Jer. 4:1 ¶ If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if
thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not
Jer. 4:2 And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in
righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall
This chapter begins with another plea from the LORD for His people to repent of
their sin and turn back to Him in faith and obedience. Obedience is requisite in
light of the instruction to “put away your abominations,” or get rid of your idols
and all the practices associated with their worship. He also declares that the
repentance of Israel will result in a blessing to the nations since they will then be
in position to testify to the benefits of trusting in the LORD of Israel as their
LORD. That testimony would reflect life in a nation governed by the character of
God in truth, judgment and righteousness.
Truth = stability, trustworthiness
Judgment = Ruling with authority and righteousness
Righteousness = Moral integrity, purity
I can only imagine what life in America would be like today if our leaders
possessed such character traits.
Jer. 4:3 ¶ For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up
your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
Jer. 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of
your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come
forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your
As the LORD continues to speak through Jeremiah, His message is specifically
directed to the people of Judah/Jerusalem; and He again uses the example of
sowing seed. He is urging His people to prepare their hearts to receive the seeds
of His truth, His word, and not let it fall on ground that will prevent its
producing fruit. Fallow ground has not been broken up or plowed; it is not
ready to receive seed; it does not provide an environment conducive to growth.
How are they to do this? By circumcising their hearts. Circumcision is a cutting
away of the flesh and is a graphic picture of the need to refuse to let the desires
of the flesh rule their lives. Much of their motivation for idol worship was rooted
in worship practices that included fulfilling the lust of the flesh through sexual
As the Lord pleads with His people to turn to Him in faith and obedience, He
also warns them of the consequences of refusing to do so—the fact that they will
experience His fury in judgment. He is very clear in stating that their evil actions
would be the reason for such judgment. Scripture is consistent in declaring that
sinful, evil actions have consequences; and if continued without repentance,
result in God’s judgment.
Isaiah 13:11 “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity;
and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of
Jeremiah 5:25 “Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have
withholden good things from you.”
Psalms 38:3 “There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there
any rest in my bones because of my sin.”
Psalms 32:10 “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked….”
It is obvious that the people of America and most of the world today do not
understand this truth.
Jer. 4:5 ¶ Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the
trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let
us go into the defenced cities.
Jer. 4:6 Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil
from the north, and a great destruction.
Jer. 4:7 The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles
is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and
thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.
In these verses the prophet is declaring a warning to the people of Judah of
coming judgment through the attack of an enemy from the north. This enemy is
on the move and can be expected to cause great destruction in the land. There
best hope is to flee to Zion/Jerusalem, the city with the best fortifications, for
safety. He has already conquered many of the Gentile nations and has now
targeted Judah. The prophet is clear in stating that many cities in Judah will be
left without inhabitants (implied: either through death or capture).
It is interesting to note that the winged lion was the standard or symbol for the
nation of Babylon and was probably chosen in honor of Ishtar, the goddess of
war and fertility.
Jer. 4:8 For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger
of the LORD is not turned back from us.
Jer. 4:9 And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of
the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be
astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.
The prophet goes on to advise that the people clothe themselves in sackcloth, an
indication of sorrow and repentance, in hopes of turning away God’s anger. If
they don’t, the LORD is going to allow the enemy to invoke fear in the hearts of
all the leaders of the people—king, princes, priests and prophets. The implication
from the Hebrew is that the evidence of the enemy’s power and destruction will
stun the people. They will feel totally helpless.
Jer. 4:10 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this
people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth
unto the soul.
Jeremiah decides to speak up on behalf of the people. (Rev 6/11) it sounds like he is accusing God of deception since He had promised peace for Judah and now He is telling them that judgment is at hand.
I have to admit that I needed help with this verse. The NIV Commentary and
JFB made reference to how God had allowed the false prophets to misrepresent
His message to the people and deceive them. They proclaimed that God was
going to send peace to Judah, while Jeremiah, and other true prophets, had been
consistent in declaring God’s message of judgment to come in light of the
wickedness and rebellion of His people. This logic makes sense and would seem
to clarify that Jeremiah is not accusing God of deceit but is declaring the response
of the people in this verse.
