4 “If you return, O Israel,
declares the LORD,
to me you should return.
If you remove your detestable things from my presence,
and do not waver,
and if you swear, ‘As the LORD lives,’
in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then nations shall bless themselves in him,
and in him shall they glory.”
For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Break up your fallow ground,
and sow not among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD;
remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
lest my wrath go forth like fire,
and burn with none to quench it,
because of the evil of your deeds.”
Disaster from the North
Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,
“Blow the trumpet through the land;
cry aloud and say,
‘Assemble, and let us go
into the fortified cities!’
Raise a standard toward Zion,
flee for safety, stay not,
for I bring disaster from the north,
and great destruction.
A lion has gone up from his thicket,
a destroyer of nations has set out;
he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
your cities will be ruins
For this put on sackcloth,
lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the LORD
has not turned back from us.”
“In that day, declares the LORD, courage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ whereas the sword has reached their very life.”
At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A hot wind from the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, a wind too full for this comes for me. Now it is I who speak in judgment upon them.”
Behold, he comes up like clouds;
his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
woe to us, for we are ruined!
O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil,
that you may be saved.
How long shall your wicked thoughts
lodge within you?
For a voice declares from Dan
and proclaims trouble from Mount Ephraim.
Warn the nations that he is coming;
announce to Jerusalem,
“Besiegers come from a distant land;
they shout against the cities of Judah.
Like keepers of a field are they against her all around,
because she has rebelled against me,
declares the LORD.
Your ways and your deeds
have brought this upon you.
This is your doom, and it is bitter;
it has reached your very heart.”
Anguish over Judah’s Desolation
My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent,
for I hear the sound of the trumpet,
the alarm of war.
Crash follows hard on crash;
the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are laid waste,
my curtains in a moment.
How long must I see the standard
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
“For my people are foolish;
they know me not;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!
But how to do good they know not.”
I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
I looked, and behold, there was no man,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
For thus says the LORD, “The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.
“For this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above be dark;
for I have spoken; I have purposed;
I have not relented, nor will I turn back.”
At the noise of horseman and archer
every city takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
all the cities are forsaken,
and no man dwells in them.
And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in scarlet,
that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,
that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
Your lovers despise you;
they seek your life.
For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before murderers.”
Jeremiah 4 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The ground has hardened. Cracked from lack of rain the soil is like rock. Seemingly nothing can penetrate it except a plow. Tilling, the plow breaks up the soil, turning it over and makes it workable.
This is the image of a hardened heart. When we have failed to be obedient, chosen to do things our way, with each decision our hearts become a bit more hardened to the ways of God. If soil could feel, the plow turning it over would be painful. Often pain takes place when our hearts have become so hardened to the voice and will of God. The soil of our heart must be upended to allow new growth to take place.
Jeremiah addressed the people comparing their hearts to soil. Although good kings had gone before this time attempting to draw people back to God, they had stubbornly chosen to follow their own will and ways. They simply moved their worship of idols to secret. Their hearts would need to be broken up. They would have to come to a place they were willing to put away their idols. They would need to remove the sin before the good seed of God’s word could take root.
The same is true for us. When our hearts have become so calloused to the voice of God, even if He is speaking, in time we don’t hear that quiet tone and tenor of His words. It begins with the removal of things that have hurt our relationship. It is only then after the soil has been plowed, as the heart has been circumcised are we able to respond and see new growth take place.
God knew what was on the horizon for the people and it brought such sorrow. Simply look at what he states in verses 18-22. His own heart in anguish He was aware of what it would take to break up the soil and the pain that would follow. I think God knows the same for us and what it will take to turn people back to Him.
Consider your own heart these days. What type of soil has it become? Are there seeds of growth taking place or is a dry cracked land? In God’s mercy, He told the people to return to Him and He would return to them. These words echo today to each of us.
Jeremiah 4 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Judah’s lovers have become her murderers.
And you, O desolate one, what will you do? Although you dress in scarlet, Although you decorate yourself with ornaments of gold, Although you enlarge your eyes with paint, In vain you make yourself beautiful. Your lovers despise you; They seek your life.Jeremiah 4:30 NASB
This is the lie of sin. We flirt with it thinking it will provide us some sort of pleasure or enjoyment. We dress for the occasion hoping we can find something of value from the experience. Like a bait and switch, we often find out the hard way that the “lovers” do not love us back. They come to kill us. Although sin would love for us to dress up for him, he will waste no time taking everything from us.
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.James 1:14-15 NASB
It begins with temptation. This has both positive and negative consequences. Temptation with the power to resist is simply a test that provides wisdom and growth. However, temptation with lust gives birth to sin. Eventually, that lover comes to take our lives, just like the vision Jeremiah sees for Judah.
The application is simple. Do we daily war against the sin in our lives? Through our love for Jesus, we have a new identity. We are given the Holy Spirit who empowers us to resist temptation. The trials of life will either serve as the birthing of sin or the testing and growing of our faith. Which is the case for you currently? Where do you need to be reminded of the power given by God (by grace) to make war on your sin?