23 I looked at the earth,
and it was formless and empty;
and at the heavens,
and their light was gone.
24 I looked at the mountains,
and they were quaking;
all the hills were swaying.
25 I looked, and there were no people;
every bird in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert;
all its towns lay in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
27 This is what the Lord says:
“The whole land will be ruined,
though I will not destroy it completely.
28 Therefore the earth will mourn
and the heavens above grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not relent,
I have decided and will not turn back.”
(Jeremiah 4:23-28 NIV)
In yesterday’s passage, we saw Jeremiah’s grief over the Lord’s discipline upon the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem (vv. 19-21), and God’s response to Jeremiah (v. 22). In today’s passage, Jeremiah shares the revelation the Lord gave him (vv. 23-26), and what the Lord told him (vv. 27-28).
As we look at verses 23 – 26, it’s as if the entire creation account of Genesis chapter 1 is playing backwards. Notice how Jeremiah starts each verse with the phrase “I looked…”. Jeremiah did not give the vision a quick glance. He was staring in disbelief. What he saw in this vision was beyond understanding.
Let’s summarize the parallels between Jeremiah’s vision and Genesis 1:
- The earth returns to its initial state of unformed chaos (v. 23, Genesis 1:2)
- Light is gone, and darkness remains (v. 23, Genesis 1:3)
- The mountains, symbols of God’s righteousness, stability, and strength were shaking (v. 24, Genesis 1:9-10, Psalm 36:6)
- People were no longer present (v. 25, Genesis 1:26-31)
- Birds, representing all animal life, were gone (v. 25, Genesis 1:20-23)
- The fruitful land regressed to a barren desert (v. 26, Genesis 1:11-13)
Remember the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Clarence (the angel) takes George (played by Jimmy Stewart) around town and shows him what life would be like without George’s presence and influence. It was a dark, fearful, and lonely place without George there.
Similarly, on a hugely grander scale, the Lord shows Jeremiah what life would be like without His presence and influence. The nation of Judah would revert to the time before Creation – to a lifeless, pitch-black darkness with no order, only chaos. Everything and everyone that the nation of Judah was dependent upon would be gone.
After the Lord gave Jeremiah the vision of what was to come, the Lord then spoke to Jeremiah in verses 27 – 28. In verse 27, the Lord shows His wrath against sin and disobedience, as well as His mercy by not completely destroying Judah and Jerusalem. The Lord had made up His mind – there was no turning back at this point. Justice was the order of the day, but God’s glory, mercy, and love would ultimately prevail.
Just as the Lord painted Jeremiah this vision of life without Him in the physical world, so we saw life without Him in the spiritual world (chapter 3). The lifeless Canaanite gods formed by human hands had no power or influence to provide or protect their worshippers. Only the living God could meet the peoples’ desires and needs.
May we see with spiritual eyes how everything has its root, existence, and meaning in the Lord (Colossians 1:15-20).
May we pray earnestly for our cities, regions, states, and nations, that the Lord would be glorified, that sin would be confessed and repented, and that darkness and evil would be pushed back by the light of Jesus the Messiah.
And may the Lord use us to reflect His glory and offer hope to the broken and hurting world around us.
May we boldly step out in faith, face the darkness and chaos, and share the light of Christ with those around us.