27 July 2010

Jeremiah 14:17-22

"For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land, and have no knowledge." (v.18)


The prophet Jeremiah is a sharp observer of the social scene around him and a fierce critic of those who gloss over the realities. He says that a true God's-eye view of the world is one that sees it as it really is, and not simply how we'd like it to be.

Jeremiah's words reveal a deep knowledge of the national and international situation that Judah found itself in at a time when this little nation proved vulnerable to the imperial ambitions of first Egypt, and then Babylon. Of equal concern in this chapter is a drought that has brought devastation to the land. Jeremiah is scathing about those prophets who say that there is nothing to worry about - that there will be "peace in our time". It does the people no good to hear only what they want to hear, he says.

Earlier in the chapter, the prophet delivered a portrait of the nation in a manner similar to BBC correspondent Michael Buerk, who first drew to our attention the terrible realities of the Ethiopian famine in 1984. Jeremiah reports: "The ground is cracked. Because there has been no rain on the land the farmers are dismayed ... The wild asses stand on the bare heights, they pant for air like jackals; their eyes fail because there is no herbage" (Jeremiah 14:6). His words would surely draw the same response as Buerk's did from fellow journalist John Humphreys - "He wrote a spare and powerful commentary and left us to form our own judgement."

In these verses, that is precisely what happens. In response to God's condemnation of those prophets who ignore reality, a horrified people realise that they have been misled. They turn back to God (who alone tells them the truth of their situation) and ask for forgiveness and support.

To Ponder

What situations do you most easily gloss over? Is there a situation at the moment that you are trying to ignore and need to be more honest about?

What one thing could you do this week to raise an important issue in your community or amongst friends - an injustice that needs addressing, perhaps, or an untruth that needs correcting?

Bible notes author

Laurence Wareing

Laurence Wareing is a Methodist local preacher and works as a freelance writer and media producer. He was editor of the Methodist publication Momentum from 2005 until 2010 and currently edits the website Singing the Faith Plus.