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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 14:7-9

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, October 31, 2014

7 Do something LORD, for the sake of your name,
     even though our guilt testifies against us.
We have rebelled many times,
  and we have sinned against you.

In this first prayer during the drought, Jeremiah asks the Lord to do something for his name’s sake, despite the guilt of the people. The prophet’s reasoning is very similar to that of Moses when the Lord wanted to annihilate the Israelites when they made and worshiped the golden calf (Exodus 32:13).

Jeremiah pleads on behalf of Israel’s “guilt,” “rebellion” and “sin.” He lays out the whole spectrum of sins and confesses on behalf of the people: “We are guilty. We have sinned.” In fact, Jeremiah the prophet was doing what the high priest should have been doing every year on the Day of Atonement. Without using a scapegoat, Jeremiah took it on himself to “confess…all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins” (Leviticus 16:21). The priests (Jeremiah, remember, was from a family of priests) were failing to point out the sins of the people, but the Lord’s prophet had not forgotten. He still kept crying out for the people to repent, and here he shows that he was taking their sins before God’s throne in prayer.

8 You are Israel’s hope,
     its Savior in times of trouble.

“Hope” and “Savior” are used together quite a few times in the Bible. Some of David’s psalms talk about the Savior in terms of hope (Psalm 25:5, 65:5). Micah (Micah 7:7) and Paul (1 Timothy 1:1, 4:10; Titus 2:13) also put hope together with the Savior, and there are other places, too (Psalm 42:5,11, 43:5). This kind of hope isn’t a wish. It’s a certainty. It’s hope in the most positive sense: This is the hope that is something we need and rely on, that simply hasn’t happened yet. There are times when a human hope might not come to pass. The girl might hope that the boy will ask her to marry him, but something—his shyness, or arrogance, or some foolishness—might keep him from doing it, and her hope will be dashed. A family might hope that a loved one returns, but there is a chance that the loved one might not return safely. But our hope in our Savior is never uncertain. We wait, and we know that our Savior will come.

Why are you like a stranger in the land,
  like a traveler who stays only for the night?
9 Why are you like a man taken by surprise,
     like a mighty man who cannot save?
You are among us, LORD,
  and we are called by your name.
  Do not forsake us!

Jeremiah’s heart heaved for Jerusalem. The Lord was not acting like a Savior that day—he was acting more like a passerby, “a stranger in the land,” or “a traveler who stays only for the night.” The prophet even compares the Lord with a man “taken by surprise”—such a man would not be much help in an emergency, as too often we have seen when hurricanes and fence-jumpers have penetrated our nation’s defenses. The Lord should be the world’s “mighty man,” but that day he did not seem ready to save. The prophet is being bold with these words. He’s not trying to force God’s hand or manipulate the Almighty, but he is pleading: “Do not forsake us!” Here at the end of the prayer he repeats his thought from the beginning: This is all about God’s name. It is to God’s glory that he made the universe and that he made us. It is also to his glory that he is merciful and that he rescues and is the hoped-for Savior of mankind.

We did not deserve the salvation he provided for us. His mercy astounds us. His compassion confuses us and confounds his enemies. His compassion runs contrary to all logic, but he the author of logic, not the servant. His compassion and his mercy have given us a place in his heaven, through the greatest moment of God’s compassion, which was Christ on the cross. There on the cross our Hope and our Savior destroyed our guilt, our rebellion and our sin. His mercy endures forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.