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©Michael Player

Chapter 4:3-8 (ESV)

Posted on June 18, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 4:2-8 (ESV) - For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:

“Break up your fallow ground,
    and sow not among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD;
    remove the foreskin of your hearts,
    O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
lest my wrath go forth like fire,
    and burn with none to quench it,
    because of the evil of your deeds.”

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

“Blow the trumpet through the land;
    cry aloud and say,
‘Assemble, and let us go
    into the fortified cities!’
Raise a standard toward Zion,
    flee for safety, stay not,
for I bring disaster from the north,
    and great destruction.
A lion has gone up from his 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.
For this put on sackcloth,
    lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the LORD
    has not turned back from us.”

Question to consider: What parable of Jesus is reminiscent of today’s initial word to Judah?

While judgment had already scattered the northern kingdom of Israel to the nations several generations before, the time of judgment upon Judah and the holy city was at hand. The time in which this word was given through Jeremiah would have been about the same amount of time given to those to whom Jesus preached, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:37-39)

The call by the LORD for Judah to break up their fallow ground, and sow not among thorns is reminiscent of the parable Jesus gave of the sower in Mark 4:3-9 (ESV) “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

In that parable, the soil represented the heart of the hearer, and Jesus said the seed sown among thorns, “are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18-19)

Those who had “ears to hear” the parable from Jesus should have known the scriptures well enough to at least think of His parable in the same terms. Breaking up the fallow ground would be like the seed falling on good soil, and the LORD equated it with the circumcision of their hearts.

Christ gave the parable for people to recognize their sin and turn to Him for forgiveness. Paul associated circumcision of the heart with our baptism in his letter to the church in Colossae, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:11-14)

The LORD's word to Jeremiah was meant as a warning that Josiah was to blow a trumpet throughout the land of Judah with a warning to flee the coming wrath. The Babylonians would lead their armies from the north to bring disaster, and those who had ears to hear this word of the LORD could survive if they fled. In order to do this, they should set aside the thorny cares of this world and their desire for riches which would only entangle and distract them when this time of judgment came.


Dear heavenly Father, please break through the fallow ground of our own hearts that we may cling to the mercy won for us by Christ. We long for the day in which we get to experience Your peace in all its fullness. Amen.