Last time we saw a few facts about Jeremiah 4. First, God is promising judgement on Judah in the form of a coming destroying nation. Second, we noted that this judgement came right after God’s gentle merciful reaching out to Israel offering forgiveness if they repented. And lastly, unlike us who have the benefit of receiving this message post-by-post, Jeremiah got all of this information at once; glorious merciful forgiveness gives way to certain punishment.
And so in Jeremiah 4:10, the prophet – the faithful follower of the Lord – the man who will spend his entire life serving the Lord and his wayward people – Jeremiah himself responds to the Lord with shock and accusation.
Are the False Prophets Deceiving?
The NET Bible suggests that Jeremiah is expressing shock to the Lord because the prophets of Judah have been deceiving the people into thinking that they’ll have peace. So, then the prophets are saying to Judah “you shall have peace”.
And that possibility is attractive because it would mean that our beloved prophet Jeremiah is not actually accusing the Lord of deception. But unfortunately I think the NET Bible is missing the flow of the context, especially considering Jeremiah 3.
Or Was God Deceiving?
God was promising peace in Jeremiah 3. But he was doing so to a repentant Israel – which repentance God is still waiting for to this very day! It will happen. But it hasn’t yet.
So, Jeremiah is being a little selective in his recollection of God’s statement. God actually wasn’t offering peace to Judah to begin with. And if Judah wanted peace with God though, they’d need to repent to obtain it.
The Reason for Jeremiah’s Confusion
I think what’s happening here is that Jeremiah just heard God promising peace to Israel if they repent. And that must have thrilled his heart to hear. But then seemingly without warning the Lord switches from future-blessing mode to current-punishment mode. This kind of swift change in tone happens with some regularity and frequency in the book of Jeremiah. And, yes, it can be shocking. And to a man like Jeremiah here, this can be confusing, and if we’re not on our guard we might find ourselves accusing the Lord of deception as we read this book.
God’s Response to Jeremiah’s Accusation
So, Jeremiah unwisely accuses the Lord of deception. And so God strikes him down, right?
Wrong! God doesn’t respond to Jeremiah’s comment at all. Instead, the Lord goes right back to warning his people about the coming enemy who will destroy them if they don’t repent.
And in Jeremiah 4:11-12, the enemy is pictured as a strong scorching desert wind.