SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
11:1 The Lord said to Jeremiah: 2 “Hear the terms of the covenant I made with Israel and pass them on to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. 3 Tell them that the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Anyone who does not keep the terms of the covenant will be under a curse. 4 Those are the terms that I charged your ancestors to keep when I brought them out of Egypt, that place that was like an iron-smelting furnace. I said at that time, “Obey me and carry out the terms of the covenant exactly as I commanded you. If you do, you will be my people and I will be your God. 5 Then I will keep the promise I swore on oath to your ancestors to give them a land flowing with milk and honey.” That is the very land that you still live in today.’” And I responded, “Amen. Let it be so, Lord.”
6 The Lord said to me, “Announce all the following words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of my covenant with you and carry them out! 7 For I solemnly warned your ancestors to obey me. I warned them again and again, ever since I delivered them out of Egypt until this very day. 8 But they did not listen to me or pay any attention to me! Each one of them followed the stubborn inclinations of his own wicked heart. So I brought on them all the punishments threatened in the covenant because they did not carry out its terms as I commanded them to do.’”
9 The Lord said to me, “The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem have plotted rebellion against me. 10 They have gone back to the evil ways of their ancestors of old who refused to obey what I told them. They, too, have paid allegiance to other gods and worshiped them. Both the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah have violated the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 So I, the Lord, say this: ‘I will soon bring disaster on them that they will not be able to escape! When they cry out to me for help, I will not listen to them. 12 Then those living in the towns of Judah and in Jerusalem will go and cry out for help to the gods to whom they have been sacrificing. However, those gods will by no means be able to save them when disaster strikes them. 13 This is in spite of the fact that the people of Judah have as many gods as they have towns and the citizens of Jerusalem have set up as many altars to sacrifice to that disgusting god, Baal, as they have streets in the city!’ 14 But as for you, Jeremiah, do not pray for these people. Do not raise a cry of prayer for them. For I will not listen to them when they call out to me for help when disaster strikes them.”
15 The Lord says to the people of Judah,
“What right do you have to be in my temple, my beloved people?
Many of you have done wicked things.
Can your acts of treachery be so easily canceled by sacred offerings
that you take joy in doing evil even while you make them?
16 I, the Lord, once called you a thriving olive tree,
one that produced beautiful fruit.
But I will set you on fire,
fire that will blaze with a mighty roar.
Then all your branches will be good for nothing.
17 For though I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, planted you in the land,
I now decree that disaster will come on you
because the nations of Israel and Judah have done evil
and have made me angry by offering sacrifices to the god Baal.”
18 The Lord gave me knowledge, that I might have understanding.
Then he showed me what the people were doing.
19 Before this I had been like a docile lamb ready to be led to the slaughter.
I did not know they were making plans to kill me.
I did not know they were saying,
“Let’s destroy the tree along with its fruit!
Let’s remove Jeremiah from the world of the living
so people will not even be reminded of him anymore.”
20 So I said,
“O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you are a just judge!
You examine people’s hearts and minds.
I want to see you pay them back for what they have done
because I trust you to vindicate my cause.”
21 Then the Lord told me about some men from Anathoth who were threatening to kill me. They had threatened, “Stop prophesying in the name of the Lord or we will kill you!” 22 So the Lord of Heaven’s Armies said, “I will surely punish them! Their young men will be killed in battle. Their sons and daughters will die of starvation. 23 Not one of them will survive. I will bring disaster on those men from Anathoth who threatened you. A day of reckoning is coming for them.”
12:1 Lord, you have always been fair
whenever I have complained to you.
However, I would like to speak with you about the disposition of justice.
Why are wicked people successful?
Why do all dishonest people have such easy lives?
2 You plant them like trees, and they put down their roots.
They grow prosperous and are very fruitful.
They always talk about you,
but they really care nothing about you.
3 But you, Lord, know all about me.
You watch me and test my devotion to you.
Drag these wicked men away like sheep to be slaughtered!
