Study of Jeremiah, Chapters 13-14 The Loincloth, Warning Against Pride

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analogy

When our child(ren) are not quite getting the message, how many times have we reverted to using an analogy, of sorts, to get our point across? I believe that, as parents, we all have done this.  Our children can be so hard-headed sometimes, that we will try anything to get them to understand what we are trying to show them.  Why do we do this?  I would say we do it out of love.  We love our children, unconditionally, and we don’t want to see them hurt in any way.  We can see God’s use of the linen loincloth in Jeremiah 13 in the very same way.

Jeremiah 13:1-13Jeremiah 13:1-13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

13 1 Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water. 2 So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins. 3 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, 4 Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock. 5 So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. 6 And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there. 7 Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing. 8 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. imagination: or, stubbornness 11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear. 12 Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word; Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine: and they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine? 13 Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness.  

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1 This is what the LORD said to me:  “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it on, but do not wash it.”  2 So I bought the loincloth as the LORD directed me, and I put it on.  3 Then the LORD gave me another message:  4 “Take the linen loincloth you are wearing, and go to the Euphrates River.  Hide it there in a hole in the rocks.”  5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates as the LORD had instructed me.
6 A long time afterward the LORD said to me, “Go back to the Euphrates and get the loincloth I told you to hide there.”  7 So I went to the Euphrates and dug it out of the hole where I had hidden it.  But now it was rotting and falling apart.  The loincloth was good for nothing.
8 Then I received this message from the LORD:  9 “This is what the LORD says:  This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem.  10 These wicked people refuse to listen to me.  They stubbornly follow their own desires and worship other gods.  Therefore, they will become like this loincloth – good for nothing!  11 As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the LORD.  They were to be my people, my pride, my glory – an honor to my name.  But they would not listen to me.
12  “So tell them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:  May all your jars be filed with wine.’  And they will reply, ‘Of course!  Jars are made to be filled with wine!’
13 “Then tell them, ‘No, this is what the LORD means:  I will fill everyone in this land with drunkenness – from the king sitting on David’s throne to the priests and the prophets, right down to the common people of Jerusalem.  14 I will smash them against each other, even parents against children, says the LORD.  I will not let my pity or mercy or compassion keep me from destroying them.'”

obedience

We see the introduction of the linen loincloth analogy and then the purpose.  God gave Jeremiah instructions on exactly what to do, and exactly how to do it.  The Euphrates River was quite the journey for Jeremiah.  With the Jordan and Jabbok River so much closer to where Jeremiah was, why not go there?  Why the Euphrates River? The long journey apparently wasn’t troublesome for Jeremiah, as he was an obedient servant.  How many times do we receive instruction from God, but our fleshly self sees an easier way, or a shortcut, and we question the way God is having us do something?  Are we obedient servants, or do we try to twist God’s instruction to fit ‘our’ needs?

God was very specific in his analogy of the loincloth to the people of Judah and Israel.  He chose these people to be His people.  They had too much pride, and allowed themselves to be led astray, listening to their own wants and desires and worshiping idols.  Their ears and eyes were closed, and they couldn’t hear or see anything but their own personal enjoyments.  Pride rotted their hearts and had made them useless.  The people ignored and neglected their relationship with God the very same way that Jeremiah ignored and neglected the loincloth, and the people hid themselves from God in the same way that Jeremiah hid the cloth.
There are several references to wine in the book of Jeremiah, but the parable of the wine bottles in these verses also has a twist to it.  The jar symbolize the people of Judah.  The people of Judah will be filled not with wine, but with drunkenness, which is symbolic of their addiction to idolatry.  In the upcoming time of crisis, the people of Judah will be so drunk by their sinning, that they will destroy each other as wine bottles colliding and breaking, and God will not prevent their destruction.

Jeremiah 13: 15-17Jeremiah 13: 15-17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken. 16 Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD'S flock is carried away captive.  

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15 Listen and pay attention!
Do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken.
16 Give glory to the LORD your God
before it is too late.
Acknowledge Him before He brings darkness upon you,
causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains.
For then, when you look for light,
you will find only terrible darkness and gloom.
17 And if you still refuse to listen,
I will weep alone because of your pride.
My eyes will overflow with tears,
because the LORD’S flock will be led away into exile.

pride

Jeremiah is warning, once again, against arrogance.  When does our pride become dangerous?  1) when it causes us to look down on others;  2) when it causes us to be selfish with our resources;  3) when we force our solutions onto others’ problems;  4) when we think God is blessing us because of our own merits; and 5) when we become content with our own plans rather than seeking God’s plans.
As God warned His people way back then, He continues to warn us today!  We must acknowledge Him and give Him glory before it is too late!  Some of us may be like the people of Judah.  We wander around, stumbling day after day, never accepting the help of anyone – not even God.  Are you stumbling today?  Are you trying to make your way through the darkness?  Has pride taken over your life?  Accept Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior, and invite Him into your heart.  Do not continue on that path to darkness and gloom.  God loves you and wants you with Him for all eternity.

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arragant

Have you ever caught yourself thinking or saying “he needs to be taken down a notch or two”?  Usually, this occurs when we are around someone who is so arrogant, or cocky, that we feel they are way out there.  They are unreasonable to any kind of discussion of any sort, and just seem to be ‘out of reach’.  This is the picture painted here in the second half of Jeremiah, chapter 13.

Jeremiah 13:18-19Jeremiah 13:18-19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

18 Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory. principalities: or, head tires 19 The cities of the south shall be shut up, and none shall open them: Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive.  

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18 Say to the king and his mother,
“Come down from your thrones
and sit in the dust,
for your glorious crowns
will soon be snatched from your heads.”
19 The towns of the Negev will close their gates,
and no one will be able to open them.
The people of Judah will be taken away as captives.
All will be carried into exile.

To review history here, the king was Jahoiachin, and his mother was Nehushta.  The king’s father, Jehoiakim, had surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar but later rebelled.  During the reign of Jehoiachin, Nebuchadnezzar’s armies surrounded Jerusalem, and both Jehoiachin and Neshushta surrendered.  Jehoiachin was sent to Babylon and imprisoned.  See 2 Kings 24:1-152 Kings 24:1-15
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

24 1 In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. 2 And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets. by: Heb. by the hand of 3 Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; 4 And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon. 5 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. 7 And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt. 8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. Jehoiachin: also called Jeconiah and Coniah 9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. 10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. was...: Heb. came into siege 11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it. 12 And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. officers: or, eunuchs his reign: Nebuchadnezzar's eighth year 13 And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. 14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land. 15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. officers: or, eunuchs  

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The people may seek refuge, but Negav which is a dry wasteland stretching south from Beersheba, and any other towns in this area, would be closed to any refugees fleeing from the invading army.  We will see in Jeremiah 39:9-10Jeremiah 39:9-10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

9 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, with the rest of the people that remained. captain...: or, chief marshal: Heb. chief of the executioners, or, slaughtermen 10 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. at the...: Heb. in that day  

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, that not ‘all’ of Judah will be taken away as captives.  There is a remnant that is left behind with Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 13:20-23Jeremiah 13:20-23
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

20 Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock? 21 What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee: shall not sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail? punish: Heb visit upon 22 And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare. made...: or, shall be violently taken away 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. accustomed: Heb. taught  

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20 Open up your eyes and see
the armies marching down from the north!
Where is your flock –
your beautiful flock –
that he gave you to care for?
21 What will you say when the LORD takes the allies you have cultivated
and appoints them as your rulers?
Pangs of anguish will grip you,
lie those of a woman in labor!
22 You may ask yourself,
“Why is all this happening to me?”
It is because of your many sins!
That is why you have been stripped
and raped by invading armies.
23 Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin?
Can a leopard take away its spots?
Neither can you start doing good,
for you have always done evil.

