15 Then the Lord said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go! 2 And if they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘Those destined for death, to death;
those for the sword, to the sword;
those for starvation, to starvation;
those for captivity, to captivity.’
3 “I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,” declares the Lord, “the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds and the wild animals to devour and destroy. 4 I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem.
(Jeremiah 15:1-4 NIV)
In our last passage, we see God’s broken heart over backslidden Judah, and Judah’s half-hearted repentance so they can demand that the Lord fix their problem and restore them.
In today’s passage, we see the Lord’s response. There is a familiar pattern here, the same as in Chapter 14: The people feign repentance in hope that the Lord will reverse their situation; the Lord sees their heart and rejects their pleas.
In chapter 14 verse 12, the Lord uses three agents to discipline His people: the sword (war), famine (related to the drought), and plague. In chapter 15, the Lord repeats these three judgments and adds a fourth: captivity (v. 2).
Before the Lord spells out these judgments, He has a word for Jeremiah. The Lord has told Jeremiah twice not to pray for Judah and Jerusalem (the second time in 14:11). Jeremiah, with his heart knit to the Lord’s, has shared in the heartbreak over Judah’s unwillingness to repent and return to the Lord (14:17-18). In the great responsibility and tradition of being God’s prophet like Moses and Samuel, Jeremiah has continued to stand in the gap on behalf of the people of Judah.
So what was the Lord’s message to Jeremiah? “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go! ” (v. 1)
Lest Jeremiah think that he was not praying enough or preaching enough, the Lord reassured him that even if Moses or Samuel were to be in Jeremiah’s shoes and stand in the gap for the people of Judah, it would not change the Lord’s mind.
Remember that Moses interposed himself between the Lord and the descendants of Abraham more than once (see Exodus 32:11-14, 30-32; Numbers 14:13-19; Deuteronomy 9:13-29). Samuel did the same thing (see 1 Samuel 7:8-9, 12:19-25). The Lord is telling Jeremiah that He did not see this as a failure on Jeremiah’s part. The people of Judah’s unwillingness to turn back to the Lord was on them, not Jeremiah.
In verse 4, the Lord traces this evil back to Manasseh, the king of Judah that introduced so much evil to the people of Judah. 2 Kings 21 records the legacy that Manasseh left behind after 55 years on the throne. While Manasseh ultimately repented and turned back to the Lord (2 Chronicles 33:12-13), the evil he had started was not so easily undone.
May we be careful to walk with the Lord, as others feel our influence in both word and deed. While we are not a king like Manasseh, our circle of influence and legacy will cover multiple generations.
May we, like Jeremiah, stand in the gap when the Lord calls, to pray and share God’s Word and minister as He leads.
May we listen to the Lord and remember that while He calls us to ministry, the outcome and others’ choices are between them and the Lord. May we not shrink into passivity (“the Lord will take care of it”) nor lapse into apathy (“He doesn’t need me”) or self-righteous judgment (“they deserve God’s punishment”). He still chooses to use us to bring about His plan for His glory. We are called to be faithful.