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1 If thou wilt returne, O Israel, saith the Lord, returne vnto mee: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remoue.

2 And thou shalt sweare, The Lord liueth, in Trueth, in Iudgement, and in Righteousnes, and the nations shall blesse themselues in him, and in him shall they glorie.

3 For thus saith the Lord to the men of Iudah and Ierusalem, Breake vp your fallow ground, and sow not among thornes.

4 Circumcise your selues to the Lord, and take away the foreskinnes of your heart, ye men of Iudah, and inhabitants of Ierusalem, lest my furie come forth like fire, and burne that none can quench it, because of the euill of your doings.

5 Declare ye in Iudah, and publish in Ierusalem, and say, Blow yee the Trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble your selues, and let vs goe into the defenced cities.

6 Set vp the standards toward Zion: retyre, stay not; for I will bring euil from the North, and a great destruction.

7 The Lion is come vp from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; hee is gone foorth from his place to make thy land desolate, and thy cities shall be layed waste, without an inhabitant.

8 For this gird you with sackcloth; lament and howle: for the fierce anger of the Lord is not turned backe from vs.

9 And it shall come to passe at that day, saith the Lord, that the heart of the King shall perish, and the heart of the Princes: and the Priests shalbe astonished, & the prophets shall wonder.

10 Then said I, Ah Lord God, surely thou hast greatly deceiued this people, and Ierusalem, saying, Ye shall haue peace, whereas the sword reacheth vnto the soule.

11 At that time shall it bee said to this people, and to Ierusalem; A dry winde of the high places in the wildernes toward the daughter of my people, not to fanne, nor to cleanse.

12 Euen a full winde from those places shall come vnto mee: now also will I giue sentence against them.

13 Behold, hee shall come vp as cloudes, and his charets shall bee as a whirlewinde: his horses are swifter then Eagles: woe vnto vs, for wee are spoiled.

14 O Ierusalem, wash thine heart from wickednesse, that thou mayest bee saued: how long shall thy vaine 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 Ierusalem, that watchers come from a farre countrey, and giue out their voice against the cities of Iudah.

17 As keepers of a fielde are they against her round about; because shee hath bene rebellious against mee, saith the Lord.

18 Thy way and thy doings haue procured these things vnto thee, this is thy wickednes because it is bitter, because it reacheth vnto thine heart.

19 My bowels, my bowels, I am pained at my very heart, my heart maketh a noise in mee, I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soule, the sound of the Trumpet, the alarme of warre.

20 Destruction vpon destruction is cried, for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtaines in a moment.

21 How long shal I see the standard and heare the sound of the Trumpet?

22 For my people is foolish, they haue not knowen me, they are sottish children, and they haue none vnderstanding: they are wise to doe euill, but to doe good they haue no knowledge.

23 I beheld the earth, and loe, it was without forme and void: and the heauens, and they had no light.

24 I beheld the mountaines, and loe they trembled, and all the hilles mooued lightly.

25 I behelde, and loe, there was no man, and all the birdes of the heauens were fled.

26 I beheld, and loe, the fruitfull place was a wildernesse, and all the cities thereof were broken downe 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 ende.

28 For this shall the earth mourne, and the heauens aboue be blacke: because I haue spoken it, I haue purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turne backe from it.

29 The whole citie shall flee, for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen, they shall goe into thickets, and climbe vp vpon the rockes: euery city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.

30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou doe? though thou clothest thy selfe with crimsin, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of golde, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vaine shalt thou make thy selfe faire, thy louers will despise thee, they will seeke thy life.

31 For I haue heard a voice as of a woman in trauel, and the anguish as of her that bringeth foorth her first childe, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth her selfe, that spreadeth her hands, saying; Woe is me now, for my soule is wearied because of murderers.

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Commentary for Jeremiah 4

Exhortations and promises. (1-2) Judah exhorted to repentance. (3-4) Judgements denounced. (5-18) The approaching ruin of Judah. (19-31)1,2 The first two verses should be read with the last chapter. Sin must be put away out of the heart, else it is not put away out of God's sight, for the heart is open before him.

3,4 An unhumbled heart is like ground untilled. It is ground which may be improved; it is our ground let out to us; but it is fallow; it is over-grown with thorns and weeds, the natural product of the corrupt heart. Let us entreat the Lord to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us; for except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

5-18 The fierce conqueror of the neighbouring nations was to make Judah desolate. The prophet was afflicted to see the people lulled into security by false prophets. The approach of the enemy is described. Some attention was paid in Jerusalem to outward reformation; but it was necessary that their hearts should be washed, in the exercise of true repentance and faith, from the love and pollution of sin. When lesser calamities do not rouse sinners and reform nations, sentence will be given against them. The Lord's voice declares that misery is approaching, especially against wicked professors of the gospel; when it overtakes them, it will be plainly seen that the fruit of wickedness is bitter, and the end is fatal.

19-31 The prophet had no pleasure in delivering messages of wrath. He is shown in a vision the whole land in confusion. Compared with what it was, every thing is out of order; but the ruin of the Jewish nation would not be final. Every end of our comforts is not a full end. Though the Lord may correct his people very severely, yet he will not cast them off. Ornaments and false colouring would be of no avail. No outward privileges or profession, no contrivances would prevent destruction. How wretched the state of those who are like foolish children in the concerns of their souls! Whatever we are ignorant of, may the Lord make of good understanding in the ways of godliness. As sin will find out the sinner, so sorrow will, sooner or later, find out the secure.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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