Scripture is clear that God uses all types of vessels to accomplish His purposes—
from submissive, obedient servants to pagan world conquerors to false prophets
to actually giving people over to their sinful desires. That is what He did in the
life of Pharaoh, and that is what He will do again when the Antichrist comes on
2 Thessalonians 2:8–12 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall
consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying
wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because
they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God
shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all
might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in
In God’s dealings with His people He often allows certain things to happen in
order to prove their faith.
Deuteronomy 8:2 “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led
thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what
was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.”
Judges 2:20–22 “And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because
that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and
have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before
them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: That through them I may prove
Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did
keep it, or not.”
Jer. 4:11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry
wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people,
not to fan, nor to cleanse,
Jer. 4:12 Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I
give sentence against them.
Jer. 4:13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a
whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.
The LORD doesn’t even acknowledge Jeremiah’s statement. He just goes on to
affirm that judgment (“I will give sentence against them”) is coming in the form
of a Gentile conqueror. He compares the coming judgment to a powerful,
destructive wind (a blast of His anger). He will descend upon them like a
thundercloud, with chariots as powerful as a whirlwind and with horses that are
faster than eagles.
Jeremiah’s conclusion, and again (I think) representing the response of the
people—We are doomed!
Jer. 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be
saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
After these fearful words of judgment, the prophet again urges the people to
repent of their wickedness and seek God’s deliverance. He doesn’t understand
how they can choose to persist in their unrighteousness in light of God’s message
Jer. 4:15 For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount
Jer. 4:16 Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem,
that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the
cities of Judah.
Jer. 4:17 As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she
hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.
Jer. 4:18 Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is
thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart.
The land allotments of Dan and Ephraim frame the northern and southern
borders respectively of the Northern Kingdom that had already been conquered
by the Assyrians. That the Northern Kingdom had been judged and taken
captive by a Gentile power should have spoken volumes to those in the Southern
Kingdom of Judah about the consequences of disobedience to God and disregard
of their covenant with God. The LORD is clear in verses 17-18 in declaring that it
is their rebellion against Him that has resulted in the current threat posed by the
advance of the enemy. I think the wording of the CJB for verse 18 is clear:
“Your own ways and your actions have brought these things on yourselves. This is your
wickedness, so bitter! It has reached your very heart.”
Jer. 4:19 ¶ My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart
maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my
soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
Jer. 4:20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled:
suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.
Jer. 4:21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
In this section of verses we hear the heart of the prophet; he is distressed over the
plight of his people. He knows judgment is at the door and that their destruction
is certain. Verse 21 indicates that he is hoping that this judgment is swift; he is
distressed with thoughts of an extended action.
Jer. 4:22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish
children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do
good they have no knowledge.
This verse seems to begin God’s answer to Jeremiah’s question in verse 21. He
declares the people of Israel, specifically Judah in context, to be foolish—perverse,
willfully wicked. “Sottish” children again emphasizes silly (lacking in judgment)
from a root that means “to be fat.” One definition from Webster for fat that
seems to apply is: “Exhibiting the qualities of a fat animal; coarse; heavy; gross;
dull; stupid.” These comments flow easily in context with the statement that
they have no understanding; I believe spiritual understanding is the implication.
This conclusion is clarified by the next statement; they are wise to do evil but
seem to have no understanding of how to do good.
When man chose to rebel against God and inherited a sin nature, it became
natural for man to choose to do evil. This does not excuse evil actions because
scripture is clear from the very beginning that men knew what was acceptable
before God and what was not. Evil is identified in contrast to that which is good
and acceptable. Though men may argue the fact, it doesn’t change the truth that
God is the source of truth and goodness.
Deuteronomy 32:3–4 “Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness
unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of
truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life….”
