When we’re caught out doing something wrong our response is usually to justify our actions and then downplay them as of little consequence. “I was in a hurry officer and I was only doing three or 4 miles above the speed limit, honest!” Judah had been told of the coming judgment, in chapter 5 they are reminded why it will come but they have little concern.

God speaks

  1. Worthless idols

Jeremiah has been commissioned, he has been told that God will be watching and strengthening him for the difficult days ahead. Now, the work begins: ‘The word of the Lord came to me: Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem.’

The fourth chapter of Jeremiah begins where chapter 3 ended: with a call to return, but Judah did not return, and as we shall see, failure to return brings the warning of disaster from the North. Jeremiah’s response to this situation is one of great anguish and sorrow.

Jeremiah – the reluctant prophet

Israel’s existence and relationship with God is founded on promises God made through Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel (see Jeremiah introduction part 1). These promises are shaped by God’s character of love and mercy.

Return

Jeremiah’s ministry has begun. The Lord is speaks through him in these first few chapters of the book. The message in chapter 2 is uncompromising and clear – Judah had turned away from the Lord and in accordance with the covenant made just before they entered the Promised Land (the Deuteronomic covenant), judgment is about to fall. The images of Judah’s disobedience are uncomfortable and distasteful. Nevertheless, there is hope – God’s plan for Israel and his promises to Abraham, Moses and David would be realised. In this third chapter, we see glimpses of hope amidst the mess of Judah’s sinful rebellion.

Jeremiah – the background

Last time we looked at the covenants that God made with Israel. As we understand how these covenants form the relationship between God and Israel, they help us to understand why things played out the way they did in Jeremiah’s day.

Before we start looking at chapter 1, it seems sensible to grasp the history that took place during the time of Jeremiah’s work. We’ll look at this from the perspective of the nations, the kings of Israel and Jeremiah himself.