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Jeremiah 4 Good News Translation (GNT)

A Call to Repentance

The Lord says, “People of Israel, if you want to turn, then turn back to me. If you are faithful to me and remove the idols I hate, it will be right for you to swear by my name. Then[a] all the nations will ask me to bless them, and they will praise me.”

The Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, “Plow up your unplowed fields; do not plant your seeds among thorns. Keep your covenant with me, your Lord, and dedicate yourselves to me, you people of Judah and Jerusalem. If you don't, my anger will burn like fire because of the evil things you have done. It will burn, and there will be no one to put it out.”

Judah Is Threatened with Invasion

Blow the trumpet throughout the land!
    Shout loud and clear!
Tell the people of Judah and Jerusalem
    to run to the fortified cities.
Point the way to Zion!
    Run for safety! Don't delay!
The Lord is bringing disaster
    and great destruction from the north.
Like a lion coming from its hiding place,
    a destroyer of nations has set out.
He is coming to destroy Judah.
The cities of Judah will be left in ruins,
    and no one will live in them.
So put on sackcloth, and weep and wail
    because the fierce anger of the Lord
    has not turned away from Judah.

The Lord said, “On that day kings and officials will lose their courage; priests will be shocked and prophets will be astonished.”

10 Then I said, “Sovereign Lord, you have completely deceived the people of Jerusalem! You have said there would be peace, but a sword is at their throats.”

11 The time is coming when the people of Jerusalem will be told that a scorching wind is blowing in from the desert toward them. It will not be a gentle wind that only blows away the chaff— 12 the wind that comes at the Lord's command will be much stronger than that! It is the Lord himself who is pronouncing judgment on his people.

Judah Is Surrounded by Enemies

13 Look, the enemy is coming like clouds. Their war chariots are like a whirlwind, and their horses are faster than eagles. We are lost! We are doomed!

14 Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart, so that you may be saved. How long will you go on thinking sinful thoughts?

15 Messengers from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim announce the bad news. 16 They have come to warn the nations and to tell Jerusalem that enemies are coming from a country far away. These enemies will shout against the cities of Judah 17 and will surround Jerusalem like men guarding a field, because her people have rebelled against the Lord. The Lord has spoken.

18 Judah, you have brought this on yourself by the way you have lived and by the things you have done. Your sin has caused this suffering; it has stabbed you through the heart.

Jeremiah's Sorrow for His People

19 The pain! I can't bear the pain!
My heart! My heart is beating wildly!
I can't keep quiet;
I hear the trumpets
    and the shouts of battle.
20 One disaster follows another;
    the whole country is left in ruins.
Suddenly our tents are destroyed;
    their curtains are torn to pieces.
21 How long must I see the battle raging
    and hear the blasts of trumpets?
22 The Lord says, “My people are stupid;
    they don't know me.
They are like foolish children;
    they have no understanding.
They are experts at doing what is evil,
    but failures at doing what is good.”

Jeremiah's Vision of the Coming Destruction

23 I looked at the earth—it was a barren waste;
    at the sky—there was no light.
24 I looked at the mountains—they were shaking,
    and the hills were rocking back and forth.
25 I saw that there were no people;
    even the birds had flown away.
26 The fertile land had become a desert;
    its cities were in ruins
    because of the Lord's fierce anger.

(27 The Lord has said that the whole earth will become a wasteland, but that he will not completely destroy it.)

28 The earth will mourn;
    the sky will grow dark.
The Lord has spoken
    and will not change his mind.
He has made his decision
    and will not turn back.
29 At the noise of the cavalry and archers
    everyone will run away.
Some will run to the forest;
    others will climb up among the rocks.
Every town will be left empty,
    and no one will live in them again.
30 Jerusalem, you are doomed!
    Why do you dress in scarlet?
    Why do you put on jewelry and paint your eyes?
You are making yourself beautiful for nothing!
    Your lovers have rejected you
    and want to kill you.
31 I heard a cry, like a woman in labor,
    a scream like a woman bearing her first child.
It was the cry of Jerusalem gasping for breath,
    stretching out her hand and saying,
“I am doomed!
    They are coming to kill me!”


