Continuing Jeremiah’s second sermon, God pronounces judgment against Israel because they refuse to repent.
Jeremiah Chapter 4
Lessons from the text
God Says, “Come Back”
Despite all of the sins of Israel and the judgments God pronounces against her, He sill cries for His people to return to Him. Just like a husband whose wife has run away, God continues to try to convince Israel to come back to Him.
As a believer, when you sin against God, you have willingly left your relationship with Him; you walked out of the house and are living on the streets. Instead of being under His protection, you are now under His judgment. Have you ever been so upset that it made your stomach hurt? Well, that’s how much it hurts God to have to decree judgment against you.
God’s righteousness demands that He makes you pay the penalty of your sin. Nonetheless, He will remove the judgment instantly if you repent. If you just return to the Lord, He will take you back as His bride. But if you do not repent, the be assured that God will one day unleash judgment and wrath on you.
So, if God is calling you to come back home to Him, say yes!
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 God promises restoration to Israel if they repent. When one turns back to God, all of one’s sins are forgiven, and the wrath that God had stored up for the time judgment is replaced by grace and blessings (Jer. 3:12).
2 If one repents, then one will know with surety that God is real, truthful, the great judge, and righteous.
3-4 God likens Israel's heart to dry ground which needs to be broken up. God encourages sinners to soften their hearts towards righteousness and stop trying to prosper among that which is as damaging to their souls as thorns are to the body. On circumcision of the heart, see Deuteronomy 30:6.
5-7 On setting a standard see Isaiah 62:10. God always gives plenty of warning before judgment; in this case He is warning Israel to return to the fortified city of righteousness before He brings destruction from an invading army from the north.
8-9 Because the people have not repented, God is still angry with Israel. Even the king will be subjected to great grief in this judgment. The priest and all will be astonished because they believe themselves to be protected by God; they have fallen so far away from Him that they do not believe that they are under His wrath. See II Kings 25:1-7 for the fulfilling of this prophecy.
10 For the first time, Jeremiah's voice is heard. He is greatly distraught about all the evil that will come upon his people. All the prophets of that time are proclaiming blessings on Israel, which is why Jeremiah thought that God had pronounced peace to the nation (Jer. 6:14; Eze. 13:10). This was, of course, not true, for their sins have removed God's peace and replaced it with wrath.
11-13 God says that at the time of judgment, He will call a mighty wind from the wilderness to come against Israel, and that the wind will not be diminished nor deterred. This invading force will come up with so many soldiers that it will be like a cloud covering the land, and the strength will be as mighty as a whirlwind. Against such Israel has no hope and will be overrun.
Noteworthy that while God has been proclaiming judgment against Israel, He also says that He will judge the invading force, for He says that He will "give sentence against them" in reference to the wind.
14-15 In light of the news of this coming judgment, God pleads for Israel to wash themselves clean.
16 God commands that the news of this upcoming destruction be published everywhere. As Israel has forsaken God, He turns His intentions to the other nations, telling them to watch and see what He will do to His people for their sins as a witness that He is real and that wickedness does not prosper.
17 God says that all the nations will come round about Jerusalem to eradicate all the bad weeds. God's purpose in judgment is to cleanse Israel of sin so that only the righteous will endure. See Isaiah 4:4.
18 The wicked bring judgment on themselves. Because their sin reaches even into their hearts, they have made themselves to be wicked throughout. God does not punish evil doers because He delights in doing so; on the contrary, God is forced to take action against sinners because of their choices.
19-20 God laments the fact that judgment has come on His people. He does not wish war and destruction on anyone. It grieves Him so much that He has to cry out His sorrow.
21-22 God wonders how long He must endure permitting judgment on the earth. Judgment comes only in response to sin. If the people quit sinning, then God ceases judgment. Put another way, God is wondering how much judgment it will take for sinners to realize they are not righteous and repent. The tragic irony of the sinner is that he takes knowledge of wickedness but is ignorant of the fact that he lacks understanding in righteousness.
23-27 Invoking an image of the earth before it was created (Gen. 1:2), God is implying that because of sin, everything will have to be destroyed. God will have to rid the earth of the source of sin on earth, which is man. The earth itself (the mountains) and the animals (the birds) will all be terrified of the vindicated wrath of God against man for his sins. Considering verse 19, God does not look forward to unleashing His wrath even though it is necessary to purge the earth of sin.
28 God will not repent, or turn from performing, His judgment against Israel. Because He is righteous, He cannot allow wickedness to prosper. Creation itself is saddened by God’s promise of judgment, mostly because God’s works will have to be destroyed. The soul of a man is still precious even when it is tarnished by sin for it is created in the image of God and designed for a holy purpose of service, praise, and everlasting fellowship with Him.
29 God says that in the day of judgment everyone will flee the cities for fear of the invading army. While this fits the description of the deportation, in light of Jesus’ comments regarding the Jews flight, this verse refers to the future time of the seven year tribulation period (Mt. 24:20-22).
30 No matter what one does, when God’s judgment is upon one, one cannot escape the consequences of sin. No outward appearance can make one appealing enough to avoid the coming destruction. Israel’s lovers are the nations to whom it has turned when it should have been seeking God (Jer. 2:36).
31 Not only is child-birth extremely painful, but it also represents the fullness of one’s labor; after carrying the burden of a child, the time has finally come to bring forth. The point is that Israel will be wearied and pained by the destruction brought on her by the nations she has pursued. Abandoning God’s laws to copy the lifestyle and culture of other nations, they will be distressed to find that their choice has put them in the midst of murderers.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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