Concerning the Dearth (Jeremiah 14)

I.  The Plight of Jerusalem. Look at verse 1. The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.” A dearth is a terrible drought. A terrible drought came upon the land of Judah in Jeremiah’s day because of the great wickedness of the people. Sin does often have far-reaching consequences. Your sin can destroy your life. The sin of a nation can destroy that nation. God can also use those consequences to get the attention of the sinner or the nation. Let’s take a closer look at this drought.   
A.  Verse 2 says, Judah mourneth…” Judah was in mourning because of the famine and drought. They were not mourning because of their sin but because of the trouble brought on by their sin. Jerusalem cried out not in repentance but for relief from judgment. What about you? Do you mourn because you’ve sinned against God or only because your sin isn’t so fun anymore?
B.  “…and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.” The gates were a place of importance. The wealthy and respected met at the gate. The kings met with the people in the gate. Imports and exports had to come through the gate.   Now the people who came through the gate were dying of starvation. Instead of farmers and merchants coming into the city to sell their wares, half-starved people were leaving through those gates to find food. That’s what sin will do. It will your glory into gloom every time!
C.  “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…” The nobles could no longer afford to retain their servants. Now they were sending their own children to search for water. However, there was no water to be found. The wells had all dried up. There had been no rain to replenish them. When we have no blessing from God, the spiritual wells dry up too. They returned with their vessels empty. They had made an effort in their own strength and came up empty.
D.  “…they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads (3).” The nobles found out that not even their money or prestige could supply any more water than the poorest beggar on the street. The saddest part of the story was that they had gone spiritually dry long before the wells did, yet they were unaware of it. Juda was like the church of Laodicea. Jesus said to that church, Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17).”
E.  “Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.” The plowmen were doubly affected by the lack of rain. The ground was hard and dry. It was chapped and cracked. Psalm 65:10 says, Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof. Without the rain the plowmen had nothing to do. They were dependent upon the rain. You and I are spiritual plowmen. Without God’s Hand upon us, we really have nothing to do. Without the rain their efforts were reduced to watching everything die around them.
F.  “Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.” “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 (5-6).The livestock were also affected by the dearth. Drought and famine affects everything, animals included. Spiritual drought also affects everything. Spiritual drought affects the individual, the family, the church, the city, etc…
II.  The Prayer of Jeremiah. Beginning with verse 7, we find Jeremiah’s prayer for His people. 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.It is probably safe to say that Jeremiah prayed for the people more than the people prayed for the people.
A.  “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? 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 (8-9).” The prophet prayed for God’s deliverance and confessed the sin of the people. He pleaded with God for forgiveness. He made a case for God’s reputation. I firmly believe that many a judgment has been postponed, many a reprieve found because of the tears and prayers of a loving pastor.
B.  Abraham begged God to save Sodom and Gomorrah for a righteous soul. Moses pleaded with God for the lives of the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. Some of the early churches were probably propped up by little more than the prayers of Paul. There are many Christians that wouldn’t be where they are today if it were not for a praying pastor, parent, or grandparent. We must not cease in our prayers for the salvation of the lost and the return of the backslidden.
C.  There is a great privilege and great necessity in intercessory prayer. Christ interceded for us. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25).” The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27). We are commanded to make intercession for others. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men (1 Tim. 2:1). When we pray for others, it helps us to die to self. When we are burdened for others, it keeps our own hearts tender.
D.  Jeremiah ultimately left the decision up to the will of God. God knows best how to deal with a sinner, and how to best glorify His Name.
III.  The Position of Jehovah. Thus saith the LORD unto this people…” No one knows better what to do with His people (or with anything) than God does. He knows what is needed in every situation. We see only from our finite perspective. God sees the inner workings of every heart. He knows more about you than you will ever know about yourself. God’s will, however unpleasant it may seem, is always what we need in every situation.
A.  “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 (10).” God is a God ready to pardon. He is plenteous in mercy. His love is vast and knows no boundaries, but God is just and holy as well. He requires genuine repentance. It was not that God did not desire to deliver this people. He could not because they would not repent. Jeremiah had admitted that the people had sinned, but the people had not admitted it.
B.  They loved to wander. They refrained not their feet. He would not hear them anymore. He would not accept their sacrifices. They weren’t genuine. Samuel told Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice. Joel the prophet said to rend your hearts and not your garments. (Joel 2:13)
C.  The city was not truly repentant, therefore, God could not forgive. Lest we let God do a thorough searching and come to true repentance than we cannot be completely right with God. Lest we move toward God as a nation, then we will begin to see more of His judgment.
D.  “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.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 (13-15).” God will judge the false prophets who lie in His Name. There are many peddlers of false religion in this world. There are many that claim the Name of Jesus, but the Christ they preach is not the biblical one. They preach a Christ that fits the itching ears of their audience.
E.  “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. (16)” We are responsible for our own sin. Yes, a false teacher teaches lies, but the individual still makes the choice to believe the false teacher’s lie.
F.  “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 (17).” Jeremiah’s heart was broken for his people. God knew Jeremiah’s heart was broken for his people. God does move mightily when the saints pray. However, another might be able to pray us mercy for a while, but they cannot obtain forgiveness for us.
G.  “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. We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. 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 (18-22).” We must turn to God. He is the only one who can provide revival. He is the only one who can bless us. He is our only hope.