Jeremiah 4

1 “If you will return, Israel,” says the LORD, “if you will return to me, and if you will put away your abominations out of my sight; then you shall not be removed; 2 and you shall swear, ‘As the LORD lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness. The nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” 3 For the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, “Break up your fallow ground, and don’t sow amongst thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go out like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. 5 Declare in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, ‘Blow the trumpet in the land!’ Cry aloud and say, ‘Assemble yourselves! Let us go into the fortified cities!’ 6 Set up a standard towards Zion. Flee for safety! Don’t wait; for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.” 7 A lion has gone up from his thicket, and a destroyer of nations; he is on his way, he has gone out from his place, to make your land desolate, that your cities be laid waste, without inhabitant. 8 For this clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail; for the fierce anger of the LORD hasn’t turned back from us. 9 “It shall happen at that day,” says 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.” 10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘You shall have peace;’ whereas the sword reaches to the heart.” 11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A hot wind from the bare heights in the wilderness towards the daughter of my people, not to winnow, nor to cleanse; 12 a full wind from these shall come for me. Now I will also utter judgements against them.” 13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as the whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us! For we are ruined. 14 Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? 15 For a voice declares from Dan, and publishes evil from the hills of Ephraim: 16 “Tell the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, ‘Watchers come from a far country, and raise their voice against the cities of Judah. 17 As keepers of a field, they are against her all around, because she has been rebellious against me,’” says the LORD. 18 “Your way and your doings have brought these things to you. This is your wickedness; for it is bitter, for it reaches to your heart.” 19 My anguish, my anguish! I am pained at my very heart; my heart is disquieted in me; I can’t hold my peace; because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. 20 Destruction on destruction is cried; for the whole land is laid waste: suddenly are my tents destroyed, and my curtains in a moment. 21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? 22 “For my people are foolish, they don’t know me. They are foolish children, and they have no understanding. They are skilful in doing evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” 23 I saw the earth, and, behold, it was waste and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I saw the mountains, and behold, they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. 25 I saw, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the sky had fled. 26 I saw, and behold, the fruitful field was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the LORD, before his fierce anger. 27 For the LORD says, “The whole land shall be a desolation; yet will I not make a full end. 28 For this the earth will mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and I have not repented, neither will I turn back from it.” 29 Every city flees for the noise of the horsemen and archers; they go into the thickets, and climb up on the rocks: every city is forsaken, and not a man dwells therein. 30 You, when you are made desolate, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with scarlet, though you deck yourself with ornaments of gold, though you enlarge your eyes with makeup, you make yourself beautiful in vain. Your lovers despise you. They seek your life. 31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, the anguish as of her who gives birth to her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, who gasps for breath, who spreads her hands, saying, “Woe is me now! For my soul faints before the murderers.”

(Previous Chapter)    •    (Next Chapter)

Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1-2

The first two verses should be read with the last chapter. Sin must be put away out of the heart, else it is not put away out of God’s sight, for the heart is open before him.

Verses 3-4

An unhumbled heart is like ground untilled. It is ground which may be improved; it is our ground let out to us; but it is fallow; it is over-grown with thorns and weeds, the natural product of the corrupt heart. Let us entreat the Lord to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us; for except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Verses 5-18

The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord’s voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.

Verses 19-31

The prophet had no pleasure in delivering messages of wrath. He is shown in a vision the whole land in confusion. Compared with what it was, every thing is out of order; but the ruin of the Jewish nation would not be final. Every end of our comforts is not a full end. Though the Lord may correct his people very severely, yet he will not cast them off. Ornaments and false colouring would be of no avail. No outward privileges or profession, no contrivances would prevent destruction. How wretched the state of those who are like foolish children in the concerns of their souls! Whatever we are ignorant of, may the Lord make of good understanding in the ways of godliness. As sin will find out the sinner, so sorrow will, sooner or later, find out the secure.

Back to Top