Fifthteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Pastor's Summary of Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28

Our reading is verses selected from a poem. God, speaking through Jeremiah, warns that a foe "from the north" v. 6) probably the Babylonian army) is approaching. The people of Judah have not heeded God's call for conversion, so God expresses his anger through invasion. False prophets have deceived Judah into complacency (v. 10), but the enemy marauds like a "lion" (v. 7) in the north of the land.  The political leaders will lack courage and the religious ones will be "appalled" (v. 9) when the army arrives. God's judgement will sweep over the land like a "hot wind" (v. 11, a sirocco). (A normal wind was used to "winnow or cleanse", v. 11, to separate the wheat from the chaff.) The enemy, with his chariots and cavalry, will come like a "whirlwind" (v. 13) and "swifter than eagles". There is still a chance for conversion but the people, stubbornly set in their ways, will not heed God's call (v. 14). Judah will be besieged, for she "has rebelled against me, says the Lord" (v. 17). the people's conduct has brought "doom" (v. 18) upon them. In vv. 19-21`, Jeremiah tells of his mixed emotions. Even though devoted to his people, God has called him to announce destruction and punishment. May the disaster be as short as possible! How "foolish" (v. 22) and "stupid" his people are! They may have intellectual knowledge of God, but true "understanding" is living lives inspired by his truths.

Vv. 23-28 present another picture of the coming devastation. It will be as though the earth has returned to its primordial  un-ordered (chaotic) state, "waste and void"; the scene will be shocking to "the heavens". The "fruitful" (v. 26 land of Israel will be utter "desolation" (v., 27), incapable of supporting a population ("there was no one at all", v. 25), and unable to feed even the "birds". But this will not be the complete "end" (v. 27c) of life on earth, for some (not necessarily people of Judah) will see the disaster and "mourn" (v. 28). Those remaining will see the darkening of the skies ("the heavens above will grow black") as though the end times have come.  In the final great anguish, like a woman in childbirth.