1 If you will return, O Israel, says the LORD, return to me: and if you will put away your abominations out of my sight, then you will not be removed. 2 And you will swear, The LORD lives, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations will bless themselves in him, and they will glory in him. 3 For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among 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 fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
- God promised them if they would return to Him and stop their abominations that they would not be removed from the Promised Land and that nations would bless themselves by knowing them and the Lord.
- The foreskin was excess. Their lives were not focused on the Lord but on excess of things that do not matter but that bring discipline, thorns.
- See Genesis 17 comments for a fuller explanation.
- Revelation 2:4-5 Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, unless you repent.
- Matthew 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the granary; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
5 Declare in Judah, and announce in Jerusalem; and say, Blow the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defended cities. 6 Lift up a banner toward Zion: flee for safety, do not stop: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. 7 The lion has come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he has gone out from his place to make your land desolate; and your cities will be laid waste, without an inhabitant.
- The evil that God was bringing from the north was an invading army.
8 Wrap yourself with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us. 9 And it will happen at that day, says the LORD that the heart of the king will perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests will be amazed, and the prophets will be astounded. 10 Then I said, Ah, Lord GOD! Surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, You will have peace; but the sword reaches unto the soul.
- God can’t lie. He doesn’t deceive.
- He had warned His people to turn from their idols for 861 years.
- The false prophets were saying their would be peace.
- God doesn’t want to do destroy them. But they didn’t turn from their idols.
- This act was done in love, for God is love.
- It was a loving Father allowing the cancer of evil to be removed so those who desire to can be saved.
- Zechariah 1:3 Therefore say to them, This is what the LORD of hosts says; Turn to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will turn to you, says the LORD of hosts.
- Titus 1:2 which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began…
11 At that time it will 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 or to cleanse, 12 but a full wind from those places will come unto me: now I will give sentence against them. 13 Behold, he will come up as clouds, and his chariots will be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! For we are plundered. 14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness that you may be saved. How long will your empty thoughts stay within you?
- We choose what we think. We are what we think. You think and decide before you act.
- Proverbs 23:7 … as a man thinks in His heart so he is.
15 For a voice declares from Dan, and announces affliction from mount Ephraim. 16 Mention to the nations; Behold, announce against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and will shout against the cities of Judah. 17 As keepers of a field, they are against her round about; because she has been rebellious against me, says the LORD.
- 1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.
The Lord is pained to His innermost being at the disasters we bring on ourselves
18 Your way and your doings have brought these things to you; this is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches to your heart. 19 My soul, my soul! 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.
- We shouldn’t blame God when judgments come.
- In His mercy He warns at length before He allows us to reap what we have sown—Galatians 6:7.
- Jeremiah 2:19 tells us He allows our own wickedness to correct us.
- Genesis 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
- Judges 5:8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates…
20 Disaster upon disaster is proclaimed; for the whole land is devastated: suddenly my tents are destroyed, and my tents in a moment. 21 How long will I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? 22 For my people are foolish, they have not known me; they are silly children, and they have no understanding: they are wise to do evil, but do not know how to do good.
- Notice that this verse defines foolishness—they have not known God.
- Psalm 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.
23 I looked on the earth, and, behold, it was without form, and empty; and the heavens, they had no light. 24 I looked on the mountains, and, behold, they trembled, and all the hills were shaken. 25 I looked, and, behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. 26 I looked, and, behold, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
- The Lord is angry at the pain and ruin that our bad choices bring to ourselves, to Him, to our loved ones, and to the world.
- God feels all pain.
- Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
- Revelation 16:19-20 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
He does not completely destroy His people
27 For this is what the LORD said, The whole land will be desolate; yet I will not make a full end. 28 For the earth will mourn for this, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it. 29 The whole city will flee for the noise of the horsemen and archers; they will go into thickets, and climb up on the rocks: every city will be forsaken, and no man dwell there. 30 And when you are spoiled, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you deck yourself with ornaments of gold, though you make your eyes large with paint, in vain you will make yourself beautiful; your lovers will despise you, they will seek your life. 31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that brings forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath, that spreads her hands, saying, Woe is me now! For my soul is wearied because of murderers.
