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Jeremiah 6:1 Flee for safety, you children of Benjamin, out of the midst of Jerusalem, blow the trumpet in Tekoa and raise up a signal on Beth Haccherem; for evil looks forth from the north, and a great destruction- On Jer. 4:5,6 we saw that an earlier prophetic potential had been that Jerusalem would be saved, but the fortified cities of Judah would fall. Now it seems that possibility had been precluded by their impenitence, and so Jerusalem too would fall. This is how God works in our lives too, working out various prophetic potentials. Tekoa and Beth Haccherem were to the south of Jerusalem; the idea is that the invaders from the north would take Jerusalem and pursue its inhabitants further south.

The frequent predictions of judgment upon Israel were effectively calls to repentance, whereby the predicted judgment need not actually happen. The more Israel resisted the call, the more they were as it were tightening the bands which the prophetic word had laid around them: "Now therefore be not mockers, lest your bands be made strong; for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth" (Is. 28:22). Thus Jer. 6:2 appears to be a specific prophecy of future destruction in Jerusalem: "The comely and delicate one, the daughter of Zion, will I cut off" (RV). But the preceding verse is in fact a call for the "daughter of Zion" to "Flee for safety out of the midst of Jerusalem" (Jer. 6:1 RV). If they had obeyed that call, then the prophecy of cutting off wouldn't have come true. Note in passing that this is the basis for the Lord's command to flee out of Jerusalem in the "last days" of AD70 and before His return to earth. The prophecies of destruction within Jerusalem had [in AD70] and will yet have an element of conditionality about them. Hence the appeal of Jer. 6:8,26 to the "daughter of Zion" to "be instructed" and to mourn in repentance; if this had been done, in Jeremiah's time, in AD70 and if it will be done in our last days, so many prophecies of certain judgment will not in fact be fulfilled.

Jeremiah 6:2 The comely and delicate one, the daughter of Zion, will I cut off-
See on :1. The translation could refer to good pastureland, which fits with :3. Or LXX: "And thy pride, O daughter of Sion, shall be taken away".

Jeremiah 6:3 Shepherds with their flocks shall come to her; they shall pitch their tents against her all around; they shall feed each one in his place-
Again we note that "Babylon" is not mentioned here, and the idea of nomadic shepherds encamping around Jerusalem leads us to think that the nomadic Scyths are in view here. One prophetic potential was that had Judah repented, then the invasion of the Scythian tribes mentioned in Ez. 38 would have happened but would have been destroyed by Divine intervention, and then a repentant Judah would have built the temple system of Ez. 40-48. But this potential didn't come about. The Babylonians weren't characterized as shepherds, and yet they fulfilled the essence of the prophecy by besieging Jerusalem. See on Jer. 5:15.

Jeremiah 6:4 Prepare war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon-
Attacks were usually made at dawn and not in the midday heat, but the invaders were to be so enthusiastic, having prepared / sanctified war against Jerusalem. This jihad is going to be seen in the last days, when these prophecies will come to their ultimate term.

Woe to us! For the day declines, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out- Here we see how Jeremiah totally identifies with the people he is teaching. In the midst of stating how the invaders would act and speak, he himself cries out "Woe to us!". He sees that the word he is preaching is absolutely true and will really happen. The day of opportunity for repentance is drawing to a close, although it is a long evening, stretching out a long time, because God really so sought their repentance before the night of the invasion came.

Jeremiah 6:5 Arise, and let us go up by night, and let us destroy her palaces-
As noted on :4, Jeremiah is predicting the words of the invaders, although he himself interjects an outburst of "Woe unto us!" in :4. The "palaces" refer not only to the temple, but to the houses of the wealthy, built on exploitation of the poor (Jer. 5:28). The historical records in Jeremiah and 2 Chronicles stress that "the great houses" were destroyed.

Jeremiah 6:6 For Yahweh of Armies said, Cut down trees, and cast up a mound against Jerusalem: this is the city to be visited; she is wholly oppression in the midst of her-
The invaders were under the direct command of Yahweh of Armies; their armies were His armies, reflecting the Angelic armies of heaven. Just as Ezekiel's cherubim were Angelic chariots, manifested in the chariots of Babylon. God commanded the invaders to cut down trees in order to make siege engines. This was specifically the opposite of how He had commanded Israel to make war (Dt. 20:19,20). We could draw the conclusion that what God expects of His people, He doesn't expect of the Gentile world; indeed He may expect the very opposite. This would suggest that it is inappropriate for Christians to demand that the secular world adopts exactly their positions.

