Explaining the Book

Bible Study Guide

Jeremiah

Jeremiah 6 Summary

In this Jeremiah 6 summary we’ll study the entirety of Jeremiah 6:1-30.

And that means that we’re finishing up the section in Jeremiah that started back in Jeremiah 3:6 and ends with Jeremiah 6:30.

In our first post in this section we saw God comparing the sins of both Israel and Judah. He concluded that Israel was less guilty and then proceeded to call them to return to him.

And that was a glorious message because we saw God’s merciful heart toward his rebellious people. But then the next two sub-sections have dealt mostly with the punishment that God would have to bring on Judah for their lack of repentance.

And we saw that this change from God’s displaying his mercy toward his repentant people … to … God displaying his wrath against sin caused Jeremiah to accuse God of deceiving the people.

But God ignored Jeremiah’s protest and just continued to give him a message of judgement for his unrepentant people.

And it’s the same message that we have today in this post. We end this major section with more warnings of impending doom for failing to repent of sin.

The Lord starts Jeremiah 6:1 by giving a message to the tribe from which Jeremiah descended – the tribe of Benjamin.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | One Tribe & Three Cities

In that verse, we have one tribe and three cities mentioned.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Tribe

The tribe is Benjamin. It was one of the two tribes left to David’s sons in the southern kingdom of Judah after the split with the northern ten tribes after Solomon’s death.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Cities

The cities are Jerusalem, Tekoa, and Beth-Hakkarem.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Jerusalem

Jerusalem was of course the capital city of Judah.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Tekoa

Tekoa was also a city in Judah and the significance of God naming that city here is perhaps because the name Tekoa sounds like the Hebrew word translated as blow (takang). In this city (Tekoa) they were to blow (takang) the trumpet – which is probably a reference to signaling to everyone that they should retreat from the coming enemy.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Beth-Hakkerem

And lastly, Beth-Hakkerem was also a city in Judah whose name meant something like “House (Beth) of the (Ha) Vineyard (Kerem)”. Beth = house. Ha = the. And Kerem = vineyard.

And I think it’s significant that the Lord in Jeremiah 5 was speaking of the enemy coming to the walls of Judah and pulling off branches or vines. Vines are found in a vineyard, of course. This city is the House of the Vineyard. Do you see the significance of the Lord mentioning it here?

And in this city the sons of Benjamin were to light a signal fire. This action probably refers to indicating to all of Judah that they were to flee from their territory – just like the trumpet being blown in Tekoa was to indicate.

So, the people of Benjamin were commanded to flee from these three cities and alert everyone else to the fact that they all needed to flee.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | But Warriors Don’t Flee!

But hardy warriors don’t flee!

Exactly. But these people were no longer hardy warriors.

According to Jeremiah 6:2, the strong men of Benjamin were more like defenseless daughters. And when your best and hardiest warriors are like defenseless daughters who themselves need to be defended, you’re in trouble!

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Why the Need to Flee?

And the reason that the men of Benjamin are advised to flee like defenseless daughters is found in Jeremiah 6:3.

Now, this doesn’t sound very bad. Shepherds, flocks, tents, feeding – those concepts don’t elicit much fear – taken at face value.

But something clues us in to the fact that God isn’t speaking of literal shepherds and their peaceful activities. These shepherds are said to pitch their tents against her round about. That’s a strange way of describing the activity of shepherds. It sounds more like the aggressive action that a king would perform with his army against a city they were besieging.

Add to this that the term shepherd can be used to refer to rulers, poetically. And I think the picture that emerges is one of military leaders besieging the nation of Judah. And that reality is poetically portrayed as shepherds pitching tents and feeding flocks.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Plan of Attack

Now, it’s as if we go from a bird’s eye view of those shepherds or military commanders in Jeremiah 6:3 to now zooming in and looking over their shoulders as it were to hear their actual conversation in Jeremiah 6:4.

