Jeremiah 4: Call to Repentance & a Warning of Disaster
Comment: The nature of this complex on one hand, but
straight forward on the other hand, chapter means it is not easy
to separate it into neat sections because there is a measure of
repetition, for example:
a call to repentance – v.1-4,8a,14 – which may also be implied
in a number of other verses, e.g. v.18 that speaks of them bringing
this on themselves,
a warning to heed & prepare for what is coming – v.5,6
vivid descriptions of what is coming
an invader from the north bringing terrible destruction v.6
who has left his home already to bring utter destruction v.7
revealing the Lord's anger v.8b
and will bring a sense of horror to all v.9
a sword that will remove the previous peace v.10
and bring a completely cleansing judgment v.11,12
from an army with chariots and horses v.13,14
bringing disaster from the north v.15,
an army that will lay siege to your cities v.16
bringing disaster that flows down through the land v.20
completely emptying the land v.25,26
yet not completely v.27
but spreading right through the land v.28
that will cause everyone throughout the land to flee v.29
and the various responses of Israel (Judah)
they will be horrified by what is coming v.9
but it is their wrong responses to |God that has brought this
yet they act as senseless children v.22
and make themselves look good v.30
There is also the anguish of the prophet himself
who feels they have been deceived by prior words of comfort v.10
while he anguishes over what he senses is coming v.19
and senses the anguish of the nation as a whole v.31
together is a chapter of warning.
ONE: v.1-4: A Call to Repentance & change
The Call to Israel to forsake their idols & return to the
If you, Israel, will return,
then return to me,'
declares the Lord.
‘ If you put your detestable idols out of my
you] no longer go astray,
if in a truthful, just and righteous way
you swear, “As surely as the Lord lives,”
then the nations will invoke blessings by him
and in him they will boast.'
The three required [and one implied] ‘if's' are conditions
of genuineness for what now follows, but proved by the two ‘then's.
i.e. if you say you'll return – do it; if your desire for re-establishing
a relationship with God is genuine, the nations will see and respond.]
Instruction: Break up the hardened unprepared ground & remove
is what the Lord says to the people of Judah
and to Jerusalem:
up your unploughed ground
and do not sow among thorns.
Instruction: cut out the protective covering that desensitizes
yourselves to the Lord,
circumcise your hearts,
you people of Judah and inhabitants of
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done –
burn with no one to quench it.
You need to take action to deal with your hardness that
prevents God's word touching your hearts and bringing the fruit
of repentance – or He will come and deal with you.]
TWO: v.5-9: A Warning of a destruction that is coming from the
Sound the alarm, gather together, flee to the city
in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say:
“Sound the trumpet throughout the land!”
Cry aloud and say:
Let us flee to the fortified cities!”
Signal everyone to get to Jerusalem's safety for an invader from
the north is coming
the signal to go to Zion!
Flee for safety without delay!
For I am bringing disaster from the north,
even terrible destruction.'
Because of what is coming, the people need to be warned
to flee to a place of security.]
A destroyer has left his lair to bring destruction to you
lion has come out of his lair;
a destroyer of nations has set out.
He has left his place
to lay waste your land.
Your towns will lie in ruins
Show signs of repentance, for God's anger is pointed towards us
put on sackcloth,
lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us.
When it happens all who lead us will be dismayed
that day,' declares the Lord,
‘the king and the officials will lose
the priests will be horrified,
and the prophets will be appalled.'
This coming destruction is very real so you would do
well to repent before God brings this judgment on you.]
THREE: v.10-18: That Warning is Clarified
Jeremiah feels they have been deceived with previous talk of peace
I said, ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord! How completely you have deceived
this people and Jerusalem by saying, “You will have peace,” when
the sword is at our throats!'
Lord warns that what is coming will be totally destructive
that time this people and Jerusalem will be told, ‘A scorching
wind from the barren heights in the desert blows towards my people,
but not to winnow or cleanse;
wind too strong for that comes from me. Now I pronounce my judgments
Previous words meant to encourage them to return to
the Lord may in fact have left them feeling secure in their sin
but they should realise God's judgment is coming.]
Jeremiah catches in his spirit a vision of the coming invaders
He advances like the clouds,
his chariots come like a whirlwind,
his horses are swifter than eagles.
Woe to us! We are ruined!
He calls for the inhabitants of the city to repent
wash the evil from your heart and be saved.
How long will you harbour wicked thoughts?
This judgment is real, it is an invader already on his
way, so the people should turn to God in repentance quickly.]
The word comes from the north that the enemy is coming
voice is announcing from Dan,
proclaiming disaster from the hills of
Jeremiah calls for onlooking nations to observe [and learn – implied]
this to the nations,
proclaim concerning Jerusalem:
“A besieging army is coming from a distant land,
raising a war cry against the cities of
surround her like men guarding a field,
because she has rebelled against me,”'
declares the Lord.
Jeremiah warns them that they have brought this on themselves
own conduct and actions
have brought this on you.
This is your punishment.
How bitter it is!
How it pierces to the heart!'
This enemy is already being reported by those living
in the north and it will sweep across the land bringing destruction
and it is their own sin that has brought this on them.]
FOUR: v.19-31: Anguishes, Concerns & the Lord's Refusal to
Jeremiah anguishes at what he sees is coming
my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me,
I cannot keep silent.
For I have heard the sound of the trumpet;
I have heard the battle cry.
The reality of this vision so impacts Jeremiah that
he finds himself in a state of constant anguish.]
He knows it will be an ongoing destruction
the whole land lies in ruins.
In an instant my tents are destroyed,
my shelter in a moment.
long must I see the battle standard
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
He sees in his spirit the reality of the destruction
that is coming
The Lord describes the folly of His people
people are fools;
they do not know me.
They are senseless children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil;
they know not how to do good.'
This coming devastating destruction will denude the land
looked at the earth,
and it was formless and empty;
and at the heavens,
and their light was gone.
looked at the mountains,
and they were quaking;
all the hills were swaying.
looked, and there were no people;
every bird in the sky had flown away.
looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;
all its towns lay in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
The Lord anguishes over the blind folly of His people
who fail to sense the land vibrating as the invaders come.]
The Lord warns of massive (but not complete) destruction
is what the Lord says:
whole land will be ruined,
though I will not destroy it completely.
Although they will destroy, He will not let it be a
He will not change His mind and hold back
the earth will mourn
and the heavens above grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not relent,
I have decided and will not turn back.'
They should not hope that God will relent for He won't,
His mind is made up.]
It will mean that all His people will have to flee
the sound of horsemen and archers
every town takes to flight.
Some go into the thickets;
some climb up among the rocks.
All the towns are deserted;
no one lives in them.
When the invader comes they will all flee.]
He challenges the folly of appearing good on the outside
are you doing, you devastated one?
Why dress yourself in scarlet
and put on jewels of gold?
Why highlight your eyes with makeup?
You adorn yourself in vain.
Your lovers despise you;
they want to kill you.
Their dressing themselves with a pagan religion will
do them no good; the invaders will ignore all that, so intent
will they be on destruction.]
Jeremiah senses the coming anguish of Israel
hear a cry as of a woman in labour,
a groan as of one bearing her first child –
the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands and saying,
‘Alas! I am fainting;
my life is given over to murderers.'
The truth is that Israel herself will be in deep anguish
when this comes on them as they sense there will be no hope at
the hands of these coming marauders.]
to Chapter 5