Jeremiah 6:7 As a well casts forth its waters, so she casts forth her wickedness: violence and destruction is heard in her; before Me continually is grief and woundedness-
The violence and destruction were what the Jews were doing to each other; and so violence and destruction came upon them. That judgment was merely a continuation of how they themselves acted. The continual bubbling forth of their wickedness, as from a perpetual fountain, was matched in God's continual woundedness. That God can be wounded by our behaviour... is a stunning concept. This reveals the extent to which God has sensitized Himself toward man, when we are but ants before Him, the King of the cosmos. The same word is used of the deep wounding of God's people by the invaders (Jer. 14:17; 30:14); but God felt that Himself even before they did.

Jeremiah 6:8 Be instructed, Jerusalem-
The appeal for Jerusalem to be "instructed" uses the same word translated "punish" (Lev. 26:18). The idea was that the punishments were to be instruction; they were not the lashing out of an offended Deity. It was God's hope, even 'fantasy' would not be too strong a word, that His people would realize this, and come to say "You punished / instructed me, and I was instructed" (Jer. 31:18 s.w.).

Lest My soul depart from you; lest I make you a desolation, a land not inhabited- See on :1,2. Here and Ez. 23:18 speaks of how God's soul "departed" from His people- but the same word is translated to hang / crucify (Num. 25:4; 2 Sam. 21:6,9,13). It's as if God was crucified in His pain for Israel. And in the death of His Son He went through that pain. And so never, ever, ever... can we nor Israel complain that our pain is greater than God's. Never. The pain of God at Israel's sin leads Him to exclaim (almost in the language of piercing and crucifixion): "Before me continually is grief and wounds" (Jer. 6:7). We can wound God by our sin, so sensitive is He to us. In the end, we read that God's "soul" departed from them, because "the Lord has rejected you" (Jer. 6:8,30). This is the same language used about Saul- God rejected him, and so His spirit departed from him (1 Sam. 15:23; 16:14). The implication was that God's very soul / spirit is "with" us, and therefore He can be so terribly wounded by us in His heart by the rebellions of those in covenant relationship with Him. For His heart / soul / spirit is so close to us His beloved people.

Jeremiah 6:9 Thus says Yahweh of Armies, They shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel like a vine-
The idea is that virtually no grapes would be left. And yet in fact the majority of the population, the working classes, were left in the land by the Babylonians. They had a policy of only taking the upper classes into captivity, and they did this with Judah. So here we see again God speaking in a wrath which He didn't completely fulfil.

Turn again your hand as a grape gatherer into the baskets- The idea seems to be as GNB: "So you must rescue everyone you can while there is still time". Perhaps the fact that not all were destroyed nor taken captive, as seems to be implied would happen, was because of the success of Jeremiah's ministry.

Jeremiah 6:10 To whom shall I speak and testify, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they can’t listen. Behold, the word of Yahweh has become a reproach to them. They have no delight in it-
This would be Jeremiah somewhat rebellious response to the command in :9: "So you must rescue everyone you can while there is still time" (GNB). Jeremiah's response to this is that made by many believers today: 'But nobody's interested in repentance'. They had been asked to circumcise their hearts (Jer. 4:4), but Jeremiah considers that none have done so. And therefore, they would not listen, in the sense of responding. Jeremiah's lament that the people had no joy or delight in God's word is the basis for his comment that when he found God's words, they were his joy (Jer. 15:16). We might therefore detect there a sense of spiritual superiority over the Jews for whom God's word was not their joy.

Jeremiah 6:11 Therefore I am full of the wrath of Yahweh. I am weary with holding in-
Seeing the world through the eyes of both God and man, Jeremiah said that God’s wrath was his wrath, “I am full of the wrath of Yahweh”, and yet he stood before God “to turn away thy wrath from them” (Jer. 18:20). Hence the huge psychological tension within the prophets. Like God Himself in Jer. 15:6, Jeremiah was "weary" of the stress and tension of continually threatening inevitable judgment and yet offering the utter grace of a way out of it. And so Jeremiah asks God to as it were be done with it, and pour out His anger.

