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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-31

Chapter 4

But if you will return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if you will put away thine abominations out of my sight, then you will no longer be [moved or] removed. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth ( Jeremiah 4:1-2 ),

It won't just be saying it as a phrase. And the people were still saying, "Oh, the Lord lives. Praise the Lord, the Lord lives!" But it was meaningless. Just like a lot of people today who go around saying, "Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!" It's meaningless. It's just mouthing words. But you'll say in truth; it will be from your heart.

in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns ( Jeremiah 4:2-3 ).

That fallow ground, break it up in order that God might bring His reign and plant it and bring forth fruit.

Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and cut away the foreskins of your heart ( Jeremiah 4:4 ),

The fleshly heart, the heart that is after the flesh. Paul refers to this in Romans. The true circumcision is of the heart, not of the flesh.

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 doings ( Jeremiah 4:4 ).

Cut away a heart that is after your flesh and after things of the flesh. Cut that away that you might be dedicated totally to God and the things of the Spirit.

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 defensed cities. Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and great destruction. The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way [Babylon is moving toward you]; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant. For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from us. 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. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! ( Jeremiah 4:5-10 )

Jeremiah's responding when God said all these things. The judgment is coming. These men are all going to be silent. Then I said, Oh, Lord God!

surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword is reaching to their soul ( Jeremiah 4:10 ).

Because the prophets were going around saying, "Peace, peace, peace and safety. Babylon shall not come to this place. Babylon shall never cast a trench around this place."

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, even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them. Behold, he shall come up as the clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we have been spoiled [destroyed]. O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you mayest be saved. How long shall your vain thoughts remain in your minds? For a voice declares from Dan, and publish affliction from mount Ephraim. 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. As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD. Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee ( Jeremiah 4:11-18 );

You've brought it upon yourself.

this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches into your hearts. My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have no understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge ( Jeremiah 4:18-22 ).

Paul said we ought to be simple concerning evil things. A lot of people like to dabble into the evil things. "Oh, I just want to understand about the evil. Let's go down to the nude shows so that we'll know what to preach against." The Bible says be simple concerning evil. Better that you be dumb about evil things. Of course, it's good that you pick up the lingo so that you won't be using some of the corrupted words that they use. But it's good to just be simple about evil. And Jeremiah says much the same thing here. The people were wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

Now the Lord speaks. There are some who think that Jeremiah is here going back. But contextually it's hard to really see it that way. But he uses the same phraseology that is used in Genesis 1:1-31 . And therefore, those who adhere to the Gap Theory, and that is, that between verses Jeremiah 4:1 , and Jeremiah 4:2 of Genesis there is a gap of indeterminate time. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" ( Genesis 1:1 ). When that was, we don't know. Billions, trillions of years ago, we don't know. Verse Jeremiah 4:2 , "And the earth was without form and void," can also be translated, "but the earth became wasted and desolate." So they see the possibility of a great gap of time, indeterminate, existing between verses Jeremiah 4:1 , and Jeremiah 4:2 of Genesis. And they see the earth that was originally created by God as being destroyed by God's fierce anger in a rebellion that preceded man's existence upon this planet. And one of the scriptures that they use as a proof for the Gap Theory is this particular passage that we come to here in Jeremiah where he makes a reference.

I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void ( Jeremiah 4:23 );

The same terminology that you find in verse Jeremiah 4:2 of Genesis 1:1-31 .

and the heavens, they had no light ( Jeremiah 4:23 ).

You remember the first thing God said was, "Let there be light" ( Genesis 1:3 ).

I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all of the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was as a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end ( Jeremiah 4:24-27 ).

And so those who subscribe to the Gap Theory see this as a proof of the Gap Theory, as Jeremiah, they say, is looking back and he sees the earth prior to God's reconstruction of the earth for placing man upon it, and sees earth in perhaps the state it was before God began to reconstruct the earth, to put man upon it. Sees it in the last ice age when there was no light shining down upon the earth. When the earth was enshrouded in darkness and the birds, the life that had existed was gone. The cities that were once here were destroyed. And so they explain the fossils, prehistoric man, and so forth through this Gap Theory. There is much that can be said for the Gap Theory. There are problems also with the Gap Theory, but it is one of the common theories of creation and especially of Genesis, that Gap Theory. And as I say, there is merit to it. There are problems, but there is merit to it. "For thus hath the Lord said, 'The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.'"

For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken, I have purposed, and will not change, neither will I turn back from it. 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. And when thou art spoiled, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you deck yourself with ornaments of gold, though you rentest your face with painting, in vain you will make yourself beautiful; for your lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life. For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that is bringing forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that is wailing, she is spreading forth her hands, she is saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers ( Jeremiah 4:28-31 ).


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-4.html. 2014.
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