The Timeframe & Context of Jeremiah 14:1-17:18
In order to convey the greatness and terribleness of this prophetic message, the timeframe of its delivery must be narrowed as the context allows.
Firstly… Conveying an irrefutable time reference, it must be noted: a mere famine (via the withholding of rain) is not the primary thrust of this prophecy; rather, the famine and the sword are referenced together in this prophecy (Jer. 14:12-18). Apparently, the LORD was withholding a significant volume of rain from falling upon the Land for some time leading up to this point so that there was a dearth in the making (Jer. 3:3, 12:4), but the mere withholding of rain (which can be devastating just by itself) was not the only cause of the famine according to the prophecy. Clear and direct references were made to “the sword” and “the famine” which would come, and they have and do consistently exist with one another during a siege because the adversary blocks off passage to food and water. Also, according to the vision that Jeremiah had in Jeremiah 14:18, the famine would be interrelated with the widespread slaughtering of the people by war. Because of the aforementioned observations, we know that this prophecy does not identify Babylon’s presence in the 1st Captivity. Why? Judah did not war against Babylon at the 1st Captivity because Jehoiakim surrendered. Therefore, the famine and the sword identify circumstances of a future siege and warfare that would take place in the 2nd Captivity of Babylon, and we know the 2nd Captivity of Babylon is in direct reference because of the correlation between Jer. 15:4 and 2 Kings 24:2-5 (see also 2 Kings 21:1-18). Hence, it can be certainly concluded that this prophecy was delivered during the reign of Jehoiakim and leading into the 2nd Captivity.
Secondarily… Of note, and with shocking relevance to the fasting that took place in the 4th and 5th year of Jehoiakim’s reign, the LORD said, “When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt-offering and an oblation, I will not accept them” (Jer. 14:12; Note: Jeremiah 14:12, 36:6, & 36:9 are the only three places the word fast or fasting is used in all the Book of Jeremiah). This is a breathtaking response to the backslidden Nation that was almost turned to God! As was formerly covered in detail, the grassroots revival reached to the neck of the nation and… was squelched. Now evidently at this time, warranting the wrath of God depicted in Jeremiah 14:1-17:18, the people’s heart of repentance did not recover from the intimidating blow of Jehoiakim.
After observing the time references of this prophecy, and because of the richness of the following events, it is helpful to note in summary several points of relevance and complexity:
The Silence of God: This was the last and final prophetic word, a word of general reprobation, given to the recently lead-astray Kingdom under Jehoiakim: the man who personally offended the KING of Israel by cutting and burning the word of prophecy, Judah’s only hope. God’s wrath was both warranted and retaliatory.
Jehoiakim Rebelled Against Babylon: This was a word that needed to be spoken in this time, not only because Jehoiakim behaved himself violently against the written word of God in the 5th year of his reign, but, in further defiance and at the 7th year of Jehoiakim’s reign, he rebelled against Babylon in pursuit of “liberty” – a liberty heralded as a promise by false prophets that resulted in Jehoiakim’s utter destruction.
A Strong Delusion via Choice Instruments: A nearly successful revival of the Church was quickly redirected into a completely successful apostasy, and according to Jeremiah, who watched the events unfold, the false prophets were infamously and staggeringly responsible for it all!
Jeremiah Backslid: Feeling shocked and exasperated, unrighteously so, lonely Jeremiah succumbed to worldly sorrow and evil unbelief. As a consequence to this, the wrath of God was statedly upon him! As an aid to help Jeremiah repent and escape the wrath of God, the LORD was gracious to pointedly innumerate his compromises; and, as a result of these events and Jeremiah’s restoration, deep-rooted misunderstandings were directly confronted and hopefully purged once and for all.