Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      Jeremiah - Chapter 15 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. The LORD said to me: Even if Moses and Samuel were here, praying with you, I wouldn't change my mind. So send the people of Judah away.
    2. And when they ask where they are going, tell them that I, the LORD, have said: Some of you are going to die of horrible diseases. Others are going to die in war or from starvation. The rest will be led away to a foreign country.
    3. I will punish you in four different ways: You will be killed in war and your bodies dragged off by dogs, your flesh will be eaten by birds, and your bones will be chewed on by wild animals.
    4. This punishment will happen because of the horrible things your King Manasseh did. And you will be disgusting to all nations on earth.
    5. People of Jerusalem, who will feel sorry for you? Will anyone bother to ask if you are well?
    6. My people, you abandoned me and walked away. I am tired of showing mercy; that's why I'll destroy you
    7. by scattering you like straw blown by the wind. I will punish you with sorrow and death, because you refuse to change your ways.
    8. There will be more widows in Judah than grains of sand on a beach. A surprise attack at noon! And the mothers in Jerusalem mourn for their children.
    9. A mother is in deep despair and struggles for breath. Her daylight has turned to darkness-- she has suffered the loss of her seven sons. I will kill anyone who survives. I, the LORD, have spoken.
    10. I wish I had never been born! I'm always in trouble with everyone in Judah. I never lend or borrow money, but everyone curses me just the same.
    11. Then the LORD replied, "I promise to protect you, and when disaster comes, even your enemies will beg you for help."
    12. People of Judah, just as you can't break iron mixed with bronze, you can't defeat the enemies that will attack from the north.
    13. I will give them everything you own, because you have sinned everywhere in your country.
    14. My anger is a fire that cannot be put out, so I will make you slaves of your enemies in a foreign land.
    15. You can see how I suffer insult after insult, all because of you, LORD. Don't be so patient with my enemies; take revenge on them before they kill me.
    16. When you spoke to me, I was glad to obey, because I belong to you, the LORD All-Powerful.
    17. I don't go to parties and have a good time. Instead, I keep to myself, because you have filled me with your anger.
    18. I am badly injured and in constant pain. Are you going to disappoint me, like a stream that goes dry in the heat of summer?
    19. Then the LORD told me: Stop talking like a fool! If you turn back to me and speak my message, I will let you be my prophet once again. I hope the people of Judah will accept what you say. But you can ignore their threats, *
    20. because I am making you strong, like a bronze wall. They are evil and violent, but when they attack,
    21. I will be there to rescue you. I, the LORD, have spoken.
Reflections

Jeremiah - Chapter 15

Entered: September 21, 2004
God is merciful and longsuffering, but there are limits, and Israel has reached that limited. God says He is "tired of showing mercy." But no one can say He has not been longsuffering with Israel. The nation has tried His patience from the beginning and yet it has taken centuries before coming to this point. God here is emphatic about the coming doom of Israel. There is no turning back, no changing His mind. They are past the point, even, of prayer. God said, "Even if Moses and Samuel were here, praying with you, I wouldn't change my mind." The mind is a strange thing. Though it can consider numerous options, once it has made a choice, it often can no longer see truth in any other option. I have chosen God and continually fill my mind with His goodness. Any other choice seems ridiculous. How foolish to put one's faith in an idol! But Israel had made a choice to worship idols and could no longer see the truth in following God. They were blinded to any other choice.

Entered: November 14, 2010

Judah had reached a point of no return. Her sin was so ingrained that her confession, recorded in the previous chapter, was of no use. At best, it was an insincere attempt to gain God's help. It might be termed a "foxhole religion," so-called in regard to soldiers, hunkered down in a foxhole and under siege from their enemy, who are fearful for their lives and call out to God to save them, promising to reform their life if He will but save them. But when danger is past, they revert to their old ways. This was at the heart of Judah's confession and God knew it. The nation was faced with destruction by Babylon and promised reform in return for God's salvation. But God had seen them quickly return to their sin too many times in the past and knew this time was no different. Not even a plea from Moses or Samuel would stir God's compassion toward them. These two men of old had petitioned God in times past for Israel's salvation and God had responded. But He would not respond this time.

Four options lay before the people of Judah: death, likely by plague, death by the sword, death by starvation brought on by famine, or the option of captivity. Which option fell upon an individual was by God's choice and not that of the individual. Judah had already made her choice, thus God was making His choice. No one but God had ever shown sympathy toward Israel and she had rejected even Him. His compassion toward her was exhausted. So the question at that point was, "Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?" (15:5) And the answer was, without God's compassion no one else would show concern.

The prophet Jeremiah was also at a low point at this time and was questioning God. He had delighted in God's word, had not participated with Judah in her reveling, and had therefore sat alone as a lonely follower of God. So now he asks, "Why has my pain become unending, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?" Not only was Jeremiah suffering as God's servant, he felt God had abandoned him, "You truly have become like a mirage to me--water that is not reliable." (15:18) Evidently Jeremiah was not altogether innocent in these feelings, for God said to him, "If you return, I will restore you; you will stand in My presence. And if you speak noble words, rather than worthless ones, you will be My spokesman." (15:19) Although Jeremiah felt like God had "become like a mirage," it wasn't because God was distant to Jeremiah, but because Jeremiah had become distant to God. And in his distance from God he had come to speak "worthless" words. If Jeremiah returned to God, God promised not only to use him as His spokesman, but also to deliver him from the attacks of the people. But now Jeremiah was not to go to the people with God's message. If they were to receive it, they must come to Jeremiah asking for it.