Jeremiahs 4:23-26 reads: “I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the LORD, by His fierce anger” (NKJV).

This is one of the most solemn visions ever given to the faithful prophet Jeremiah. In it he beheld a scene of total chaos and desolation. His first words remind us of Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Yet in Genesis we are given a description of the earth BEFORE man entered the picture; here in Jeremiah man has been on the scene for a few thousand years and it is “his sin” that has caused the devastation that is graphically described.

Sin always brings ruin to mankind. In this case it is Israel’s sin of idolatry that brought God’s holy judgment upon the land of Israel. This beautiful land, which the prophet calls a “fruitful land” (for it had been “flowing with milk and honey”), was to be overrun by the Babylonian armies, resulting in what we read of here. Besides that, Jeremiah said, “there was no man,” for those who wouldn’t die at the hands of their invaders would be taken captive to Babylon to live as slaves. Yet we read of God’s mercy in verse 27: “For thus says the LORD: ‘The whole land shall be desolate; YET I WILL NOT MAKE A FULL END.”  God would indeed PRESERVE A REMNANT and by His grace they would return 70 years later to rebuild Jerusalem upon the ruins that Jeremiah saw in his frightening vision.

Before we close, let’s compare this passage with Isaiah 24:1 & 3: “Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants…the land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, For the LORD has spoken this word” (NKJV). These words of the prophet Isaiah sound eerily similar to those of Jeremiah and perhaps they were also meant to inform Israel of God’s impending judgment, but as we read on we will see that its complete fulfillment looks on to a FUTURE DAY when the “whole world” will be judged for their wickedness and rejection of God and His Word. Verses 4-6 declare: “The earth mourns and fades away, the world languished and fades away; the haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.” Surely these words cannot be confined to the judgment that took place in Israel during the Babylonian invasion, for here we read of “the earth” and “its inhabitants” suffering universal destruction. This devastation looks on to the terrible judgments described in Revelation 6 (the “seal” judgments), Revelation 8-9 (the “trumpet” judgments), and Revelation 16 (the “bowl” judgments). They should be taken LITERALLY, for they will affect “the earth” just as Isaiah predicted. And of course they will also affect earth’s “inhabitants” by leaving them “desolate” and “burned,” and the majority of earth’s population will die, as seen in those sobering words, “few men are left.” What is the cause of such ruin and devastation? Ah, the cause is always the same; it is man’s sin that brings ruin as seen in verse 5: “Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” Man’s refusal to obey God the Creator is their downfall!  (222.5)  (DO)