So, the Babylonian commanders are telling their troops to prepare to attack Judah. They plan the attack for about noon.

Then we have some group of people reacting negatively to this attack in the rest of Jeremiah 6:4. In other words, they lament that it’s getting late.

Now, I originally thought this was Judah speaking in Jeremiah 6:4. I thought they were lamenting the coming enemy.

But now I think it’s much more likely that what’s recorded in Jeremiah 6:4 is the speech of the enemy itself. We saw that they’re pictured as intending to attack at noon. But alaswoe unto us, they say – we haven’t been able to get there on time!

Well, that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that the enemy isn’t able to get to Judah in their own timing. Because, as strange as it sounds, God is with the enemy in order to punish his unrepentant nation. So, they’re easily able to change their plans in Jeremiah 6:5.

So, OK, if noon didn’t work, let’s just attack at night! That’s the idea.

The enemy will have a great deal of flexibility and liberty. And that’s because God is with them and has commanded them to attack his rebellious nation. He says that in Jeremiah 6:6.

Again, in other words, the Lord is commanding the enemy to come and be his means of punishing his sinful people.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Why God is Sending the Enemy

And as we’ve seen several times already in the book of Jeremiah, the Lord doesn’t leave it a mystery as to why he’s sending judgement on his people. He’s needing to deal with their sin.

And it’s that sin and the way it’s provoked the Lord to send this punishing nation to Judah that God highlights in the rest of Jeremiah 6:6-7.

So, the Lord is still focusing on the sins that Judah is committing against her fellow men. He highlights oppression which is a sin against men, rather than directly against God. Oppression (or extortion as it’s sometimes translated even in the King James Version) is abuse of one’s fellow man, usually involving force or fraud.

So, God is communicating that he’s concerned not just for Judah’s sin against himself only, but he’s also grieved over men abusing their fellow-man.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Sin Like a Fountain

With that in mind, the Lord portrays the people’s sin poetically in Jeremiah 6:7.

This makes me think about the artesian spring that’s a few miles southeast of our church’s building. That fountain has been casting out her waters since 1895 when it was hand-dug. You can’t stop it. It’s effusive. It gushes. It’s non-stop, 24-7.

And that’s a wonderful thing. But what isn’t wonderful is when a man’s sin is like that – effusive, gushing, non-stop. That’s how God portrays Judah’s sin and the sin he’s discovered in Jerusalem. It doesn’t end. It’s non-stop.

And the Lord end Jeremiah 6:7 by continuing to highlight the non-stop nature of Judah’s sin.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Repent While There’s Time!

Now, the Lord has been speaking of the coming enemy as a certain reality. But Jeremiah 6:8 seems to make it clear that there was still time to repent. That option was still available to Judah at this point under Josiah’s reign.

So, God is warning Judah of impending doom if they don’t repent. That’s why he’s sending them these dire and sober warnings through Jeremiah.

And the warnings continue in Jeremiah 6:9.

Because the enemy will come and thoroughly glean the remnant like a grape vine, leaving hardly anything, God gives a command to Jeremiah in the rest of Jeremiah 6:9.

I think what God is telling Jeremiah in Jeremiah 6:9 is that in light of the enemy’s eventual coming because of the sins of Judah, Jeremiah must snatch them before the enemy does. But Jeremiah’s snatching of people will be for their reclamation, rather than their destruction.

So, that’s God’s word to Jeremiah – go and try your best at reclaiming these people who are destined for destruction because of their sin and lack of repentance.

Well, Jeremiah apparently ponders that command. And then in Jeremiah 6:10-11 he responds with several concerns he has. And most of those concerns relate to the people being unwilling to hear God’s word and turn from their sin.

In other words, God is giving the people a chance to repent (Jeremiah 6:8). He then tells Jeremiah to try his best to bring them back to the truth (Jeremiah 6:9). But Jeremiah is pretty sure it won’t work – and not because there’s something wrong with the Lord or with his commands, but because there’s something wrong with the people.

So, Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 6:10 that there isn’t anyone who will listen to him. God told Jeremiah to try to glean some of these people like grapes – to win some of them to the way of truth before the enemy comes and gleans them to their destruction. But Jeremiah feels like he’ll have a hard time getting anyone to even pay attention to him!

Now, if the text here gave me any reason to think that Jeremiah was being disobedient I would quickly think that way. Because I’m hearing God give a command and I almost sense some pull-back on Jeremiah’s part as if he’s not really willing to do what God told him to do. But the text doesn’t give me a reason to think that Jeremiah was disobeying or dragging his heels. And in fact, throughout this book we see Jeremiah going where God commands and saying what God tells him to say. So, I don’t think that Jeremiah is being disobedient here.

The fact is, Jeremiah wanted the people to hear God’s word. He wanted the people to delight in it. But instead, he knew that the people took offense at God’s word and didn’t enjoy it at all.

And because that was the people’s reaction, Jeremiah is angry  and expresses that emotion in Jeremiah 6:11.

Jeremiah can’t stand the people’s hardhearted reaction to God’s word. He is full of God’s wrath. He can’t hold it in anymore.

And so God breaks in and responds to the sentiments that Jeremiah just expressed at the end of Jeremiah 6:11.

Now, in the King James Version, the first three English words of this sentence are a translation of a Hebrew infinitive. It ends up being translated into English as, I will pour.

The question is whether that Hebrew word is really an infinitive or if it’s an imperative. The Hebrew text (BHS) and grammar (Holladay) I consulted said it was an imperative. If it is an imperative, then the three English words become one English word – Pour.

Whether it’s to be translated as I will pour or simply Pour, it does seem most appropriate to me to attribute these words to the Lord rather than to Jeremiah.

So, the Lord is joining in with Jeremiah in his anger and frustration over the hardness of his people.

The Lord says here that if the people continue in their hardhearted ways, the consequences of their sin will affect everyone. Here in Jeremiah 6:11 God’s anger will need to be poured out on children and young men – the youth. It will come to both husband and wife—perhaps those who are middle-aged. And just as it will fall upon those two age groups it will also fall upon old men.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | A Total Reversal

And when that happens – when God’s wrath is poured out upon his people – there will be a total reversal of things for Judah.

Remember back to the book of Joshua. Israel entered into the land of Canaan. The Canaanites’ houses and fields were turned over to Israel.

But that turn of events will be completely turned on Judah as the enemy comes and drives them out of the land (Jeremiah 6:12).

And once again the Lord sees fit to explain the reasons for his punishing his people in Jeremiah 6:13.

Everyone was greedy. Everyone.

And that included even the religious leaders of the day (Jeremiah 6:13).

The religious leaders were dealing falsely. They were lying. The content of their lie is exposed in Jeremiah 6:14.

One of the most dangerous things for God’s people is when their religious leaders lie to them. If God has given those leaders a message of warning and danger, then the worst thing those leaders can do is to pretend as if just the opposite is the reality. And that’s just what Judah’s religious leaders were doing. They were in essence putting a tiny bandage over a third-degree burn.

And as shocking as this all seems to us, Jeremiah 6:15 reveals that Judah and her religious leaders didn’t think it was a big deal.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | God Begs the People to Repent

Next, in Jeremiah 6:16-17 we see God extending himself and practically begging his people to turn from their sin. Their response is blunt refusal.

This sounds like a good idea. Yes, find those tried-and-true ways. Walk in well-established paths. Follow the Lord down his way for you. And the wonderful promise is rest. Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, in a word, Judah (end of Jeremiah 6:16). Their response is so matter-of-fact. Just a blunt refusal of God’s begging them to turn from sin. It was for their own good. But they didn’t want it.

But God kept doing good to those people as recorded in Jeremiah 6:17. These watchmen are likely prophets who sounded the trumpet of warning to God’s people. Warning them to turn from sin and its consequences. Listen, he begged!