God opposes pride.  Anyone who exalts themselves will be brought down.  There is no one that is exempt from God’s hand of judgment and discipline, which is marching down from the north.  As a woman in labor, they will experience much pain.

change

Many times, we want to blame our pain on others instead of taking accountability for our mistakes, and accepting our consequences humbly.  Throughout their life of sin, the people of Judah forgot God and resorted to falsehood.  Not even the threat of captivity could move the people to repent.  They had no more hope of changing their way, than a person has of changing the color of his skin or a leopard changing its spots.  They had became accustomed to doing evil that they had lost their ability to change.  We must never put off until tomorrow the changes that God wants us to make today.  Over time, our own attitudes and sinful lifestyle can become so set that we lose all desire to change, nor do we fear the consequences any longer.

Jeremiah 13:24-27Jeremiah 13:24-27
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

24 Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness. 25 This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood. 26 Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear. 27 I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be? when...: Heb. after when yet?  

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24 “I will scatter you like chaff
that is blown away by the desert winds.
25 This is your allotment,
the portion I have assigned to you,”
says the LORD,
“for you have forgotten me
putting your trust in false gods.
26 I myself will strip you
and expose you to shame.
27 I have seen your adultery and lust,
and your disgusting idol worship out in the fields and on the hills.
What sorrow awaits you, Jerusalem!
How long before you are pure?”

The end is clearly outlined for the people.  Babylon will scatter the people like straw in the wind.  This is a reference to exile which is their consequence for their behavior.

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back against the wall

We all have tough times in life, don’t we?  Some people actually seem to have tougher times than others, it seems.  Then, of course, we all know those that no matter what is going on, everything in their life seems dandy.  But, what about the bad times?  Is God a part of your life, every day, whether good or bad?  Or, do you put Him on the back burner when everything is going good and only call on Him when things in your life start going bad?

Jeremiah 14:1-10Jeremiah 14:1-10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

14 1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth. the dearth: Heb. the words of the dearths, or, restraints 2 Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up. 3 And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads. 4 Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads. 5 Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass. 6 And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass. 7 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee. 8 O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? 9 Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not. we...: Heb. thy name is called upon us 10 Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.  

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1 This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD, explaining why he was holding back the rain:
2 “Judah wilts;
commerce at the city gates grinds to a halt.
All the people sit on the ground in mourning,
and a great cry rises from Jerusalem.
3 The nobles send servants to get water,
but all the wells are dry.
The servants return with empty pitchers,
confused and desperate,
covering their heads in grief.
4 The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain.
The farmers are deeply troubled;
they, too, cover their heads.
5 Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn
because there is no grass in the field.
6 The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills
panting like thirsty jackals.
They strain their eyes looking for grass,
but there is none to be found.”
7 The people say, “Our wickedness has caught up with us, LORD,
but help us for the sake of your own reputation.
We have turned away from you
and sinned against you again and again.
8 O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble,
why are you like a stranger to us?
Why are you like a traveler passing through the land,
stopping only for the night?
9 Are you also confused?
Is our champion helpless to save us?
You are right here among us, LORD.
We are known as your people.
Please don’t abandon us now!”
10 So this is what the LORD says to his people:
“You love to wander far from me
and do not restrain yourselves.
Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people.
Now I will remember all your wickedness
and will punish you for your sins.”

The drought that is about to come upon Judah is so devastating that all classes of people, all animals, and even the earth will be affected and cry out in agony.  Jeremiah links the drought to God’s judgment and he intercedes with God on behalf of the people.  He is appealing to his own sense of justice despite the nation’s sinful ways, asking God not to forsake them.  But God refuses to hear the cries because of their wickedness.  Their backs were against the wall and although they cried out to God, they DID NOT repent!  Even Jeremiah’s pleas could not help them.  Their only hope was to repent and turn back to God.
How many times have we, ourselves, been guilty of doing the very same thing?  Times are bad, we cry out for God’s help.  Sometimes, we may even finding ourselves making a deal with God such as ‘if you help me God, I will go to church every Sunday’.  When this happens, we are not truly seeking God, we just want to be rescued from our circumstances.  Once our life is back to normal, we go back to our sinful lives.  This is not the relationship that God wants with us.  He wants us to repent of our sins and live a life of joy and peace.  He wants to have a relationship with Him based on love, trust, and faith.

