This Shabbat we read the first of the three Haftarot of affliction which are read between the 17th of Tamuz (the day that the walls of Jerusalem were breached) and the 9th of Av (the day of the destruction of both the First and Second Temples).
The Haftara from Yirmiyahu 1:1-19, 2:1-3 describes the consequences that would be visited upon Israel in response to its sinfulness.
The famous verse (Yirmiyahu 1:14) “…Out of the north the evil shall break forth upon the inhabitants of the land” is as relevant today as it was in the days of Yirmiyahu.
The name of the northern country that will attack Israel is not specified here or in Yirmiyahu 4:6 “Set up the standard toward Zion: seek cover, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north and a great destruction” or in Yirmiyahu 6:1 “O children of Binyamin, flee for safety out if the midst of Yerushalayim and blow the shofar of Tekoa and set up a beacon in Bet HaKerem: for evil appears out of the north and great destruction.”
The wording is ambiguous on purpose to foreshadow what will happen in the future as well. In the days of Yirmiyahu the enemy was Nevuchadnezar the king of Bavel (Babylonia) who destroyed the First Temple.
Yet throughout the ages different enemies from different countries came from the north to try to destroy us.
Today, Israel is preparing their weapons in the event that they will have to fight with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). ISIS has control of territory occupied by ten million people in Iraq and Syria, both countries are to the north of Israel.
In addition, it was reported that the president of Iran (another country to the north of Israel), Hassan Rouhani said that in honor of today’s holiday of Qods Day, Iran should shout its hatred of Israel.
The prophecies of destruction continue to haunt us. However, we must focus on the end of the Haftara, a positive statement from Yirmiyahu 2:2-3 “…I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, your following Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel is sacred unto God, the first of his grain; all who devour him shall bear guilt, evil shall come upon them- the word of God.”
Just as the Jewish nation followed God into the desert, the Jews again have trusted in God and against all odds have returned to the Land of Israel. With a strong army and our faith in God we don’t have anything to fear.