Verse 1 in Jeremiah 6 does not step outside of Judah. The Tribe of Benjamin was absorbed by Judah during the split of the 12 Tribes into two separate kingdoms. There were also remnants from the northern tribes who opted to live in Judah when the evil kings of the Kingdom of Israel to the north rejected God (YHWH). The City of Jerusalem was part of the Benjamine territory when the land was divided by Joshua some 900 to 1,000 years earlier in history.
It is not uncommon to see different names in reference to the same people, place and thing. Not only in the Bible, but also the secular part of the same history. The King James Version is a bit difficult to understand when it comes to Jeremiah chapter 6. Following is the *CEV version; easier to understand and read. [*Contemporary English Version]
Jer 6:1 Run for your lives, people of Benjamin. Get out of Jerusalem. Sound a trumpet in Tekoa and light a signal fire in Beth-Haccherem. Soon you will be struck by disaster from the north. *
V2 Jerusalem is a lovely pasture, but shepherds will surround it and divide it up,
V3 then let their flocks eat all the grass.
V4 Kings will tell their troops, “If we reach Jerusalem in the morning, we’ll attack at noon. But if we arrive later,
V5 we’ll attack after dark and destroy its fortresses.”
V6 I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I will command these armies to chop down trees and build a ramp up to the walls of Jerusalem. People of Jerusalem, I must punish you for your injustice.
V:7 Evil pours from your city like water from a spring. Sounds of violent crimes echo within your walls; victims are everywhere, wounded and dying.
V8 Listen to me, you people of Jerusalem and Judah. I will abandon you, and your land will become an empty desert.
V9 I will tell your enemies to leave your nation bare like a vine stripped of grapes. I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken.
V10 I have told the people that you, LORD, will punish them, but they just laugh and refuse to listen.
V11 Your anger against Judah flames up inside me, and I can’t hold it in much longer. Don’t hold back my anger! Let it sweep away everyone-– the children at play and all adults, young and old alike.
V12 I’ll punish the people of Judah and give to others their houses and fields, as well as their wives. I, the LORD, have spoken.
V13 Everyone is greedy and dishonest, whether poor or rich. Even the prophets and priests cannot be trusted.
V14 All they ever offer to my deeply wounded people are empty hopes for peace.
V15 They should be ashamed of their disgusting sins, but they don’t even blush. And so, when I punish Judah, they will end up on the ground, dead like everyone else. I, the LORD, have spoken.
V16 The LORD said: My people, when you stood at the crossroads, I told you, “Follow the road your ancestors took, and you will find peace.” But you refused.
V17 I also sent prophets to warn you of danger, but when they sounded the alarm, you paid no attention. *
V18 So I tell all nations on earth, “Watch what I will do!
V19 My people ignored me and rejected my laws. They planned to do evil, and now the evil they planned will happen to them.”
V20 People of Judah, you bring me incense from Sheba and spices from distant lands. You offer sacrifices of all kinds. But why bother? I hate these gifts of yours!
V21 So I will put stumbling blocks in your path, and everyone will die, including parents and children, neighbors and friends.
V22 The LORD said, “Look toward the north, where a powerful nation has prepared for war.
V23 Its well-armed troops are cruel and never show mercy. Their galloping horses sound like ocean waves pounding on the shore. This army will attack you, lovely Jerusalem.”
V24 Then the people said, “Just hearing about them makes us tremble with fear, and we twist and turn in pain like a woman giving birth.”
V25 The LORD said, “Don’t work in your fields or walk along the roads. It’s too dangerous. The enemy is well armed
V26 and attacks without warning. So mourn, my people, as though your only child had died. Wear clothes made of sackcloth and roll in the ash pile.”
V27 Jeremiah, test my people as though they were metal.
V28 And you’ll find they are hard like bronze and iron. They are stubborn rebels, always spreading lies. *
V29 Silver can be purified in a fiery furnace,
V30 but my people are too wicked to be made pure, and so I have rejected them.
This is a powerful chapter defining Judah is at this time, and in general, what all of Israel, north and southern kingdoms became in the eyes of their God YHWH. We can see that Jeremiah is talking about what is about to happen to Judah and a bit of the events during the Tribulation period in a distant future.
The highlighted portions of the CEV verses above will be our primary discussion points in this chapter 6 study.
In Tekoa: This is the birthplace of the prophet Amos. It is only a few miles south of Jerusalem. The interesting note is that Tekoa, where the trumpet is to be sounded, is located south of Jerusalem but the enemy approaches from the north. Judah has become a dreadfully sinful place and Jeremiah cannot find a single soul through which Judah and Jerusalem will be saved from God’s punishment. Zechariah 3:9 is a future event not yet fulfilled but it addresses the sin of Israel. “God will remove their sin in a single day.”