- God investigates murder. The first time was in Genesis 4 when Cain killed Abel.
- Psalm 9:12 When he makes inquisition for blood, he remembers them: he does not forget the cry of the humble.
God’s eyes are on the truth
1 Run here and there through the streets of Jerusalem, see, and know, and seek in the its broad places, if you can find a man, if there are any that execute judgment, that seek the truth; and I will pardon it. 2 And though they say, The LORD lives; surely they swear falsely. 3 O LORD, are not your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; you have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
- God will pardon Jerusalem if they can find one just man that seeks the truth.
- John 17:17 Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
- Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
4 So I said, These are only the poor; they are foolish: they do not know the way of the LORD or the judgment of their God. 5 I will go to the great men, and will speak to them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.
- God has put mankind under certain life systems for their good.
- God gave man work to humble his pride.
- Those who refuse to work are breaking God’s yoke.
- God gave women to be in submission to their husbands.
- It is to humble their hearts before the Lord.
- That is the only place any of us will be happy, quiet in God.
- God’s way has been fully disclosed in the Holy Scriptures for thousands of years now in writing.
- Before then it was fully communicated to all who would hear by other means.
- Psalm 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
- Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
6 Therefore a lion out of the forest will slay them, and a wolf of the evenings will spoil them, a leopard will watch over their cities: every one that goes out will be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings have increased.
- Isaiah 26:9 With my soul I have desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me I will seek you early: for when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
7 Why should I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses. 8 They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbor's wife.
9 Shall I not visit for these things, asks the LORD? Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? 10 Go up on her walls, and destroy; but do not make a full end: take away her battlements for they are not the LORD's. 11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, says the LORD. 12 They have lied about the LORD, and said, It is not he; no evil will come upon us; neither will we see sword or famine: 13 And the prophets will become wind, and the word is not in them: so it will be done to them.
- God is impeccably fair, full of mercy, and longsuffering.
- The prophets had spoken emptiness to the people rather than the valuable things of their Creator. So they will become empty like wind.
- Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that is what he will reap.
The Lord makes His word fire to devour the rebellious
14 Therefore this is what the LORD God of hosts says, Because you speak this word, behold, I will make my words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it will devour them. 15 Look, I will bring a nation upon you from far away, O house of Israel, says the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know or understand what they say. 16 Their quiver is as an open grave, they are all mighty men. 17 And they will eat up your harvest, and your food that your sons and your daughters should eat: they will eat up your flocks and your herds: they will eat up your vines and your fig trees: they will impoverish your fenced cities that you trusted in, with the sword.
- He brings a conquering nation against the rebellious.
- Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
18 Nevertheless in those days, says the LORD, I will not make a full end with you. 19 And it will happen when you say, Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us? Then you will answer them, As you have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so you will serve strangers in a land that is not yours. 20 Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, 21 Now hear this, O foolish people without heart; who have eyes, and do not see; who have ears, and do not hear: 22 Do you not fear me, asks the LORD? Will you not tremble at my presence, who has placed the sand for the boundary of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though its waves toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? 23 But this people have a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have revolted and gone. 24 Neither do they say in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that gives rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserves to us the appointed weeks of the harvest. 25 Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you. 26 For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that set snares; they set a trap, they catch men. 27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they have become great, and grown rich. 28 They have grown fat, they shine: yes, they pass over the deeds of the wicked: they do not judge the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and they do not judge right of the needy. 29 Shall I not visit for these things, asks the LORD? Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? 30 An astonishing and horrible thing is committed in the land; 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will you do in the end of it?
- Rulers should not take from the rich to give to the poor. That is stealing.
- Charity is a personal matter between man and God.
- Rulers should not take from those who work and give it to those that do not work.
- God commands man to work.
- Rulers should not over tax the rich or the poor. It
should be the same for all.
- Judges should hear the legal matters of both rich and poor alike.
