IN A TIME OF CRISIS
Dear God, in the midst of a driven world, teach me how to possess the serenity I yearn for, the peace of heart and mind I desire.
Read JEREMIAH 14
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.
- Jeremiah 14:14 Or visions, worthless divinations
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Bring to God any national and international issues that concern you. Honestly acknowledge your hopes, confusions, and fears about God’s intervention in them.
The nation is in crisis, the result of a drought that affects all levels of society. For some, Jeremiah among them, this results in a crying out to God for his intervention: ‘do something, Lord’ (v 7), you are our ‘hope’ and our ‘Savior’ (v 8). When nothing happens, skepticism breaks out. Is God merely a passer-by, is he confused, is he powerless? Others, desperate for a positive spin on the situation, listen to the self-deluded words of the prophets, the experts, the intellectuals. It appears that no one is prepared to listen to the genuine message from God, that they must face the consequences of their willful breaking of the secure and stable covenant relationship with him.
There’s nothing like a crisis to bring people to their knees. For the first time in the book of Jeremiah, there is what appears to be a genuine acknowledgement of their wickedness over a number of generations (v 20) and the futility of appealing to idols and foreign gods (v 22). If God does genuinely live among them (v 9), then he is the only source of hope (v 22). How sincere is this turnaround? How long will it last? Only time will tell.
These Bible notes were written in 2021 during the global pandemic. Some people, in desperation, turned to God. Others were more agnostic. Most hung on to the promises of politicians, scientists and analysts, only to be confused by contradictory advice and often disappointing results. Yet God never left home. He was immanent, present within and throughout our lives, in the darkness, the loss and the fear. He was and is the hope to which we cling, his presence, his power and his love demonstrated in ‘Christ Jesus our hope’.1
Read 1 Peter 1:3–5. What does it mean for Jesus to give you ‘a living hope’? Apply this to the reality of your present circumstances.
Lord, support me all the day long through the valley of this life. Grant me safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at last.
1 1 Tim 1:1
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