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CHAPTER 6 Ju1. 16 
 A Warning for the People
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. 2The comely and delicate one, the daughter of Zion, will I cut off. 3Shepherds with their flocks shall come to her; they shall pitch their tents against her all around; they shall feed each one in his place. 4Prepare war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe to us! For the day declines, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out. 5Arise, and let us go up by night, and let us destroy her palaces. 6For 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. 7As 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. 8Be instructed, Jerusalem, lest My soul depart from you; lest I make you a desolation, a land not inhabited. 9Thus says Yahweh of Armies, They shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel like a vine. Turn again your hand as a grape gatherer into the baskets. 10To 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. 11Therefore I am full of the wrath of Yahweh. I am weary with holding in. 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. 12Their 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. 13For from their least even to their greatest, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. 14They have healed also the hurt of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace. 15Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I visit them, they shall be cast down, says Yahweh. 16Thus 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’. 17I set watchmen over you saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’. But they said, ‘We will not listen!’. 18Therefore hear, you nations, and know, congregation, what is among them. 19Hear, 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. 20To 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. 21Therefore 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.
Invasion from the North
22Thus says Yahweh, Behold, a people comes from the north country. A great nation shall be stirred up from the uttermost parts of the earth. 23They 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. 24We have heard its report; our hands become feeble: anguish has taken hold of us, pains as of a woman in labour. 25Don’t go forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and terror are on every side. 26Daughter 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. 27I have made you a tester of metals and a fortress among My people; that you may know and try their way. 28They are all grievous rebels, going about with slanders; they are brass and iron: they all of them deal corruptly. 29The bellows blow fiercely; the lead is consumed of the fire: in vain do they go on refining; for the wicked are not plucked away. 30Men will call them rejected silver, because Yahweh has rejected them.


6:8 Here and in Ez. 23:18, 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 woundedness" (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 He “rejected” them (: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.
6:11 We may assume that it is the leaders of a corrupt society, the opinion formers, who should be punished. But God seems to emphasize here that it’s the apparently innocent members of society also who shall be punished- the children and the wives of the men who were the decision makers. The modern liberal mindset struggles with this kind of thing. But the picture is all the same of God holding an entire society culpable to judgment, as He did in punishing Egypt. It’s not that the individual doesn’t matter to God, nor that the righteous must perish with the wicked; but rather than the apparently insignificant individuals have more significance than we may imagine. Passive support of a corrupt regime is sinful and culpable for judgment; for holocausts happen when good people do nothing. There is in this sense no such person as the innocent bystander.
6:20 Israel weren’t atheists, and they still sacrificed to Yahweh; but Jeremiah makes it clear that external religion and mere intellectual assent isn’t enough. Effectively they had rejected Him for other gods.
6:21 I will lay stumbling blocks- There is a downward as well as an upward spiral in spiritual life; God at times deceives people so that they believe a lie, because they don’t love truth (2 Thess. 2:11). Note that it is a serious sin for us to be stumbling blocks to others; but God can morally do what we can’t. What He does at times, e.g. slaying the wicked, doesn’t always mean that we can do the same.
6:23 Against you, daughter of Zion- Yahweh was Israel’s God, and Zion, the temple built on Mount Zion, was His dwelling place. The pagan gods were intended to keep their temples and people safe from invaders; but the true God was quite different. He sent enemies against His own house to destroy it. The people of Judah would’ve had the same struggle to understand Him as those today who expect only good from their God.
6:26,27 Jeremiah was so merged with God that it’s hard to work out to whom the pronouns [“He”, “My”] refer- to God or Jeremiah. “Come upon us” may reflect how even in punishing His people for their sin, God was united with them.