denial in a red dress
Jeremiah 4:23-31 (JDV)
Jeremiah 4:23 I looked at the land, and noticed it was formless and empty. And into the sky, and there were no lights.
Jeremiah 4:24 I looked at the mountains, and noticed they were quaking; all the hills had been shaken loose.
Jeremiah 4:25 I looked, and noticed there was no human being, and all the birds of the sky had fled.
Jeremiah 4:26 I looked, and noticed the fertile field was an open country. All its cities were broken up because of Yahveh and his burning anger.
Jeremiah 4:27 You see, this is what Yahveh says: The whole land will be a desolation, but I will not finish it off.
Jeremiah 4:28 Because of this, the land will mourn; the skies above will grow dark. I have spoken; I have planned, and I will not relent or turn back from it.
Jeremiah 4:29 Every city runs away at the sound of the horseman and the archer. They enter the bushes and climb among the rocks. Every city is abandoned; no inhabitant is left.
Jeremiah 4:30 And you, devastated one, what are you doing that you dress yourself in scarlet, that you furnish¹ yourself with gold jewelry, that you enhance your eyes with makeup? You beautify yourself for nothing. Your lovers reject you; they seek to cut your throat.
Jeremiah 4:31 I hear a cry like a woman in labor, a cry of anguish like one bearing her first child. The cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands: “Tragedy has come to me, because my throat is exhausted because of the murderers!”
denial in a red dress
The prophet sees the impending destruction coming upon God’s people. He sees the soldiers and archers killing. He sees the land laid waste, and the people all running away to hide from the onslaught. But then he sees something incongruous. There is his nation, dressed in a slick red dress, decked out in makeup and jewels. She is dressed to impress as before, yet there is nobody left to impress. All her former boyfriends now want to cut her throat.
It is human nature, when faced with a tragic situation, to try to pretend it isn’t happening. It is pathetic – really, but that is what we do. Jeremiah faced a nation in denial, strutting around in its finest, hoping nobody will notice what a shambles it was in.
Lord, we come to you as we are today. No need to impress anyone that we are better. We need you, or we are lost. Come Lord Jesus.
¹ עָדָה = furnish. Jeremiah 4:30; 31:4.