SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2:1 The Lord’s message came to me, 2 “Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. 3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the firstfruits of a harvest to him. All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.’”
4 Now listen to the Lord’s message, you descendants of Jacob,
all you family groups from the nation of Israel.
5 This is what the Lord says:
“What fault could your ancestors have possibly found in me
that they strayed so far from me?
They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.
6 They did not ask,
‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt,
who brought us through the wilderness,
through a land of valleys and gorges,
through a land of desert and deep darkness,
through a land in which no one travels,
and where no one lives?’
7 I brought you into a fertile land
so you could enjoy its fruits and its rich bounty.
But when you entered my land, you defiled it;
you made the land I call my own loathsome to me.
8 Your priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’
Those responsible for teaching my law did not really know me.
Your rulers rebelled against me.
Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal.
They all worshiped idols that could not help them.
9 “So, once more I will state my case against you,” says the Lord.
“I will also state it against your children and grandchildren.
10 Go west across the sea to the coasts of Cyprus and see.
Send someone east to Kedar and have them look carefully.
See if such a thing as this has ever happened:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods
(even though they are not really gods at all)?
But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God,
for a god that cannot help them at all!
12 Be amazed at this, O heavens.
Be shocked and utterly dumbfounded,”
says the Lord.
13 “Do so because my people have committed a double wrong:
They have rejected me,
the fountain of life-giving water,
and they have dug cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that cannot even hold water.
14 “Israel is not a slave, is he?
He was not born into slavery, was he?
If not, why then is he being carried off?
15 Like lions his enemies roar victoriously over him;
they raise their voices in triumph.
They have laid his land waste;
his cities have been burned down and deserted.
16 Even the soldiers from Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skulls, people of Israel.
17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel,
by deserting the Lord your God when he was leading you along the right path.
18 What good will it do you then to go down to Egypt
to seek help from the Egyptians?
What good will it do you to go over to Assyria
to seek help from the Assyrians?
19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment.
Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you.
Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful
it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God,
to show no respect for me,”
says the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
20 “Indeed, long ago you threw off my authority
and refused to be subject to me.
You said, ‘I will not serve you.’
Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill
and under every green tree,
like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.
21 I planted you in the land
like a special vine of the very best stock.
Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine
that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes?
22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent.
You can use as much soap as you want.
But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,”
says the Sovereign Lord.
23 “How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean.
I have not paid allegiance to the gods called Baal.’
Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom!
Think about the things you have done there!
You are like a flighty, young female camel
that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path.
24 You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness.
In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male.
No one can hold her back when she is in heat.
None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her.
At mating time she is easy to find.
25 Do not chase after other gods until your shoes wear out
and your throats become dry.
But you say, ‘It is useless for you to try and stop me
because I love those foreign gods and want to pursue them!’
26 Just as a thief has to suffer dishonor when he is caught,
so the people of Israel will suffer dishonor for what they have done.
So will their kings and officials,
their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to a wooden idol, ‘You are my father.’
They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’
Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me.
Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’
28 But where are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them save you when you are in trouble.
The sad fact is that you have as many gods
as you have towns, Judah.
29 Why do you try to refute me?
All of you have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
30 “It did no good for me to punish your people.
They did not respond to such correction.
You slaughtered your prophets
like a voracious lion.”
31 You people of this generation,
listen to the Lord’s message:
“Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel?
Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you?
Why then do you say, ‘We are free to wander.
We will not come to you anymore?’
32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels?
Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire?
But my people have forgotten me
for more days than can even be counted.
33 “My, how good you have become
at chasing after your lovers!
Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two!
34 Even your clothes are stained with
the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong;
you did not catch them breaking into your homes.
Yet, in spite of all these things you have done,
35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong,
so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’
But, watch out! I will bring down judgment on you
because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’
36 Why do you constantly go about
changing your political allegiances?
You will get no help from Egypt
just as you got no help from Assyria.
37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt
with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame
because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful
and you will not gain any help from them.
3:1 “If a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife,
he may not take her back again.
Doing that would utterly defile the land.
But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods.
So what makes you think you can return to me?”
says the Lord.
2 “Look up at the hilltops and consider this.
Where have you not been ravished?
You waited for those gods like a thief lying in wait in the wilderness.
You defiled the land by your wicked prostitution to other gods.
3 That is why the rains have been withheld
and the spring rains have not come.
Yet in spite of this you are obstinate as a prostitute.
You refuse to be ashamed of what you have done.
4 Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father!
You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young.
