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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 6: God decrees destruction for Jerusalem


[Preliminary Comment : This chapter is scaringly transparent in the warnings that come again and again of an invader who will come because of the nation's intransigence and refusal to repent.]



v.1-3 A call to sound the alarm for the disaster that is coming

v.1  ‘Flee for safety, people of Benjamin!
    Flee from Jerusalem!
Sound the trumpet in Tekoa!
    Raise the signal over Beth Hakkerem!
For disaster looms out of the north,
    even terrible destruction.
v.2  I will destroy Daughter Zion,
    so beautiful and delicate.
v.3  Shepherds with their flocks will come against her;
    they will pitch their tents round her,
    each tending his own portion.'


[Comment: The Lord decrees a disaster coming in the form of an invader from the north, so sound an alarm because after they have come the prosperous city will just become the feeding ground for shepherds and their sheep.]



v.4-6 The enemy plans the attack

v.4  ‘Prepare for battle against her!
    Arise, let us attack at noon!
But, alas, the daylight is fading,
    and the shadows of evening grow long.
v.5  So arise, let us attack at night
    and destroy her fortresses!'

v.6  This is what the Lord Almighty says:

‘Cut down the trees
    and build siege ramps against Jerusalem.

[Comment: Warning has a reality about it – there IS an enemy preparing to invade and conquer.]


v.7 The sins of the city deserve punishment

This city must be punished;
    it is filled with oppression.
v.7  As a well pours out its water,
    so she pours out her wickedness.
Violence and destruction resound in her;
    her sickness and wounds are ever before me.

v.8 Jerusalem should heed the Lord's warnings

v.8  Take warning, Jerusalem,
    or I will turn away from you
and make your land desolate
    so that no one can live in it.'


v.9 When the enemy comes he will take first-fruits

v.9  This is what the Lord Almighty says:

‘Let them glean the remnant of Israel
    as thoroughly as a vine;
pass your hand over the branches again,
    like one gathering grapes.'


[Comment: The wickedness of this people deserves the invading disaster that is coming upon them to cream them off in layers. Historically Nebuchadnezzar came three times – in 605 when Daniel and his friends were taken, in 597 when Ezekiel and some ten thousand Jews were deported to Babylon, and 587 when Jerusalem was eventually destroyed and most people carried off into exile.]



v.10 Is there anyone with ears open to hear this warning?

v.10  To whom can I speak and give warning?
    Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
    so that they cannot hear.
The word of the Lord is offensive to them;
    they find no pleasure in it.

v.11 But God's anger is reaching an overflowing point

v.11  But I am full of the wrath of the Lord,
    and I cannot hold it in.

‘Pour it out on the children in the street
    and on the young men gathered together;
both husband and wife will be caught in it,
    and the old, those weighed down with years.


v.12 The people of the land will be dispossessed

v.12  Their houses will be turned over to others,
    together with their fields and their wives,
when I stretch out my hand
    against those who live in the land,'
declares the Lord.

[Comment: There is an apparent hesitancy in the Lord, hence the length of time that Jeremiah eventually prophesied. He wanted them to listen and respond but they wouldn't and so eventually His anger got to a point of action against them.]



v.13 Every person are out for themselves

v.13  ‘From the least to the greatest,
    all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
    all practise deceit.

v.14 They speak of peace when there is no peace

v.14  They dress the wound of my people
    as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
    when there is no peace.

v.15 They are utterly shameless and so all will fall

v.15  Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
    No, they have no shame at all;
    they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
    they will be brought down when I punish them,'
says the Lord .


v.16 The people refused to be reminded of the good of the past

v.16  This is what the Lord says:

‘Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls.
    But you said, “We will not walk in it.”

[Comment: Their sins are obvious: self-centred greed [v.13], their refusal to put things right [v.14], their refusal to feel shame [v.15] and their refusal to remember and learn from their past [v.16]. They have no room for excuses.]


v.17 God gave you people to warn you but you ignored them

v.17  I appointed watchmen over you and said,
    “Listen to the sound of the trumpet!”
    But you said, “We will not listen.”

v.18,19 So let the whole world see the disaster God will bring

v.18  Therefore hear, you nations;
    you who are witnesses,
    observe what will happen to them.
v.19  Hear, you earth:
    I am bringing disaster on this people,
    the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not listened to my words
    and have rejected my law.

[Comment: They have had warning after warning but they refused to heed them, so now the whole world will see and learn by what follows.]



v.20 Your sacrifices and incense burning are meaningless

v.20  What do I care about incense from Sheba
    or sweet calamus from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable;
    your sacrifices do not please me.'


v.21 Therefore obstacles will appear that will bring down this people

v.21  Therefore this is what the Lord says:

‘I will put obstacles before this people.
    Parents and children alike will stumble over them;
    neighbours and friends will perish.'


v.22,23 A merciless army is about to invade

v.22  This is what the Lord says:

‘Look, an army is coming
    from the land of the north;
a great nation is being stirred up
    from the ends of the earth.
v.23  They are armed with bow and spear;
    they are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like the roaring sea
    as they ride on their horses;
they come like men in battle formation
    to attack you, Daughter Zion.'


v.24-26 What we hear of them simply generates fear in us, but it's too late

v.24  We have heard reports about them,
    and our hands hang limp.
Anguish has gripped us,
    pain like that of a woman in labour.
v.25  Do not go out to the fields
    or walk on the roads,
for the enemy has a sword,
    and there is terror on every side.

v.26  Put on sackcloth, my people,
    and roll in ashes;
mourn with bitter wailing
    as for an only son,
for suddenly the destroyer
    will come upon us.


[Comment: Their trust in meaningless religion will be shown to be pointless when their land is invaded, fear will come as an obstacle that will make them falter, the fear of a great army descending on them, that reduces them to quivering wrecks.]



v.27-30 Jeremiah, you will test them as metal is tested before God refines them

v.27  ‘I have made you a tester of metals
    and my people the ore,
that you may observe
    and test their ways.
v.28  They are all hardened rebels,
    going about to slander.
They are bronze and iron;
    they all act corruptly.
v.29  The bellows blow fiercely
    to burn away the lead with fire,
but the refining goes on in vain;
    the wicked are not purged out.
v.30  They are called rejected silver,
    because the Lord has rejected them.'


[Comment: Jeremiah's prophetic words will test this people [in the way they respond] as an assayer tests metals and proves their purity or lack of.]



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