The Babylonian Army has left Babylon and is on its way, conquering and to conquer: Sadly, Israel didn’t steadfastly repent. Even though a significant work of repentance took place during the revival under Josiah the King, it did not persevere (Judges 2:7-11). Here, at a later time (apparently during the reign of Jehoiakim), Israel was in need of returning to the Lord (Jer. 4:1-2). Judging by the content of the prophecies, Jeremiah 4:1-6:30 is a distinct message from what was delivered during the reign of Josiah in Jeremiah 3:6-25, and, therein, Judah’s degeneration in the days of Jehoiakim is odiously apparent.
From verse 3 onward, Judah is the primary object of prophecy, God declaring: “I will bring evil from the North” (Jer. 4:6), “the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way” (Jer. 4:7), “he is gone forth from his place” (Jer. 4:7), “the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back” (Jer. 4:8), and, in respect to the manifestation of these things, “the heart of the King shall perish, and the heart of the Princes; and the Priests shall be astonished, and the Prophets shall wonder” (Jer. 4:9). Such things cannot be said of the status of Judah’s imminent invasion by Babylon in the days of Josiah; specifically speaking, I mean, during the remaining 18 years of his reign that transpired after Jeremiah was ordained as a Prophet before God. Why? Because, remember, Josiah was whole-heartedly repenting of all known sin and following the Lord, and the Lord determined that his eyes would not see the evil that is brought upon Judah and Jerusalem (2 Chron. 34:24-28).
This being the case, Josiah was not one of the Kings, Princes, Priests, or Prophets that was perishing in astonishment and wonder at the sword of Babylon reaching unto their very own souls, as Jeremiah prophesied (Jer. 4:8-9). Josiah did not see the defilement of the Temple (Jer. 4:20) or widespread slaughter and murder (Jer. 4:31), as Jeremiah foretold. Contrary to the people deserving such a fate, Josiah was executing judgment and seeking the truth, and by the Lord’s grace he found pardon with God (Jer. 5:1). Josiah was, therefore, a part of the company of “great men” in his time that knew “the way of the LORD” and “the judgment of their God”, and, yet, he didn’t break the yoke nor burst the bonds (Jer. 5:5), as Jeremiah described as the contrary in Jehoiakim’s day.
In the reign of Jehoiakim, all these indictments were fearfully accurate and precise! How? Concerning the fulfillment of these prophecies in the reign of Jehoiakim, two primary events are referenced in Jeremiah 4:1-6:30. These two events are the 1st & 2nd Captivities of Babylon which took place at different points in Jehoiakim’s reign (the 4th and 11th year). Therefore, as the plot of this historical situation thickens, it is important that we take note of the diverse relationship Judah had with Babylon at differing points of time, resulting in these two distinct Captivities.
At the 3rd year of the reign of Jehoiakim (Dan. 1:1) and before the 1st Captivity actually took place, Babylon arrived in the region (and Babylon had already gone out of his place at the time that this prophecy was given; Jer. 4:7), conquered Egypt (Jer. 46:2), and took over the tributary territories which were under the sovereignty of Egypt (2 Kings 23:34-35), which included Judah. This resulted in the 1st Captivity (which exiled Daniel and companions; Dan. 1:1) and the first of several robberies of the Temple; but, Judah, for three more years, conducted themselves faithful in the tributary agreement set up by Babylon so that nothing worse came upon them as of yet (2 Kings 24:1). Albeit, after three years (at the 8th year of his reign), Jehoiakim rebelled against the former agreement with Babylon; and, thickening the plot of the historical situation in relationship to the ministry of Jeremiah, Babylon did not come to Judah to reclaim sovereignty immediately because she was likely detained in other wars for the next three years. This provision of time proved to strengthen the bands of iniquity. All the way until the 11th year of Jehoiakim’s reign, the King, the Princes, the Priests, and the Prophets were taken in the fantastic lies of false prophets (Jer. 5:30-31) – words which healed the hurt of the people of Judah slightly, saying, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:13-15)! God warned them that war and destruction were still imminent during the space of these three years of rebellion, but they obstinately declared, “We will not hearken” (Jer. 6:16-17).
Babylon was on its way, it was urgent! – Jer. 6:22-23
The time and duration of this searching (in the midst of the 2nd year and toward the beginning of the 3rd year; the besiegement began in the 3rd year [Dan. 1:1] and Egypt was not defeated until the 4th year [Jer. 46:2]).
Jeremiah is commanded to RUN the STREETS of Jerusalem like a MADMAN! Hereby Jerusalem is searched. – Jer. 5:1-5
A promise of restoration upon the people’s repentance is offered. – Jer. 5:12 (their response)
With Babylon on its way, divine commands were given to Babylon and divine appeals were made to Jerusalem. – Jer. 6:1, 4, 5, 6, 22-26
Explicit appeals included hope that reprobation could be avoided. – Jer. 6:6-8
The LORD looked and listened for the people to repent, and what did He see and hear? – Jer. 6:13-15
A Remnant will be left. – Jer. 4:27, 5:10, 18
Despite all the correction theretofore the people were blindly staggering into the hands of an Angry God! – Jer. 5:3, 21