5 You will not always be angry with me, will you?
You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’
That is what you say,
but you continually do all the evil that you can.”
6 When Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done. You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods. 7 Yet even after she had done all that, I thought that she might come back to me. But she did not. Her sister, unfaithful Judah, saw what she did. 8 She also saw that, because of wayward Israel’s adulterous worship of other gods, I sent her away and gave her divorce papers. But still her unfaithful sister Judah was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods. 9 Because she took her prostitution so lightly, she defiled the land through her adulterous worship of gods made of wood and stone. 10 In spite of all this, Israel’s sister, unfaithful Judah, has not turned back to me with any sincerity; she has only pretended to do so,” says the Lord. 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Under the circumstances, wayward Israel could even be considered less guilty than unfaithful Judah.
12 “Go and shout this message to my people in the countries in the north. Tell them:
‘Come back to me, wayward Israel,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not continue to look on you with displeasure.
For I am merciful,’ says the Lord.
‘I will not be angry with you forever.
13 However, you must confess that you have done wrong
and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You must confess that you have given yourself to foreign gods under every green tree
and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the Lord.
14 “Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master. If you do, I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. 15 I will give you leaders who will be faithful to me. They will lead you with knowledge and insight. 16 In those days, your population will greatly increase in the land. At that time,” says the Lord, “people will no longer talk about having the ark that contains the Lord’s covenant with us. They will not call it to mind, remember it, or miss it. No, that will not be done anymore! 17 At that time the city of Jerusalem will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name. They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. 18 At that time the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited. Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession.
19 “I thought to myself,
‘Oh what a joy it would be for me to treat you like a son!
What a joy it would be for me to give you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful piece of property there is in all the world!’
I thought you would call me ‘Father’
and would never cease being loyal to me.
20 But, you have been unfaithful to me, nation of Israel,
like an unfaithful wife who has left her husband,”
says the Lord.
21 “A noise is heard on the hilltops.
It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods.
Indeed they have followed sinful ways;
they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God.
22 Come back to me, you wayward people.
I want to cure your waywardness.
Say, ‘Here we are. We come to you
because you are the Lord our God.
23 We know our noisy worship of false gods
on the hills and mountains did not help us.
We know that the Lord our God
is the only one who can deliver Israel.
24 From earliest times our worship of that shameful god, Baal,
has taken away all that our ancestors worked for.
It has taken away our flocks and our herds
and even our sons and daughters.
25 Let us acknowledge our shame.
Let us bear the disgrace that we deserve.
For we have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors.
From earliest times to this very day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.’
4:1 “If you, Israel, want to come back,” says the Lord,
“if you want to come back to me,
you must get those disgusting idols out of my sight
and must no longer go astray.
2 You must be truthful, honest, and upright
when you take an oath saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
If you do, the nations will pray to be as blessed by him as you are
and will make him the object of their boasting.”
3 Yes, this is what the Lord has said
to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Break up your unplowed ground, do not cast seeds among thorns.
4 Commit yourselves to the Lord;
dedicate your hearts to me
people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Otherwise, my anger will blaze up like a flaming fire against you
that no one will be able to extinguish.
That will happen because of the evil you have done.”
5 The Lord said,
“Announce this in Judah and proclaim it in Jerusalem:
‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’
Shout out loudly,
‘Gather together! Let us flee into the fortified cities!’
6 Raise a signal flag that tells people to go to Zion.
Run for safety! Do not delay!
For I am about to bring disaster out of the north.
It will bring great destruction.
7 Like a lion that has come up from its lair,
the one who destroys nations has set out from his home base.
He is coming out to lay your land waste.
Your cities will become ruins and lie uninhabited.
8 So put on sackcloth!
Mourn and wail, saying,
‘The fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us!’
9 When this happens,” says the Lord,
“the king and his officials will lose their courage.
The priests will be struck with horror,
and the prophets will be speechless in astonishment.”
10 In response to all this I said, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have surely allowed the people of Judah and Jerusalem to be deceived by those who say, ‘You will be safe!’ But in fact a sword is already at our throats.”
11 At that time the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be told,
“A scorching wind will sweep down
from the hilltops in the wilderness on my dear people.
It will not be a gentle breeze
for winnowing the grain and blowing away the chaff.
12 No, a wind too strong for that will come at my bidding.
Yes, even now I, myself, am calling down judgment on them.
13 Look! The enemy is approaching like gathering clouds.
The roar of his chariots is like that of a whirlwind.
His horses move more swiftly than eagles.”
