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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Jeremiah 4

Verses 1-4

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 4

JUDGMENT: INVASION FROM THE NORTH

1. If she is willing, Israel may return unto the Lord; but there will be no peace or stability for her until she abandons her idols (1 Kings 11:5­7) and ceases her wanderings (vs. 1; Jeremiah 7:3; Jeremiah 7:7; Jeremiah 35:15).

2. The promise of God to Abraham is reflected in the plea of Jeremiah set forth in verse 2, (Genesis 12:1-3).

a. To swear by Jehovah is to acknowledge His lordship - the oath (seen at least 66 times in the Old Testament) being an expression of deep sincerity and truthfullness, (Jeremiah 12:16; Deuteronomy 12:20; Isaiah 65:16).

b. If she would turn to the Lord, in righteousness, other nations would also turn to Him, and be blessed, (vs. 2; Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 12:15-17; Genesis 22:18).

3. As in the appeal of Hosea 10:12, Judah is urged to "break up" her fallow (unplowed) ground; her heart must be broken - her repentance genuine and deep, (vs. 3).

4. Outward rituals, empty of any real devotion to Jehovah, is unpardonable; there must be an inward heart-commitment to her true Saviour and Lord, (vs. 4a; comp. Genesis 17:11; Deuteronomy 10:16; Romans 2:28 -­29; Jeremiah 9:26).

5. Let there be no misunderstanding: unless Judah repents, God’s righteous indignation is about to break forth as a devouring fire that none can quench, (vs. 4b; Isaiah 30:27; Amos 5:6).

Verses 5-13

1. Here begins a series of prophecies concerning judgment upon Judah, that continue to the end of chapter 6.

2. First, the command is given to sound the trumpet throughout the land - calling the people of Judah to their fortified cities, (vs. 5; comp. Jeremiah 6:1; Hosea 8:1); there they are to flee for refuge, (vs. 6a).

3. From the North God is raising up an instrument of judgment against His erring people.

a. This "destroyer of nations" (evidently Babylon) is likened unto a lion emerging from his lair to seek prey, (vs. 7a; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 25:38; Jeremiah 50:17).

b. It is his intention to make Judah desolate; to destroy her cities without inhabitant, (vs. 7b; Jeremiah 2:15; comp. Isaiah 1:7; Isaiah 6:11).

4. Thus, Jeremiah calls upon Judah to repent; the fierce anger of the Lord is still not turned away from her abominations, (vs. 8; Jeremiah 30:24; Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 10:4).

5. The leaders of Judah are pictured as totally confounded, (vs. 9).

a. King and princes are so stricken with fear as to be without understanding - their intellects utterly paralyzed! (vs. 9a; comp. Isaiah 22:3-5).

b. So with the religious leaders; the priests are stunned - the prophets utterly dumbfounded! (vs. 9b; comp. Isaiah 29:9-10; Ezekiel 13:9­16).

6. Scholars have long argued over whether verse 10 is the complaint of Jeremiah himself, or that of the mercenary priests and prophets who have persistently told the sinning nation what it wanted to hear.

a. It is the tendency of rebellious men to claim God’s blessings without heeding His warnings, or being too greatly concerned to meet His conditions.

b. Lying prophets (and preachers) often charge God with duplicity rather than acknowledge their own sin and accept the blame for its consequences.

c. There is no reason to believe (in view of his persistent warnings to Judah) that Jeremiah ever believed that his unrepentant people could escape the consequence of their stubborn rebellion and indescribable abominations!

7. Two figures are used here to describe the invader, and the nature of the discipline that God Himself is bringing upon Judah, (vs. 11­-13).

a. First, his coming is likened unto a scorching sirocco that blows across the land when there is no cloud in the sky, (vs. 11; Jeremiah 13:24; comp. Jeremiah 51:1).

1) This wind is not for winnowing, or for cleansing; it is too strong for that.

2) It is a wind that moves under God’s own command - a wind of burning judgment, (Jeremiah 1:16).

b. Again, he is pictured as hovering over the land "as clouds." (comp. Jer Isaiah 19:1; Ezekiel 38:16); his chariots are as destructive as a tornado (Isaiah 5:28-29) - his horses being more swift than eagles, (La 4:19).

c. Jeremiah can already hear the cry of anguish that will go up from Judah when it is TOO LATE TO REPENT: "Woe unto us! for we are spoiled!", (comp. Isaiah 3:8).

