in mercy that you are taking for granted? Be very careful.

Are you planning to get things straightened out with God later? How do you know if the thought of not being heard by God will even bother you tomorrow? How do you know that you will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin? God is not to be trifled with. Come (back) to Him while you still can and while He still allows you into His presence to even say you want Him.

And come to Him by the only way you can – Jesus Christ. He is the only way. There is no other mediator between God an man. There is no other name given among men. He lived the sinless life. He died the sinners’ death. He is the Priest who can mediate for you.