Appoint a time when they will be killed!
4 How long must the land be parched
and the grass in every field be withered?
How long must the animals and the birds die
because of the wickedness of the people who live in this land?
For these people boast,
“God will not see what happens to us.”
5 The Lord answered,
“If you have raced on foot against men and they have worn you out,
how will you be able to compete with horses?
And if you feel secure only in safe and open country,
how will you manage in the thick undergrowth along the Jordan River?
6 As a matter of fact, even your own brothers
and the members of your own family have betrayed you as well.
Even they have plotted to do away with you.
So do not trust them even when they say kind things to you.
7 “I will abandon my nation.
I will forsake the people I call my own.
I will turn my beloved people
over to the power of their enemies.
8 The people I call my own have turned on me
like a lion in the forest.
They have roared defiantly at me,
so I will treat them as though I hate them.
9 The people I call my own attack me like birds of prey or like hyenas.
But other birds of prey are all around them.
Let all the nations gather together like wild beasts.
Let them come and destroy these people I call my own.
10 Many foreign rulers will ruin the land where I planted my people.
They will trample all over my chosen land.
They will turn my beautiful land
into a desolate wilderness.
11 They will lay it waste.
It will lie parched and empty before me.
The whole land will be laid waste,
but no one living in it will pay any heed.
12 A destructive army will come marching
over the hilltops in the wilderness.
For the Lord will use them as his destructive weapon
against everyone from one end of the land to the other.
No one will be safe.
13 My people will sow wheat, but will harvest weeds.
They will work until they are exhausted, but will get nothing from it.
They will be disappointed in their harvests
because the Lord will take them away in his fierce anger.
14 “I, the Lord, also have something to say concerning the wicked nations who surround my land and have attacked and plundered the land that I gave to my people as a permanent possession. I say: ‘I will uproot the people of those nations from their land, and I will free the people of Judah who have been taken there. 15 But after I have uprooted the people of those nations, I will relent and have pity on them. I will restore the people of each of those nations to their own lands and to their own country. 16 But they must make sure to learn to follow the religious practices of my people. Once they taught my people to swear their oaths using the name of the god Baal. But then, they must swear oaths using my name, saying, “As surely as the Lord lives, I swear.” If they do these things, then they will be included among the people I call my own. 17 But I will completely uproot and destroy any of those nations that will not pay heed,’” says the Lord.
13:1 The Lord said to me, “Go and buy some linen shorts and put them on. Do not put them in water.” 2 So I bought the shorts in keeping with the Lord’s instructionsand put them on. 3 Then the Lord’s message came to me again, 4 “Take the shorts that you bought and are wearing and go at once to Perath. Bury the shorts there in a crack in the rocks.” 5 So I went and buried them at Perath as the Lord had ordered me to do. 6 Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go at once to Perath and get the shorts I ordered you to bury there.” 7 So I went to Perath and dug up the shorts from the place where I had buried them. I found that they were ruined; they were good for nothing.
8 Then the Lord’s message came to me, 9 “I, the Lord, say: ‘This shows how I will ruin the highly exalted position in which Judah and Jerusalem take pride. 10 These wicked people refuse to obey what I have said. They follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts and pay allegiance to other gods by worshiping and serving them. So they will become just like these linen shorts that are good for nothing. 11 For,’ I say, ‘just as shorts cling tightly to a person’s body, so I bound the whole nation of Israel and the whole nation of Judah tightly to me.’ I intended for them to be my special people and to bring me fame, honor, and praise. But they would not obey me.
12 “So tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Every wine jar is made to be filled with wine.”’ And they will probably say to you, ‘Do you not think we know that every wine jar is supposed to be filled with wine?’ 13 Then tell them, ‘The Lord says: “I will soon fill all the people who live in this land with stupor. I will also fill the kings from David’s dynasty, the priests, the prophets, and the citizens of Jerusalem with stupor. 14 And I will smash them like wine bottles against one another, children and parents alike. I will not show any pity, mercy, or compassion. Nothing will keep me from destroying them,’ says the Lord.”
