From Jeremiah 4-6
Today’s passage is a sober reminder of the judgment Judah endured for her ways and deeds. They will be invaded and only one response is called for – mourning. It signals the fate of national defeat before the LORD’s invading army. Judah may flee for security to their fortifications. But the outcome is a foregone conclusion given the overwhelming force descending upon them. All that is left is the cry of defeat and the knowledge of divine wrath. In the gospel Jesus predicted the judgment on those who continued to reject the LORD’s messengers.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comment
Today’s judgment is a continuation from the first chapters of Jeremiah. Jer 4.3 in particular reminds us Jeremiah is repeating the LORD’s words to Judah and Jerusalem. They have been urged to circumcise their hearts. To cut away the evil from their lives.
In today’s passage Jeremiah is commanded again to repeat the word of the LORD.
5 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!’
6 Raise a standard toward Zion, flee for safety, stay not, for I bring disaster from the north, and great destruction.
7 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 without inhabitant.
8 For this put on sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us.” (Jer 4.5-8)
Normally trumpets sound victories and times of celebration at festivals. These assemble the people together and urge them to seek cover from invading armies. They are like an air raid siren sounding off announcing impending destruction.
The destruction will come from the north. Babylon. A powerful nation. ‘A lion from the thicket’. The LORD is bringing the disaster for Judah’s sins. There is only one way they can respond to this impending doom. To put on the proper dress, lament and wail.
9 “In that day, declares the LORD, courage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.”
10 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.” (Jer 4.9-10)
Jeremiah continues repeating the words of the LORD. Words of judgment and impending doom.
He also repeats an interesting interaction he had with the LORD. Jeremiah objects to the LORD’s judgment. He reminds the LORD of what he said to the people before, ‘It shall be well with you’. But here he is preaching impending destruction. Judah believed all would be well, but now the sword has come.
How does the LORD respond?
11 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, 12 a wind too full for this comes for me. Now it is I who speak in judgment upon them.” (Jer 4.11-12)
The LORD responds with more judgment.
I used to run a lot. A gentle wind was always a comfort during those times. It was cool and refreshing and helped me continue on.
This wind is not like that. It comes from the desert. It will be hot and sandy.
Sand can be heated up and it can scorch. One tactic of war involves heating sand up to extremes and cast it into the wind blowing in the enemies direction. The wind is intended to carry it into their enemies ranks. Hot sand of course easily infiltrates armour and clothing.
This hot wind has not been sent to drive away sin and impurity. It comes to destroy.
13 Behold, he comes up like clouds; his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles— woe to us, for we are ruined!
14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you? (Jer 4.13-14)
Jeremiah says the LORD is coming. He uses imagery typical of heaven (‘clouds’, ‘whirlwind’) and war (‘chariots’, ‘horses’). The LORD will come in the form of an invading army. They will be destroyed. Jeremiah pleads with Judah and Jerusalem to repent.
If they repent they will be saved from this calamity.
He laments the length of time they have remained wicked. He fears they will continue like this and thus be destroyed.
15 For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims trouble from Mount Ephraim.
16 Warn the nations that he is coming; announce to Jerusalem, “Besiegers come from a distant land; they shout against the cities of Judah.
17 Like keepers of a field are they against her all around, because she has rebelled against me, declares the LORD.
18 Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart.” (Jer 4.15-18)
Its only the start of Jeremiah and it has already predicted their destruction. Destruction which cannot seem to be aborted.
The final verse highlights again why this will happen. It is because of their ways and deeds. It is their doom and it is bitter.
Jeremiah says doom has reached their heart.
He means Jerusalem, the centre of their nation. There will be no where to escape. After Jerusalem is taken their way of life will be no more.
Story of Israel
In the Old Testament were many prophets and men of God the LORD sent to turn Judah away from sin. They have been given many opportunities to repent. But again and again they rejected the LORD, his messengers and the warnings of impending doom.
The passage above is a prelude to the inevitable punishment Judah will receive for their wicked ways and deeds.
Jerusalem was invaded. The temple was burned. The people suffered and were killed. They were taken into exile. Etched into Jewish memory is the knowledge that the LORD is just and he punishes wrongdoing.
Story of Jesus
When Jesus came, he told a parable which captures this same history.
9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
“ ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” (Lk 20:9–18)
Its a warning. Jesus wants people to turn to him. To repent of their sins and give the LORD the fruit he wants. Jesus predicted the inevitable destruction of the existing tenants. He refers to the people of Jerusalem again. In AD 70 the Jews revolted against Caesar and the Romans came and destroyed the city again and the temple.
We may be the new tenants the LORD has let out the vineyard to. But we should be wary of what happened before our time and respect the ‘owner of the vineyard’ (the LORD). We should give him the good fruit he asks of us.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.