My ancestors who came to Oklahoma to begin a new life did well until the drought of monumental proportions came and stayed. No rain with hot winds caused problems beyond our modern thinking. The precious top soil blew away leaving layers of sand. This sand would pierce your skin and sting your eyes in blowing storms. These sand storms caused sand and dust to silt through all the windows and doors. My relatives told stories of putting wet cloths over their faces to go outside to do their chores. They had to put bedsheets and other linens around windows and doors just to keep out the blowing, dry sand as best they could.
The drought led to no growing season which led to losing their farms because of the debt incurred from unproduced crops to pay the bills. Drought is caused by absolutely no rain, no sign of rain coming, with no hope of the situation getting better. Many of our ancestors, who survived the illnesses from living through the drought and resulting “Dust Bowl” conditions, moved on to California and Arizona where they began again. Some came back, but some did not.
Drought is beyond difficult. We must have food, water, air, and shelter to survive. If any one of these basic needs is not met, then humans cannot survive.
But what impressed me most in the stories my relatives told who lived through the Dust Bowl days was the evidence of their strong faith in God. Faith in God, our Creator is the most important basic need we have. The need to need God was put into our DNA by God. Faith in God led these “settlers and pioneers” to deal with the conditions, pray, then follow God’s plan to survive and thrive through it all. They gave God glory for helping them through difficult times!
The drought Jeremiah speaks about was brought on by the LACK of faith in God. The lack of faith drove God’s people to idol worship which led to perverted sinful behaviors. This grieved God because of his faithful love for them. Jeremiah grieved with God. God wants to give His best to us. But when we turn our backs on the One who loves us most, we suffer with the world through all kinds of consequences because of the drought of faith that leads to unresolved sin that eventually leads to death.
Jeremiah 14, The Message
Time and Again We’ve Betrayed God
14 1-6 God’s Message that came to Jeremiah regarding the drought:
her cities mourn.
The people fall to the ground, moaning,
while sounds of Jerusalem’s sobs rise up, up.
The rich people sent their servants for water.
They went to the cisterns, but the cisterns were dry.
They came back with empty buckets,
wringing their hands, shaking their heads.
All the farm work has stopped.
Not a drop of rain has fallen.
The farmers don’t know what to do.
They wring their hands, they shake their heads.
Even the doe abandons her fawn in the field
because there is no grass—
Eyes glazed over, on her last legs,
nothing but skin and bones.”
7-9 We know we’re guilty. We’ve lived bad lives—
but do something, God. Do it for your sake!
Time and time again we’ve betrayed you.
No doubt about it—we’ve sinned against you.
Hope of Israel! Our only hope!
Israel’s last chance in this trouble!
Why are you acting like a tourist,
taking in the sights, here today and gone tomorrow?
Why do you just stand there and stare,
like someone who doesn’t know what to do in a crisis?
But God, you are, in fact, here, here with us!
You know who we are—you named us!
Don’t leave us without a leg to stand on.
10 Then God said of these people:
“Since they loved to wander this way and that,
never giving a thought to where they were going,
I will now have nothing more to do with them—
except to note their guilt and punish their sins.”
The Killing Fields
11-12 God said to me, “Don’t pray that everything will turn out all right for this people. When they skip their meals in order to pray, I won’t listen to a thing they say. When they redouble their prayers, bringing all kinds of offerings from their herds and crops, I’ll not accept them. I’m finishing them off with war and famine and disease.”
13 I said, “But Master, God! Their preachers have been telling them that everything is going to be all right—no war and no famine—that there’s nothing to worry about.”
14 Then God said, “These preachers are liars, and they use my name to cover their lies. I never sent them, I never commanded them, and I don’t talk with them. The sermons they’ve been handing out are sheer illusion, tissues of lies, whistlings in the dark.
15-16 “So this is my verdict on them: All the preachers who preach using my name as their text, preachers I never sent in the first place, preachers who say, ‘War and famine will never come here’—these preachers will die in war and by starvation. And the people to whom they’ve been preaching will end up as corpses, victims of war and starvation, thrown out in the streets of Jerusalem unburied—no funerals for them or their wives or their children! I’ll make sure they get the full brunt of all their evil.
17-18 “And you, Jeremiah, will say this to them:
“‘My eyes pour out tears.
Day and night, the tears never quit.
My dear, dear people are battered and bruised,
hopelessly and cruelly wounded.
I walk out into the fields,
shocked by the killing fields strewn with corpses.
I walk into the city,
shocked by the sight of starving bodies.
And I watch the preachers and priests
going about their business as if nothing’s happened!’”
19-22 God, have you said your final No to Judah?
Can you simply not stand Zion any longer?
If not, why have you treated us like this,
beaten us nearly to death?
We hoped for peace—
nothing good came from it;
We looked for healing—
and got kicked in the stomach.
We admit, O God, how badly we’ve lived,
and our ancestors, how bad they were.
We’ve sinned, they’ve sinned,
we’ve all sinned against you!
Your reputation is at stake! Don’t quit on us!
Don’t walk out and abandon your glorious Temple!
Remember your covenant.
Don’t break faith with us!
Can the no-gods of the godless nations cause rain?
Can the sky water the earth by itself?
You’re the one, O God, who does this.
So you’re the one for whom we wait.
You made it all,
you do it all.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
The Drought of Faith in God. Unlike the land of Egypt, whose food supply depended on irrigation from the Nile River, the land of Canaan depended on the rains God sent from heaven. If His people obeyed His law, God would send the rains and give them bumper crops, but if they disobeyed, the heaven would become like iron and the earth like bronze.
No repentance—no rain! Because of the sins of the people, God was withholding the life-giving rains and thus keeping His covenant promise to Israel. As people usually do when they’re in trouble, the Jews turned to God and prayed, but their prayers were insincere and not linked with repentance. Jeremiah had already confronted these pious hypocrites with their sins.
Remorse with tears is merely sadness that we got caught in our sin. Regret is being sorry for our sins along with our repentance of those sins with hearts not wanting to go back to sin. We must repent of our sins, judge and confess them, and sincerely seek the face of God. To weep because of the sufferings that sin causes is to show remorse but not repentance.
False prophets didn’t cause the drought of faith, they merely added to it. God had two tests of a true prophet or prophetess in Israel: (1) Their predictions must be 100 percent accurate, and (2) their messages must agree with the law of God. Any prophet who permitted the worship of idols, contrary to God’s law, would be a false prophet. God’s people knew that so to blame false prophets was a no go with God.
Caution: While we shouldn’t interpret every calamity as an expression of divine wrath, we must be sensitive to God and be willing to search our hearts and confess our sins.
Do we really believe what God says is really real? Our words and behaviors in difficult situations will reveal the depth of our faith.
You know me. Cleanse my heart. Renew my spirit with your Holy Spirit. Refresh my soul. Renew my mind. Restore the joy of your salvation in me. I really believe in You.
In Jesus Name, Amen