Jeremiah 4:23-31 – Like a Nightmare

Read Jeremiah 4:23-31

man looking into ring of fire

The first thing that darted through my mind as I read this passage was recollection of a recurring nightmare I’ve had where everything looks different. It is my house and my block, but there is absolutely nothing else that is recognizable. Frightening. Did Jeremiah feel like his vision of the future was like a horrible nightmare?

This is one dream that was going to come true. All that he had known would one day be gone, desolate, empty, and in ruins. None of us want to imagine our lives being turned upside down like that. To speak to the magnitude of the destruction, don’t forget that all “towns lay in ruins, crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.” God does this “on purpose.”

To get a sense of Jeremiah’s desperation, imagine that you returned home after a day at work only to find that vandals had come in, taken everything that you hold dear, and burned down your home. That’s not a pleasant image at all. What thoughts go through your mind?

What’s next? I’m sure Jeremiah was clinging to the promise God snuck into his pronouncement of doom. “I will not destroy it completely.” God would hold back just a little. The earth will still mourn, and all will be ruined.

What do you think the people hearing Jeremiah preach these words were thinking? Were there any starting to fear God’s wrath? Were there any who believed and wanted to restore their relationship with God? Was that Jeremiah’s purpose or were these oracles simply designed to warn the people?

Do you read these words and feel like you are far removed from God’s burning anger? Why? Aren’t we clever in orchestrating our own lives? Don’t we trust our own abilities? Where does God fit into our lives?

We may feel like we are stuck in a nightmare at times. We may look at the world around us and not recognize what we see. We seem to continue “upping” the shock value of our behaviors, pushing the limits of God’s patience. How different are we than the people of Judah?

We don’t have to be afraid of a bad dream. As children of God, we have been redeemed. We don’t have to fear a ruined life. We have been chosen and should no longer want to rebel. We should be seeking the joy of being in a right relationship with God.

Listen to Paul’s wisdom to the Romans (Romans 12:1-2). “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray … Lord, forgive me for my stubborn heart that often forgets who is in charge. I want to commit fully to you and your will for me. Help me focus on that and not the distractions around me. Reveal your master plan for my life so I can follow. I want to live a life that is pleasing to you. Draw me close as I wait for your return. I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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