Jeremiah 4

Jeremiah 4 pursues the moral pleadings with the people. "If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith Jehovah, return unto Me." And then comes the call that God could not be satisfied with outward forms. "Circumcise yourselves to Jehovah, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it." You observe the peculiarity. It is the Jew particularly that comes into the scope of the prophet with regard to his moral unfitness for the blessing of God.

So he says later on in the chapter, "The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way"; - (referring to Nebuchadnezzar) - "he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant." "And it shall come to pass at that day, saith Jehovah, 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." No power will be found anywhere because God was forsaken.

"Then said I, Ah, Lord Jehovah! surely Thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul." In verse 14, he appeals to Jerusalem to repent: "O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" Then later (verses 19, 20), he shows his intense grief over these troubles and destructions that were accumulating against Jerusalem: "My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried."

So mighty are the coming disasters that in the vision before him we are reminded of the chaotic state of the world set out in the very beginning of Genesis. "I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all 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 a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of Jehovah, and by His fierce anger." All this was a vision of the trouble that was hanging over the Jews, and, in fact, over the nations generally. This prophecy goes far beyond what Nebuchadnezzar inflicted, and includes retributive judgments still future.