I cry out, “We are doomed, for we will be destroyed!”
14 O people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts from evil
so that you may yet be delivered.
How long will you continue to harbor up
wicked schemes within you?
15 For messengers are coming, heralding disaster,
from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim.
16 They are saying,
“Announce to the surrounding nations,
‘The enemy is coming!’
Proclaim this message to Jerusalem:
‘Those who besiege cities are coming from a distant land.
They are ready to raise the battle cry against the towns in Judah.’
17 They will surround Jerusalem
like men guarding a field
because they have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
18 “The way you have lived and the things you have done
will bring this on you.
This is the punishment you deserve, and it will be painful indeed.
The pain will be so bad it will pierce your heart.”
19 I said,
“Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach!
I writhe in anguish.
Oh, the pain in my heart!
My heart pounds within me.
I cannot keep silent.
For I hear the sound of the trumpet;
the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul!
20 I see one destruction after another taking place,
so that the whole land lies in ruins.
I see our tents suddenly destroyed,
their curtains torn down in a mere instant.
21 How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags
and hear the military signals of their bugles?”
22 The Lord answered,
“This will happen because my people are foolish.
They do not know me.
They are like children who have no sense.
They have no understanding.
They are skilled at doing evil.
They do not know how to do good.”
23 I looked at the land and saw that it was an empty wasteland.
I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished.
24 I looked at the mountains and saw that they were shaking.
All the hills were swaying back and forth!
25 I looked and saw that there were no more people
and that all the birds in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked and saw that the fruitful land had become a desert
and that all the cities had been laid in ruins.
The Lord had brought this all about
because of his blazing anger.
27 All this will happen because the Lord said,
“The whole land will be desolate;
however, I will not completely destroy it.
28 Because of this, the land will mourn
and the sky above will grow black.
For I have made my purpose known,
and I will not relent or turn back from carrying it out.”
29 At the sound of the approaching horsemen and archers
the people of every town will flee.
Some of them will hide in the thickets.
Others will climb up among the rocks.
All the cities will be deserted.
No one will remain in them.
30 And you, Zion, city doomed to destruction,
you accomplish nothing by wearing a beautiful dress,
decking yourself out in jewels of gold,
and putting on eye shadow!
You are making yourself beautiful for nothing.
Your lovers spurn you.
They want to kill you.
31 In fact, I hear a cry like that of a woman in labor,
a cry of anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first baby.
It is the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,
reaching out for help, saying, “I am done in!
My life is ebbing away before these murderers!”
5:1 The Lord said,
“Go up and down through the streets of Jerusalem.
Look around and see for yourselves.
Search through its public squares.
See if any of you can find a single person
who deals honestly and tries to be truthful.
If you can, then I will not punish this city.
2 These people make promises in the name of the Lord.
But the fact is, what they swear to is really a lie.”
3 Lord, I know you look for faithfulness.
But even when you punish these people, they feel no remorse.
Even when you nearly destroy them, they refuse to be corrected.
They have become as hardheaded as a rock.
They refuse to change their ways.
4 I thought, “Surely it is only the ignorant poor who act this way.
They act like fools because they do not know what the Lord demands.
They do not know what their God requires of them.
5 I will go to the leaders
and speak with them.
Surely they know what the Lord demands.
Surely they know what their God requires of them.”
Yet all of them, too, have rejected his authority
and refuse to submit to him.
6 So like a lion from the thicket, their enemies will kill them.
Like a wolf from the rift valley, they will destroy them.
Like a leopard, they will lie in wait outside their cities
and totally destroy anyone who ventures out.
For they have rebelled so much
and done so many unfaithful things.
7 The Lord asked,
“How can I leave you unpunished, Jerusalem?
Your people have rejected me
and have worshiped gods that are not gods at all.
Even though I supplied all their needs, they were like an unfaithful wife to me.
They went flocking to the houses of prostitutes.
8 They are like lusty, well-fed stallions.
Each of them lusts after his neighbor’s wife.
9 I will surely punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will surely bring retribution on such a nation as this!”
10 The Lord commanded the enemy,
“March through the vineyards of Israel and Judah and ruin them.
But do not destroy them completely.
Strip off their branches
for these people do not belong to the Lord.
11 For the nations of Israel and Judah
have been very unfaithful to me,”
says the Lord.
12 “These people have denied what the Lord says.
They have said, ‘That is not so!
No harm will come to us.
We will not experience war and famine.
13 The prophets will prove to be full of wind.
The Lord has not spoken through them.