15 Then I said to the people of Judah:
“Listen and pay attention! Do not be arrogant!
For the Lord has spoken.
16 Show the Lord your God the respect that is due him.
Do it before he brings the darkness of disaster.
Do it before you stumble into distress
like a traveler on the mountains at twilight.
Do it before he turns the light of deliverance you hope for
into the darkness and gloom of exile.
17 But if you will not pay attention to this warning,
I will weep alone because of your arrogant pride.
I will weep bitterly, and my eyes will overflow with tears
because you, the Lord’s flock, will be carried into exile.”
18 The Lord told me:
“Tell the king and the queen mother,
‘Surrender your thrones,
for your glorious crowns
will be removed from your heads.
19 The gates of the towns in southern Judah will be shut tight.
No one will be able to go in or out of them.
All Judah will be carried off into exile.
They will be completely carried off into exile.’”
20 Then I said,
“Look up, Jerusalem, and see
the enemy that is coming from the north.
Where now is the flock of people that were entrusted to your care?
Where now are the ‘sheep’ that you take such pride in?
21 What will you say when the Lord appoints as rulers over you those allies
that you, yourself, had actually prepared as such?
Then anguish and agony will grip you
like that of a woman giving birth to a baby.
22 You will probably ask yourself,
‘Why have these things happened to me?
Why have I been treated like a disgraced adulteress
whose skirt has been torn off and her limbs exposed?’
It is because you have sinned so much.
23 But there is little hope for you ever doing good,
you who are so accustomed to doing evil.
Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin?
Can a leopard remove its spots?
24 “The Lord says,
‘That is why I will scatter your people like chaff
that is blown away by a desert wind.
25 This is your fate,
the destiny to which I have appointed you
because you have forgotten me
and have trusted in false gods.
26 So I will pull your skirt up over your face
and expose you to shame like a disgraced adulteress!
27 People of Jerusalem, I have seen your adulterous worship,
your shameless prostitution to, and your lustful pursuit of, other gods.
I have seen your disgusting acts of worship
on the hills throughout the countryside.
You are doomed to destruction!
How long will you continue to be unclean?’”
14:1 This was the Lord’s message to Jeremiah about the drought.
2 “The people of Judah are in mourning.
The people in her cities are pining away.
They lie on the ground expressing their sorrow.
Cries of distress come up to me from Jerusalem.
3 The leading men of the cities send their servants for water.
They go to the cisterns, but they do not find any water there.
They return with their containers empty.
Disappointed and dismayed, they bury their faces in their hands.
4 They are dismayed because the ground is cracked
because there has been no rain in the land.
The farmers, too, are dismayed
and bury their faces in their hands.
5 Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn in the field
because there is no grass.
6 Wild donkeys stand on the hilltops
and pant for breath like jackals.
Their eyes are strained looking for food,
because there is none to be found.”
7 Then I said,
“O Lord, intervene for the honor of your name
even though our sins speak out against us.
Indeed, we have turned away from you many times.
We have sinned against you.
8 You have been the object of Israel’s hopes.
You have saved them when they were in trouble.
Why have you become like a resident foreigner in the land?
Why have you become like a traveler who only stops in to spend the night?
9 Why should you be like someone who is helpless,
like a champion who cannot save anyone?
You are indeed with us,
and we belong to you.
Do not abandon us!”
10 Then the Lord spoke about these people.
“They truly love to go astray.
They cannot keep from running away from me.
So I am not pleased with them.
I will now call to mind the wrongs they have done
and punish them for their sins.”
11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for good to come to these people! 12 Even if they fast, I will not hear their cries for help. Even if they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will kill them through wars, famines, and plagues.”
13 Then I said, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, look! The prophets are telling them that you said, ‘You will not experience war or suffer famine. I will give you lasting peace and prosperity in this land.’”
