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Repentance means genuine change (3:19-4:4)
God wanted the relationship between him and his people to be like that between a father and a son, or between a husband and a wife. But his people have been rebellious and unfaithful (19-20). In hope, the prophet pictures the people turning from their false worship at Baal’s high places and crying out to God for forgiveness. In response God promises that if they truly repent, he will forgive them and heal them (21-22a).
The people then turn to God and confess their sins. They admit that the worship of Baal has been a deception; instead of bringing them prosperity it has brought them disaster. They are ashamed of themselves, and return to Yahweh in acknowledgment that he alone is God (22b-25).
God reminds the people that if they repent, their repentance must be genuine. They must remove every trace of idolatry from their lives and renew their oath of absolute loyalty to him. Only then will they be able to serve him by taking his message to the nations (4:1-2).
People must break up their hardened hearts and remove wrongdoing from their lives, just as farmers break up the hard ground and remove weeds before they plant new seed. Inward change, not outward ceremony, is what is needed. Without such repentance, the nation will be destroyed in divine judgment (3-4).
The coming invasion (4:5-31)
Jeremiah now pictures the terrible judgment that will fall on Judah if it does not repent. With the enemy army sweeping down upon Judah from the north, a trumpeter sounds the alarm and the people of Judah flee to their walled cities for safety (5-6). Like an enraged lion the enemy prepares to pounce upon its victim. God is about to pour out his anger on the unfaithful people (7-8).
Judah’s leaders, both civil and religious, are shocked at the sudden catastrophe that overtakes them. They now realize that by believing the false prophets, they have deceived themselves. They mistakenly thought that God would never allow a heathen nation to destroy them (9-10).
God’s judgment burns up his people like a scorching desert wind (11-12). As Jeremiah pictures the enemy’s horses and chariots sweeping across the northern frontier, he makes a last desperate plea to the Jerusalemites to repent (13-14). He sees the invasion forces moving down from Dan, crossing Ephraim’s mountains, spreading over the country and besieging cities as they head for their main prize, Jerusalem. The people of Judah have brought this disaster upon themselves because of the way they have lived. They are about to reap the fruits of their ungodliness and idolatry (15-18).
Jeremiah can scarcely bear to look at the scene of destruction, and cries out in his distress (19-21). God assures him that the judgment is just. In their stupidity the people have rejected God and devoted themselves to wrongdoing. Now they are suffering the consequences (22).
To the prophet it seems that, with the fall of Judah, the earth has become barren, waste, dark and silent (23-26). God’s judgment is so devastating that, were it not for his mercy, the people would be wiped out (27-28). In country towns people flee before the enemy and look for hiding places in forests and caves (29). Jerusalem tries to win favour with the enemy, as a prostitute tries to win the favour of lovers, but the enemy is not fooled. Jerusalem’s end is as horrible as that of a brutally murdered prostitute; her screams are as piercing as those of a woman in agonizing childbirth (30-31).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany