Jeremiah 1:11-12 records the first object lesson that God used to commission Jeremiah to go to his own people with his message of judgement.
The second object lesson that God gave to Jeremiah has to do with a boiling pot and a northern invasion in Jeremiah 1:13-16.
Here in this object lesson — just like in the first one involving an almond tree — there are a few word plays.
Boiling Pot and Northern Invasion
First, God shows Jeremiah a boiling (naphach in Hebrew) pot. God then says an evil shall break forth (pathach in Hebrew) from the north.
The message then is that an enemy is coming from the north.
But is the Enemy Really from the North?
And you need to remember that Babylon – whom we’ll later find out is this enemy – is not north of Israel. That nation was basically directly east of Israel.
So, why does God say that the enemy is from the north?
Here’s why. There’s an impassable desert between those two ancient nations. That’s why God describes Babylon as coming from the north. They’d have to go northwest a ways and then they could come down in a southwestern move from the north.
So, that’s the first word play – foretelling destruction from a northern enemy.
An Evil is Coming Because of Judah’s Evil
The second word play has to do with the reasons for this coming enemy to destroy Judah.
God says that an evil (rangah in Hebrew) is coming. That’s referring of course to an enemy and the destruction they will bring.
But why is God sending a destroying enemy from the north? Jeremiah 1:16 – God needs to judge his people in this way – touching or concerning or because of – all their wickedness (rangah in Hebrew). Their moral evil, that is.
What moral evil of theirs is bringing God’s judgement on his own people? Well, they forsook their God. They then took other and false gods and burned incense to them. They worshiped what their own hands had made rather than worshiping the one who made their hands in the womb – going back to the beginning of Jeremiah’s commissioning.
So, God will bring evil upon Judah because of the evil they’ve committed against him.