14 Then the Lord said to me, “Those prophets are prophesying lies while claiming my authority! I did not send them. I did not commission them. I did not speak to them. They are prophesying to these people false visions, worthless predictions, and the delusions of their own mind. 15 I did not send those prophets, though they claim to be prophesying in my name. They may be saying, ‘No war or famine will happen in this land.’ But I, the Lord, say this about them: ‘War and starvation will kill those prophets.’ 16 The people to whom they are prophesying will die through war and famine. Their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, and there will be no one to bury them. This will happen to the men and their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out on them the destruction they deserve.”
17 “Tell these people this, Jeremiah:
‘My eyes overflow with tears
day and night without ceasing.
For my people, my dear children, have suffered a crushing blow.
They have suffered a serious wound.
18 If I go out into the countryside,
I see those who have been killed in battle.
If I go into the city,
I see those who are sick because of starvation.
For both prophet and priest—
they go peddling in the land
but they are not humbled.’”
19 Then I said,
“Lord, have you completely rejected the nation of Judah?
Do you despise the city of Zion?
Why have you struck us with such force
that we are beyond recovery?
We hope for peace, but nothing good has come of it.
We hope for a time of relief from our troubles, but experience terror.
20 Lord, we confess that we have been wicked.
We confess that our ancestors have done wrong.
We have indeed sinned against you.
21 For the honor of your name, do not treat Jerusalem with contempt.
Do not treat with disdain the place where your glorious throne sits.
Be mindful of your covenant with us. Do not break it.
22 Do any of the worthless idols of the nations cause rain to fall?
Do the skies themselves send showers?
Is it not you, O Lord our God, who does this?
So we put our hopes in you
because you alone do all this.”
15:1 Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I would not feel pity for them! Get them away from me! Tell them to go away! 2 If they ask you, ‘Where should we go?’ tell them the Lord says this:
‘Those who are destined to die of disease will go to death by disease.
Those who are destined to die in war will go to death in war.
Those who are destined to die of starvation will go to death by starvation.
Those who are destined to go into exile will go into exile.’
3 “I will punish them in four different ways: I will have war kill them; I will have dogs drag off their dead bodies; I will have birds and wild beasts devour and destroy their corpses. 4 I will make all the people in all the kingdoms of the world horrified at what has happened to them because of what Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.”
5 The Lord cried out,
“Who in the world will have pity on you, Jerusalem?
Who will grieve over you?
Who will stop long enough
to inquire about how you are doing?
6 I, the Lord, say: ‘You people have deserted me;
you keep turning your back on me.’
So I have unleashed my power against you and have begun to destroy you.
I have grown tired of feeling sorry for you!”
7 The Lord continued,
“In every town in the land I will purge them
like straw blown away by the wind.
I will destroy my people.
I will kill off their children.
I will do so because they did not change their behavior.
8 Their widows will become in my sight more numerous
than the grains of sand on the seashores.
At noontime I will bring a destroyer
against the mothers of their young men.
I will cause anguish and terror
to fall suddenly upon them.
9 The mother who had seven children will grow faint.
All the breath will go out of her.
Her pride and joy will be taken from her in the prime of their life.
It will seem as if the sun had set while it was still day.
She will suffer shame and humiliation.
I will cause any of them who are still left alive
to be killed in war by the onslaughts of their enemies,”
says the Lord.
10 I said,
“Oh, mother, how I regret that you ever gave birth to me!
I am always starting arguments and quarrels with the people of this land.
I have not lent money to anyone, and I have not borrowed from anyone.
Yet all these people are treating me with contempt.”
11 The Lord said,
“Jerusalem, I will surely send you away for your own good.
I will surely bring the enemy upon you in a time of trouble and distress.
12 Can you people who are like iron and bronze
break that iron fist from the north?
13 I will give away your wealth and your treasures as plunder.
I will give it away free of charge for the sins you have committed throughout your land.
14 I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you know nothing about.
For my anger is like a fire that will burn against you.”
15 I said,
“Lord, you know how I suffer.