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accountable

Do you believe that we are responsible for finding out the truth out about God, or is it okay to take someone’s word for it?  So often, people are looking for someone to give them all of the information about God so that they don’t have to take the time to sit down, read, and study for themselves.  I believe that we are each responsible for searching out the truth about everything, regardless of whether or not it is what we want to hear.  I believe that God holds us accountable for our beliefs, and our actions.

Jeremiah 14: 11-18Jeremiah 14: 11-18
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

11 Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. 12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. 13 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. assured...: Heb. peace of truth 14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. 15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them. 17 Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow. 18 If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not. go about...: or, make merchandise against a land, and men acknowledge it not  

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11 Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore.  12 When they fast, I will pay no attention.  When they present their burnt offerings and grain offerings to me, I will not accept them.  Instead, I will devour them with war, famine, and disease.”
13 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well -no war or famine will come.  The LORD will surely send you peace.'”
14 Then the LORD said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name.  I did not send them or tell them to speak.  I did not give them any messages.  They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard.  They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.  15 Therefore, this is what the LORD says:  I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them.  They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine!  16 As for the people to whom they prophesy – Their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and war.  There will be no one left to bury them.  Husbands, wives, sons, and daughters – all will be gone.  For I will pour out their own wickedness on them.  17 Now, Jeremiah, say this to them:
“Night and day my eyes overflow with tears.
I cannot stop weeping,
for my virgin daughter l- my precious people –
has been struck down
and lies mortally wounded.
18 If I go out into the fields,
I see the bodies of people slaughtered by the enemy.
If I walk the city streets,
I see people who have died of starvation.
The prophets and priests continue with their work,
but they don’t know what they’re doing.”

You may be asking, ‘why would anyone listen to a false prophet?’  Well, mostly because they tell us exactly what we want to hear, which is exactly what happened in the day of Jeremiah.  The people were comfortable in the sinful lifestyle, and really didn’t want to make any changes.  The false prophets led them to believe that this was alright, and that no bad would come upon them.  In today’s world, false teachers earn fame and money by telling people what it is they want to hear, and although this leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, it is doing nothing more than rationalizing your deeds and leading you away from God.  If we sit under a false teacher, and encourage them to continue to teach in this manner, we are as guilty as they are.  Remember, God will hold each of us accountable for our actions!

Jeremiah 14:19-22Jeremiah 14:19-22
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble! 20 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. 21 Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. 22 Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.  

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19 LORDS, have you completely rejected Judah?
Do you really hate Jerusalem?
Why have you wounded us past all hope of healing?
We hoped for peace, but no peace came.
We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.
20 LORD, we confess our wickedness
and that of our ancestors, too.
We all have sinned against you.
21 For the sake of your reputation, LORD, do not abandon us.
Do not disgrace your own glorious throne.
Please remember us,
and do not break your covenant with us.
22 Can an of the worthless foreign gods send us rain?
Does it fall from the sky by itself?
No, you are the one, O LORD our God!
Only you can do such things.
So we will wait for you to help us.

Jeremiah intercedes for his people once again. He asks God if the people of Judah repent, would he help them once again.  But, God refused because he new that the people of Judah were insincere, wicked, and stubborn.  The people knew that God wanted to bless them, and they knew what they needed to do in order to receive that blessing, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to repent.  They wanted God to do their part, but they didn’t want to do theirs.  It is easy for us to express sorrow over wrong doings, but it is much more difficult to truly repent and make the changes in our life that are necessary to live that God intended for us to live.  God is merciful and will forgive anyone who is truly repentant, but those who take this claim without following through will be severely punished.
It is interesting that Jeremiah mention the false gods and declares that God is the only one who can make it rain.  It seems important for him to note that the idols the people are worshiping can not help them.  At some point in our life, we must realize that not even we can accomplish anything on our own.  We may think that we do, but in the end, God is our Savior.

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

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