Judgment is Sure to Come

In a book entitled Down to Earth, John Lawrence tells the story of a city that dared God to show Himself and paid a terrible price. It seems that the city of Messina, Sicily, was home to many wicked, irreligious people. On December 25, 1908, a newspaper published in Messina … More

Judgment

Jeremiah’s first sermon was one of condemnation to backsliding Israel. The second gave an invitation, “Return unto me.” The third is one of judgment, describing the forthcoming judgement of God’s wrath upon His people for their sin. Again God promises to respond positively if Israel and Judah will indeed return unto Him (vv. 1-4). The Lord tells the people to head for Jerusalem (vv. 5-6). However, their repentance had to be genuine. Jeremiah uses three symbols to describe the coming judgment of the Babylonian invaders from the north.

  1. The first symbol was a lion coming in from the thicket. It comes to destroy not only the cities of Judah but also the Gentiles. He was a destroyer of nations coming to lay waste cities (vv. 7-8) to disrupt all leadership (v. 9), and to take away all national peace (v. 10).
  2. The second symbol is a scorching wind that blows in from the desert. This invasion was prophesied to be destructive to the life and livelihood of the people (vv. 11-14). The hordes of invaders were to come swiftly and in clouds of dust caused by their horses and chariots.
  3. The third symbol was that of the watchers. These were to come from a far country (vv. 15-18), staking out the Holy City and watching movement within its walls, waiting for the strategic moment to strike. The watchers symbolize the eyes of the divine Judge who sees the thoughts, desires and motives of the heart, and determines the moment of execution.

Application

God’s judgement is sure to come in my life if I refuse to allow the Word of God to remove the sin that hardens my heart before the good seed of God’s commands can take root (v. 3). Likewise, I must allow God to remove the thorns in my life if I expect God’s word to take root and grow.

Jeremiah 4:1-18 (English Standard Version)

"If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver, and if you swear, 'As the LORD lives,' in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory." For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: "Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds." Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say, "Blow the trumpet through the land; cry aloud and say, 'Assemble, and let us go into the fortified cities!' Raise a standard toward Zion, flee for safety, stay not, for I bring disaster from the north, and great destruction. A lion has gone up from his thicket, a destroyer of nations has set out; he has gone out from his place to make your land a waste; your cities will be ruins without inhabitant. For this put on sackcloth, lament and wail, for the fierce anger of the LORD has not turned back from us." "In that day, declares the LORD, courage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded." Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, 'It shall be well with you,' whereas the sword has reached their very life." At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, "A hot wind from the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, a wind too full for this comes for me. Now it is I who speak in judgment upon them." Behold, he comes up like clouds; his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles-- woe to us, for we are ruined! O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you? For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims trouble from Mount Ephraim. Warn the nations that he is coming; announce to Jerusalem, "Besiegers come from a distant land; they shout against the cities of Judah. Like keepers of a field are they against her all around, because she has rebelled against me, declares the LORD. Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart."

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