SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
18:1 The Lord said to Jeremiah: 2 “Go down at once to the potter’s house. I will speak to you further there.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house and found him working at his wheel. 4 Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit.
5 Then the Lord’s message came to me, 6 “I, the Lord, say: ‘O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.’ 7 There are times, Jeremiah, when I threaten to uproot, tear down, and destroy a nation or kingdom. 8 But if that nation I threatened stops doing wrong, I will cancel the destruction I intended to do to it. 9 And there are times when I promise to build up and establish a nation or kingdom. 10 But if that nation does what displeases me and does not obey me, then I will cancel the good I promised to do to it. 11 So now, tell the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem this: The Lord says, ‘I am preparing to bring disaster on you! I am making plans to punish you. So, every one of you, stop the evil things you have been doing. Correct the way you have been living and do what is right.’ 12 But they just keep saying, ‘We do not care what you say! We will do whatever we want to do! We will continue to behave wickedly and stubbornly!’”
13 Therefore, the Lord says,
“Ask the people of other nations
whether they have heard of anything like this.
Israel should have been like a virgin,
but she has done something utterly revolting!
14 Does the snow ever completely vanish from the rocky slopes of Lebanon?
Do the cool waters from those distant mountains ever cease to flow?
15 Yet my people have forgotten me
and offered sacrifices to worthless idols.
This makes them stumble along in the way they live
and leave the old reliable path of their fathers.
They have left them to walk in bypaths,
in roads that are not smooth and level.
16 So their land will become an object of horror.
People will forever hiss out their scorn over it.
All who pass that way will be filled with horror
and will shake their heads in derision.
17 I will scatter them before their enemies
like dust blowing in front of a burning east wind.
I will turn my back on them and not look favorably on them
when disaster strikes them.”
18 Then some people said, “Come on! Let us consider how to deal with Jeremiah! There will still be priests to instruct us, wise men to give us advice, and prophets to declare God’s word. Come on! Let’s bring charges against him and get rid of him! Then we will not need to pay attention to anything he says.”
19 Then I said,
“Lord, pay attention to me.
Listen to what my enemies are saying.
20 Should good be paid back with evil?
Yet they are virtually digging a pit to kill me.
Just remember how I stood before you
pleading on their behalf
to keep you from venting your anger on them.
21 So let their children die of starvation.
Let them be cut down by the sword.
Let their wives lose their husbands and children.
Let the older men die of disease
and the younger men die by the sword in battle.
22 Let cries of terror be heard in their houses
when you send bands of raiders unexpectedly to plunder them.
For they have virtually dug a pit to capture me
and have hidden traps for me to step into.
23 But you, Lord, know
all their plots to kill me.
Do not pardon their crimes!
Do not ignore their sins as though you had erased them.
Let them be brought down in defeat before you.
Deal with them while you are still angry!”
19:1 The Lord told Jeremiah, “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take with you some of the leaders of the people and some of the leaders of the priests. 2 Go out to the part of the Hinnom Valley that is near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. Announce there what I tell you. 3 Say, ‘Listen to the Lord’s message, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, has said, “Look here! I am about to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it ring. 4 I will do so because these people have rejected me and have defiled this place. They have offered sacrifices in it to other gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah knew anything about. They have filled it with the blood of innocent children. 5 They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make. They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind. 6 So I, the Lord, say: ‘The time will soon come that people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Hinnom Valley. But they will call this valley the Valley of Slaughter! 7 In this place I will thwart the plans of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. I will deliver them over to the power of their enemies who are seeking to kill them. They will die by the sword at the hands of their enemies. I will make their dead bodies food for the birds and wild beasts to eat. 8 I will make this city an object of horror, a thing to be hissed at. All who pass by it will be filled with horror and will hiss out their scorn because of all the disasters that have happened to it. 9 I will reduce the people of this city to desperate straits during the siege imposed on it by their enemies who are seeking to kill them. I will make them so desperate that they will eat the flesh of their own sons and daughters and the flesh of one another.”’”’
10 The Lord continued, “Now break the jar in front of those who have come here with you. 11 Tell them the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘I will do just as Jeremiah has done. I will smash this nation and this city as though it were a potter’s vessel that is broken beyond repair. The dead will be buried here in Topheth until there is no more room to bury them.’ 12 I, the Lord, say: ‘That is how I will deal with this city and its citizens. I will make it like Topheth. 13 The houses in Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled by dead bodies just like this place, Topheth. For they offered sacrifice to the stars and poured out drink offerings to other gods on the roofs of those houses.’”
14 Then Jeremiah left Topheth where the Lord had sent him to give that prophecy. He went to the Lord’s temple and stood in its courtyard and called out to all the people. 15 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says, ‘I will soon bring on this city and all the towns surrounding it all the disaster I threatened to do to it. I will do so because they have stubbornly refused to pay any attention to what I have said!’”
