In this chapter there are a number of images employed to depict the coming judgment:
Drunkenness (12-14; Psalm 60:3; Isaiah 51:17): We know that there was a widespread problem with drunken behaviour in Jeremiah’s day. Many of the leaders (including the spiritual leaders) had drink issues. Here God says that they will stagger into each other like bewildered, panicking, drunken people and thereby bring on their own defeat at the hands of their enemies. People may enjoy the company of ungodly friends, and feel secure in the rosy glow of collective inebriation. But it’s a false security. They will effectively help to bring each other down. It’s like feeling safe in a group as the wine flows and the talk and laughter grow louder, but no-one realises that the whole house is about to collapse in an earthquake. Feeling secure is not the same as being secure. For that you need Christ alone (Matthew 7: 24-27).
Ever-increasing darkness (15-17; see also Isaiah 8:22; Micah 3:6,7; John 12:35; 2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12): If we reject the light we have, we are opting for the darkness. This is what we are ‘ordering’ and we will have it. It will be served up to us. If you turn your back on the light, you turn your face towards the darkness. ‘’He compared them to a traveller on an unfamiliar and dangerous mountain trail, without a map and without light, hoping for the dawn. Instead of the light dawning, however, the darkness only deepens…He wanted to lead them through the words of His prophet, but the people wouldn’t follow. If we reject God’s light, nothing remains but darkness.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (OT)’, P.1223. Verse 13 takes us back to what we read yesterday in verses 1 to 11. Jeremiah’s contemporaries, in the main, would not humble themselves and listen to God. They rejected the light and headed into ever-intensifying darkness (see Romans 1: 18-32.) They removed themselves from closeness to God who is ‘’light’’ (1 John 1:5). ‘’Let your lives glow bright before GOD before he turns out the lights, Before you trip and fall on the dark mountain paths. The light you always took for granted will go out and the world will turn black.’’ The Message. If you keep heading on into the darkness there will come a point where you can’t find your way back.
Labour pains (21): Doroth L. Sayers, the famous author, said that the essence of Hell is ‘’the truth discovered too late.’’ This verse describes the terrible pain they will feel when they realise that the nation they cultivated as their ally has become their overlord. If only they had trusted in God, He would have been their dependable Ally; but the nation they leaned on turned out to be their enemy. There may be much we can’t say about Hell. There is some degree of mystery about all it will entail, but it will surely involve the burning pain of bitter regret, as the truth is discovered too late!