Take thought of me and care for me.
Pay back for me those who have been persecuting me.
Do not be so patient with them that you allow them to kill me.
Be mindful of how I have put up with their insults for your sake.
16 As your words came to me, I drank them in,
and they filled my heart with joy and happiness
because I belong to you, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I did not spend my time in the company of other people,
laughing and having a good time.
I stayed to myself because I felt obligated to you
and because I was filled with anger at what they had done.
18 Why must I continually suffer such painful anguish?
Why must I endure the sting of their insults like an incurable wound?
Will you let me down when I need you,
like a brook one goes to for water but that cannot be relied on?”
19 Because of this, the Lord said,
“You must repent of such words and thoughts!
If you do, I will restore you to the privilege of serving me.
If you say what is worthwhile instead of what is worthless,
I will again allow you to be my spokesman.
They must become as you have been.
You must not become like them.
20 I will make you as strong as a wall to these people,
a fortified wall of bronze.
They will attack you,
but they will not be able to overcome you.
For I will be with you to rescue you and deliver you,”
says the Lord.
21 “I will deliver you from the power of the wicked.
I will free you from the clutches of violent people.”
16:1 The Lord’s message came to me, 2 “Do not get married and do not have children here in this land. 3 For I, the Lord, tell you what will happen to the children who are born here in this land and to the men and women who are their mothers and fathers. 4 They will die of deadly diseases. No one will mourn for them. They will not be buried. Their dead bodies will lie like manure spread on the ground. They will be killed in war or die of starvation. Their corpses will be food for the birds and wild animals.
5 “Moreover I, the Lord, tell you: ‘Do not go into a house where they are having a funeral meal. Do not go there to mourn and express your sorrow for them. For I have stopped showing them my good favor, my love, and my compassion. I, the Lord, so affirm it! 6 Rich and poor alike will die in this land. They will not be buried or mourned. People will not cut their bodies or shave off their hair to show their grief for them. 7 No one will take any food to those who mourn for the dead to comfort them. No one will give them any wine to drink to console them for the loss of their father or mother.
8 “‘Do not go to a house where people are feasting and sit down to eat and drink with them either. 9 For I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, tell you what will happen. I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, to the glad celebration of brides and grooms in this land. You and the rest of the people will live to see this happen.’
10 “When you tell these people about all this, they will undoubtedly ask you, ‘Why has the Lord threatened us with such great disaster? What wrong have we done? What sin have we done to offend the Lord our God?’ 11 Then tell them that the Lord says, ‘It is because your ancestors rejected me and paid allegiance to other gods. They have served them and worshiped them. But they have rejected me and not obeyed my law. 12 And you have acted even more wickedly than your ancestors! Each one of you has followed the stubborn inclinations of your own wicked heart and not obeyed me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have ever known. There you must worship other gods day and night, for I will show you no mercy.’
14 “Yet I, the Lord, say: ‘A new time will certainly come. People now affirm their oaths with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.” 15 But in that time they will affirm them with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.” At that time I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors.
16 “But for now I, the Lord, say: ‘I will send many enemies who will catch these people like fishermen. After that I will send others who will hunt them out like hunters from all the mountains, all the hills, and the crevices in the rocks. 17 For I see everything they do. Their wicked ways are not hidden from me. Their sin is not hidden away where I cannot see it. 18 Before I restore them I will punish them in full for their sins and the wrongs they have done. For they have polluted my land with the lifeless statues of their disgusting idols. They have filled the land I have claimed as my own with their detestable idols.’
19 Then I said,
“Lord, you give me strength and protect me.
You are the one I can run to for safety when I am in trouble.
Nations from all over the earth
will come to you and say,
‘Our ancestors had nothing but false gods—
worthless idols that could not help them at all.’
20 Can people make their own gods?
No, what they make are not gods at all.”
21 The Lord said,
“So I will now let this wicked people know—
I will let them know my mighty power in judgment.
Then they will know that my name is the Lord.