20:1 Now Pashhur son of Immer heard Jeremiah prophesy these things. He was the priest who was chief of security in the Lord’s temple. 2 When he heard Jeremiah’s prophecy, he had the prophet flogged. Then he put him in the stocks that were at the Upper Gate of Benjamin in the Lord’s temple. 3 But the next day Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks. When he did, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord’s name for you is not ‘Pashhur’ but ‘Terror is Everywhere.’ 4 For the Lord says, ‘I will make both you and your friends terrified of what will happen to you. You will see all of them die by the swords of their enemies. I will hand all the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will carry some of them away into exile in Babylon, and he will kill others of them with the sword. 5 I will hand over all the wealth of this city to their enemies. I will hand over to them all the fruits of the labor of the people of this city and all their prized possessions, as well as all the treasures of the kings of Judah. Their enemies will seize it all as plunder and carry it off to Babylon. 6 You, Pashhur, and all your household will go into exile in Babylon. You will die there, and you will be buried there. The same thing will happen to all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.’”
7 Lord, you coerced me into being a prophet,
and I allowed you to do it.
You overcame my resistance and prevailed over me.
Now I have become a constant laughingstock.
Everyone ridicules me.
8 For whenever I prophesy, I must cry out,
“Violence and destruction are coming!”
This message from the Lord has made me
an object of continual insults and derision.
9 Sometimes I think, “I will make no mention of his message.
I will not speak as his messenger anymore.”
But then his message becomes like a fire
locked up inside of me, burning in my heart and soul.
I grow weary of trying to hold it in;
I cannot contain it.
10 I hear many whispering words of intrigue against me.
Those who would cause me terror are everywhere!
They are saying, “Come on, let’s publicly denounce him!”
All my so-called friends are just watching for
something that would lead to my downfall.
They say, “Perhaps he can be enticed into slipping up,
so we can prevail over him and get our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me to help me like an awe-inspiring warrior.
Therefore those who persecute me will fail and will not prevail over me.
They will be thoroughly disgraced because they did not succeed.
Their disgrace will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you test and prove the righteous.
You see into people’s hearts and minds.
Pay them back for what they have done
because I trust you to vindicate my cause.
13 Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!
For he rescues the oppressed from the clutches of evildoers.
14 Cursed be the day I was born!
May that day not be blessed when my mother gave birth to me.
15 Cursed be the man
who made my father very glad
when he brought him the news
that a baby boy had been born to him!
16 May that man be like the cities
that the Lord destroyed without showing any mercy.
May he hear a cry of distress in the morning
and a battle cry at noon.
17 For he did not kill me before I came from the womb,
making my pregnant mother’s womb my grave forever.
18 Why did I ever come forth from my mother’s womb?
All I experience is trouble and grief,
and I spend my days in shame.
21:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. Zedekiah sent them to Jeremiah to ask, 2 “Please ask the Lord to come and help us, because King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is attacking us. Maybe the Lord will perform one of his miracles as in times past and make him stop attacking us and leave.” 3 Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah 4 that the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘The forces at your disposal are now outside the walls fighting against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the Babylonians who have you under siege. I will gather those forces back inside the city. 5 In anger, in fury, and in wrath I myself will fight against you with my mighty power and great strength. 6 I will kill everything living in Jerusalem, people and animals alike. They will die from terrible diseases. 7 Then I, the Lord, promise that I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, and any of the people who survive the war, starvation, and disease. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will slaughter them with the sword. He will not show them any mercy, compassion, or pity.’
8 “But tell the people of Jerusalem that the Lord says, ‘I will give you a choice between two courses of action. One will result in life; the other will result in death. 9 Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians who are besieging it will live. They will escape with their lives. 10 For I, the Lord, say that I am determined not to deliver this city but to bring disaster on it. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’”
11 The Lord told me to say to the royal court of Judah:
“Listen to the Lord’s message,
12 O royal family descended from David.
The Lord says:
‘See to it that people each day are judged fairly.
Deliver those who have been robbed from those who oppress them.
Otherwise, my wrath will blaze out against you.
It will burn like a fire that cannot be put out
because of the evil that you have done.
13 Listen, you who sit enthroned above the valley on a rocky plateau.
I am opposed to you,’ says the Lord.
‘You boast, “No one can swoop down on us.
No one can penetrate into our places of refuge.”
14 But I will punish you as your deeds deserve,’
says the Lord.
‘I will set fire to your palace;
it will burn up everything around it.’”
22:1 The Lord told me, “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah. Give him a message from me there. 2 Say: ‘Listen, O king of Judah who follows in David’s succession. You, your officials, and your subjects who pass through the gates of this palace must listen to the Lord’s message. 3 The Lord says, “Do what is just and right. Deliver those who have been robbed from those who oppress them. Do not exploit or mistreat resident foreigners who live in your land, children who have no fathers, or widows. Do not kill innocent people in this land. 4 If you are careful to obey these commands, then the kings who follow in David’s succession and ride in chariots or on horses will continue to come through the gates of this palace, as will their officials and their subjects. 5 But, if you do not obey these commands, I solemnly swear that this palace will become a pile of rubble. I, the Lord, affirm it!”’
