By the time Jeremiah comes on the scene, the northern kingdom of Israel has been gone for a hundred years. Judah, the southern kingdom of God’s people were likely saying “good riddance; couldn’t have happened to a more deserving people.”
But strangely, God gives Jeremiah a message of hope for Israel, and he goes about preaching it in chapter 3 to a people who are not there to hear it. But if the people of Judah were bewildered by such a message, they must have been absolutely furious when Jeremiah finally spoke to them (beginning in chapter 4). Jeremiah has only blessings for Israel, but only denunciation and judgment for Judah.
As you read Jeremiah, there are those times when it’s hard to distinguish between the prophet and God. Whose words are these? “Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry” (4:19). At first glance, they would seem to be the words of Jeremiah – and they are! But they are also are the words and feelings of God.
Though the Lord punishes His people for unfaithfulness – and they certainly deserve it – He does not send it without anguish of heart. Always remember: God loves you greatly and deeply. Your hurts are felt by Him – even when He sends them Himself to discipline your life.