O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. — Jeremiah 15:15
Years ago, as a young convert, taking a stand for the Gospel was a priority with me. However, it seemed that the stronger the stand I took, the worse things became. Family members ridiculed me when I tried to tell them about the Lord. Fellow workers would become verbally aggressive when I refused to go along with their worldly conversation. During those times, the thought would cross my mind: Lord, what’s going on here? I felt I was doing my part, so why was God allowing this?
In our focus verse, Jeremiah was facing persecution more extreme than most of us can imagine. For many years, the people of Judah had ridiculed him and resisted his messages, at times plotting to take his life. He was saying, “Lord, You know what I’m going through now!” Perhaps the enemy of the soul was trying to convince the prophet, in his vulnerable and weakened condition, that God wasn’t living up to His end of the bargain. Jeremiah cried out to God to remember him and give him help.
The same enemy would like to present thoughts in our minds that would cause us to doubt God; he would like us to think that God has forgotten about us. We need to realize that God’s ways are not our ways, and remind ourselves that He is in control. If we have to go through fiery trials, God’s marvelous grace is able to guide and sustain us.
God reassured Jeremiah, reiterating His promises if Jeremiah would continue to fulfill his calling. God had not forgotten Jeremiah, and He will not forget us. The path where God leads us may have a few bumps and turns that we feel are unnecessary and painful. Yet we must realize He knows exactly what is happening to us and what is best. By clinging to Him and His promises, we can live a victorious life in spite of our circumstances.
This chapter, the conclusion of the sixth sermon, begins with God’s response to Jeremiah’s intercessory prayer at the end of chapter 14. God stated that even if Moses and Samuel were to plead for Judah, He would not relent in His judgment against them. If the people of Judah asked where they would go, God instructed Jeremiah to say that some would die from pestilence, some by the sword, some from starvation, and some would go into captivity. Those who died by the sword would be devoured and torn by dogs, birds, and wild beasts.
Manasseh was considered Judah’s most wicked king, and was responsible for reversing the religious reforms established by his father, Hezekiah. He reinstated idol worship, built pagan altars in the Temple, and sacrificed his own children. Manasseh’s later repentance (see 2 Chronicles 33) and attempted reformations occurred too late to have much effect on backslidden Judah.
God questioned if anyone would pity or mourn when Jerusalem was judged, since the people of Judah had forsaken Him, the only One who had really cared for them. Because of Judah’s perpetual backsliding, God said He was weary with providing mercy. The people of Judah would be scattered like the chaff, and a great number of their women would be widowed and bereaved of their children. A woman with seven sons was considered greatly blessed, but if those sons were all killed, she would feel like the light had gone out of her life.
Overwhelmed by the depth of resistance from the people, Jeremiah cried out that his mother also had reason to grieve because she had borne a son who was despised by the whole world, and he compared himself to a cursed money lender. God reassured Jeremiah that it would be well with him for the rest of his days, and God would cause his enemies to make supplication to him in times of affliction and distress. God told Jeremiah that the “iron” of Judah could not withstand the “northern iron and steel” of the Chaldean army. Judah would be plundered by the Babylonians, and the people of Judah taken captive in a foreign land, because of God’s anger against them.
Jeremiah pleaded with God to be longsuffering and not force him into captivity. He acknowledged the feeling of joy he had experienced through devouring God’s Word, but he bemoaned that God’s decree to preach indignation against Judah had caused a breach between him and his people. Jeremiah lamented his intense pain at the thought of his impending suffering at the hand of his adversaries, and questioned whether God had somehow failed to keep His promises.
God’s response implied a rebuke and exhorted Jeremiah to refrain from degrading words, and to speak words of truth and value. God encouraged him to stand firm as an example and beacon of hope for the people of Judah, rather than let their actions discourage him. God followed His rebuke with the reassurance that He would strengthen Jeremiah as a fortified wall, and his enemies would not be able to triumph over him. God also promised to save and deliver Jeremiah from those who meant him harm.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
A. The condemnation of the prophet
6. The sixth sermon: The drought
b. The intercession of the prophet
(3) The prophet’s third prayer
(b) The reply concerning the destruction of Judah (15:1-9)
c. The sorrow of the prophet (15:10-18)
d. The encouragement of the prophet (15:19-21)
There are times when our human logic will question why things are the way they are. Yet we must realize that God sees the whole picture and knows what is best for each and every problem we may encounter.