But what does God get? Another blunt refusal.

So, God declares disaster upon his people in Jeremiah 6:18-19. So, here again we have the threat of the coming enemy for the people’s lack of repentance.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Disobedience But Sacrifice?

And yet at the very same time – and this is amazing, but it’s so true to fallen human nature – the people – the rebellious people of God who want nothing to do with actually following and obeying God – they will still offer worthless sacrifices to him in Jeremiah 6:20.

And God tells them the obvious – he doesn’t want the sacrifices. He doesn’t want the animals and the expensive incense and whatever else. He wants your heart!

The people were apparently being extravagant in their offerings, even! Sheba is somewhere in Africa, maybe around Ethiopia. They were bringing these rare and expensive elements from far-distant lands to sacrifice – supposedly – to the Lord.

Now, isn’t that just about the greatest disconnect you can imagine? Spending all sorts of money and time acquiring things to give to God – when the most important thing to him is your heart, your will, your affections – and you’re not willing to give that to him?

And God tells us how he thinks about that in the last part of Jeremiah 6:20.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Coming Nation

And once more, God brings the discussion back to the reality of the coming destroying nation in Jeremiah 6:21-23.

But, what is the identity of the stumbling blocks? The Lord reveals that in Jeremiah 6:22.

So, again, big frightening army … against … a weak helpless fearful defenseless daughter. That’s the picture God is trying to get across to his sinful people in hopes that they’ll repent.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Daughter Speaks

And this helpless daughter that is Judah is represented as speaking in Jeremiah 6:24-25. And she’s afraid. That’s how the people should have responded. And perhaps they did. But they certainly didn’t repent.

Now, let me point out a phrase in Jeremiah 6:25. It’s fear on every side in English. In the Hebrew it’s Magor Misabib. This Hebrew phrase is transliterated in Jeremiah 20:3 where Jeremiah assigns a new name to a false prophet. That name is Magor-Misabib. You can see it there in your English version. In addition to what we’ve just considered – Jeremiah 20:3 and here in 6:25 – this Hebrew phrase appears in Jeremiah 20:10, Jeremiah 46:5, and Jeremiah 49:29. It also occurs once in Lamentations 2:22. And once it’s used in Psalm 31:14.

In Jeremiah though, it’s a reality that just hangs over Judah’s head for as long as Jeremiah ministers to them. They’re under this dark cloud of impending doom for their sins and lack of repentance. And this Hebrew phrase Magor Misabib is just about the best summary of what Judah faces for their abuse of their God.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | How to Avoid Terror on Every Side

But again, they could have repented and avoided the unpleasant reality of facing terror on every side! That’s what Jeremiah urges on them one more time in Jeremiah 6:26.

Jeremiah is pleading with his own people as God’s ambassador. Evil and destruction is coming. So turn, please! For your own sake!

Then the Lord turns to speak with Jeremiah in Jeremiah 6:27. Jeremiah is to know and try the way of the people from his position of strength as a tower and fortress.

And God lets him in on what he will discover about his own countrymen in Jeremiah 6:28.

And then to end Jeremiah 6, God compares the people to metal in Jeremiah 6:28-30. Judah is all as hard as brass and iron, but unfortunately they’re not as pure – rather, they’re corrupt.

When the Lord says that the lead is consumed that apparently refers to a practice of adding lead to the molten metal in order to remove impurities (NET Bible).

And yet, though the lead is consumed, the metal (of Judah) isn’t refined at all. No impurities have been removed. So, the Lord says he needs to reject them.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Looking Back and Ahead

So, that ends this major section that started back in Jeremiah 3:6.

Next , Lord-willing, we’ll start into the next main section where the Lord emphasizes a theme that we just saw him start to develop today in Jeremiah 6:20. Namely, Disobedience Outweighs External Religious Devotion.

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