Verses 14-18

Vs. 14-18: JUDAH MAY STILL REPENT

1. Jeremiah urges Jerusalem to cast out all vain thoughts (vs. 14b; Jeremiah 6:19; Jeremiah 13:27), and to thoroughly purify her heart from wickedness, (vs. 14a; Isaiah 1:16; James 4:8); only in this way might she be saved from the calamity that fast approaches.

2. From the broken-down altar of Dan, and from the hills of Ephraim - their people already passed into captivity - Jerusalem may hear the bad news concerning the end, (vs. 15).

3. The nations are alerted to observe what happens to a people who forsake and rebel against their God, (vs.16-17; Jeremiah 5:15; Ezekiel 21:22).

4. Her ways and works of wickedness have brought this bitterness of heart upon the people whom Jehovah called to walk with Him in holiness, (vs. 18; Jeremiah 2:17; Jeremiah 2:19; Psalms 107:17).

Verses 19-22

Vs. 19-22: PROPHETIC ANGUISH AND DIVINE LAMENTATION

1. Here appears to be a mingling of the heartache of the prophet with that of his God.

2. First, one hears the anguished cry of the prophet - the very well-springs of his emotions ("My bowels!’ so stirred that he cannot be silent, (vs. 19; comp. Song of Solomon 5:4; Isaiah 16:11; Isaiah 63:15; Jeremiah 31:20); his soul can already hear the sound of the trumpet and the shout of battle, (vs. 20).

3. He views the whole land as devastated and laid waste - the tents of Judah destroyed with one swift stroke.

4. How much longer must the signals of warfare and the blast of the trumpet be heard in the land?

5. It is Jehovah Himself who describes His people as foolish, stupid and without knowledge of Him who is their only Saviour; skilled in wickedness, they do not know how to do good!

Verses 23-28

Vs. 23-28: A JUDGMENT OF SUPER-ATOMIC PROPORTION

1. Let it, first, be recognized that this prophecy - though announcing imminent judgment upon Judah - reaches far beyond Judah, to describe (in symbolic form) the ultimate judgment of Jehovah upon apolitical universe.

a. The "heavens" (sun, moon, stars, etc.) symbolizes heights of political power and glory (kings, queens, princes, etc.; comp. Isaiah 13:10-13; Isaiah 14:12-15; Isaiah 34:4-5; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10; Haggai 2:6-7); yet, it also includes in some contexts, wicked spiritual powers in the heavenlies, (Ephesians 6:11-12; comp. Matthew 24:29; Hebrews 12:26).

b. "Earth" denotes the multitudes of people under the rule of the heavens - the strength and power whereby they are supported, (Genesis 6:11; Revelation 12:16; etc.).

c. Political unrest, commotion and revolution are, figuratively represented by a shaking of the earth, or an earthquake, (Habakkuk 2:6; Revelation 11:13).

2. The language used by the prophet (vs. 23a) is identical to that found in Genesis 1:2; Isaiah 34:11 - suggesting the dissolution of "order" and return to utter "chaos"!

3. Here is a powerful portrayal of the instability of civil authority, (vs. 24); the dissolution of civil order, (vs. 25); and the desolation of the land under the fierce anger of the Lord, who is as faithful to His warnings of judgment as to His promises of blessing, (vs. 27-28).

4. Yet, a ray of hope is held out to Judah: "Yet will I NOT make a full end," (vs. 27b) - suggesting the idea of a "remnant," as set forth by other prophets, (Jeremiah 6:9; comp. Jeremiah 23:3; Jeremiah 42:19; Amos 5:15; Micah 2:12; Zephaniah 2:9; Haggai 1:12).

Verses 29-31

Vs. 29-31: THE AGONY OF DEATH

1. Before the noise of an approaching army the inhabitants of Jerusalem are thrown into panic; verse 19 vividly pictures the helplessness and hopelessness of a people who have abandoned and forgotten their God!

2. What will the daughter of Zion do when she is left desolate? (vs. 30a; Jeremiah 13:21; Isaiah 10:3; Isaiah 20:6).

3. She may garb herself as a prostitute (Isaiah 57:9; Ezekiel 23:40 -­41), and, widening her eyes with cosmetics (comp. Ezekiel 23:40; 2 Kings 9:30), in an attempt to gain the favor of her former lovers - the allies in whom she has put her trust; but, they will despise her, (vs. 30b); it is her LIFE that they seek!

4. Finally, one hears the daughter of Zion gasping for breath, (vs. 31) - her hands spread out in appeal (Isaiah 1:15) - and crying out as a woman who is in the travail of labor with her first born, (Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 30:6); "WOE IS ME!" she cries -her soul fainting because of the slain.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-4.html. 1985.