Jeremiah 14:10a “This is what the Lord says about the people: They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet.”
The people of Israel were complacent with their obedience to God. Their false prophets and priests were misleading the people to think that they would not suffer under the sword, famine or plague (verse 13) and the people chose to wander in their own ways instead of submitting to God.
As a nation when they rebelled against God and continued to be in a place of disobedience, they began to endure life removed from under the wing of God’s provision and peace. They as a people were in a place of spiritual as well as a physical drought as we see in Jeremiah 14.
Drought was one of the punitive consequences of disobedience to the covenant (Leviticus 26:19-20, Deuteronomy 28:22-24). The chapter begins with a vivid description of the drought they were enduring. The passage is inundated with language that paints a very realistic picture of the situation then. Words such as mourn, languish, wail, cry, dismay, lack of rain, empty cisterns, dry ground and lack of pasture give us a glimpse into this time.
For us: We all are inclined to wander if we are not purposeful in our pursuit of God. And it can begin small, with a lack of diligence in our daily time with God, occurring sporadically at the start, becoming more habitual over time and can gradually usher us to a place of spiritual drought. The absence of that ever-present intimacy with Him is when we experience a spiritual barrenness.
Staying connected to our source of living water, the well spring, from whom we need to drink from every day is necessary for a follower of Christ. Without that connection to God, we are parched, dry in spirit, our soul mourns and our ground (works for God) is cracked yielding nothing for the kingdom of God.
In verses 7-9 we read Jeremiah’s prayer. He grieves for the people and calls upon God to extend mercy. Jeremiah does not minimise their sin but says that it is justified and yet he calls upon God to do something for HIS NAME.
God’s name is His identity and reputation – that by which He is known. In Ezekiel 20:9 we read “For the sake of my name, I (God) did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations they lived among and to whose sight I have revealed myself to the Israelites by bringing them out of Egypt.”
The verse above shows us that God did what was needed so that His name was not profaned and Jeremiah pleads with God saying that God’s people bear His name (verse 9). God’s name is His identity and His reputation and for His name’s sake may God look upon the people with mercy.
For us: We as His people bear His name – may we reflect and ask ourselves, as bearers of His name, how do we carry and represent that name out in the world?
Jeremiah calls God their hope and their saviour, who is among them and will not forsake them. At all times, this is who is He is to us. Turn to Him with hope. However miserable a situation, God is and will always be our constant hope in whom we can trust. May we remember that and let that truth fill our hearts.
God says of the people to Jeremiah, they love to wander and they do not restrain their feet.
They love to wander – their desire was not in God anymore. They wandered after false gods and they do not restrain their feet. By not restraining their feet, we see that they did not exercise any self-control in their choice to keep God first and foremost in their life.
As I read about the people not restraining their feet and them wandering away from God, I was reminded of what God says in Genesis 3:15, that the serpent will strike your heel.
For us: The enemy strikes us in many ways but the most effective is when his attempts are directed towards making our daily steps gradually turn away from God because then we get spiritually weak.
In Psalms, we read time and time again David saying that the Lord is his desire and it is HE who places his feet upon solid ground. We, like the people of Israel have a tendency to wander, to sin, be self-serving and grow complacent in our daily walk with God
It is God who keeps us steady on the path
Psalm 40:2 says, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Psalm 66:9 says, “He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.”
Yes, God holds us firm and keeps us strong and steady on our path but what do we have to do, to be able to receive that from Him – Yield to Him, wait on Him and seek Him.
Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp unto my feet”
His word guides our path, immerse yourself in His word for His word is powerful and it steers us towards God. Spend time in prayer not only speaking and laying all that is on our hearts to Him but also waiting on Him to listen to what He has to say.
Nicki Gumbel who pioneered the alpha course says, we don’t go to the doctor, tell all that is bothering us and then just walk out. No, we wait to hear what the doctor has to say and heed his advice. In the same way, take time to wait and listen to what God has to say.
Wandering is so much easier in the moment than yielding to God. But there is a cumulative consequence to our desires, choices and the daily decisions and actions we make that either honour God or not.
May the desires of our heart be aligned with God; may we yield to Him and seek Him every day so that we can be strong and steady in our daily walk with God. May God give us the strength to restrain our feet from wandering and may we find peace and joy as we submit to Him, for He is our hope and our saviour.