“The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant (v.7)”.
The first part ‘The lion is come up from his thicket,’ refers to Nabopolassar, the founder of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who began his rule in 626 the year of Jeremiah’s call to prophesy. Lion’s mode of hunting is by surprise. Likewise Babylon is now poised to enter the world stage and his might is established by annexing many kingdoms and shall descend on Israel.
Jeremiah laments on the trail of destruction he shall leave in his wake. Especially on the nation of Israel and the ferocity of destruction shall spare none. This is the consequence of their sins, ‘the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.’ The latter have been deceiving all by ‘saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul’. Jeremiah compares it to a dry wind.
By verse 17 we see the prophet leapfrogs from the particular to end times. Babylon comes indeed like the Messiah coming accompanied by his saints (Re.1:7),’as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles’. In the Book of Isaiah we had already discussed Cyrus the Great a Gentile King tagged as the Anointed One which is traditionally assigned the Messiah-King Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit sets both the destinies of Israel and the Gentiles parallel as signified by his narrative mode underpinning the Father Son relationship. From the first book to the last it is consistent.
From verses 23 to 29 it is obvious that it is of the Day of the Lord he is describing. Consider this verse:’I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.” ‘The earth was without form and void’ echoes the line from the Genesis account (1:2) which is not by any means referring to undoing God’s creative Power and Wisdom. The Lord God cannot deny Himself. Instead it is on account of the thick pall of gloom associated with the Day of Wrath (Re.9:2; Zec:14:6). ‘and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it (v.28)’.
8 For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the Lord is not turned back from us.
9 And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the Lord, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.
10 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul.
11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse,
12 Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them.
13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.
14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
15 For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim.
16 Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah.
17 As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the Lord.
18 Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart.
19 My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.
21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger.
27 For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
29 The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.
30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.