So, let what they say happen to them.’”
14 Because of that, the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies said to me:
“Because these people have spoken like this,
I will make the words that I put in your mouth like fire.
And I will make this people like wood,
which the fiery judgments you speak will burn up.”
15 The Lord says, “Listen, nation of Israel!
I am about to bring a nation from far away to attack you.
It will be a nation that was founded long ago
and has lasted for a long time.
It will be a nation whose language you will not know.
Its people will speak words that you will not be able to understand.
16 All its soldiers are strong and mighty.
Their arrows will send you to your grave.
17 They will eat up your crops and your food.
They will kill off your sons and your daughters.
They will eat up your sheep and your cattle.
They will destroy your vines and your fig trees.
Their weapons will batter down
the fortified cities you trust in.
18 “Yet even then I will not completely destroy you,” says the Lord. 19 “So then, Jeremiah, when your people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ tell them, ‘It is because you rejected me and served foreign gods in your own land. So you must serve foreigners in a land that does not belong to you.’
20 “Proclaim this message among the descendants of Jacob.
Make it known throughout Judah.
21 Tell them: ‘Hear this,
you foolish people who have no understanding,
who have eyes but do not discern,
who have ears but do not perceive:
22 “You should fear me!” says the Lord.
“You should tremble in awe before me!
I made the sand to be a boundary for the sea,
a permanent barrier that it can never cross.
Its waves may roll, but they can never prevail.
They may roar, but they can never cross beyond that boundary.”
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
They have turned aside and gone their own way.
24 They do not say to themselves,
“Let us revere the Lord our God.
It is he who gives us the autumn rains and the spring rains at the proper time.
It is he who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.”
25 Your misdeeds have stopped these things from coming.
Your sins have deprived you of my bounty.’
26 Indeed, there are wicked scoundrels among my people.
They lie in wait like bird catchers hiding in ambush.
They set deadly traps to catch people.
27 Like a cage filled with the birds that have been caught,
their houses are filled with the gains of their fraud and deceit.
That is how they have gotten so rich and powerful.
28 That is how they have grown fat and sleek.
There is no limit to the evil things they do.
They do not plead the cause of the fatherless in such a way as to win it.
They do not defend the rights of the poor.
29 I will certainly punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will certainly bring retribution on such a nation as this!
30 Something horrible and shocking
is going on in the land of Judah:
31 The prophets prophesy lies.
The priests exercise power by their own authority.
And my people love to have it this way.
But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes!
6:1 “Run for safety, people of Benjamin!
Get out of Jerusalem!
Sound the trumpet in Tekoa!
Light the signal fires at Beth Hakkerem!
For disaster lurks out of the north;
it will bring great destruction.
2 I will destroy Daughter Zion,
who is as delicate and defenseless as a young maiden.
3 Kings will attack her with their armies.
They will encamp in siege all around her.
Each of them will devastate the portion assigned to him.
4 They will say, ‘Prepare to do battle against it!
Come on! Let’s attack it at noon!’
But later they will say, ‘Woe to us!
For the day is almost over,
and the shadows of evening are getting long.
5 So come on, let’s go ahead and attack it by night
and destroy all its fortified buildings.’
6 All this is because the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has said:
‘Cut down the trees around Jerusalem
and build up a siege ramp against its walls.
This is the city that is to be punished.
Nothing but oppression happens in it.
7 As a well continually pours out fresh water,
so it continually pours out wicked deeds.
Sounds of violence and destruction echo throughout it.
All I see are sick and wounded people.’
8 So take warning, Jerusalem,
or I will abandon you in disgust
and make you desolate,
a place where no one can live.”
9 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies said to me:
“Those who remain in Israel will be
like the grapes thoroughly gleaned from a vine.
So go over them again, as though you were a grape harvester
passing your hand over the branches one last time.”
10 I answered,
“Who would listen
if I spoke to them and warned them?
Their ears are so closed
that they cannot hear!
Indeed, the Lord’s message is offensive to them.
They do not like it at all.
11 I am as full of anger as you are, Lord.
I am tired of trying to hold it in.”
The Lord answered,
“Vent it, then, on the children who play in the street
and on the young men who are gathered together.
Husbands and wives are to be included,
as well as the old and those who are advanced in years.
12 Their houses will be turned over to others
as will their fields and their wives.
For I will unleash my power
against those who live in this land,”
says the Lord.
13 “That is because, from the least important to the most important of them,
all of them are greedy for dishonest gain.
Prophets and priests alike,
all of them practice deceit.
