It is the evil of men’s doings that kindles the fires of God’s wrath against them and brings destruction upon the land.
That which is to be before He moves,
which makes a way of escape for those who will sincerely turn to Him and receive His mercy.
Dreaded above everything else is the wrath of God, but God always warns.
1 If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.
2 And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
3 ¶ For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
5 Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities.
6 Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.
7 The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.
8 For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from us.
9 And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.
10 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul.
11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse,
12 Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them.
13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.
14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
15 For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim.
16 Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah.
17 As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.
18 Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart.
19 ¶ My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.
21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
29 The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.
30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.
Jeremiah 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Jeremiah 4:3—Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
God’s sowing times are often neutralized by the hardness of the soil of our hearts. Caked over by the heavy tread of the passing years, neglected opportunities, and worldly society, even by the beautiful feet of his messengers, they need to be broken up. We sometimes speak of the breaking down of a great convention; but such an experience ought to lead to a breaking up of fallow ground. If this does not accrue from the gracious working of the Holy Spirit, it must be effected by the ploughshare of pain. “Tribulation” is derived from the Latin word for a harrow, tribulum.
In Finney’s Revival Sermons there is a great discourse on this text at the beginning of the book. It was the evangelist’s wont to open a mission by enumerating the ways by which his hearers’ hearts could be laid open to receive the seed of the kingdom. When hearing the Gospel, it is specially necessary to guard our hearers and ourselves against all hardness of heart and contempt of God’s Word and commandment.
Our Lord clearly tells us what the thorns are. He says they are the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life (Luke 8:14). The cares of the poor are as inimical to true religion as the wealth of the rich; and the absorption of the heart in pleasure is as hurtful as either. There is no room on the soil of our nature for more than one absorbing passion. If that be for the glory of Christ, it includes all other desires and pursuits; but if our thoughts are diverted to things or persons apart from Him, there is but little energy left for a strong religious life. O God, fill our hearts with such good crops that there may be no room for thorns! —Our Daily Homily