…but shepherds will surround it: We see pictures on TV of what Jerusalem looks like today. The curse of God has left the surrounding lands lacking in water or much rain. Desert is easy to see in and around the outskirts of Jerusalem. However, when the Children of Israel entered into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, it was the land of milk and honey. The huge clusters of grapes hauled out of the countryside took two men to carry one cluster [Numbers 13:23]. The shepherds, the future occupants of this land, may be in reference to what Jeremiah writes in Jeremiah 1:15; kings of northern kingdoms.
Kings will tell their troops: Note that this is plural…KINGS. Babylon itself had but one king; Nebuchadnezzar. Close examination of scripture leads us to believe this prophecy is not only of the pending Babylonian invasion and Judah’s consequential 70 year captivity, but a future time when many from the north will come up against Jerusalem. In our Revelation study we saw that the gathering of troops from every nation in Har Megiddo; I.E. what we will call Armageddon, about 50 miles NORTH of Jerusalem, will be a combination of armies from every nation. All gathered to storm the gates of Jerusalem…200,000,000 men.
I must punish you for your injustice: God is love BUT, he is also justice. He is patient and longsuffering but will not be fooled. Israel is God’s chosen [wife] people. As does a good father, he does not spare the rod only to spoil his children [Proverbs 13:24]. Judah has been warned for by prophets since the fall of their northern cousin tribes in the Kingdom of Israel. At a time when Jeremiah is actually pleading with God to spare Judah and Jerusalem, he couldn’t find one single honest person in the country.
Evil pours from your city like water from a spring: The religious leaders had made a sham of the Law of Moses and used it only when to their advantage. Child sacrifice was a practice at this time; akin to our sacrifice of children via abortion. Lying, cheating, moral standards, and the fact that Judaism had become a religion instead of a way of life gave God his fill of tolerance. Jeremiah said “it poured like water from a spring.” That is abundant, not random sin. This is reminiscent of Genesis 6:5… “…every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
I will abandon you, and your land will become an empty desert: Recall that at one time this land was “milk and honey.” When my father visited Israel, he could see the difference between the cultivated lands of Israelis and the sands of the Arab territories. The point is what once was watered by God now has canals and irrigation ditches . Just as in the Garden of Eden where no labor was required to produce the fruits of the garden, after the fall of Adam, man had to cultivate to eat. Genesis 3:19 tells us just that. But the promise of God will still be a fulfilled covenant of God and Israel. This is described in the Millennial Reign of what Israel will be.
…bare like a vine stripped: Important note. God says in Jeremiah 6:9 that he will command the enemies of Jerusalem/Judah to strip the vines of their fruits. This is a twofold thought. To strip the vine of its grapes means to remove them from the garden. However, there is another more subtle point in this same passage. He, meaning God, did not say pull up the vines by their roots. This leaves the potential of future grapes/population. This is the future Kingdom of God-Jesus on the throne in Jerusalem; King of all kings; ruler of the earth; Satan bound in the pit.
V10 is the underlining statement of why God will punish his chosen people: “…but they just laugh at me” (Jeremiah that is). This was and is still true today of most prophets, evangelical preachers, teachers and witnessing testimonies of the Word of God. People do not take kindly to their sins being pointed out. The last four kings of Judah are prime examples of “in your face YHWH” attitudes. We will see in chapter 36 that King Jehoiakim burned the scrolls, the original copy of Jeremiah, in his heating pot at his winter room in Jerusalem. He not only laughed at but scorned both Jeremiah, through his scribe Baruch, and God. Very dangerous ground as it borders on the unpardonable sin. There is little doubt that King Jehoiakim will not be one singing the praises of Jesus on the great resurrection morning.
Let it sweep away everyone: This is actually Jeremiah pleading with God. He was very angry for the stupidity, rejection, and blasphemous statements of his fellow countrymen. Their self-confidence and cocky attitude was about all Jeremiah could take. If he could, he might have slaughtered them on his own. However, the Lord God follows up Jeremiahs pleading to destroy these people is found in the very next verse (V12).
V12 I’ll punish the people of Judah and give to others their houses and fields, as well as their wives. This verse needs little explanation. The punishment will be severe and total. The last half of this verse reads…”I the Lord have spoken.” From 72 A.D. to 1948, this vow was fulfilled.
Everyone is greedy and dishonest: In the ESV this same verse reads: “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. The word “everyone” in the Greek [kole] means NONE EXCLUDED. Once again we return to the pre-Noah days and the condition of the people’s heart. It is the fear and belief of this bible blogger that America is getting closer and closer to the same condition. The split and disrespect of peoples has never been greater aside from possibly the Civil War. Even back then it was mostly over principles and not hate and greed. Today it is hate and greed. What’s in it for me? Even ministers plead for more and more money’s to line the pockets of their own ministries. Huge churches have huge overhead. This tends to cause compromise of the scripture and appeal to those who are religious but want to attend a church with great chandeliers, huge auditoriums (not sanctuaries), professional bands to lead the music, and songs that sometimes are difficult to recognize as ones that praise or honor God. Catchy tunes but shallow lyrics.
