Towards the world of chaosⅠ Sorrow of the prophetJeremiah 4:5-31
Last time (3:19 to 4:2), Israel has repented the crime as if they met expectation of God, and has yearned to return to God; such a scene was talked. However, would the such confession of them have been a sham experience? However, all comes to nothing, and they become people of captivity at last and will lick the hardships in a place of far-off Babylon. At that time, only after it came, they experienced repentance and a quick return to God that was talked about here. They have wanted to return, but could not do it; it was very bitter experience. There is a song of sorrow in Psalms like this. "By the river of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps. For their our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion'" (137:1-3) Probably, the order that Jeremiah has talked about would be like this. But, after such a message that they could not return even if they have wanted to return was talked, the whole of the judgment of God (?) is revealed touching on the real issue of the Israel, about why it became so. We want to hear that message this morning.
"Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say, 'Blow the trumpet in the land; cry aloud and say, "Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities." Lift up a standard toward Zion! Seek refuge, do not stand still, for I am bringing evil from the north, and great destruction. A lion has gone up from his thicket, and a destroyer of nations has set out; he has gone out from his place to make your land a waste. Your cities will be ruins without inhabitant. For this, put on sackcloth, lament and wail; for the fierce anger of the Lord has not turned back from us.'" (5-8) A massacre, destruction, the dilapidation, the terrible anger of the Lord were talked about. There is it at Verse 9, "The heart of the king and the heart of princes will fail; and the priests will be appalled, and the prophets will be astounded.". For the ruin that they did not think, leaders panic and are upset, and they ignore their own faults, and shift their responsibility to God. "Ah, Lord God! Surely Thou hast utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, 'You will have peace'; whereas a sword touches the throat." (10) Because here it is said that "Then I said", this was surely words of Jeremiah; but the Japanese translation, except 新改訳 and 岩波訳, has deleted this "I" because it was strange. However, because Ancient Greek manuscripts and full Hebrew (Masora) have this, it seems this is the place which must not be deleted. It was covered until now, but heart to swing of Jeremiah who was called to preach words of God seems to be indicated here.
Ⅱ While it approaches every moment
"Behold, he goes up like clouds, and his chariots like the whirlwind; his hoses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are ruined!" (13) "Report it to the nations, now! Proclaim over Jerusalem, 'Besiegers come from a far country, and lift their voices against the cities of Judah.'" (16) "My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart! my heart is pounding in me; I cannot be silent, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war." (19-20) Story to ruin is becoming increasingly apparent one by one. It seems not the identity of the enemy coming to attack is revealed yet, but it is telling about the cavalry which is coming to march as Sturm und Drang and the chariots which are drawing by war-horses; and it seems to say that the army which can surround across the "country" of Judah, will come from "far away". "For a voice declares from Dan, and proclaims wickedness from Mount Ephraim." (15); it will be telling the state that the army moves from Dan in northern Israel to the mountainous district of south Ephraim with the great speed; and that state will be told to the military headquarters of Jerusalem every moment by a messenger. Mountains in Ephraim is very close to Jerusalem. It is not burning fighting spirit to the enemy, but, it is despair and destruction which comes soon; such war situation of tension is transmitted here.
Will this be going to remind about the army of the king of Assyria / Sennacherib? It attacked the Northern Kingdom approximately 100 years ago, and after that it steps more to the south and surrounded Jerusalem (BC701). Of course Jeremiah did not witness the encircling net. Because, it was an event in front of 100 years. However, that scene lets totally us feel even a bright color as the one scene of the movie. The north army which is going to attack the south kingdom is like that terrible enemy who destroyed the north kingdom, and Jeremiah feels there is not the way escaping from there anymore. The course to escape is only one, it is to ask the Lord. Therefore, Jeremiah cried. "Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem, that you may be saved. How long will your wicked thoughts lodge within you?" (14) Will Jeremiah feel there is still a wish under such desperate circumstances? When the Sennacherib forces surrounded Jerusalem, it became totally destroyed, it was because the Lord have sent the epidemic during single night; will he be going to remind people hearing the fact which raised the military of the siege forces more than 200,000? At that time, soldiers of Sennacherib whom the messenger of the Lord defeated were 185,000 people; there is it at 37:36 of Isaiah and at 19:35 of 2 Kings. It was because the king Hezekiah prayed to the Lord in tears.
Ⅲ Towards the world of chaos
"Your ways and your deeds have brought these things to you. This is your evil. How bitter! How it has touched your heart!" (18) Jeremiah is not a bystander anymore at this stage as a person who talks about the ruin. The ruin is for himself. The following from Verse 19 is Jeremiah's own grief. "My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart! My heart is pounding in me; I cannot be silent. Because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war..."; the wailing of Jeremiah do not stop. It is not grief of Jeremiah only to share the despair of the people which is suffering from the impending doom. Because, he is a person of notice to convey the despair. He who had to become a messenger conveying such despair suffers whether he himself is helping the collapse. The pain of the "heart" of Jeremiah bursting almost comes. The ruin of brethren and the collapse of neighbor..., such situation happens around us frequently; we are called as a messenger of the Gospel in this present age, and we seem to be asked whether we are preaching the word of the Lord with the pain really like Jeremiah.
Verse 23-28 is considered one of the most magnificent in the literature of prophecy. It is a scene of reminding Genesis Chapter 1, and a terribly weird event saying downfall of the world is talked about in expression of apocalypse literature; and probably, it will be an independent message itself. "I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and behold, there was no man. And all the birds of the heavens had fled. I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were pulled down before the Lord, before His fierce anger. For thus says the Lord, 'The whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not execute a complete destruction. For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be dark, because I have spoken, I have purposed, and I will not change My mind, nor will I turn from it.'" It may be said that it is the world of chaos. Jeremiah testifies that this is a thing by God, saying "I have purposed", but it makes us feel the events beyond much more than the destruction of the south kingdom. Will it lead that we modern also must think about the end? Because, it is done by the God who is a world judger. Sorrow of God seems to come. In the last part, Jeremiah seems to superimpose this ruin of the kingdom on the end. "Your lovers despise you; they seek your life" (30), and "The cry of the daughter of Zion" (31) will be so, too. We chew words of Jesus that "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold", and want to become quiet before the Lord.