6 “For the Lord says concerning the palace of the king of Judah,
“‘This place looks like a veritable forest of Gilead to me.
It is like the wooded heights of Lebanon in my eyes.
But I swear that I will make it like a wilderness
whose towns have all been deserted.
7 I will send men against it to destroy it
with their axes and hatchets.
They will hack up its fine cedar panels and columns
and throw them into the fire.
8 “‘People from other nations will pass by this city. They will ask one another, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?” 9 The answer will come back, “It is because they broke their covenant with the Lord their God and worshiped and served other gods.”
10 “‘Do not weep for the king who was killed.
Do not grieve for him.
But weep mournfully for the king who has gone into exile.
For he will never return to see his native land again.
11 “‘For the Lord has spoken about Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but was carried off into exile. He has said, “He will never return to this land. 12 For he will die in the country where they took him as a captive. He will never see this land again.”
13 “‘Sure to be judged is the king who builds his palace using injustice
and treats people unfairly while adding its upper rooms.
He makes his countrymen work for him for nothing.
He does not pay them for their labor.
14 He says, “I will build myself a large palace
with spacious upper rooms.”
He cuts windows in its walls,
panels it with cedar, and paints its rooms red.
15 Does it make you any more of a king
that you outstrip everyone else in building with cedar?
Just think about your father.
He was content that he had food and drink.
He did what was just and right.
So things went well with him.
16 He upheld the cause of the poor and needy.
So things went well for Judah.’
The Lord says,
‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.
17 But you are always thinking and looking
for ways to increase your wealth by dishonest means.
Your eyes and your heart are set
on killing some innocent person
and committing fraud and oppression.’”
18 So the Lord has this to say about Josiah’s son, King Jehoiakim of Judah:
“People will not mourn for him, saying,
‘This makes me sad, my brother!
This makes me sad, my sister!’
They will not mourn for him, saying,
‘Poor, poor lord! Poor, poor majesty!’
19 He will be left unburied just like a dead donkey.
His body will be dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.
20 “People of Jerusalem, go up to Lebanon and cry out in mourning.
Go to the land of Bashan and cry out loudly.
Cry out in mourning from the mountains of Moab.
For your allies have all been defeated.
21 While you were feeling secure I gave you warning.
But you said, ‘I refuse to listen to you.’
That is the way you have acted from your earliest history onward.
Indeed, you have never paid attention to me.
22 My judgment will carry off all your leaders like a storm wind!
Your allies will go into captivity.
Then you will certainly be disgraced and put to shame
because of all the wickedness you have done.
23 You may feel as secure as a bird
nesting in the cedars of Lebanon.
But O how you will groan when the pains of judgment come on you.
They will be like those of a woman giving birth to a baby.”
24 The Lord says, “As surely as I am the living God, you, Jeconiah, king of Judah, son of Jehoiakim, will not be the earthly representative of my authority. Indeed, I will take that right away from you. 25 I will hand you over to those who want to take your life and of whom you are afraid. I will hand you over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his Babylonian soldiers. 26 I will force you and your mother who gave you birth into exile. You will be exiled to a country where neither of you were born, and you will both die there. 27 You will never come back to this land that you will long to return to!
28 “This man, Jeconiah, will be like a broken pot someone threw away.
He will be like a clay vessel that no one wants.
Why will he and his children be forced into exile?
Why will they be thrown out into a country they know nothing about?
29 O Land, land, land of Judah!
Listen to the Lord’s message.”
30 The Lord says,
“Enroll this man in the register as though he were childless.
Enroll him as a man who will not enjoy success during his lifetime.
For none of his sons will succeed in occupying the throne of David
or ever succeed in ruling over Judah.”
23:1 The Lord says, “The leaders of my people are sure to be judged. They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered.” 2 So the Lord God of Israel has this to say about the leaders who are ruling over his people: “You have caused my people to be dispersed and driven into exile. You have not taken care of them. So I will punish you for the evil that you have done. I, the Lord, affirm it! 3 Then I myself will regather those of my people who are still alive from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their homeland. They will greatly increase in number. 4 I will install rulers over them who will care for them. Then they will no longer need to fear or be terrified. None of them will turn up missing. I, the Lord, promise it!
5 “I, the Lord, promise that a new time will certainly come
when I will raise up for them a righteous branch, a descendant of David.
He will rule over them with wisdom and understanding
and will do what is just and right in the land.
6 Under his rule Judah will enjoy safety
and Israel will live in security.
This is the name he will go by:
‘The Lord has provided us with justice.’
7 “So 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.” 8 But at that time they will affirm them with, “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the descendants of the former nation of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.” At that time they will live in their own land.’”