14 They offer only superficial help
for the harm my people have suffered.
They say, ‘Everything will be all right!’
But everything is not all right!
15 Are they ashamed because they have done such shameful things?
No, they are not at all ashamed.
They do not even know how to blush!
So they will die, just like others have died.
They will be brought to ruin when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
16 The Lord said to his people:
“You are standing at the crossroads. So consider your path.
Ask where the old, reliable paths are.
Ask where the path is that leads to blessing and follow it.
If you do, you will find rest for your souls.”
But they said, “We will not follow it!”
17 The Lord said,
“I appointed prophets as watchmen to warn you, saying,
‘Pay attention to the warning sound of the trumpet!’”
But they said, “We will not pay attention!”
18 So the Lord said,
“Hear, you nations!
Be witnesses and take note of what will happen to these people.
19 Hear this, you peoples of the earth:
‘Take note! I am about to bring disaster on these people.
It will come as punishment for their scheming.
For they have paid no attention to what I have said,
and they have rejected my law.
20 I take no delight when they offer up to me
frankincense that comes from Sheba
or sweet-smelling cane imported from a faraway land.
I cannot accept the burnt offerings they bring me.
I get no pleasure from the sacrifices they offer to me.’”
21 So, this is what the Lord says:
“I will assuredly make these people stumble to their doom.
Parents and children will stumble and fall to their destruction.
Friends and neighbors will die.”
22 This is what the Lord says:
“Beware! An army is coming from a land in the north.
A mighty nation is stirring into action in faraway parts of the earth.
23 Its soldiers are armed with bows and spears.
They are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like the roaring sea
as they ride forth on their horses.
Lined up in formation like men going into battle
to attack you, Daughter Zion.”
24 The people cry out, “We have heard reports about them.
We have become helpless with fear!
Anguish grips us,
agony like that of a woman giving birth to a baby!
25 Do not go out into the countryside.
Do not travel on the roads.
For the enemy is there with sword in hand.
They are spreading terror everywhere.”
26 So I said, “Oh, my dear people, put on sackcloth
and roll in ashes.
Mourn with painful sobs
as though you had lost your only child.
For any moment now that destructive army
will come against us.”
27 The Lord said to me,
“I have made you like a metal assayer
to test my people like ore.
You are to observe them
and evaluate how they behave.”
28 I reported,
“All of them are the most stubborn of rebels!
They are as hard as bronze or iron.
They go about telling lies.
They all deal corruptly.
29 The fiery bellows of judgment burn fiercely.
But there is too much dross to be removed.
The process of refining them has proved useless.
The wicked have not been purged.
30 They are regarded as ‘rejected silver’
because the Lord rejects them.”
7:1 The Lord said to Jeremiah: 2 “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s temple and proclaim this message: ‘Listen to the Lord’s message, all you people of Judah who have passed through these gates to worship the Lord. 3 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Change the way you have been living and do what is right. If you do, I will allow you to continue to live in this land. 4 Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, “We are safe! The temple of the Lord is here! The temple of the Lord is here! The temple of the Lord is here!” 5 You must change the way you have been living and do what is right. You must treat one another fairly. 6 Stop oppressing resident foreigners who live in your land, children who have lost their fathers, and women who have lost their husbands. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop paying allegiance to other gods. That will only bring about your ruin. 7 If you stop doing these things, I will allow you to continue to live in this land that I gave to your ancestors as a lasting possession.
8 “‘But just look at you! You are putting your confidence in a false belief that will not deliver you. 9 You steal. You murder. You commit adultery. You lie when you swear on oath. You sacrifice to the god Baal. You pay allegiance to other gods whom you have not previously known. 10 Then you come and stand in my presence in this temple I have claimed as my own and say, “We are safe!” You think you are so safe that you go on doing all those hateful sins! 11 Do you think this temple I have claimed as my own is to be a hideout for robbers? You had better take note! I have seen for myself what you have done! says the Lord. 12 So, go to the place in Shiloh where I allowed myself to be worshiped in the early days. See what I did to it because of the wicked things my people Israel did. 13 You also have done all these things, says the Lord, and I have spoken to you over and over again. But you have not listened! You have refused to respond when I called you to repent! 14 So I will destroy this temple that I have claimed as my own, this temple that you are trusting to protect you. I will destroy this place that I gave to you and your ancestors, just like I destroyed Shiloh. 15 And I will drive you out of my sight just like I drove out your relatives, the people of Israel.’
