Jeremiah 4-6
(Danger People of Judah! Danger!)
August 4th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

- "Sound the alarm in Judah,
    broadcast the news in Jerusalem.
Say, ‘Blow the ram’s horn trumpet through the land!’
    Shout out—a bullhorn bellow!—
‘Close ranks!
    Run for your lives to the shelters!"

- Jeremiah 4:5 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

These three chapters focus on the warnings of danger from an enemy to the north of Judah. Chapter 4 opens with a conciliatory message from the LORD, telling the people that if they return to him and put aside their idols, then he will bless them. He calls for them to soften their hearts. But the people will not heed this call, so Jeremiah prophesizes in a series of poems (1). The first, in verses 5-10, describes the destruction coming from the north (Babylon). He depicts the Babylonians as a lion, coming to devour Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel) as its prey.

In the second poem (Jer 4:11-18), Jeremiah describes the future disaster as a “scorching desert wind.” In the third one, he expresses his own painful despair over the future events (Jer 4:19-22). Then in the fourth poem (Jer 4:23-28), he paints a picture of utter destruction, using the same Hebrew words found in the beginning of Genesis: tohu wabohu (total emptiness). Jeremiah reports that the LORD says he “will not destroy it completely (Jer 4:27 - NIV)” but in the last poem (Jer 4:29-31) he notes that the people will mourn and take flight and will try to entice the invaders at the last minute - a foolish and unprofitable defense strategy.

In chapter 5, the LORD asks if there is one honest person in Jerusalem. If yes, then he will spare the city, else the foretold destruction will occur. This scenario is reminiscent of the story in Genesis where Abraham asked God to spare Sodom if only ten innocent people were found (See Genesis 18:16-33). Unfortunately, in the case of Jerusalem during the time of Jeremiah, none are to be found. The common people had no opportunity to learn of God, the leaders who should have known better have abandoned God, and parents have not raised their children in the word, so they forsake God and follow false idols.

Husbands and wives ignored their God-given obligation to each other and pursued others’ spouses like wild animals without restraint. Even the words of the prophet were ignored as the people claim that “the prophets are but wind and the word is not in them (Jer 5:13 - NIV).” Because of these long-running behaviors and rebellion the LORD is sending a distant nation to punish them.

Chapter 6 begins with a shout of warning:

    O ye 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 Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.

    - Jeremiah 6:1 (KJV)

The prophet warns of an advancing army from the north. This army is endorsed by God who seeks to punish Jerusalem for turning a deaf ear to him. God calls for wrath to be poured out on all generations: Kids, young couples, and senior citizens. God mocks the priests and prophets who foolishly assure their people of peace when tragedy is lurking around the corner. The LORD sent real prophets to warn them, but no one heard it, so God is bringing disaster to them. The LORD reminds the people of the pointlessness of their empty sacrifices and then warns them of the enormity of what is about to happen.

Reflection and Application

God gives us second chances over and over. We act wisely when we accept his invitation for the latest second chance, because it might be the last one. Perhaps the destruction described in chapter 4 will apply to multiple future events. One that has come to pass was the conquest of Judah by Babylonia, who emerged as the regional power, supplanting Assyria and overpowering all of its neighbors. The utter desolation may also refer to a time yet to come. Rather than trying to entice our enemies at the last minute, as some of the Jerusalemites did, we ought to seek to draw nearer to the LORD, as he is the one true refuge.

Do we ever feel like we also have trouble finding one honest person? What a joy it is when we meet a person who returns a wallet or other valuable without expecting anything in return. Surveys published by Readers Digest in 2010 indicate that most people would return a found wallet - so it seems if there are a lot of honest folks out there! Let us keep our minds focused on God’s laws so that we might be one of the honest people that encourage another.

What would we do if the people we loved were in imminent danger? Like Jeremiah, in verse 6:1 we might also shout a warning – as in “watch out for that oncoming car!” Or the danger might be a slow incremental path into the wrong valley, and we need to direct our loved one out of that place and onto the right path. Gentle encouragement might be the best first tactic, but we may also have to shout, “Flee! Flee for safety!”

Jeremiah’s warning reminds me of the warning signals emitted by the Robot character in the 1960s TV series, “Lost in Space.” One of its famous lines, which has transcended generations, was “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!” The robot reported this statement at high volume and flailed its arms around in random patterns for added emphasis to warn the young space-travelling boy and his family. Thanks to its superior programming, the Robot could discern danger well in advance of the humans and was programmed to warn and protect. In a similar way, dogs warn their owners of nearby danger before the humans can sense it. The danger may be a wild animal, a fire, or an approaching FedEx truck - but the alert canine lets us know that something is approaching. Because of his calling from God, Jeremiah was also able to determine danger before other humans. We may want to examine our own instincts and ask ourselves if we listen to the warnings of the Robot, the family dog, and the watchful prophet.

Jeremiah tried to warn the people that they had gone too far in disrespecting their Creator. When we have tried God’s patience beyond what he is willing to endure then there will be suffering across the board – it’s possible that when that time comes that representatives of every living generation will be subject to punishment.

If we agree that we need to warn our loved ones of danger, then we must also agree that giving them false hope is a bad course. There is no point in predicting peace if war is inevitable. This is one of the problems pointed out by Jeremiah in chapter 6. The false prophets were saying everything was okay, but it was not. We had similar false comforters in our financial markets and other arenas over the past few years. The masses wanted to believe in the optimism of the yea-sayers, but there was danger in doing so. When we are made aware of future risks and consequences then we are more able to apply some type of wisdom to mitigate this risk and attempt to reverse course. Simply saying all will be well might suffice in some situations, but in other cases our wisdom will lead us to conclude that some type of corrective action is required.

If you want to re-live the experience of hearing and seeing the Robot’s famous words or if you have never seen it and want to, then check out this very brief YouTube video of clips from “Lost in Space.”

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

Related Questions

  1. What type of dangerous close encounters have you had with wild animals?
  2. What warnings would Jeremiah write about if he lived today?
  3. How can we correct our course of action to avoid the dangers that we have been warned about by God and his spokespeople?

Recommended Prayer
Father in heaven, we acknowledge that you created the world from emptiness and can return it to emptiness at your will. Help us to fill our own emptiness with your Grace by accepting it and following you.

Suggested Prayer Concerns
Space Travelers


(1) Boadt, Lawrence, Jeremiah 1-25, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 1982, p.41-45

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow's reading: Jeremiah 7-8 (Empty Sacrifices)

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