1 If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.
2 And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
The Lord offers a conditional covenant to Israel, if they return and put away their idolatry and sins, they will not be moved. They need to say, The LORD lives in truth and judgement and righteousness, which implies they say it without those things now. If they do this the blessing of the covenant is that the nations will bless themselves in Israel and give them glory.
3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
An official declaration is given to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, an allegory of a field to plow the untilled ground and not sow their seeds among thorns. To circumcise their hearts, cut away the evil, and if they don't His "fury" will come like a "fire" and burn and no one can stop it because of their sins. This implies destruction from the North and is paralleled with the verse 6 and 7.
5 Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities.
6 Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.
7 The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.
8 For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from us.
A declaration in Judah and Jerusalem, to say, warn the people to assemble and go into the fortified cities. The setting up of the standard toward Zion (may be an latter day reference) is like a signpost that people can see that says, take refuge, do not delay. God is bringing destruction from the North.
The Lion is a keyword throughout Jeremiah with refers to the King of Babylon, he is the destruction from the North, as these verses are paralleled. The destroyer of nations. It will be a utter desolation to cities and people. Because of this the people should put on sackcloth and lament and howl because they do not repent the LORD's fierce anger is not turned away.
9 And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the LORD, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder.
10 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul.
11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse,
12 Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them.
13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.
In that day, (latter day reference?) when the King of Babylon comes, the leaders both political and religious will be amazed and wonder, this implies they never thought it could happen to them.
Jeremiah is not accusing the LORD GOD of deceiving people here but saying that the people have been deceived by their leaders who said they would have peace when the destruction is absolute.
When destruction comes at that time is will be said to "this" people, which repudiates the covenant relationship, the people are like a dry wind from high places in the "wilderness", word link, where they sat like bandits on the highways as prostitutes, the wind does not fan or cleanse but a full wind from those places, adultery and idols, blasts the LORD. Because of these charges against them God gives his sentence against them which is the King of Babylon who comes like clouds with chariots like a tornado and with swift horses. The people lament because they are spoiled.
14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
15 For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim.
16 Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah.
17 As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the LORD.
The city is asked to take a bath from evil to become clean that they might be saved. A rhetorical question asking how long they will have vain thoughts within them, the answer is the millennium.
Dan was to the north of Jerusalem and one of the first places invading armies would come on their way to the city. So when the Babylonians come, Dan raises it voice in warning, and Ephraim which was also to the north publishes their affliction at the hands of the invaders. They tell the nations and send word that the invaders have come against the cities of Judah.
The Babylonian siege all the cities on their way to Jerusalem, the field is a word link to verse 3 to break up the fallow ground. This happens because Jerusalem and Judah have rebelled and broken the covenant with the LORD.
18 Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart.
19 My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.
For all their whoredoms and idolatry they are under threat of war from the Babylonians, they brought it upon themselves. It is bitter and reaches their hearts. They cry out, at the sound of the trumpet and alarm of war. It shakes them to the core. They have no peace. The destruction comes suddenly and they are caught off guard.
21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
The people ask how long with they see the standard of Zion, the post sign, and hear the trumpet of war. How long will it last?
The Lord says, my people, inferring his covenant relationship, are stupid, they don't know me, they are like foolish children, and are not intelligent. They are smart in doing evil but are unable to do good.
23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
A vision where the earth has returned to chaos and there are no stars or light in the heavens. The mountains or nations quake. There are no humans and no birds. The farm land is desolate, all the cities are in ruins, because of the "presence" of the LORD and his blazing anger. (possible latter day frame)
But God will not make a full end of all things even though the whole land will be desolate. The earth mourns because of this desolation and the sky is black, God has spoken about this, he planned it, and will not stop it from happening.
29 The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.
30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.
31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.
The city is Jerusalem they will flee as the armies of Babylon approach, they go into thickets, (word link) or the North, implying captivity, and up onto rocks, every city is deserted and humans do not live there.
The question is posed, what will you do when you are spoiled? An allusion to how Israel dolled herself up for other nations or her lovers, but they will hate her, and seek to kill her.
An allegory of a woman giving birth, her firstborn, its the voice of the daughter of Zion, under a covenant curse and is in anguish because of murderers. (latter day reference.)