Disaster Is Coming (Jeremiah 4-6)

Big Idea: (1) Those who reject a relationship with God and refuse to repent will experience the terrible wrath and judgment of God.

(2) The visions of judgment are so horrific that Jeremiah can hardly bear them. Once judgment comes, there is no escape.

(3) Refusing to obey God is indeed very foolish, for even the sea obeys God.

"For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible disaster" (Jer 4:6b). "Your own conduct and actions have brought this on you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart! 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" (Jer 4:18-19). "A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophet prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end" (Jer 5:30-31). "To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed (uncircumcised) so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in in" (Jer 6:10). "This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, "We will not listen"'" (Jer 6:16).

In the church we often focus on the positive side of the gospel, stressing eternal life and forgiveness of sins. However, Jeremiah (particularly 4:5-31) forces us to see that unrepentant sin, open defiance of God, and refusal to listen to him will result in experiencing the terrible wrath of God. Jeremiah also emphasizes that God continues to plead for repentance, even as the judgment unfolds.
  • Ch. 1: The call of the prophet. (The Call and the Word of God)
  • Ch. 2: The charge of idolatry/spiritual adultery. (Spiritual Adultery)
  • Ch. 3: The calls for repentance, but there is none.
  • Ch. 4-6: The consequent and inevitable judgment. The Babylonian invasion is the means that God will use to pour out his wrath.
Where is the gospel in the seemingly merciless wrath of God? The punishment and wrath of God's judgment is devastating and bitter. It is what we deserve--we who forsake God and replace it with some other desire, like a harlot availing herself to her lovers (Jer 2:20; 3:1), and like a wild donkey in heat (Jer 2:24). Yet, God in his unfathomable mercy and grace, took the wrath and judgment that we deserve upon himself, so that we, who deserve wrath and judgment, can be forgiven and restored (2 Cor 5:21).

In Jeremiah ch. 2 God describes the terrible sin that the people of Jerusalem and Judah have committed. Like a wild donkey in heat (Jer 2:24), they committed spiritual adultery and shattered their relationship with him and brought disaster upon themselves. God become like a scorned jilted lover. Yet in 3:1-4:4 God pleads with them to repent and return to him (Jer 3:12, 14, 22; 4:1, 3-4). But they do not repent and became even more entrenched in their sin and rejection of him. Chapters 4-6 (4:5-6:30) described the consequent wrath of God, the inevitable judgment that will be carried out through the imminent Babylonian invasion. The boiling pot tilting from the north (Jer 1:13-14) has finally tipped over. Now the brutal Babylonian army pours out all across the land of Judah.
  1. The warning of coming judgment (ch. 4). It begins with a trumpet sounding the alarm as the Babylonian invasion begins (Jer 4:5) and ends with the dying scream of Daughter Zion (Jer 4:31). Jeremiah also is in anguish (Jer 4:18-19).
  2. The reasons: Why the judgment is coming (ch. 5). Not even one person "does justice" (Jer 5:1). The Bible teachers speak lies about God (Jer 5:12-13, 31). How guilty Jerusalem is and how well deserving is the judgment of God (Jer 5:19). Even the sea obeys God, but not his people (Jer 5:23-24).
  3. The inevitability of judgment (ch. 6).
Since the people will not turn away (shub) from their sin and turn to (shub) God in repentance (3:1-44), God will not turn away (shub) from his wrath (Jer 4:8, 28).

Chapter 4: How bitter it will be when the judgment comes on those who bring it upon themselves (Jer 4:18). The entire land under attack.
  • 5-9 Sound the trumpet to announce the coming disaster so that people can flee to the fortified cities.
  • 10-12 False prophets proclaim peace (Jer 6:14), but God is bringing judgment.
  • 13-17 The Babylonian chariots rapidly advance.
  • 18-21 Jeremiah cries out in anguish.
  • 22 How foolish the people are to bring disaster on themselves.
  • 23-28 The destruction and judgment is so bad that it is described as a reversal of creation.
  • 29 No place to hide.
  • 30-31 Personified Jerusalem once again plays the harlot to seduce the invaders and save her life, but it doesn't work. The Babylonians kill her.
Chapter 5: The culpability and well deserved judgment comes on those who refuse to obey God and embrace immorality, social injustice and dishonesty.
  • 1-9 God tells Jeremiah to go search the streets and try to find one person who "does justice" and seeks truth.
  • 10-13 Because of rampant lies and dishonesty (Jer 5:12-13), Jerusalem will be stripped of its branches like a vineyard.
  • 14-19 The Babylonians will come and devour Jerusalem like a fire burning up wood.
  • 20-25 Even the mighty sea obeys God, but not his foolish people.
  • 26-31 The entire society of Jerusalem--the leaders and the people--is characterized by social injustice (Jer 5:28).
Chapter 6: There are serious consequences for those who rebelliously replace the word of God with lies. (Like bookends, it parallels 4:5-31, both being in the present tense.) It focuses on the siege of Jerusalem.
  • 1-8 The Babylonians have Jerusalem under siege and are anxious to get on with the attack.
  • 9-15 Israel will be gleaned as a vine is gleaned of its grapes, for its sin is great.
  • 16-21 The disaster comes because the people have refused to listen to God and to walk in its ways.
  • 22-26 The people of Jerusalem are terrified as the cruel Babylonian army approaches.
  • 27-30 Jeremiah's concluding summary of the corruption and rebellion of Jerusalem and Judah using the analogy of smelting (purifying metals) (Eze 22:17-22).