Jeremiah 14 has our prophet getting God’s word concerning the droughts that were happening in Judah. “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought”. This is a big deal to the people. They were dependent on rain for survival. This was a true life or death issue. In that day the often-worshipped Canaanite idol Baal was thought to be the god of weather and rain. Many ancient Israelites were drawn to Baal worship because they wanted rain. That just made things worse as God often used drought to bring the nation to repentance. So their attempt to correct the problem through idols just made it worse.
It was a true disaster. “Her nobles send their servants for water; they come to the cisterns; they find no water; they return with their vessels empty…. since there is no rain on the land, the farmers are ashamed; they cover their heads”. There simply was no water anywhere, and this has been going on for a while through a series of successive droughts. It was bad enough scripture tells us that even the farmers were ashamed of what they could do with the land. This is some serious despair. Farmers take much pride in their ability to produce a harvest, and it was completely impossible given the drought that was upon the land.
Jeremiah imagines what true repentance would look like to get back into right relationship with God. It begins with confession. “Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you”. The people have sinned and need to confess their guilt and appeal to God for His mercy and grace. Sin carries a price tag, and it is severe. Jeremiah calls upon God to be God. “O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land….why should you be like a man confused….you, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not leave us”. Jeremiah knows the problem and what needs to be done to get things right. Confession, repentance and trust in God.
Jeremiah lays out his case and God heard him. The response was strong and direct. “Thus says the Lord concerning this people: They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore the Lord does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins….Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 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”. The problem was that Jeremiah knew what needed to happen but the people were not involved and didn’t go through the steps Jeremiah identified.
We can’t confess and repent for someone else. They have to take ownership for their own decisions and choices. We can intercede on behalf of another, but ultimately we own our sin and must deal with it on our own. Forgiveness is granted by God to the sinner, not some third party who may pray and seek it on their behalf. Jeremiah plays out the steps that need to take place to get right with God and turn the rain back on. But the people were not taking the steps themselves. Thus God says ‘no deal’. We alone can get right with God. We must take action to confess our sin, repent and turn the other way, and receive God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ. That’s how it happens today. No one can do that for us. We must seek God and get right, or suffer the eternal consequences of our sin. Don’t wait. Take those steps and get right with God today!