Pour it out on the youths in the street, and on the assembly of young men together; for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him who is full of days- This did happen, in response to Jeremiah's request that it happen; and yet after the Babylonian invasion, he bitterly laments the suffering of young and old in Jerusalem in just the same language  (Lam. 2:12,19,21; 5:14). The lesson is that what we pray for in depression and desperation, we may receive. And we should be therefore careful what we pray for.

Jeremiah 6:12 Their houses shall be turned to others, their fields and their wives together; for I will stretch out My hand on the inhabitants of the land, says Yahweh-
This is God's response to Jeremiah's request that God pour out His wrath and end the tension of threatening to do so but not doing it (:11). God likewise says in Jer. 15:6 that because He was weary with repenting, with changing His mind, He would "stretch out My hand" in judgment, using the same phrase found here.

Jeremiah 6:13 For from their least even to their greatest, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely-
That all of society was guilty is a major theme of the prophets. They were attracted by the idea of immediate wealth, they coveted this, and therefore turned to idols which offered this. Hence covetousness is here paralleled with dealing falsely, which is what they were doing by proclaiming faithfulness to Yahweh whilst serving other gods.

Jeremiah 6:14 They have healed also the hurt of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace-
There were false prophets both in Judah as the Babylonians approached, and also amongst those of them already in exile (Jer. 6:14; 8:11; Ez. 13:16). They were assuring the sinful people that in fact they were at peace with God, and that contrary to the prophetic message of desolation at the hand of the Babylonians, they would instead have "peace". This is described in Jeremiah as "lightly" healing the great wound or illness of Judah. That wound is described ambiguously; it was a wound or breach in themselves caused by God's smiting of them in the earlier Babylonian incursions (Jer. 14:19), but also caused by them to God Almighty. "Lightly" carries with it the idea of not serious, light hearted, superficial, trifling. And we must likewise beware of this kind of religion that is pedalled in the name of Christianity; not facing our personal issues, and using a few Bible words from here and there to superficially cover over the most fundamental issues of our eternal destiny. And this was and is so attractive. But sin and its consequences are far deeper than any superficial, light hearted covering. It requires nothing less than the blood and word of the Lord Jesus.

Jeremiah 6:15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush-
We are either ashamed of our sins in repentance; or we will be made ashamed of them in the judgment (Jer. 6:15 RVmg.)- it’s shame either way. We either wail for our sins now, or we will wail for them at judgment day (Jer. 9:19,20). Our shame should be before God for our sins against Him, and not before men. Hence the prophets often criticize Israel for not being ashamed of their sins before God. Our shame before men leads to anger; our shame before God is resolved in repentance and belief in His gracious forgiveness. Thus Jeremiah recalls how his repentance involved being ashamed, and yet then being "instructed" (Jer. 31:19). It's through knowing this kind of shame before God that we come to a position where we are unashamed.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I visit them, they shall be cast down, says Yahweh- The allusion is to falling down before idols. By doing so they were living out how they were to fall before the nations of those idols. They would be cast down by God, but they had cast themselves down. Sin is its own condemnation.

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says Yahweh, Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, ‘Where is the good way?’ and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’-
The "old" paths are literally 'the paths of olahm', the ways of eternity, the way that will lead to eternal life. This is the real sense of the phrase; it has been much misused by those whose native conservatism leads them to imagine that the old ways of their denomination must be correct and worthy of defence, just because the phrase "old paths" occurs in the Bible. But this is a mistranslation. Out of all the ways before Israel suggested by the various idols, they were to choose the paths [or perhaps it can be read as an intensive plural, the one great path, referred to by the people as "it"] that leads to eternity. The ways of the idols led at very best only to temporary betterment.

Jeremiah 6:17 I set watchmen over you saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’. But they said, ‘We will not listen!’-
The rejection of Jeremiah was in line with the repeated rejection of the earlier prophets / watchmen. It's unlikely that they actually said "We will not listen", but God counts attitudes for what they effectively are, and imputes such statements to men as this is what their attitudes are effectively saying. And it is by such words that we shall be judged, and saved or condemned.

Jeremiah 6:18 Therefore hear, you nations, and know, congregation, what is among them-
The appeal to God's people is parallel with an appeal to the Gentile nations. It was the Divine intention that His people would repent along with the surrounding Gentile nations, and all come together in a revived Kingdom of God in Israel under a Messianic king.

