But if you will not hear it,
My soul will weep in secret for your pride;
My eyes will weep bitterly
And run down with tears,
Because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.
Jeremiah is known as the "Weeping Prophet"; largely because of his inner turmoil concerning his call to prophetic ministry. Can you imagine the personal anguish he must have felt over the message of judgment that God asked him to deliver? How difficult to continually call out your nation for their idolatry, their unfaithfulness to their covenant with God, and their obstinate disobedience of His will?
Jeremiah’s sole purpose was to reveal the sins of the people and explain the reason for the impending disaster (destruction by the Babylonian army and captivity). And, boy, did he pay for it! He was attacked by his own brothers, beaten and put into the stocks by a priest and false prophet, imprisoned by the king, threatened with death, and thrown into a cistern by Judah’s officials. No wonder he was weeping!
But here in this verse, Jeremiah talks to God from the depths of his despair. God was through with the people of Judah. He had warned them through his prophets, and given them many chances to turn from their idolatrous ways; yet they persisted in their pride to think that they knew better -- they didn't need God's presence or guidance. So God tells Jeremiah, Don't pray for these people anymore, because I will not hear them in their time of trouble.
Yet Jeremiah tries to reach them one more time, telling them if they refuse to hear his pleas for national repentance, then he will weep in secret because of their stubborn pride. And he wanted them to know that it was their pride that resulted in them being taken captive to Babylon.
I can identify with Jeremiah. I, too, feel as though God has spoken. He is letting us reap what we have sown! He has given this nation, which He chose to be in existence, and which He has greatly blessed, countless times to turn from our idolatrous ways. Like Judah, we turned away from God, and have declared we don't need Him any longer ... in our schools, our halls of government, in our homes. We have been unfaithful to the covenant He established with us when we became the first nation in all of world history who was founded on the rights of all men to be free and equal. We have enslaved our fellow man; first through the physical chains of bondage, and now through a welfare and entitlement system that makes them slaves to the government. And perhaps worst of all, we have willfully been disobedient; mocking Him and spitting in the face of His holiness.
And make no mistake about it; we have been taken captive by the very idolatrous system that we declared above our Lord. Oh, how our pride has led to our destruction! Now we are suffering the consequences, and the hardships are just beginning. But we, who still fear the Lord in awesome and reverent obedience, must remain faithful throughout the coming trials. We must remember what God told the prophet Jeremiah in Chapter 1, verse 19: They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you. God’s personal message to Jeremiah is as relevant to us today, and it was to him. “Attack you they will, overcome you they can’t.”