1 Chronicles 16:34 “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth
Psalms 34:8 “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in
Those who choose to do evil show themselves to be children of the devil.
John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was
a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in
him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Acts 13:10 “… thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not
cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”
1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the
Jer. 4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the
heavens, and they had no light.
Jer. 4:24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved
Jer. 4:25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens
Jer. 4:26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities
thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce
After reading through this section several times, I’m still not quite sure what to
make of it. Verse 23 seems to tie directly to the Genesis account of creation.
Genesis 1:1–3 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was
without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of
God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was
It’s interesting to note that God is clear in declaring that He did not create the
earth in this state. (See journal on Genesis 1.)
Maybe it is a nutshell version of Israel’s history. Verse 24 could be a reference to
the people conquering the land and taking possession of it. Verses 25-26 could
be referencing the judgment to come (which from God’s point of view is a done
deal) and even looking on into the future just preceding the return of Jesus to
assume the throne of David. As always, I’m open to input.
Jer. 4:27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet
will I not make a full end.
Jer. 4:28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black:
because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I
turn back from it.
These verses are obviously referencing the situation confronting Judah at the
time of Jeremiah’s prophecy. There is a ray of hope in light of the coming
judgment; God promises not to completely destroy the nation.
God also declared the preservation of a remnant in accordance with His
covenant with Abraham and as declared by other prophets.
Isaiah 10:20–21 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and
such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote
them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall
return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.”
Isaiah 11:10–12 “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an
ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it
shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to
recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and
from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and
from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall
assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four
corners of the earth.”
Ezekiel 14:21–23 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four
sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and
the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast? Yet, behold, therein shall be left a
remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come
forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted
concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have
brought upon it. And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings:
and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the
Micah 2:12 “I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant
of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their
fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.”
Zephaniah 3:16–20 “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion,
Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will
save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with
singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to
whom the reproach of it was a burden. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee:
and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them
praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I
bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a
praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes,
saith the LORD.”
Zechariah 8:12–13 “For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the
ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the
remnant of this people to possess all these things. And it shall come to pass, that as ye
were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you,
and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.”
Still, judgment is certain—“I have purposed it, and will not repent.” It will be a
time of such mourning that it will seem that the sun has quit shining on the land.
As sure as the coming judgment is their future restoration to full fellowship with
the LORD. God is not finished with Israel. God has not replaced Israel with the
church. The church has been blessed to be grafted into the vine of God’s chosen
people and participate in God’s plan to bring salvation to the nations and share
in many of her blessings, but we have not replaced her.
Romans 11:1 “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid.”
Romans 11:5 “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the
election of grace.”
Romans 11:11 “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but
rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to
Romans 11:17–18 “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild
olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of
the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root,
but the root thee.”
Romans 11:25–27 “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery,
lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel,
until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is
written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness
from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”
Jer. 4:29 The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen;
they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be
forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.
Jer. 4:30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest
thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold,
though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself
fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
Jer. 4:31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of
her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that
bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my
soul is wearied because of murderers.
This section of verses begins with a description of the response of the people as
they see the enemy advancing. Evidently, the people thought they could stave
off the advance of the enemy by buying them off and/or declaring their position
as allies; but point is made that their attempts will be rejected. The whole
process is likened to a woman scorned. Judah’s actions in seeking to win the
favor of the Babylonians are affirmed and vividly described by the prophet
Ezekiel 23:4 “….Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.”
Ezekiel 23:11–17 “And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her
inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.
She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbours, captains and rulers clothed most
gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men. Then I saw
that she was defiled, that they took both one way, And that she increased her whoredoms:
for when she saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed
with vermilion, Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their
heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the
land of their nativity: And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them,
and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea. And the Babylonians came to her into the
bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them,
and her mind was alienated from them.”
The chapter closes with a picture of Israel as a very frightened woman who
seems to be drawing her dying breath after delivering her first child.