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Bible: What Does Jeremiah 13-15 Teach Us About Pride, False Prophets, Unanswered Prayer, and Divine Judgment?

Updated on October 19, 2016

The Linen Sash


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Jeremiah 13

Pride prevents Israel from attaining the position God had intended for him and, in fact, it causes him to go into exile.

The LORD utilizes two symbols—a linen sash and wine bottles—to instruct Jeremiah about Judah's unprofitableness.

He first takes the prophet through a three-step process in the ruination of a linen sash (a representation of Israel) [vv. 1-7].

The sash starts as a garment clinging to a man's (namely, Jeremiah's) waist (vv. 1-2).

Jeremiah then removes it and hides it in a hole in a rock by the River (vv. 3-5).

Finally, after a long time, he digs it up and finds it ruined and useless (vv. 6-7).

Yahweh attributes Judah's ruin to his pride in refusing to obey His words; ultimately, his rebellion led to apostasy and idolatry (vv. 8-10).

God had meant for them as His glorious people to cling to Him, but tragically they turned their back to His word (v. 11).

Symbol of Drunkenness


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Empty Wine Bottles

The second symbol involves the filling of all available bottles with wine (representing national drunkenness) [vv. 12-13].

Eventually, their inebriation will lead to annihilation (v. 14).

Speaking plainly, Jeremiah exhorts the people to humble themselves (v. 15) and give glory to God while His judgment delays (v. 16).

Their refusal to obey the LORD, he tells them, will cause him deep personal anguish because he knows that they will become captives (v. 17).

Yahweh attempts to convince the rulers to humble themselves (v. 18), warning them that their cities’ inhabitants will become completely captive (v. 19).

Pointing out the disappearance of "sheep," Jeremiah next inquires of the "shepherds," "Where are your flocks?" (v. 20), and "How will you explain your coming punishment?" (v. 21).

Judah will secretly ask himself this question, but he will have no answer (v. 22a).

The prophet, nevertheless, will supply it (v. 22b): "As impossible as it is for an Ethiopian to change his skin color or for a leopard his spots, so it is for you to change your behavior" (v. 23).

God therefore resolves to scatter them in judgment (vv. 24-25).

The people will know nothing but humiliation because of their many spiritual adulteries and refusals to be made clean (vv. 26-27).

Jerusalem

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A Lack of Water in Jerusalem

Jeremiah 14

Droughts befall Jerusalem, and the people cry out because their cisterns are empty (vv. 1-3).

Lack of water drastically affects the agriculture and wildlife in the land: no rain, no grass, no strength (vv. 4-6).

In light of these events, Jeremiah pleads for the LORD to save Israel in spite of their great sin and if only for His name's sake as their Hope and Savior (vv. 7-8a).

The people ask Him why He acts like a stranger, a wayfarer, who shows little interest in them, or a warrior who demonstrates no power to save them (v. 8b-9a).

Yet they also acknowledge that He has always maintained a close relationship to them, and they plead that He not abandon them (v. 9b).

For His part, Yahweh remains determined to punish Israel for her continual wandering (v. 10).

A third time He commands Jeremiah not to pray for Israel, for He will not accept any intercession or sacrifice; He has resolved to punish by means of the sword, famine, and pestilence (vv. 11-12; cf. 7:16; 11:14).

The man of God then complains about the false seers who are contradicting his message by speaking words promising peace (v. 13).

After assuring him that their message is false, Yahweh reveals their fate: death by the very disasters that they deny are coming (vv. 14-15).

Not only will the false prophets perish, but their hearers will also die by these means, and their corpses will not be buried (v. 16).

The LORD commands Jeremiah to preach a word of woe and mourning, because death will spare neither the field nor the city (vv. 17-18).

Israel continues to mourn and complain that no remedy exists that might prevent the LORD's wrath from falling; even confessing sins seems not to stop the horror (vv. 19-20).

As his people's representative, Jeremiah voices his fear that God is going to forsake them utterly (v. 21).

Yet, in the next breath, he also acknowledges Him as the only God who can save (v. 22).

