Jeremiah received the LORD's word:
Go down to the potter's house, and I'll give you instructions about what to do there.
So I went down to the potter's house; he was working on the potter's wheel.
But the piece he was making was flawed while still in his hands, so the potter started on another, as seemed best to him.
Then the LORD's word came to me:
House of Israel, can't I deal with you like this potter, declares the LORD? Like clay in the potter's hand, so are you in mine, house of Israel!
At any time I may announce that I will dig up, pull down, and destroy a nation or kingdom;
but if that nation I warned turns from its evil, then I'll relent and not carry out the harm I intended for it.
At the same time, I may announce that I will build and plant a nation or kingdom;
but if that nation displeases and disobeys me, then I'll relent and not carry out the good I intended for it.
Now say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem: This is what the LORD says: I am a potter preparing a disaster for you; I'm working out a plan against you. So each one of you, turn from your evil ways; reform your ways and your actions.
But they said, "What's the use! We will follow our own plans and act according to our own willful, evil hearts."
Therefore, the LORD proclaims: Ask among the nations: Have you ever heard anything like this? Virgin Israel has done the most horrible thing.
Does the snow on the mountains of Lebanon ever melt entirely off their rocky cliffs? Do the cool mountain streams ever dry up?a15
Yet my people have forgotten me; they have offered sacrifices to a lie. And so they have stumbled along the way, even along the ancient paths. They have taken side roads, not the main roads.b16
They have ruined their country and brought utter shame on it. All who pass by are shocked and shake their heads.
Like a strong east wind, I will scatter them before their enemy. When disaster strikes them, I will show them my back, not my face.
Then they said, "Come, let's unite against Jeremiah, for the priest's instruction won't fail, nor will the sage's counsel, nor the prophet's word. Come, let's silence him and pay no attention to his words."
Pay attention to me, LORD; listen to what my enemies are saying.
Should evil be returned for good? Yet they have set traps for me. Remember that I stood before you, begging you to be merciful and not to punish them.
Enough! Let their children starve; let them die by the sword. Let their wives be barren widows; let their men be slaughtered and their youth struck down in battle.
Let screams be heard from their homes when you suddenly bring armies against them. They have dug a pit to capture me, set traps for my feet.
But you, LORD, you know all their sinister plots to kill me. Don't overlook their wrongdoing; don't cleanse their sin from before you. May they stumble before you; when you become angry, do something about them.