16 “But as for you, Jeremiah, do not pray for these people. Do not raise a cry of prayer for them! Do not plead with me to save them, because I will not listen to you. 17 Do you see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 Children are gathering firewood, fathers are building fires with it, and women are mixing dough to bake cakes to offer to the goddess they call the Queen of Heaven. They are also pouring out drink offerings to other gods. They seem to do all this just to trouble me. 19 But I am not really the one being troubled! says the Lord. Rather they are bringing trouble on themselves to their own shame! 20 So, the Sovereign Lord says, my raging fury will be poured out on this land. It will be poured out on human beings and animals, on trees and crops. And it will burn like a fire that cannot be extinguished.
21 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to the people of Judah: ‘You might as well go ahead and add the meat of your burnt offerings to that of the other sacrifices and eat it, too! 22 Consider this: When I spoke to your ancestors after I brought them out of Egypt, I did not merely give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 I also explicitly commanded them: “Obey me. If you do, I will be your God and you will be my people. Live exactly the way I tell you and things will go well with you.” 24 But they did not listen to me or pay any attention to me. They followed the stubborn inclinations of their own wicked hearts. They acted worse and worse instead of better. 25 From the time your ancestors departed the land of Egypt until now, I sent my servants the prophets to you again and again, day after day. 26 But your ancestors did not listen to me nor pay attention to me. They became obstinate and were more wicked than even their own forefathers.’”
27 Then the Lord said to me, “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you. When you call out to them, they will not respond to you. 28 So tell them: ‘This is a nation that has not obeyed the Lord their God and has not accepted correction. Faithfulness is nowhere to be found in it. These people do not even profess it anymore. 29 So mourn, you people of this nation. Cut off your hair and throw it away. Sing a song of mourning on the hilltops. For the Lord has decided to reject and forsake this generation that has provoked his wrath!’”
30 The Lord says, “I have rejected them because the people of Judah have done what I consider evil. They have set up their disgusting idols in the temple that I have claimed for my own and have defiled it. 31 They have also built places of worship in a place called Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters by fire. That is something I never commanded them to do! Indeed, it never even entered my mind to command such a thing! 32 So, watch out!” says the Lord. “The time will soon come when people will no longer call those places Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom. But they will call that valley the Valley of Slaughter, and they will bury so many people in Topheth that they will run out of room. 33 Then the dead bodies of these people will be left on the ground for the birds and wild animals to eat. There will not be any survivors to scare them away. 34 I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness or the glad celebration of brides and grooms throughout the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. For the whole land will become a desolate wasteland.”
8:1 The Lord says, “When that time comes, the bones of the kings of Judah and its leaders, the bones of the priests and prophets, and of all the other people who lived in Jerusalem will be dug up from their graves. 2 They will be spread out and exposed to the sun, the moon, and the stars. These are things they adored and served, things to which they paid allegiance, from which they sought guidance and worshiped. The bones of these people will never be regathered and reburied. They will be like manure used to fertilize the ground. 3 However, I will leave some of these wicked people alive and banish them to other places. But wherever these people who survive may go, they will wish they had died rather than lived,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
4 The Lord said to me,
“Tell them, ‘The Lord says,
Do people not get back up when they fall down?
Do they not turn around when they go the wrong way?
5 Why, then, do these people of Jerusalem
continually turn away from me in apostasy?
They hold fast to their deception.
They refuse to turn back to me.
6 I have listened to them very carefully,
but they do not speak honestly.
None of them regrets the evil he has done.
None of them says, “I have done wrong!”
All of them persist in their own wayward course
like a horse charging recklessly into battle.
7 Even the stork knows
when it is time to move on.
The turtledove, swallow, and crane
recognize the normal times for their migration.
But my people pay no attention
to what I, the Lord, require of them.
8 How can you say, “We are wise!
We have the law of the Lord”?
The truth is, those who teach it have used their writings
to make it say what it does not really mean.
9 Your wise men will be put to shame.
They will be dumbfounded and be brought to judgment.
Since they have rejected the Lord’s message,
what wisdom do they really have?
10 So I will give their wives to other men
and their fields to new owners.
For from the least important to the most important of them,
all of them are greedy for dishonest gain.
Prophets and priests alike
all practice deceit.
11 They offer only superficial help
for the hurt my dear people have suffered.
They say, “Everything will be all right!”
But everything is not all right.
12 Are they ashamed because they have done such disgusting things?
No, they are not at all ashamed!
They do not even know how to blush.
So they will die just like others have died.
They will be brought to ruin when I punish them,
says the Lord.