17:1 “The sin of Judah is engraved with an iron chisel
on their stone-hard hearts.
It is inscribed with a diamond point
on the horns of their altars.
2 Their children are always thinking about their altars
and their sacred poles dedicated to the goddess Asherah,
set up beside the green trees on the high hills
3 and on the mountains and in the fields.
I will give your wealth and all your treasures away as plunder.
I will give it away as the price for the sins you have committed throughout your land.
4 You will lose your hold on the land
that I gave to you as a permanent possession.
I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you know nothing about.
For you have made my anger burn like a fire that will never be put out.”
5 The Lord says,
“I will put a curse on people
who trust in mere human beings,
who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength,
and whose hearts have turned away from the Lord.
6 They will be like a shrub in the arid rift valley.
They will not experience good things even when they happen.
It will be as though they were growing in the stony wastes in the wilderness,
in a salt land where no one can live.
7 My blessing is on those people who trust in me,
who put their confidence in me.
8 They will be like a tree planted near a stream
whose roots spread out toward the water.
It has nothing to fear when the heat comes.
Its leaves are always green.
It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought.
It does not stop bearing fruit.
9 The human mind is more deceitful than anything else.
It is incurably bad. Who can understand it?
10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds.
I examine people’s hearts.
I deal with each person according to how he has behaved.
I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.
11 The person who gathers wealth by unjust means
is like the partridge that broods over eggs but does not hatch them.
Before his life is half over, he will lose his ill-gotten gains.
At the end of his life, it will be clear he was a fool.”
12 Then I said,
“Lord, from the very beginning
you have been seated on your glorious throne on high.
You are the place where we can find refuge.
13 You are the one in whom Israel may find hope.
All who leave you will suffer shame.
Those who turn away from you will be consigned to the netherworld.
For they have rejected you, the Lord, the fountain of life.
14 Lord, grant me relief from my suffering
so that I may have some relief;
rescue me from those who persecute me
so that I may be rescued, for you give me reason to praise!
15 Listen to what they are saying to me,
‘Where are the things the Lord threatens us with?
May it please happen!’
16 But I have not pestered you to bring disaster.
I have not desired the time of irreparable devastation.
You know that.
You are fully aware of every word that I have spoken.
17 Do not cause me dismay!
You are my source of safety in times of trouble.
18 May those who persecute me be disgraced.
Do not let me be disgraced.
May they be dismayed.
Do not let me be dismayed.
Bring days of disaster on them.
Bring on them the destruction they deserve.”
19 The Lord told me, “Go and stand in the People’s Gate through which the kings of Judah enter and leave the city. Then go and stand in all the other gates of the city of Jerusalem. 20 And then announce to them, ‘Listen to the Lord’s message, you kings of Judah, and everyone from Judah, and all you citizens of Jerusalem, those who pass through these gates. 21 The Lord says, Be very careful if you value your lives! Do not carry any loads in through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. 22 Do not carry any loads out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath day. But observe the Sabbath day as a day set apart to the Lord, as I commanded your ancestors. 23 Your ancestors, however, did not listen to me or pay any attention to me. They stubbornly refused to pay attention or to respond to any discipline.’ 24 The Lord says, ‘You must make sure to obey me. You must not bring any loads through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day. You must set the Sabbath day apart to me. You must not do any work on that day. 25 If you do this, then the kings and princes who follow in David’s succession and ride in chariots or on horses will continue to enter through these gates, as well as their officials and the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. This city will always be filled with people. 26 Then people will come here from the towns in Judah, from the villages surrounding Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin, from the foothills, from the southern hill country, and from the southern part of Judah. They will come bringing offerings to the temple of the Lord: burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings, and incense along with their thank offerings. 27 But you must obey me and set the Sabbath day apart to me. You must not carry any loads in through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. If you disobey, I will set the gates of Jerusalem on fire. It will burn down all the fortified dwellings in Jerusalem and no one will be able to put it out.’”