Jeremiah 6:19 Hear, earth! Behold, I will bring evil on this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not listened to My words; and as for My law, they have rejected it-
As noted on :17, the people never formally rejected God's law and words (:20), but this was effectively their attitude, and so these words and positions were counted to them. This was what their thoughts implied; and we note the judgment of thoughts as being of primary importance to God.

Jeremiah 6:20 To what purpose comes there to Me frankincense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to Me-
They had "rejected" God's law (:19) but still were obedient to parts of it. This is typical of where form becomes more important than content in the lives of religious people. The culture becomes the religion. Israel mixed Yahweh worship with that of the idols, hence the offerings were of materials from "a far country"; Babylon is probably in view.

Like many of the surrounding peoples, the Jews were sure that because they had a temple, because they offered sacrifice to their God and went through required rituals, therefore they were OK. The prophets exposed all this as scandalous pretension, revealing Israel’s cherished beliefs and suppositions about these things as meaningless and false. Their surrounding world taught that if you offered sacrifice to your god, all went smoothly. And yet Jeremiah blasts them: “To what purpose does frankincense come [up] to me… your burnt offerings are not acceptable” (Jer. 6:20).

Jeremiah 6:21 Therefore thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people. The fathers and the sons together shall stumble against them. The neighbour and his friend shall perish-
God confirms men in the way in which they choose to go. He can deceive those who don't have the love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10), and so here He would lay stumbling blocks. Ezekiel was prophesying at about the same time to the same people, although from Babylon. He too mentions this feature of God laying stumbling blocks before the wicked, although he says that the prophets gave such people warning (Ez. 3:20).  But they had in fact themselves laid the stumbling blocks of their idolatry within their hearts (Ez. 14:3). So here God is only psychologically confirming them in what they had themselves chosen. He works directly on human hearts, through "an evil spirit from the Lord" as with Saul, or positively through the transforming of His Holy Spirit. This theme is continued in :22.

Jeremiah 6:22 Thus says Yahweh, Behold, a people comes from the north country. A great nation shall be stirred up from the uttermost parts of the earth-
Whoever the invaders refer to, be it Babylon or the Scythians (see on Jer. 5:15; 6:3), they were from the very borders of the eretz promised to Abraham, which is "the earth" in view. They were "stirred up" in the same way as the spirit of Cyrus was later stirred up (s.w. Ezra 1:1). As noted on :21, God works directly upon human hearts, placing ideas and desires within the human psyche. Just as God stirred or raised up Babylon to invade, so He would stir up, or psychologically provoke, other nations to come and judge her (Jer. 50:9,41; 51:1,11). This is greatly emphasized. The activity of God directly upon human hearts is a great theme of the Biblical revelation, and is to encourage us that He is eager to transform hearts, and to place desires within us beyond our own unaided psychological ability.

Jeremiah 6:23 They take hold of bow and spear. They are cruel, and have no mercy. Their voice roars like the sea, and they ride on horses, each one set in array, as a man to the battle, against you, daughter of Zion-
The present tense is used although the events were still future; they were that certain of coming true, because God's word is sure. This is the language of the Assyrian invasion in Hezekiah's time, and I suggested on Jer. 4:5,8 ; 5:1 that the events in Judah at that time are often alluded to in Jeremiah. There was still the possibility that at the last moment, salvation by grace would be revealed in Jerusalem. But Is. 17:12,13 had said that the great rushing of the attackers like the waves was going to be turned back. There was still that potential.

Jeremiah 6:24 We have heard its report; our hands become feeble: anguish has taken hold of us, pains as of a woman in labour-
The audience of Jeremiah generally rejected his message, insisting that no evil was going to come (Jer. 5:12). So the "we" refers to Jeremiah and the minority who repented. They were in labour, to bring forth the new Zion, the envisaged reborn community of Israel. In Micah, the daughter of Zion was to be in labour pangs (symbolic of their troubles in the 70 years captivity), and then give birth to a new nation as a result of this (Mic. 4:9,10), as well as her Messiah (Mic. 5:2), who would lead Judah in destroying Babylon (Mic. 4:13; 5:5-8). But Judah didn’t want to destroy Babylon. Most of them preferred to carry on living there. So, no Messiah. At that time. Another different sequence of prophetic fulfilment had to develop.  But this potential was there even before the Babylonian invasion.

Jeremiah 6:25 Don’t go forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and terror are on every side-
This is a warning from Jeremiah; those who believed no evil would come would have disbelieved him (Jer. 5:12), and perished as a result. It's rather like the command in the Olivet Prophecy to flee to the mountains.

