Jeremiah 6


The NIV heads this chapter, ‘Jerusalem under siege’. Other authors head it ‘Destruction from the North’ or ‘Destruction of Jerusalem’. There is very little in the chapter that requires any extensive research. It’s the same repetition of remorse, reminders and rejection.

God makes it perfectly clear why it was required to punish and destroy His people. Jerusalem was producing nothing but wickedness, and violent oppression, Jeremiah 6:7. They wouldn’t hear the word of God. Jeremiah 6:10. All of them dealt falsely, Jeremiah 6:13. They loved their false prophets who cried, Peace, peace when there was no peace, Jeremiah 6:14. They refused to be ashamed of their sins. Jeremiah 6:15. They even claimed, ‘We will not listen to God.’ Jeremiah 6:17

Their thoughts were evil, and they rejected God’s Law, Jeremiah 6:19. Their insincere offerings were not acceptable by God, Jeremiah 6:21. They had become a revolting nation, all of them habitual slanderers, Jeremiah 6:28. God’s patience ran out, He rejected them and consigned them to destruction and captivity, Jeremiah 6:30.

Flee for safety

‘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.’ Jeremiah 6:1

The reason Benjamin is mentioned is because Jerusalem, geographically, belonged to the territory of Benjamin. In Jeremiah 4:6 they were warned to flee ‘to Jerusalem’.

Now they are warned to ‘get out of Jerusalem’. The capital of Judah is doomed to destruction. Blow the trumpet.

Another warning of disaster coming

‘I will destroy Daughter Zion, so beautiful and delicate. Shepherds with their flocks will come against her; they will pitch their tents around her, each tending his own portion.’ ‘Prepare for battle against her! Arise, let us attack at noon! But, alas, the daylight is fading, and the shadows of evening grow long. So, arise, let us attack at night and destroy her fortresses!’ Jeremiah 6:2-5

This is almost parabolic. Judah is a beautiful delicate woman, needing protection. But she doesn’t want it. So, the army will come like shepherds. The army of those days usually pitched its tents and rested from the journey for a day, talking over old battles. But this army was keen to go in, at noon. They seem anxious to get into battle.

‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Cut down the trees and build siege ramps against Jerusalem. This city must be punished; it is filled with oppression. 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. Take warning, Jerusalem, or I will turn away from you and make your land desolate so no one can live in it.’ Jeremiah 6:6-8

A reminder of her ways. God is in control. The suggested plan of attack was very common for that day. Cut down trees and build siege ramps to use against Jerusalem. The destruction of Its daughter is coming. There will be violence in the streets.

This doesn’t refer to fruit trees. They would be needed to feed the besieging army. But all of the other trees would have been needed to build towers, for overlooking the city, and presumably for other fortifications, as already mentioned. If God hadn’t intervened, what would the outcome have been today? Perhaps He did them a favour! Though they wouldn’t have thought so at the time. God is going to depart.

‘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.’ To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. 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. 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.’ Jeremiah 6:9-12

A reminder of the refusal to heed all of the various warnings given. We have the picture of a wine dresser. There will be no grapes left on the vines. The destruction will be total. It will affect all of the children, the young men, the old, etc. No one will escape, everyone will suffer. Houses, fields, wives, everything will become booty for the invaders. What a horrible destruction.

‘From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. 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. 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.’ I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’ Jeremiah 6:13-17

Again, a reminder of how it happened. Things have gone from bad to worse. Materialism was always a problem then, and always will be.

Jeremiah 6:16 is a rich passage.

‘This is what the Lord says, ‘Stand at the cross-roads 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.’

Judah was to be a diamond in the midst of rocks. But what a sad end to the story. Stand and seek. Select the good Ground and walk in it. It is not just any old path, it’s the good way. Walk in it. Here is a challenge for all of us, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look’.

Look and see and ask. How stupid it is when men go through life without a thoughtful, careful examination of the way that they have chosen.

‘Ask for the ancient paths’. The ancient paths were the ways of faith, devotion and honour of the one true God. These were revealed to God’s people in the Pentateuch. Today the ‘good way’ is found for us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a call for action here. It’s not enough to know about the ‘good way’, they need to ‘walk in it’.

Those who walk in the good way will find rest for their souls. Jesus identified Himself in this good way in what we call the Great Invitation in Matthew 11:28-30.

Paul tells us how to walk in Ephesians.

Once you walked in transgression and sins, following the course of this world, Ephesians 2:1.

We were created for good work and ‘we should walk in them,’ Ephesians 2:10.

Walk in love. Ephesians 5:1.

Walk as children of light, Ephesians 5:7-10.

Look carefully how you walk, Ephesians 5:15.

Read also Ephesians 4:1-3 and Ephesians 4:17-24.

If we did this, we would have satisfaction for our souls. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

Back in Jeremiah 6:16, how sad this is. All that they had in the past. All they could have had then and in the future, but they will not walk in God’s ways.

‘Therefore hear, you nations; you who are witnesses, observe what will happen to them. 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. 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.’ Jeremiah 6:18-20

The solemn invitation is to the whole Gentile world, as well as the whole earth to hear what God will do needs some special understanding. It’s the promise of God to ‘bring evil against His own people.’ After the captivity of the Jews, they never again enjoyed the status of being the wife of God.

All of the promises of Abraham would afterwards be fulfilled in Christ Jesus. However, no Jews were ever rejected, just because of their race. But he would never again be automatically a member of the new covenant on account of his race.

God wasn’t against the sacrifices He asked for, but He was against the way these sacrifices were being offered. Sacrifices from habitual sinners, insincere and hypocritical worshippers were an abomination to God and therefore, not acceptable to Him.

‘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.’ 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. 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.’ We have heard reports about them, and our hands hang limp. Anguish has gripped us, pain like that of a woman in labour. 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. 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. ‘I have made you a tester of metals and my people the ore, that you may observe and test their ways. They are all hardened rebels, going about to slander. They are bronze and iron; they all act corruptly.’ Jeremiah 6:21-28

Repetition, repetition and more repetition. An external force and the slaughter will be cruel, and no mercy will be shown. Why should there be? No pity will be given. Stumbling blocks on which they will fall. Internal fear. You get the idea from Jeremiah 6:24 that the people are frightening themselves with the stories of this oncoming army. Stay in the city, it’s safe, so they thought! No one can hide from or escape the wrath of God. They always think they are safe in the city.

The Babylonians were cruel invaders but perhaps not quite as terrible as the Assyrians. Some people believe that Judah’s deliverance through the Babylonians was an element of mercy on God’s part but both invasions were terrible. It was the custom of the Jewish people to put ashes on their heads but to ‘roll in ashes’ refers to something more than ordinary grief.

‘The bellows blow fiercely to burn away the lead with fire, but the refining goes on in vain; the wicked are not purged out. They are called rejected silver, because the LORD has rejected them.’ Jeremiah 6:29-31

They should have been like gold but like bronze and iron, they are all mixed up. Even with God ‘refining’, it did no good. Malachi 3:1-3 speaks of the refining fire that gets everything pure. This is what God wanted for Judah.

Go To Jeremiah 7



"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.’"