Drought struck all of the land; every city, town, and village suffered. The poor and the rich suffered together. Not even the wildlife could bear the lack of water. The aristocrats waited for their servants at the city gates, hoping they had found water, but the springs had dried up. There was no water, and without water, life could not continue. Their misery grew from day to day. The people put on mourning clothes, and walked with their eyes downcast. Then they would suddenly kneel and cry out in desperate prayer.
At the time of such a natural catastrophe, it was the custom to visit the temple of Jerusalem (Joel 1:13, 14; 2:15–17) to fast and to make special offerings to God.
Jeremiah saw the eagerness of the people, but he knew well that they didn’t seek the Lord, only the water. This saddened the prophet further. Jeremiah was also praying, not for water but for the mercy and presence of God.
Jeremiah understood, too, that this was only the beginning of the trials to come. God saw the hearts of the people and knew that if He were to remove the drought, then the repentance would also disappear. The people did everything to try to change their situation, including going to Jerusalem, praying, fasting, putting on sackcloth, and making offerings, but they forgot one thing: true conversion, true repentance. They were looking only to remove the results of the problem, not the problem itself, which was their sin and disobedience.
Read Jeremiah 14:11–16. How do we understand this?
“Do not pray for this people, for their good,” God told Jeremiah, even though Jeremiah presented earlier a great example of intercessory prayer: “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your name’s sake” (Jer. 14:7, NKJV). Though we are told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), in this case the Lord, who knows everything from beginning to end, is revealing to Jeremiah just how corrupt and fallen these people are. Of course, God knows people’s hearts, and God knows the future; we don’t. Hence, the New Testament admonition to pray, even for our enemies, doesn’t lose any of its force here.
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults Q4 2015 «Jeremiah» Lesson 4 – Rebuke and Retribution