The Strong and Swift Enemy of Judah

So, Jeremiah unwisely accuses the Lord of deception. You might expect the Lord to strike him down or at least respond to Jeremiah. Instead, amazingly, God goes right back to warning his people about the coming enemy who will destroy God’s unrepentant people.

A Strong Scorching Wind

In Jeremiah 4:11-12, the enemy is pictured as a strong scorching desert wind.

This wind represents the coming enemy. It is strong and overwhelming and harmful. And this coming enemy is stated as God’s means of judgement on his unrepentant people.

Swift Clouds & Birds

But not only is the enemy pictured as a strong scorching wind. They’re also pictured as swift clouds, while their chariots are compared to a whirlwind, and their horses are pictured as eagles in Jeremiah 4:13.

So, the emphasis of what we just read is on the swiftness of the enemy and his means of transportation.

The Reaction to the Enemy

And both the overwhelming and harmful strength and the swiftness of the enemy causes a reaction of fear and dread and despair at the end of Jeremiah 4:13.

It might sound like the people of Judah are being recorded in that verse. But unfortunately I think we see in the book of Jeremiah that the people are fairly unmoved by God’s threats. The reaction we have in Jeremiah 4:13 is certainly how the people should have reacted.

So, this could be God again providing a template or model for his people to follow in regard to how they should react to this pronouncement of judgement. Or it could be Jeremiah himself reacting to this news of the swift and dangerous enemy.

Repentance Urged in Light of Coming Punishment

And because this is how Judah should respond – with contrition – and yet that’s not how they are responding, God in Jeremiah 4:14-18 urges repentance upon them precisely so that he can turn back from his plans to bring the destroying enemy to humble his hard-hearted people.

I think it’s beautiful and very telling of the character of our God that the Lord even here is urging repentance upon his people. He’s giving them a way of escape from the punishment. His main aim was not the punishment of his people. It was restoring a right relationship between himself and his people that was his main desire.

Another Reaction to the Enemy

Well, despite God’s desire for his people to repent, the threat of the coming enemy is still on the table. And so in Jeremiah 4:19-21 we have another reaction to the coming of the enemy. In this case, the one who’s reacting – probably Jeremiah – is lamenting that this is going to happen.

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Judah's Strong and Swift Enemy
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Judah's Strong and Swift Enemy
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So, Jeremiah unwisely accuses the Lord of deception. You might expect the Lord to strike him down or at least respond to Jeremiah. Instead, amazingly, God goes right back to warning his people about the coming enemy who will destroy God's unrepentant people.
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Explaining the Book
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