Jeremiah has just delivered one of his strongest messages to date. He promises disaster while the false prophets tell the people that God will not act against Israel for the sake of His temple. He preaches repentance while the priests and prophets condone idol worship. Since they cannot shut him up they go on the offensive by verbally attacking Jeremiah.
Jeremiah, however, doesn't engage in verbal warfare but responds to their taunts by crying out to God. Here is a man who has spent years interceding before God for a rebellious people and all they can do is attack him. He is the best thing they have going for them. He is between them and the judgment of God. Who knows but what disaster would have struck years earlier had it not been for Jeremiah's prayers.
There is nothing more distracting to intercessors than being the brunt of verbal assaults or abuse. Verbal attacks wear down an intercessor prayer. Jesus teaches us that you are never more like Christ than when you pray for those who strike you, both physically and verbally.
Sometimes imprecatory prayers ("bring it on" kind of prayers) are necessary. Before, Jeremiah prayed to avert the wrath of God. This prayer, however, is the "bring it on" kind of prayer. Jeremiah saw the verbals attacks as total rebellion against God, more so than personal attacks; he therefore, interceded no longer on Israel's behalf but agreed with God against Israel. Their continued rebellion cost Israel one of their greatest prayer advocates.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- How do the people of Judah respond to the drought? (Read Deuteronomy 28:15ff to the consequences of continued disobedience.)
- What is the basis for their prayer for relief?
- List the four similes used for God in their request (verses 8-9). What does this tell you about Israel's relationship with God?
- Why do the people listen to the prophets instead of to Jeremiah?
- Describe how Jeremiah must feel as an intercessor for a disobedient and rebellious people.
- With whom does God compare Jeremiah?
- List the four types of destruction God promises will come upon the unrepentant people.
- Read 2 Kings 21:1-9 to understand the depth of Manasseh's sin against God and the people of Judah.
- Remember that Jeremiah's primary message to the people is "Return". Why does God promise bereavement and destruction to His people?
- What analogy or picture does God use to describe His relationship with the house of Israel?
- How do the leaders respond to Jeremiah's message?
- What visual does God command Jeremiah to use in the succeeding message to the people?
- What does this tell you about God? About visuals? About people?
- What do the two baskets of figs represent?
- What does this analogy teach you about people and their relationship with God?
Pray that God will help us, as the church, return to Him, that we will be open and sensitive to His voice.