In verse 14 I prefer how the King James Version puts it. Peace, peace; when there is no peace. This is what the priests and leaders offer the people of Judah; false hope in something that does not and will not exist until the Millennial Reign of Christ. This is a man’s peace; not God’s. Since the leaders of Judah at this time, secular and religious, were not in the foot prints of God, anything they did was in the foot prints of man.
They should be ashamed of their disgusting sins: Do you know anyone who is such a compulsive liar or evil (Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and others) that they don’t even faint back a bit, add a sheepish grin or blush when sinning? This is similar to Pharaoh of Egyptian captivity times. The Pharaoh didn’t hesitate to withdraw or hold back his support for Israel slavery. His heart hardened each time it got a little bit soft. Pharaoh’s concerns never were for Israelis. It was always for him and his kingdom rule. Judah was the same at the time of Jeremiah. No shame; only lust for more.
Follow the road your ancestors took, and you will find peace.” But you refuse: Even though history tells us that Israel of old had an on and off again relationship with God, there were times of a true peace for them. Let’s put it this way. Do you have a hidden sin? One that you must hide day after day in the hopes it stays hidden? There is no peace. This is what Jeremiah is talking about in this verse. Sin is more denial than hidden. I have often asked others when he or she is trying to justify a given action or hate: “Who are you trying to convince? Me or you? When it does happen and a wrong is made right, people feel a true peace. We identify it with the saying, “the weight of the world or a great weight has lifted from my shoulders.”
I tell all nations on earth: The word “ALL” is significant in this Jeremiah passage. When the bible says ALL, it means all! No exceptions. If anyone thinks America is exempted, s/he is all but right. What else might ALL THE NATIONS ON EARTH possibly mean? America, specifically the United States of America, is not mentioned in scripture. However, this verse is without exception and that does include the Americas. This verse is connected to the passage where God calls the Kingdom of Judah more evil than was their northern cousins, the Kingdom of Israel. Judah did not learn from what she saw happen to the ten tribes in the north. Jeremiah is telling us to learn from what we see. Yes, God is love, but he is also just.
“…the evil they planned will happen to them.” The word “evil” in Hebrew is rah which means naturally or morally. Since man cannot bring supernatural evil upon others, Jeremiah points out that God will use their own devices against them. Upon whom shall this evil be allowed? The answer is in the use of the word “Them, They or People.” It is “’AM” in Hebrew meaning a specific tribe or group of people such as a given or multiple Tribes of Israel. In the King James 619 reads “even the fruit of their thoughts.” Watch out ‘oh people,’ even their thoughts will materialize if it is bad.
You offer sacrifices of all kinds. But why bother? People today as back during this time of Jeremiah, have a lot to learn. It is not the value of the gift that God accepts as better or worse. It is not expensive spices or large checks that dazzle God or, in a sense, bribe his attention. It is how the gift is given. We can look at our own giving as see why it is we give. A minister once said “to give until it hurts.” I disagree. It is better to give until one is satisfied in his or her heart.” That is the value of the gift; i.e. the intent of the heart.
“Look toward the north, where a powerful nation has prepared for war.
V23 Its well-armed troops: Jeremiah is not prophesying into the distant future at this point. He identifies the threat as ONE NATION this time. This is an imminent prophecy. God tells Judah and their leadership from which direction the enemy will come and probably identifiable by them per it being a power house nation; i.e. Babylon.
Verse 24 is somewhat a confliction. Jeremiah is saying one thing and the “tickle thy ears” prophets of Judah are saying “we are safe.” But then V25 says the Lord God says “don’t work in your fields.” This creates a dichotomy of interests and priorities. If the people of Judah don’t work their fields, there will be no crop; thus famine or starvation. Jeremiah has told the people of Judah to not fight the Babylonians when they invade. Their captivity is ordained of God. Jeremiahs primary message is, on’t make it worse by resisting.
[Verse 26 begins a new paragraph in the this book but the same chapter] “ Wear clothes made of sackcloth and roll in the ash pile. V27 Jeremiah, test my people…” This set of instructions is not for Judah but for Jeremiah. Jeremiah is God’s tower and example for which HE wants the Judeans to emulate. Just as heat and boiling purifies lead, silver, gold, water and other metals, God identifies the entirety of Judah as bullheaded and hard as metal per being persuaded. They are [V30] “reprobate or mâ’as (Hebrew) skum at the top of the pot. They are NOT the purity God desired of them. However, God will purge their hearts and minds. It states in Hebrews 10:16 and he is talking about Israel at this time…
“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
James W. Stark (M.M., Rev. Dr.)