Jeremiah 6:26 Daughter of My people, clothe yourself with sackcloth, and wallow in ashes! Mourn, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation; for the destroyer shall suddenly come upon us-
Jeremiah again appeals for repentance, to believe that death would come and so to mourn as if they had received their punishment. See on :1,2. The Canaanite tribes spoke of how their gods were married to their land and would defend it. But the prophets, especially Hosea, reveal Yahweh as married to His people. “Thus says the Lord, O my dear people [bath ‘ami- as if they are God’s partner]… make mourning… for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us” (Jer. 6:22,26). God delicately speaks as if He is married to Israel, and that even in their sufferings, He would suffer with them, as a husband suffers with his wife. “The destroyer will come upon us” even sounds as if God let Himself in a way be ‘destroyed’ in Israel’s destruction; for each of us dies a little in the death of those we love.

Jeremiah 6:27 I have made you a tester of metals and a fortress among My people; that you may know and try their way-
This doesn't mean that Jeremiah decided who was the faithful, the true metal, by testing their way. Rather, the word of God which he preached was a test of the people, and their response to it revealed "their way". Thereby it was God who tried the way of His people (s.w. Jer. 17:10). Those who responded positively would find Jeremiah and his words to be a fortress, and could save themselves thereby.

Not only in our own self-examination should there be unity between our judgment and that of the Father; Jeremiah was told to "know and try" Israel's way, just as God said that He did (Jer. 6:27 cp. 9:7; 17:10). Our 'judging' of others, as well as ourselves, must be according to God's judgments of them. And further; if we know the judgments of God, then we will be more strongly motivated in our preaching and pastoral work, to pull men out of the fire of condemnation (Jude 23).

Jeremiah 6:28 They are all grievous rebels, going about with slanders; they are brass and iron: they all of them deal corruptly-
This may be Jeremiah's response to the command to use God's prophetic word to refine the people. He reports that the people are corrupted brass and iron, their encounter with God's prophetic word had not refined them. They were epitomized by slander. This could refer to the false prophecies they believed which slandered God. But it seems more natural to take this as meaning that slander was their characteristic sin. Because gossip is such an epitome of the flesh, it is ranked along with sins like fornication, idolatry and murder in Ez. 22:9. And so there are passages in Jeremiah which describe slander and gossiping as being the reason why God condemned Judah (Jer. 6:28; 9:3-8). The soap operas of the world are full of this kind of gossip and intrigue; they glorify it. And the more we feed ourselves with these things, the more likely we will be to see gossip as just part of life. And yet let's not mistake the words of the prophets; it is seen as murder, because effectively it puts to death a man's relationship with his fellows. God hates the man who sows such discord among brethren through gossip in the church (Prov. 6:19). "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly" (Prov. 26:22). That casual remark, that passing on of information under the guise of 'concern'- it was a body blow to the one you gossiped about, a blow so hard that it caused deep internal damage. 

Jeremiah 6:29 The bellows blow fiercely; the lead is consumed of the fire: in vain do they go on refining; for the wicked are not plucked away-
This is the tragedy of Israel throughout their history, just as it is the tragedy of so many life histories. Terrible sufferings have been experienced, but still repentance and transformation has not been elicited. The fire was so intense that the lead itself was burned up by it, without achieving the desired cleansing.  And the bellows, according to the AV, were also burned. Babylon themselves would be destroyed.

Jeremiah 6:30 Men will call them rejected silver, because Yahweh has rejected them
-  The idea is that "men", the inhabitants of the earth, will come to see Yahweh's judgments from His perspective. "Rejected" is the same word translated "rejected" in Jer. 6:19 where Israel rejected God's word. Their response to that word was therefore their judgment, and the refining fire upon them. It is also translated "despised", and Judah had despised the covenant and word of God (Lev. 26:15,43,44 s.w.). But as those verses in Leviticus bring out, although Israel rejected / despised God, He would not "for all that" reject / despise them eternally. This is the great paradox of God's grace to Israel, which serves as eternal encouragement to His sinful people of all ages. He does not actually operate a measure for measure  policy, of treating His people as they treat Him; although this is not to say that He will not judge them. That generation were "rejected" (Jer. 7:29), but that is not to say that there was no hope for their future acceptance; the rejection by God was not eternal.