Moses and Samuel

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Even The Prayer of Great Saints Will Fail

Jeremiah 15

In order to demonstrate to the prophet just how far the people have apostatized, God delivers a very strong message to Jeremiah concerning Judah's fate.

To judgment they will go, and no one can successfully intercede for them.

Even if Moses and Samuel, Israel's two great prayer warriors and intercessors of the past, approached Yahweh’s throne, they would fail (v. 1).

The LORD names four separate punishments (vv. 2-4), and lays them all upon Judah because of Manasseh's particular wickedness.

Three rhetorical questions, each expecting a negative answer, inquire about Judah's spiritual and emotional state of mind. In the end, no one will care for her (v. 5).

God will not hold back His judgment any longer (v. 6), but will wreak destruction on families.

Children, husbands, and mothers will all die (vv. 7-9).

Jeremiah

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The Weeping Prophet

Realizing their destiny, Jeremiah bewails his role in life; he calls himself "a man of strife and a man of contention" (v. 10).

The LORD assures him, however, that "his remnant" will survive the perilous times ahead (v. 11).

They will exchange their wealth for their lives and go into captivity (vv. 12-14).

Because he not only suffered for the sake of Yahweh, but also faithfully delivered God's message and separated himself from his adversaries, the prophet (on the one hand) asks mercy for himself.

On the other hand, however, he desires vengeance upon his enemies (vv. 15-17).

Jeremiah hurts (he thinks excessively) from his "perpetual pain" and his "incurable wound," and wonders if God has forgotten him (v. 18).

In response, the LORD does not severely rebuke him, but merely mentions Jeremiah's "return."

[Whether God means that the prophet needed to repent, or that He was referring to Jeremiah’s return from exile, this writer can only speculate].

God will use him as His mouthpiece if he "takes out the precious from the vile" (v. 19).

Question: Again, does this phrase mean that the prophet needed to rescue the good Israelites from the bad, or is it just another reference to his personal need for repentance?

He will also protect him among the people; His presence will deliver and redeem him from their hands (vv. 20-21; cf. Jer. 1:18-19).

© 2013 glynch1

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      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      I hope you are not saying this is for today or the future.

      The book of Jeremiah is a message that s meant for the Jews in Babylonian exile: The reason is to show God's reaction to Israel's pagan worship. Jeremiah says the people are “like an unfaithful wife and rebellious children” their unfaithfulness and rebelliousness made judgement unavoidable, but the restoration and a new covenant are indicated and found in Jeremiah 31.

      Jeremiah 31:36, 37 says

      36. If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

      37 Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.

      Can heaven be measured? No

      God has tested Israel many times, but they continue with Him. God will never abandon or forsake them.

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      I might ask what do you feel the Bible Teaches About the Christian's Divine Judgment, Sin, Man's Heart, and Apostasy?

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      I believe the Scriptures teach that Israel will experience another "Holocaust" before the Lord Jesus returns to save "all Israel." At the present time, Israel is an apostate nation; only a remnant is being saved. When a Jewish person is saved today, he or she becomes a member of the Church.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      Jesus paid for the Christian's sin on the cross, so believers will not come into judgment. However, Christ will judge the Christian's works at the bema; there the believer will receive (or lose) rewards for his service. The believer, though saved, is still a fallen creature; therefore, he still contends with what remains of the flesh, the sin principle (if you will). True Christians may sin grievously and remain away from the Lord for a time; however, they cannot apostatize and completely reject Christ.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      Revelation 20:12 refers to the Great White Throne Judgment; God judges only unbelievers there.

      Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24).

      Why do you denigrate Paul's writings? According to Peter, God used Paul to write Scripture too (cf. 2 Peter 3:15-16). You do not take scissors to Peter's writings also, do you?

      I nowhere said that "it is OK for Christians to sin." I wrote: "True Christians may sin grievously and remain away from the Lord for a time; however, they cannot apostatize and completely reject Christ."

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      Peter was a fisherman and never learned how to write, and didn't have a scribe We all know that Paul wrote the books of Peter

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      Debbie,

      I do not know where you are coming from, but you have been misguided about a great many things. I pray that God might lead you to a true, Bible-believing church so that you may sit under a man who knows and respects the Word of God.