13 I will take away their harvests, says the Lord.
There will be no grapes on their vines.
There will be no figs on their fig trees.
Even the leaves on their trees will wither.
The crops that I gave them will be taken away.’”
14 The people say,
“Why are we just sitting here?
Let us gather together inside the fortified cities.
Let us at least die there fighting,
since the Lord our God has condemned us to die.
He has condemned us to drink the poison waters of judgment
because we have sinned against him.
15 We hoped for good fortune, but nothing good has come of it.
We hoped for a time of relief, but instead we experience terror.
16 The snorting of the enemy’s horses
is already being heard in the city of Dan.
The sound of the neighing of their stallions
causes the whole land to tremble with fear.
They are coming to destroy the land and everything in it.
They are coming to destroy the cities and everyone who lives in them.”
17 The Lord says,
“Yes indeed, I am sending an enemy against you
that will be like poisonous snakes that cannot be charmed away.
And they will inflict fatal wounds on you.”
18 Then I said,
“There is no cure for my grief!
I am sick at heart!
19 I hear my dear people crying out
throughout the length and breadth of the land.
They are crying, ‘Is the Lord no longer in Zion?
Is her divine King no longer there?’”
The Lord answers,
“Why then do they provoke me to anger with their images,
with their worthless foreign idols?”
20 “They cry, ‘Harvest time has come and gone and the summer is over,
and still we have not been delivered.’
21 My heart is crushed because my dear people are being crushed.
I go about crying and grieving. I am overwhelmed with dismay.
22 There is still medicinal ointment available in Gilead!
There is still a physician there!
Why then have my dear people
not been restored to health?
9:1 (8:23) I wish that my head were a well full of water
and my eyes were a fountain full of tears!
If they were, I could cry day and night
for those of my dear people who have been killed.
2 (9:1) I wish I had a lodging place in the wilderness
where I could spend some time like a weary traveler.
Then I would desert my people
and walk away from them
because they are all unfaithful to God,
a congregation of people that has been disloyal to him.”
3 The Lord says,
“These people are like soldiers who have readied their bows.
Their tongues are always ready to shoot out lies.
They have become powerful in the land,
but they have not done so by honest means.
Indeed, they do one evil thing after another
and do not pay attention to me.
4 Everyone must be on his guard around his friends.
He must not even trust any of his relatives.
For every one of them will find some way to cheat him.
And all his friends will tell lies about him.
5 One friend deceives another,
and no one tells the truth.
These people have trained themselves to tell lies.
They do wrong and are unable to repent.
6 They do one act of violence after another,
and one deceitful thing after another.
They refuse to pay attention to me,”
says the Lord.
7 Therefore the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“I will now purify them in the fires of affliction and test them.
The wickedness of my dear people has left me no choice.
What else can I do?
8 Their tongues are like deadly arrows.
They are always telling lies.
Friendly words for their neighbors come from their mouths,
but their minds are thinking up ways to trap them.
9 I will certainly punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will certainly bring retribution on such a nation as this!”
10 I said,
“I will weep and mourn for the grasslands on the mountains;
I will sing a mournful song for the pastures in the wilderness
because they are so scorched no one travels through them.
The sound of livestock is no longer heard there.
Even the birds in the sky and the wild animals in the fields
have fled and are gone.”
11 The Lord said,
“I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins.
Jackals will make their home there.
I will destroy the towns of Judah
so that no one will be able to live in them.”
12 I said,
“Who is wise enough to understand why this has happened?
Who has a word from the Lord that can explain it?
Why does the land lie in ruins?
Why is it as scorched as a desert through which no one travels?”
13 The Lord answered, “This has happened because these people have rejected my laws that I gave them. They have not obeyed me or followed those laws. 14 Instead they have followed the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts. They have paid allegiance to the gods called Baal, as their fathers taught them to do. 15 So then, listen to what I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, say, ‘I will make these people eat the bitter food of suffering and drink the poison water of judgment. 16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known anything about. I will send people chasing after them with swords until I have destroyed them.’”
17 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies told me to say to this people:
“Take note of what I say.
Call for the women who mourn for the dead!
Summon those who are the most skilled at it!”
18 I said, “Indeed, let them come quickly and sing a song of mourning for us.
Let them wail loudly until tears stream from our own eyes
and our eyelids overflow with water.
19 For the sound of wailing is soon to be heard in Zion,
‘We are utterly ruined! We are completely disgraced!
For we have left our land,
for our houses have been torn down!’”
