Chapter 14 closed with Jeremiah continuing to fervently intercede for the souls of his countrymen. He knew that Jehovah was just and righteous. And he reasoned that although He might cast away those with whom He had never entered into a Covenant-relationship, yet He could not deal with His chosen people in such a manner. There is a gracious link between Him and us, which our sin cannot break. And so Jeremiah prayed to the Lord on behalf of his own family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen. And what was Jehovah’s answer? This was the essence of it (verses 1-9): “I am wearied with putting up with these people! I have tried every means of restraining them, and of turning them back from their sins to better things. I have threshed them like wheat, in order to winnow out the chaff of corruption. I have caused them to suffer bereavement and sorrow, and I have sent the swift destruction of the sword upon them. They have appeared to amend their sinful lifestyles, but the improvement was only superficial and temporary. And now My mind is thoroughly made up! My methods must become more drastic than ever before. My discipline must become even more thorough. I will turn my hand upon My people; I will thoroughly purge away their dross. Then, after they are purified and cleansed from their sins and iniquities – then I will answer your pleadings on their behalf. Because of My love for them, I cannot spare them from these judgments. Even if Moses and Samuel were to pray for these people, their prayers would not alter My determination against them; for it is only in this way that My eternal purpose of redemption and restoration can be fulfilled.”
Let us briefly make this one observation: although neither Samuel nor Moses can prevail in prayer for sinners, yet there is One Who is mightier than them both – and the Father hears Him always! O how precious it is to know that Jesus cannot fail in His intercession, although all other intercessors may fail! He forever lives to make intercession in the presence of God for us! (Heb. 7:25; 12:24)
As the prophet foresees the people’s misunderstanding of his motives for preaching about the “doom and gloom” that was coming upon them, and as he anticipated the certain hate which his unfaltering prediction of judgement would stir up; he wished that he had never been born. Thus we see that even the hearts of God’s own servants sometimes fail! Such hearts, if they are like Jeremiah’s – highly strung and keenly sensitive – sometimes become the prey of the deepest anguish. But the Lord responds to Jeremiah’s musings in this manner (verses 11-14): “I will strengthen thee for good!” It is as if He said, “My grace is sufficient for you! To those who have no might, I impart strength; in those who have no wisdom, I unfold My deepest thoughts. The broken reed furnishes the pillar of My Temple, and smoking flax gives light to My beacon-fires. Be content to be a threshold over which the river passes, Jeremiah! Be satisfied to be a rod in My hand, which shall ultimately achieve the deliverance of My people. Only yield yourself to Me! Let Me have My way through you, with you, and in you; and then you shall be like iron and brass, which man cannot break!”
“O Lord, thou knowest!” says the prophet (verses 15-18). “Things that even my dearest family members cannot guess; things which I cannot utter; things which I am slow to admit even to myself; the hope that trembles like the first flush of dawn; the fear that paralyzes; the daily conflict; the broken ideals; the unfinished sentences; the songs without words – You know them! And You are my all! Your smile strengthens me against reproach. Your words bring joy and rejoicing to me in my saddest hours. Your presence banishes loneliness when I sit alone. And yet sometimes a dark foreboding enters my mind – whispering the hint that one day You will be like a deceitful brook, whose intermittent waters fail and dry up when they are needed most. I know that cannot be, since You are faithful; and yet what could I do if – after having made me what I am – You did leave me to myself?”
“Renounce your forebodings!” God seems to say (verses 19-21). “Come back from the far-away country of despondency! I want you to stand before Me without a shadow of a cloud. Do not consider your frailty, but My might; not your foes, but My deliverances. ‘I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible’” (verse 21). Did you note the glorious personality of the promise – “I will”? The Lord Jehovah Himself interposes to deliver and redeem His people! He pledges Himself personally to rescue them. His own arm shall do it, so that He may have the glory. Not a word is said of any effort of our own. Jehovah has enough power without borrowing from our puny arms! Be still, and know that the Lord reigns. He undertakes the work alone. Since the promise comes from God alone, it would be well for us to wait only upon Him. And when we do so, our expectation never fails us. Who are the wicked, that we should fear them? The Lord will utterly consume them; they are to be pitied rather than feared. When the Lord is on our side, whom shall we be afraid of?
Lord Jesus, we praise You as our ever-living Intercessor, Who faithfully and successfully pleads on our behalf before our Father’s throne! Amen.
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