Pause. Ask God to feed you now from his Word.
Read Jeremiah 4:5–31
Disaster From the North
5 “Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say:
‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’
Cry aloud and say:
Let us flee to the fortified cities!’
6 Raise the signal to go to Zion!
Flee for safety without delay!
For I am bringing disaster from the north,
even terrible destruction.”
7 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
8 So put on sackcloth,
lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us.
9 “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 deceived this 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.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow do you feel after you knowingly sin?
How does God see you when you sin? Do you imagine him cold and distant, frowning disapproval from afar? True, God does not take sin lightly—the first half of this chapter (5–18) describes the severe judgment that is coming on Judah because sin is so serious. But the Judge is not indifferent and unfeeling. In fact, he’s in anguish (19). The judgment he is bringing (6b) on the people causes agony to his heart, even though they have brought it on themselves (18).
Jeremiah is known as “the weeping prophet” because his pronouncements are so often filled with tears, with mourning, with the strongest of feelings. Often, it is difficult to distinguish between which are God’s words and which are Jeremiah’s. And that is precisely the point: “It’s not merely that Jeremiah speaks God’s words; he also feels God’s feelings” (Christopher J. H. Wright, The Message of Jeremiah, 28). The intensity of these verses pushes home the point: our sin pierces God’s heart, and bitterly so (18).
We are so deeply loved by God. Our sin is not a small thing, not only because God is infinitely worthy of our worship, but because he cares so deeply for us, and desires our good. Our disobedience breaks his heart.
This week, make a point of asking God to help you see sin the way he sees it.
Reflect on the foolishness of sin (22), and spend some time confessing your sin to God.
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