Most people flee from danger. Only the arrogant and the defiant will stand up to certain destruction. The greater part of valor is to know when to run in order to regroup to fight another day. Judah has no sense at all. Instead of fleeing for their 04 red dresslives as Jeremiah called them to do, they decided on a different tactic. They wanted to seduce their attackers. Yes, “put on your red dress baby, we’re going out tonight!” Jeremiah 4:30 says, “And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in scarlet, that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life.”

Martens explains this situation well. He writes, “The unbelievably nonchalant attitude of Judah is set next to this terrifying word from the Lord and the people’s scurrying for shelter. The prophet stands by incredulously. Judah is fixing to go to a party! She is like one standing on dynamite, about to be blown up, yet concerned about cosmetics! What a misreading of the situation! Wrinkled and worn through years of sinning and harlotry, she still intends to charm her invaders sexually. Made up with eye shadow, she is flirting with the nations that will do her in. Jeremiah sees it clearly: here is not a jeweled partygoer, but a woman in anguish as in childbirth. She is throwing her favors to oncoming enemy ‘lovers’ who want her blood, murderers who are holding a knife to her throat (cf. 4:10).

Ryken observes, “This may be a reference to Judah’s last-ditch attempt at diplomacy, to the way she tried to make herself attractive to Egypt and Assyria so she would not be destroyed. In any case, it is a completely inappropriate way to prepare for battle. Soldiers are not to be seduced—they are to be feared. And it is a completely inappropriate way to prepare for divine judgment. Salvation requires more than a good cosmetologist. Even after all her primping, Judah will be destroyed. Jeremiah warned God’s people again and again that false gods abuse their worshipers. This northern army has not come for love, but for violence. Judah’s fancy dress and shiny beads cannot save her. She will die… will not be saved.”[2]

Isn’t that the way with sin? We think we can make it serve us. But there is no love for us from our sin. No amount of seduction will change that. The wolf comes only to kill, steal and destroy. But God loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). One commentator said, “We need to remind ourselves of this when faced with disaster (Lam 3:21–25). Evil is temporal, but God’s love for his children is everlasting.”[3]

[1] E. A. Martens, Jeremiah, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1986), 63.

[2] Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 79.

[3] Tokunboh Adeyemo, Africa Bible Commentary (Nairobi, Kenya; Grand Rapids, MI: WordAlive Publishers; Zondervan, 2006), 374.