20 I said,
“So now, you wailing women, listen to the Lord’s message.
Open your ears to the message from his mouth.
Teach your daughters this mournful song,
and let every woman teach her neighbor this lament.
21 ‘Death has climbed in through our windows.
It has entered into our fortified houses.
It has taken away our children who play in the streets.
It has taken away our young men who gather in the city squares.’
22 Tell your daughters and neighbors, ‘The Lord says:
“The dead bodies of people will lie scattered everywhere
like manure scattered on a field.
They will lie scattered on the ground
like grain that has been cut down but has not been gathered.”’”
23 The Lord says,
“Wise people should not boast that they are wise.
Powerful people should not boast that they are powerful.
Rich people should not boast that they are rich.
24 If people want to boast, they should boast about this:
They should boast that they understand and know me.
They should boast that they know and understand
that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth
and that I desire people to do these things,”
says the Lord.
25 The Lord says, “Watch out! The time is soon coming when I will punish all those who are circumcised only in the flesh. 26 That is, I will punish the Egyptians, the Judeans, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and all the desert people who cut their hair short at the temples. I will do so because none of the people of those nations are really circumcised in the Lord’s sight. Moreover, none of the people of Israel are circumcised when it comes to their hearts.”
10:1 You people of Israel, listen to what the Lord has to say to you.
2 The Lord says:
“Do not start following pagan religious practices.
Do not be in awe of signs that occur in the sky
even though the nations hold them in awe.
3 For the religion of these people is worthless.
They cut down a tree in the forest,
and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools.
4 He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold.
He uses hammer and nails to fasten it together
so that it will not fall over.
5 Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field.
They cannot talk.
They must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them
because they cannot hurt you.
And they do not have any power to help you.”
6 I said,
“There is no one like you, Lord.
You are great,
and you are renowned for your power.
7 Everyone should revere you, O King of all nations,
because you deserve to be revered.
For there is no one like you
among any of the wise people of the nations nor among any of their kings.
8 The people of those nations are both stupid and foolish.
Instruction from a wooden idol is worthless!
9 Hammered-out silver is brought from Tarshish
and gold is brought from Ufaz to cover those idols.
They are the handiwork of carpenters and goldsmiths.
They are clothed in blue and purple clothes.
They are all made by skillful workers.
10 The Lord is the only true God.
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
When he shows his anger, the earth shakes.
None of the nations can stand up to his fury.
11 You people of Israel should tell those nations this:
‘These gods did not make heaven and earth.
They will disappear from the earth and from under the heavens.’
12 The Lord is the one who by his power made the earth.
He is the one who by his wisdom established the world.
And by his understanding, he spread out the skies.
13 When his voice thunders, the heavenly ocean roars.
He makes the clouds rise from the far-off horizons.
He makes the lightning flash out in the midst of the rain.
He unleashes the wind from the places where he stores it.
14 All these idolaters will prove to be stupid and ignorant.
Every goldsmith will be disgraced by the idol he made.
For the image he forges is merely a sham.
There is no breath in any of those idols.
15 They are worthless, mere objects to be mocked.
When the time comes to punish them, they will be destroyed.
16 The Lord, who is the inheritance of Jacob’s descendants, is not like them.
He is the one who created everything.
And the people of Israel are those he claims as his own.
His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
17 “Gather your belongings together and prepare to leave the land,
you people of Jerusalem who are being besieged.
18 For the Lord says, ‘I will now throw out
those who live in this land.
I will bring so much trouble on them
that they will actually feel it.’
19 And I cried out, ‘We are doomed!
Our wound is severe!’
We once thought, ‘This is only an illness.
And we will be able to bear it.’
20 But our tents have been destroyed.
The ropes that held them in place have been ripped apart.
Our children are gone and are not coming back.
There is no survivor to put our tents back up,
no one left to hang their tent curtains in place.
21 For our leaders are stupid.
They have not sought the Lord’s advice.
So they do not act wisely,
and the people they are responsible for have all been scattered.
22 Listen! News is coming even now.
The rumble of a great army is heard approaching from a land in the north.
It is coming to turn the towns of Judah into rubble,
places where only jackals live.
23 Lord, we know that people do not control their own destiny.
It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them.
24 Correct us, Lord, but only in due measure.
Do not punish us in anger, or you will reduce us to nothing.
25 Vent your anger on the nations that do not acknowledge you.
Vent it on the peoples who do not worship you.
For they have destroyed the people of Jacob.
They have completely destroyed them
and left their homeland in utter ruin.”