- Legal extortion should not be allowed by passing laws that favor any one group.
- The Lord disciplines nations and people for wrong behavior.
- The astonishing and horrible thing was God’s prophets not telling God’s people God’s words but instead they were leading God’s people by evil.
- What will you do when judgment comes?
- Matthew 16:26-27 For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27.For the Son of man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he will reward every man according to his works.
1 O children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Beth-haccerem: for evil appears out of the north, and great destruction. 2 I will destroy the daughter of Zion, the tender and beautiful one. 3 The shepherds with their flocks will come to her; they will pitch their tents against her round about; they will feed every one in his place. 4 Prepare war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Cries of grief to us! For the day goes away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out. 5 Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces. 6 For this is what the Lord of hosts said, Cut down trees, and cast a siege mound against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; in whose midst there is only oppression.
- Following God’s laws would have brought peace and abundance.
- Their greed and idolatry brought misuse of the law with high taxation, legislated extortion, stealing, violence and murder with no justice in court.
- Job 36:15 He delivers the poor in his affliction, and opens their ears in oppression.
7 As a fountain casts out her waters, so she casts out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; grief and wounds are continually before me. 8 Be instructed, O Jerusalem, so that my soul does not depart from you; so that I do not make you desolate, a land not inhabited. 9 This is what the Lord of hosts says, They will thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel like a vine: turn back your hand as a grape-gatherer into the baskets. 10 To whom can I speak and give warning that will listen? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot listen: behold, the word of the LORD is to them a reproach; they have no delight in it.
- When we seek God and love Him, His word is a delight to us because we see Him there.
- The grief and wounds of the world are before God continually.
- An uncircumcised ear listens to worthless and evil things.
- A circumcised ear determines to listen to God.
- John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
11 Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out on the children abroad, and on the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife will be taken, the aged with him that is full of days. 12 And their houses will be turned over to others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand on the inhabitants of the land, says the LORD. 13 For from the least of them to the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest every one deals falsely. 14 They have healed the fracture of the daughter of my people lightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
- The Lord is full of fury at the injustice and ruined lives.
- When they begin to reap what they have sown from the hand of God, then the leaders say, It will be ok. Things will turn around soon.
- Colossians 3:5, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
The Lord promised rest for their souls if they would walk in His ways
15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they will fall among those that fall: when I visit them they will be cast down, says the LORD. 16 This is what the Lord says, Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it. 17 I set watchmen over you, saying, Listen to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, we will not listen. 18 Therefore hear, you nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. 19 Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil on this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not listened to my words or to my law, but rejected it.
- The old paths are the ways that God set out from the beginning.
- They chose evil so God gave them evil.
- Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
20 Why bring me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices are not sweet to me. 21 So this is what the Lord says, Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons will fall on them together; the neighbor and his friend will perish. 22 This is what the Lord says, Behold, a people comes from the north country, and a great nation will be raised from the sides of the earth. 23 They will lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roars like the sea; and they ride on horses, deployed as men for battle against you, O daughter of Zion. 24 We have heard of their fame: our hands grow feeble: anguish has taken hold of us, and pain, as a woman in labor. 25 Do not go out into the field, or walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side. 26 O daughter of my people, wrap yourself with sackcloth, and wallow in ashes: mourn, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler will suddenly come on us.
- What good is it to bring gifts to God but not listen to Him? How insulting is that?
- God rejected their expensive and beautiful worship services because He saw their heart.
- 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.
The Lord rejects those who reject Him
27 I have set you for a tower and a fortress among my people, that you may know and try their way. 28 They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanderers: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. 29 The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melts in vain: for the wicked are not removed. 30 Men will call them rejected silver, because the LORD has rejected them.
SUMMARY: Jeremiah 4-6
- The Lord is pained to His innermost being at the disasters we bring on ourselves
- He does not completely destroy His people
- The Lord makes His word fire to devour the rebellious
- The Lord promised rest for their souls if they would walk in His ways
- The Lord rejects those who reject Him