Jeremiah 14: 19-22 (NIV)
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 O LORD, we acknowledge our wickedness and the guilt of our fathers; we have indeed sinned against you.
21 For the sake of your name do not despise us; do not dishonour 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, O LORD our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.
Jeremiah had been chosen by God to be God’s voice “to the nations” (Jeremiah 1: 5) but specifically to the southern kingdom of Judah. Much of the prophetic role that had been given Jeremiah by God involved the delivering of a word from God that was not palatable to Judah’s ruler nor to his advisors. As a consequence, Jeremiah was often an outcast among his own people.
Yet there were occasions when Jeremiah was prepared to stand before God in defence of his own people. Jeremiah knew where his people had been going astray. If the nation was not ready and not able to acknowledge its sin, Jeremiah was prepared to acknowledge that sin vicariously.
In the passage we have just read, Jeremiah confessed to God the wickedness of God’s people in Judah. This was a reinforcement of his confession in verses 7-9 of this chapter:
Although our sins testify against us, O LORD, do something for the sake of your name. For our backsliding is great; we have sinned against you.
O Hope of Israel, Its Saviour in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land,
like a traveller who stays only a night?
… You are among us, O LORD, and we bear your name; do not forsake us!
Confession and repentance were not foreign concepts to the Jews. From David (Psalm 51: 17) to John the Baptist in the time of Jesus, there were urgings to repent of sinful disobedience and to turn back to the God who had chosen the Jews for a special relationship with himself.
Like Israel of old, our nation today has walked away from God. Many do not know of God, and so are prevented from enjoying a real relationship with him. Others know of God but choose to ignore him, to deny his existence or to refute any position that holds that God has a legitimate claim over his creation.
Those of this nation who love God as revealed to us by Jesus Christ and who seek to live in obedience to him should follow the example of Jeremiah. We should be praying on behalf of our fellow country-men and -women.
Let us pray (verses 20-22):
O LORD, we acknowledge our wickedness …
we have indeed sinned against you.
For the sake of your name do not despise us;
Remember your covenant with us
(through the death and resurrection of your Son)…
it is you, O LORD our God.
… our hope is in you …