Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.
2 And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.
3 And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.
4 And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
5 For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.
7 And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people since they return not from their ways.
8 Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.
9 She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the Lord.
10 Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.
11 The Lord said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.
12 Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?
13 Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders.
14 And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.
15 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.
16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.
17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.
18 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?
19 Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.
20 And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
21 And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.
Finally, Hezekiah had responded in faith and humility in the face of dire threats from Sennacherib and was rewarded with deliverance (Isaiah 37). Now, alas, his son has learned nothing from his father’s faith, and has turned his back on all of God’s warnings. Now, Jeremiah is to deliver this announcement of final annihilation and humiliation, a just reward to their betrayal of their God.
Like Elijah on the run after Jezebel’s threats, success is followed by a seemingly failed mission. Jeremiah's disappointment in his people is palpable. He has performed his duty faithfully, but his time has been wasted and his reputation is now in shambles. Oh, to crawl into a hole and never come out.
Like God’s ravens, carrying sustenance and reassurance to Elijah, God promises to restore Jeremiah’s confidence and reestablish his mission. “Return to me. Be influenced by me, not them. You are safe with me. Focus on our goal, not on their failure. There is still work to be done.”
My battles are smaller, but I feel the same discouragement. God’s message is the same: Return to me. Hope is not lost. You are safe with me. We are not done yet.
Director of Music, Simi Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, California USA