Jeremiah 4

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Read Jeremiah 4

“If you, Israel, will return,
    then return to me,”
declares the Lord.
“If you put your detestable idols out of my sight
    and no longer go astray,
and if in a truthful, just and righteous way
    you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
then the nations will invoke blessings by him
    and in him they will boast.”

This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem:

“Break up your unplowed ground
    and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
    circumcise your hearts,
    you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire
    because of the evil you have done—
    burn with no one to quench it.

Disaster From the North

“Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say:
    ‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’
Cry aloud and say:
    ‘Gather together!
    Let us flee to the fortified cities!’
Raise the signal to go to Zion!
    Flee for safety without delay!
For I am bringing disaster from the north,
    even terrible destruction.”

A lion has come out of his lair;
    a destroyer of nations has set out.
He has left his place
    to lay waste your land.
Your towns will lie in ruins
    without inhabitant.
So put on sackcloth,
    lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
    has not turned away from us.

“In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “the king and the officials will lose heart,
the priests will be horrified,
    and the prophets will be appalled.”

10 Then I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! How completely you have deceivedthis people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats!”

11 At that time this people and Jerusalem will be told, “A scorching wind from the barren heights in the desert blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse; 12 a wind too strong for that comes from me. Now I pronounce my judgments against them.”

13 Look! He advances like the clouds,
    his chariots come like a whirlwind,
his horses are swifter than eagles.
    Woe to us! We are ruined!
14 Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved.
    How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?
15 A voice is announcing from Dan,
    proclaiming disaster from the hills of Ephraim.
16 “Tell this to the nations,
    proclaim concerning Jerusalem:
‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land,
    raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.
17 They surround her like men guarding a field,
    because she has rebelled against me,’”
declares the Lord.
18 “Your own conduct and actions
    have brought this on you.
This is your punishment.
    How bitter it is!
    How it pierces to the heart!”

19 Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
    I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
    My heart pounds within me,
    I cannot keep silent.
For I have heard the sound of the trumpet;
    I have heard the battle cry.
20 Disaster follows disaster;
    the whole land lies in ruins.
In an instant my tents are destroyed,
    my shelter in a moment.
21 How long must I see the battle standard
    and hear the sound of the trumpet?

22 “My people are fools;
    they do not know me.
They are senseless children;
    they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil;
    they know not how to do good.”

23 I looked at the earth,
    and it was formless and empty;
and at the heavens,
    and their light was gone.
24 I looked at the mountains,
    and they were quaking;
    all the hills were swaying.
25 I looked, and there were no people;
    every bird in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;
    all its towns lay in ruins
    before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

27 This is what the Lord says:

“The whole land will be ruined,
    though I will not destroy it completely.
28 Therefore the earth will mourn
    and the heavens above grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not relent,
    I have decided and will not turn back.”

29 At the sound of horsemen and archers
    every town takes to flight.
Some go into the thickets;
    some climb up among the rocks.
All the towns are deserted;
    no one lives in them.

30 What are you doing, you devastated one?
    Why dress yourself in scarlet
    and put on jewels of gold?
Why highlight your eyes with makeup?
    You adorn yourself in vain.
Your lovers despise you;
    they want to kill you.

31 I hear a cry as of a woman in labor,
    a groan as of one bearing her first child—
the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
    stretching out her hands and saying,
“Alas! I am fainting;
    my life is given over to murderers.”

Go Deeper

This chapter boils down to a promise that Israel will be destroyed if she does not turn from her wicked ways. That may sound familiar. The Old Testament, and particularly Jeremiah, are filled with prophecies of what will happen if things don’t change. God’s patient mercy for the Israelites is nearing an end, and only by His grace through Jeremiah’s prophecy are they warned of the pending reality of their own suffering. The usual suspects are to blame: idol worship, the abandonment of God’s law, and the slow adoption of norms that are outside of God’s design for His people. 

Perhaps the most striking image—and one we should note with great interest—comes from verses 23-26. He describes what amounts to a reversing of the original creation story that is documented in Genesis 1. Instead of the void being filled, he sees the earth as becoming formless and empty. Instead of the creation of light, he sees light leave the sky. Rather than the formation of mountains and hills, they quake on the verge of destruction. The birds no longer fly. The people are gone. Life as we know it ceases to exist. Creation is being undone. 

This image speaks to the conquest of an army, certainly. Even more so, this speaks to an interruption of God’s design for us. We were formed in Genesis 1 for communion with Him. When we, as individuals and as communities, abandon the original intention, it is like we are participating in the undoing of creation itself. To reject God is to act in opposition to creation. 

Thousands of years later that rings true. Where we submit to His design, life blooms. Where we act without Him, or in outright hostility towards Him, life dwindles until it is gone completely. 

But pay particular attention to the opening word of this chapter: If. The vision of destruction Jeremiah presents is dependent on Israel maintaining her wicked ways. This is not a foregone conclusion. There is still time to change. By His grace, there is still time for us too. 


  1. What is your ‘if’? What part of your own life do you need to change to be obedient to God’s design for your life and your abundance?
  2. In addition to the image of creation being undone, what other images are presented in this chapter? (v. 22, 29, 30, 31, etc.)
  3. If the people turn from their wickedness and call upon the name of the Lord, what does He promise them? (v.1-3)

By the Way

Read Genesis 1 to be reminded of God’s intention and design for the earth, and for us:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

Leave a Comment Below

Did you learn something today? Share it with our Bible Reading Plan community by commenting below.

Join the Team

Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email

4 thoughts on “Jeremiah 4”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    The opening verse implies that at one point the Israelites were in a right relationship with God. He is imploring them to return, to come back and put away their detestable idols and live in a truthful, just and righteous way. He sends them the prophet Jeremiah to warn & woo them back. Judgement is sure if they do not repent. In which camp do we find ourselves today? Rebellion or repentance? If we are completely honest too often our hearts are hardened and the living Word falls on deaf ears. I’m reminded of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as he wept over the city in Matthew 23:37, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” The following verse says “look your house is left desolate.” Today, while we have breath in our lungs is the time to be proactive about sin and ruthlessly deal with it. Let’s live like the faithful remnant we were called to be.

  2. Are you waring against a sin in your life? BUT GOD has given us a new identity in Christ. Through Holy Spirit we have the opportunity to resist the devil and he will flee, key word resist, a test that provides wisdom and growth. But when we give in to that temptation, with lust, it gives birth to sin. The trials of life will either give way to a birthing of sin or the testing and growing of our faith. 14. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:14-15 BUT GOD James 6-10,17 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Rise and shine and give God the glory children of the Lord!!!

    God thank You for giving me the power to resist temptations. Thank You for more grace when I humble myself to You. Thank You for the ability to draw near and near to You with clean hands and to get rid of the double-mindedness in my heart. John 4:4 promises, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world, God I want You to be greater in these minutes of this day, to help me see others through Your love goggles and only speak words that edify, build up and glorify You God in Jesus name amen.

  3. Krystal Willis

    I find the warning in verses 1-2 to be something we need to consider today as well: “if you remove your abhorrent idols from my presence and do not waver”… How often do we place our worldly idols in front of God? Whether it be making our possessions more important than our Heavenly Father, or what we want to do ahead of spending time with Him. Jeremiah is filled with warnings of what it could look like if we don’t course correct. True obedience is putting a Christ first and letting go of our hold on these worldly things and behaviors.

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    Vs.1-2 God warned that destruction was certain, but He promised that the faithful would be spared. This is true for us today. God’s living word must take root in our hearts as well as the knowledge of it in our minds. May I never forget that it was my sin that put Jesus on the cross. I trust and believe in Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. Hallelujah!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.