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      I'm Jewish and therefore in the right religion.

      I ask that you not pray for me , and respect people enough to ask if they want you to pray for them.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      I respectfully disagree with you that you are in the right religion. God continues to save Jewish individuals today to be members of His Church, but He will not turn toward the nation again until the "fullness of the Gentliles has come in."

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      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      For years people have heard through the Christian church that the fullness of the Gentiles meant that when the last Gentile ( that is a non Jew by blood ) gets saved; then the Jews shall come to Christ. But this teaching has confused many Bible believing Christians.

      The scriptures have the correct explaination of what the fullness of the Gentiles is (it is not about the salvation or the so called rapture of the church) Genesis 15:16, gives us an idea of what this means:

      Genesis 15:16

      16. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." God was talking to Abraham in a dream, telling him after their bondage in Egypt, the children of Israel would come back to the land of Canaan when the Amorites sins were full.

      Now about the fullness of todays Gentiles

      Luke 21:24, says "And they ( the Jews ) shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

      Luke 21:24 KJV And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      The times of the Gentiles is the "period of Gentile domination of Jerusalem, which began probably under Nebuchadnezzar (587 B.C.), was certainly in effect in A.D. 70, and which continures into the tribulation days (cf. Rev. 11:2)" (Ryrie, New Testament Study Bible, 150).

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      Luke 21:24 KJV And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      What is your point?

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      That Gentiles are going to try to destroy Jerusalem and God will save them (Jews). The fullness of the Gentiles is when they have done this and God will step in to save His people (the Jews) from the Gentiles not save them as far as the Christian salvation

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      The "times of the Gentiles" is not the same thing as the "fullness of the Gentiles." I have already quoted Ryrie's understanding of the former phrase. The latter phrase refers to the full number of Gentiles who will be saved. After the last Gentile comes to know Yeshua as his Lord and Savior, God will again turn to the Jews and will save all Israel at the Messiah's return (Romans 11:25-26).

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      Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

      By MF Blume

      The times of the Gentiles

      Since the time of the cross, the Jews will not be dealt with exclusively after any period of work with the gentiles. Yes, the Apostles did indeed mention "the times of the gentiles" being fulfilled. And somewhere along the line, despite the absence of any such explanation by those apostles, the idea was contrived by futurists that God will primarily work with the gentiles in saving them, after which the Jews will exclusively be dealt with. It was furthered imagined that this involved the removal of the gentile "church", as though it were primarily gentile, after which the time for dealing with Jews will arrive. Yes, the apostles mentioned the "times of the gentiles" being fulfilled. But they did not explain anything about that being a time when gentiles are exclusively saved, and Jews are excluded, to be dealt with afterwards.

      Look at the biblical instances in which this period of time is noted, and notice the association applied to it.

      Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

      Revelation 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months . (This verse is noted because the duration of time for the Gentiles to tread Jerusalem underfoot is indicated here, and relates to Luke 21:24 concerning the "times of the gentiles". )

      Revelation 11:2 associates the times of the gentiles with destruction upon the city of Jerusalem. And it says that siege will last 3.5 years. This is precisely how long it took Rome to destroy Jerusalem, which ended in 70 AD! In Luke 21:24,

      The times of the gentiles is associated with the destruction of Jerusalem . Had nobody read any views of futurists concerning the "times of the Gentiles," no one would ever guess that such a term in the Bible is synonymous with the period of salvation for the Gentiles exclusively (with the exception of a few Jews here and there, like the early disciples). The Apostles said nothing about times of the gentiles being the church age!

      So when this siege would be over, the times of the Gentiles would be completed. And Revelation 11 says the duration would be 3.5 years. Think about it. The gentiles would do the treading. And Rome indeed tread down Jerusalem for 3.5 years. And Jesus said that would be the end of the times of the gentiles.

      So what is the times of the gentiles? Its the period God used Gentile nations to afflict Jerusalem! This occurred since Old Testament times.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 3 years ago

      We will simply have to disagree with each other without becoming disagreeable. At present, I do not have the time to respond.

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