Our reading today begins with Jeremiah prophesying of a drought (14:1). The drought is likely metaphorical for the lack of righteousness and faith in the land (see 17:7-8). Lack of water is also usually how a siege is won – water is cut off from the city being sieged. So verses 2-3 are likely a prophesy of the people during the siege. In verses 4-6, the people, the animals, and the land itself are affected by the coming judgment.
So Jeremiah prays for God to relent of the coming disaster. He admits the sin of Judah (v. 7). Yet He pleads with God to relent for the sake of His own name (see Ex 32:11-14). He asks Him not to forsake Judah and leave them (vv. 8-9). He is able to save them. But God tells Jeremiah that He has rejected them (v. 10). They have sinned and He must judge them. He then tells the prophet (again) not to bother interceding for Judah (v. 11 – see 7:16, 11:14). They have chosen their path, and they will be judged (v. 12).
Jeremiah tells YHWH that the other prophets are saying judgment will not come (v. 13). It is as if he wants to defend the people to God because they have been fooled by prophets. God calls those prophets liars (v. 14). They will be judged in the exact manner they say judgment won’t come (v. 15), as will those who listen to their lies (v. 16). It grieves God that it has come to this (v. 17). The people will fall by sword or by siege (v. 18).
Jeremiah again prays that God would relent. Is there truly no turning back (v. 19). Can’t God still save them? Jeremiah recognizes the sinfulness of the nation (v. 20), and again asks God to relent for the sake of His own name (v. 21). He asks for YHWH not to break covenant with them, but they have already broken it (see 11:10). Jeremiah recognizes YHWH as the only true God (v. 22). Only He can bring rain. Following the metaphor of verse 1, Jeremiah is praying for God to work righteousness and faith in the people, because that is their only hope.
In chapter 15, God again tells Jeremiah that He will not relent. Even if Moses and Samuel interceded for the people, God would not relent (15:1). So Judah will go out of YHWH’s sight. Some will die from disease, some by the sword, some by starvation during the siege, and others will go into exile (v. 2). This is a picture of the final judgment against the wicked. Verse 3 pronounces the curse for disobedience on Judah (see Deut 28:25-26).
In verse 4, God says that the judgment is coming for what Manasseh did in Jerusalem. In 2 Chronicles 33, we see that in addition to bringing idolatry back to the nation (2 Chr 33:2-3), Manasseh built altars and idols to other gods in the Temple (2 Chr 33:4-7), along with an Asherah pole (2 Kings 21:7). This led the whole nation to reject God (v. 6). So He rejects them. He will winnow them out of the land like chaff (v. 7 – see Isa 41:15-16). Rather than being a people more numerous than the sand of the seas (see Gen 22:17), their widows will be that numerous (v. 8). Young mothers will face a “destroyer at noonday.” Many of the judgments God is pronouncing on Judah in these chapters does not happen to God’s true people (see Psalm 91:3-6). In verse 9, she who bore seven (a sign of blessing) is now cursed.
In verse 10, Jeremiah begins another complaint against those who are against him. He wishes he was never born (see 20:14). He has done no wrong, yet they all hate him. In verse 11, God says something like “to be good I have not rescued you.” The idea is that there is an ultimate good God is working through Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry, so He will preserve Jeremiah (v. 12). In verse 13, God turns His attention to Judah. He is giving them and the land over to Babylon (vv. 13-14).
In verse 15, Jeremiah prays for God to judge his enemies. He knows that they are against him for God’s sake. His joy is serving God in his prophetic ministry because he knows he belongs to God (v. 16 – see Luke 6:22-23). Jeremiah knows he is holy because God’s power is at work in him (v. 17). Yet he suffers greatly for his commitment to God (v. 18 – see 10:19). He tells God that He is to him like a brook that has dried up and cannot sustain him. Many believe that verse 18 is Jeremiah resigning his office of prophet because of the suffering he is enduring. This is very possible considering God’s call for Jeremiah to “return” in verse 19. God calls him back to the office, and tells him that if he speaks His words, He will protect him from his enemies (v. 20). God promises to save him (vv. 20-21).