  1. Jeremiah 4:2 it will be right … name. Then; or and if you swear by my name and are truthful, just, and righteous, then.
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Jeremiah 4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

If you return, O Israel,

says the Lord,
    if you return to me,
if you remove your abominations from my presence,
    and do not waver,
and if you swear, “As the Lord lives!”
    in truth, in justice, and in uprightness,
then nations shall be blessed[a] by him,
    and by him they shall boast.

For thus says the Lord to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem:

Break up your fallow ground,
    and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
    remove the foreskin of your hearts,
    O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
    and burn with no one to quench it,
    because of the evil of your doings.

Invasion and Desolation of Judah Threatened

Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:

Blow the trumpet through the land;
    shout aloud[b] and say,
“Gather together, and let us go
    into the fortified cities!”
Raise a standard toward Zion,
    flee for safety, do not delay,
for I am bringing evil from the north,
    and a great destruction.
A lion has gone up from its thicket,
    a destroyer of nations has set out;
    he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
    your cities will be ruins
    without inhabitant.
Because of this put on sackcloth,
    lament and wail:
“The fierce anger of the Lord
    has not turned away from us.”

On that day, says the Lord, courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded. 10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God, how utterly you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ even while the sword is at the throat!”

11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights[c] in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— 12 a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.

13 Look! He comes up like clouds,
    his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
    woe to us, for we are ruined!
14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness
    so that you may be saved.
How long shall your evil schemes
    lodge within you?
15 For a voice declares from Dan
    and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim.
16 Tell the nations, “Here they are!”
    Proclaim against Jerusalem,
“Besiegers come from a distant land;
    they shout against the cities of Judah.
17 They have closed in around her like watchers of a field,
    because she has rebelled against me,
says the Lord.
18 Your ways and your doings
    have brought this upon you.
This is your doom; how bitter it is!
    It has reached your very heart.”

Sorrow for a Doomed Nation

19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
    Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
    I cannot keep silent;
for I[d] hear the sound of the trumpet,
    the alarm of war.
20 Disaster overtakes disaster,
    the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
    my curtains in a moment.
21 How long must I see the standard,
    and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 “For my people are foolish,
    they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
    they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
    but do not know how to do good.”

23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
    and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
    and all the hills moved to and fro.
25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
    and all the birds of the air had fled.
26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
    and all its cities were laid in ruins
    before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

28 Because of this the earth shall mourn,
    and the heavens above grow black;
for I have spoken, I have purposed;
    I have not relented nor will I turn back.

29 At the noise of horseman and archer
    every town takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
    all the towns are forsaken,
    and no one lives in them.
30 And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in crimson,
    that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold,
    that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
    Your lovers despise you;
    they seek your life.
31 For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
    anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,
the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,
    stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!”


  1. Jeremiah 4:2 Or shall bless themselves
  2. Jeremiah 4:5 Or shout, take your weapons: Heb shout, fill (your hand)
  3. Jeremiah 4:11 Or the trails
  4. Jeremiah 4:19 Another reading is for you, O my soul,
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jeremiah 4 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

“Isra’el, if you will return,” says Adonai,
“yes, return to me; and if you will banish
your abominations from my presence
without wandering astray again;
and if you will swear, ‘As Adonai lives,’
in truth, justice and righteousness;
then the nations will bless themselves by him,
and in him will they glory.”

For here is what Adonai says
to the people of Y’hudah and Yerushalayim:
“Break up your ground that hasn’t been plowed,
and do not sow among thorns.”

“People of Y’hudah and inhabitants of Yerushalayim,
circumcise yourselves for Adonai,
remove the foreskins of your heart!
Otherwise my fury will lash out like fire,
burning so hot that no one can quench it,
because of how evil your actions are.

“Announce in Y’hudah, proclaim in Yerushalayim;
say: ‘Blow the shofar in the land!’
Shout the message aloud: ‘Assemble!
Let us go to the fortified cities!’
Set up a signal toward Tziyon,
head for cover without delay.
For I will bring disaster from the north,
yes, dire destruction.
A lion has risen from his lair,
a destroyer of nations has set out,
left his own place to ruin your land,
to demolish and depopulate your cities.”

