Bible Question:

If Adam and Eve were the first people on the earth, then explain Jeremiah 4:23-28. What was he talking about? There had to be people to build the fruitful place and the city.

Bible Answer:

Here is what Jeremiah 4:23-28 says,

I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were pulled down before the LORD, before His fierce anger. For thus says the LORD, “The whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not execute a complete destruction. “For this the earth shall mourn and the heavens above be dark, because I have spoken, I have purposed, and I will not change My mind, nor will I turn from it.” (NASB) Jeremiah 4:23-28

The context of Jeremiah 4 will help us understand the meaning of this passage. Therefore, the first thing we want to do is know what was said before and after verses 23-28.

The Context

Jeremiah 4:1 starts with this statement,

“If you will return, O Israel,” declares the LORD . . . (NASB) Jeremiah 4:1

This first verse tells us that God is speaking to the people of Israel. Then in Jeremiah 4:4 God warns them to repent of their sins or His wrath will come upon them. Then in verse 14, God warns them again,

Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem, that you may be saved . . . (NASB) Jeremiah 4:14

God is warning them that destruction is coming upon the land of Israel unless they repent of their sins. The warnings continue. Finally in verses 23-28, the destruction of the land of Israel is described in dramatic imagery. In order to show how serious God is, the prophet uses imagery from Genesis 1:2 and says the land will be “formless and void.” If we look at the verses just after this passage, we see soldiers, death, destruction, and people.

This means that Jeremiah 4:23-28 is describing a military invasion. History tells us that it is the Babylonian army which did this. The description is the coming disaster upon the land of Israel.

Fruitful Land

The beautiful land is the land of Israel. In Jeremiah 2:7 God tells us that the fruitful land is “My land.” The fruitful land is symbolic language for the Promised Land, the land of Israel.


Jeremiah 4:23-28 is not talking about the creation of the world. The fruitful land is the land of Israel, and the passage is talking about the destruction of the people and the desolation of the land because of their unwillingness to repent of their sins. God always gives men and women an opportunity to repent of their sins. But when they refuse, judgment comes. God is looking for men and women of godly character. God calls every person to believe in Jesus Christ in order to have their sins forgiven. To find out how, visit the page Searching for God.

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