So wrap yourselves in sackcloth,
lament and wail, for Adonai’s fierce anger
has not turned away from us.

“When that day comes,” says Adonai,
“the king’s heart will fail him,
likewise the princes’;
the cohanim will be appalled
and the prophets stupefied.”

10 Then I said, “Oh, Adonai Elohim! Surely you have sadly deceived this people and Yerushalayim by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our very throats!”

11 “At that time it will be said
of this people and of Yerushalayim:
‘A scorching wind from the desert heights
is sweeping down on my people.’
It is not coming to winnow or cleanse;
12 this wind of mine is too strong for that.
Now I will pass sentence on them.”

13 Here he comes, like the clouds,
his chariots like the whirlwind,
his horses faster than eagles!
Woe to us, we are doomed!
14 Wash the evil from your heart, Yerushalayim,
so that you can be saved.
How long will you harbor within yourselves
your evil thoughts?
15 For a voice is announcing the news from Dan,
proclaiming disaster from the hills of Efrayim:

16 “Report it to the nations,
proclaim about Yerushalayim:
‘[Enemies] are coming from a distant country,
watching and shouting their war cry
against the cities of Y’hudah.’
17 Like guards in a field they surround her,
because she has rebelled against me,” says Adonai.
18 “Your own ways and your actions
have brought these things on yourselves.
This is your wickedness, so bitter!
It has reached your very heart.”

19 My guts! My guts! I’m writhing in pain!
My heart! It beats wildly — I can’t stay still! —
because I have heard the shofar sound;
it’s the call to war.
20 The news is disaster after disaster!
All the land is ruined!
My tents are suddenly destroyed,
my tent curtains in an instant.
21 How long must I see that signal
and hear the shofar sound?

22 “It is because my people are foolish —
they do not know me; they are stupid children,
without understanding, wise when doing evil;
but they don’t know how to do good.”

23 I looked at the land — it was unformed and void —
and at the sky — it had no light.
24 I looked at the mountains, and they shook —
all the hills moved back and forth.
25 I looked, and there was no human being;
all the birds in the air had fled.
26 I looked, and the fertile fields were a desert,
all the land’s cities were razed to the ground
at the presence of Adonai,
before his burning anger.

27 For here is what Adonai says:

“The whole land will be desolate
(although I will not destroy it completely).
28 Because of this, the land will mourn
and the sky above be black;
for I have spoken, I have decided,
I will not change my mind, I will not turn back.”

29 At the noise of the horsemen and archers,
the entire city flees —
some plunge into thickets; others climb rocks;
all cities are deserted; no one lives there.
30 And you, who are doomed to be plundered,
what do you mean by putting on crimson,
decking yourselves with jewels and gold,
enlarging your eyes with eye make-up?
You beautify yourself in vain —
your lovers despise you, they seek your life!
31 For I have heard a sound like a woman in labor,
in anguish giving birth to her first child.
It is the sound of the daughter of Tziyon
gasping for breath as she spreads her hands:
“Woe to me! Everything in me
is so weary before the killers.”

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Jeremiah 4 The Message (MSG)

1-2 “If you want to come back, O Israel,
    you must really come back to me.
You must get rid of your stinking sin paraphernalia
    and not wander away from me anymore.
Then you can say words like, ‘As God lives . . .’
    and have them mean something true and just and right.
And the godless nations will get caught up in the blessing
    and find something in Israel to write home about.”

3-4 Here’s another Message from God
    to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Plow your unplowed fields,
    but then don’t plant weeds in the soil!
Yes, circumcise your lives for God’s sake.
    Plow your unplowed hearts,
    all you people of Judah and Jerusalem.
Prevent fire—the fire of my anger—
    for once it starts it can’t be put out.
Your wicked ways
    are fuel for the fire.

God’s Sledgehammer Anger

5-8 “Sound the alarm in Judah,
    broadcast the news in Jerusalem.
Say, ‘Blow the ram’s horn trumpet through the land!’
    Shout out—a bullhorn bellow!—
‘Close ranks!
    Run for your lives to the shelters!’
Send up a flare warning Zion:
    ‘Not a minute to lose! Don’t sit on your hands!’
Disaster’s descending from the north. I set it off!
    When it lands, it will shake the foundations.
Invaders have pounced like a lion from its cover,
    ready to rip nations to shreds,
Leaving your land in wrack and ruin,
    your cities in rubble, abandoned.
Dress in funereal black.
    Weep and wail,
For God’s sledgehammer anger
    has slammed into us head-on.

“When this happens”
    God’s Decree—
“King and princes will lose heart;
    priests will be baffled and prophets stand dumbfounded.”

10 Then I said, “Alas, Master God!
    You’ve fed lies to this people, this Jerusalem.
You assured them, ‘All is well, don’t worry,’
    at the very moment when the sword was at their throats.”

11-12 At that time, this people, yes, this very Jerusalem,
    will be told in plain words:
“The northern hordes are sweeping in
    from the desert steppes—
A wind that’s up to no good, a gale-force wind.
    I ordered this wind.
I’m pronouncing
    my hurricane judgment on my people.”

Your Evil Life Is Piercing Your Heart

13-14 Look at them! Like banks of storm clouds,
    racing, tumbling, their chariots a tornado,
Their horses faster than eagles!
    Woe to us! We’re done for!
Jerusalem! Scrub the evil from your lives
    so you’ll be fit for salvation.
How much longer will you harbor
    devious and malignant designs within you?

15-17 What’s this? A messenger from Dan?
    Bad news from Ephraim’s hills!
Make the report public.
    Broadcast the news to Jerusalem:
“Invaders from far off are
    raising war cries against Judah’s towns.
They’re all over her, like a dog on a bone.
    And why? Because she rebelled against me.”
        God’s Decree.

18 “It’s the way you’ve lived
    that’s brought all this on you.
The bitter taste is from your evil life.
    That’s what’s piercing your heart.”

19-21 I’m doubled up with cramps in my belly—
    a poker burns in my gut.
My insides are tearing me up,
    never a moment’s peace.
The ram’s horn trumpet blast rings in my ears,
    the signal for all-out war.
Disaster hard on the heels of disaster,
    the whole country in ruins!
In one stroke my home is destroyed,
    the walls flattened in the blink of an eye.
How long do I have to look at the warning flares,
    listen to the siren of danger?

Experts at Evil

22 “What fools my people are!
    They have no idea who I am.
A company of half-wits,
    dopes and donkeys all!
Experts at evil
    but klutzes at good.”

23-26 I looked at the earth—
    it was back to pre-Genesis chaos and emptiness.
I looked at the skies,
    and not a star to be seen.
I looked at the mountains—
    they were trembling like aspen leaves,
And all the hills
    rocking back and forth in the wind.
I looked—what’s this! Not a man or woman in sight,
    and not a bird to be seen in the skies.
I looked—this can’t be! Every garden and orchard shriveled up.
    All the towns were ghost towns.
And all this because of God,
    because of the blazing anger of God.

27-28 Yes, this is God’s Word on the matter:

“The whole country will be laid waste—
    still it won’t be the end of the world.
The earth will mourn
    and the skies lament
Because I’ve given my word and won’t take it back.
    I’ve decided and won’t change my mind.”

You’re Not Going to Seduce Anyone

29 Someone shouts, “Horsemen and archers!”
    and everybody runs for cover.
They hide in ditches,
    they climb into caves.
The cities are emptied,
    not a person left anywhere.

30-31 And you, what do you think you’re up to?
    Dressing up in party clothes,
Decking yourselves out in jewelry,
    putting on lipstick and rouge and mascara!
Your primping goes for nothing.
    You’re not going to seduce anyone. They’re out to kill you!
And what’s that I hear? The cry of a woman in labor,
    the screams of a mother giving birth to her firstborn.
It’s the cry of Daughter Zion, gasping for breath,
    reaching out for help:
“Help, oh help me! I’m dying!
    The killers are on me!”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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