1 "Take cover, people of Benjamin! Run away from Jerusalem! Blow the ram's horn in Tekoa. Raise the flag over Beth Hakkerem, because disaster and widespread destruction are coming from the north. 2 "My people Zion are like lovely pastures. 3 With their flocks, shepherds will come to them, pitch their tents all around them, and each of them will tend his own flock. 4 [The shepherds say,] 'Prepare yourselves for war against Zion. Let's attack at noon! How horrible it will be for us. The day is passing, and the shadows of evening are growing longer. 5 Let's attack at night and destroy its palaces.'" 6 This is what the LORD of Armies says: Cut down its trees. Build up dirt mounds to attack Jerusalem. This city must be punished. There is nothing but oppression in it. 7 As a well keeps its water fresh, so Jerusalem keeps its evil fresh. Violence and destruction can be heard in it. I see that it is sick and wounded. 8 Pay attention to my warning, Jerusalem, or I will turn away from you. I will make your land desolate, a land where no one will live. 9 This is what the LORD of Armies says: Thoroughly pick through the faithful few of Israel like someone picks through a grapevine. Like someone picking grapes, pass your hand over its branches again. 10 Whom can I speak to? Whom can I give a warning to? Who will listen? Their ears are plugged, and they aren't able to pay attention. When the LORD speaks his word to them, they show contempt for it and object to it. 11 I am filled with the anger of the LORD. I am tired of holding it in. "Pour it out on the children in the street and on the gangs of young men. A man and his wife will be taken away as well as very old people. 12 Their households, their fields, and their wives will be turned over to others. I will use my power against those who live in the land," declares the LORD. 13 "All of them, from the least important to the most important, are eager to make money dishonestly. All of them, from prophets to priests, act deceitfully. 14 They treat my people's wounds as though they were not serious, saying, 'Everything is alright! Everything is alright!' But it's not alright. 15 Are they ashamed when they do disgusting things? No, they're not ashamed. They don't even know how to blush. So they will die with those who die. They will be brought down when I punish them," says the LORD. 16 This is what the LORD says: Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask which paths are the old, reliable paths. Ask which way leads to blessings. Live that way, and find a resting place for yourselves. But you said that you wouldn't live that way. 17 I posted watchmen over you. Pay attention to the sound of the ram's horn. But you said that you wouldn't pay attention. 18 Listen, you nations, and learn, you witnesses, what will happen to them. 19 Listen, earth! I'm going to bring disaster on these people. It is the result of their own plots, because they won't pay attention to my words. They reject my teachings. 20 Incense that comes from Sheba is no good to me. Sugar cane that comes from a distant land is no good to me. I won't accept your burnt offerings. I'm not pleased with your sacrifices. 21 This is what the LORD says: I'm going to lay stumbling blocks in front of these people. Parents and children will stumble over them. Neighbors and their friends will die. 22 This is what the LORD says: An army is going to come from the north. A great nation is preparing itself in the distant parts of the earth. 23 Its people take hold of bows and spears. They are cruel and have no compassion. They sound like the roaring sea. They ride on horses. They march like soldiers ready for battle against my people Zion. 24 We have heard the news about them. Our hands hang limp. We are gripped by anguish and pain like a woman giving birth to a child. 25 Don't go into the field or walk on the road. The enemy has a sword. Terror is all around. 26 Wear sackcloth, and roll around in ashes, my people. Mourn as if you have lost your only child, and cry bitterly. The destroyer will suddenly attack us. 27 "Jeremiah, I have put you in charge of testing and refining my people. You will know how to test their ways. 28 They are all vicious rebels. They go around slandering. They are all like bronze and iron. They corrupt themselves. 29 The bellows of the blast furnace blow fiercely to make the fire melt away the lead. It is useless to go on refining because the impurities can't be removed. 30 [People] will call them useless silver because the LORD has rejected them."
1 The LORD spoke his word to Jeremiah. He said, 2 "Stand at the gate of the LORD's house, and announce from there this message: 'Listen to the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who go through these gates to worship the LORD. 3 This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Change the way you live and act, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust the words of this saying, "This is the LORD's temple, the LORD's temple, the LORD's temple!" It's a lie. 5 "'Suppose you really change the way you live and act and you really treat each other fairly. 6 Suppose you do not oppress foreigners, orphans, and widows, or kill anyone in this place. And suppose you do not follow other gods that lead you to your own destruction. 7 Then I will let you live in this place, in the land that I gave permanently to your ancestors long ago. 8 "'You are trusting the words of a saying. It's a lie that cannot help you. 9 You steal, murder, commit adultery, lie when you take oaths, burn incense as an offering to Baal, and run after other gods that you do not know. 10 Then you stand in my presence in the house that is called by my name. You think that you're safe to do all these disgusting things. 11 The house that is called by my name has become a gathering place for thieves. I have seen what you are doing,'" declares the LORD. 12 "'But go to my place that was at Shiloh, where I first made a dwelling place for my name. See what I did to Shiloh because of the evil done by my people Israel. 13 You have done the same things the people did at Shiloh,'" declares the LORD. "'Although I spoke to you again and again, you did not listen. When I called you, you did not answer. 14 So what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that is called by my name. This is the place I gave to you and to your ancestors, the place where you feel so safe. 15 I will force you out of my sight as I forced out all your relatives, all of Ephraim's descendants.' 16 "Jeremiah, don't pray for these people. Don't cry or pray for them. Don't plead with me, because I will not listen to you. 17 Don't you see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 Children gather wood, fathers light fires, and women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven. They pour out wine offerings to other gods in order to make me furious. 19 They aren't really provoking me," declares the LORD. "But they are [harming] themselves to their own shame. 20 "This is what the Almighty LORD says: My anger and fury will be poured out on this place, on humans and animals, and on trees and crops. My anger and fury will burn and not be put out. 21 "This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the meat. 22 When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, I did not tell them anything about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But I did tell them this, 'Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Live the way I told you to live so that things will go well for you.' 24 But they didn't obey me or pay attention to me. They followed their own plans and their stubborn, evil ways. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time that your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have sent all my servants the prophets to you again and again. 26 But you didn't obey me or pay attention to me. You became impossible to deal with, and you were worse than your ancestors. 27 "Jeremiah, you will say all these things to them, but they will not obey you. You will call to them, but they will not respond to you. 28 You will say to them, 'This is the nation that did not obey the LORD their God. They did not accept discipline. Truth has disappeared and vanished from their lips.' 29 "Cut off your hair and throw it away. Sing a song of mourning on the bare hills, because in his anger the LORD has rejected and abandoned the people of this generation. 30 The people of Judah have done what I consider evil," declares the LORD. "They set up their detestable idols in the house that is called by my name. They have made it unclean. 31 They have built worship sites at Topheth in the valley of Ben Hinnom in order to burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices. I did not ask for this. It never entered my mind. 32 "That is why the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when that place will no longer be known as Topheth or the valley of Ben Hinnom. Instead, it will be known as Slaughter Valley. They will bury [people] at Topheth because no other place will be left. 33 The dead bodies of these people will become food for birds and animals, and no one will be there to frighten them away. 34 In the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, I will banish the sounds of joy and happiness and the sounds of brides and grooms, because the land will be a wasteland."
1 The LORD declares, "At that time the bones of the kings and the leaders of Judah, the bones of the priests and the prophets, and the bones of the others who lived in Jerusalem will be taken out of their graves. 2 They will be spread out and exposed to the sun, the moon, and all the stars in the sky. These are the things that they had loved, served, gone after, sought, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered or buried, but they will become manure on the ground. 3 "Then the few who remain from these wicked people will want to die rather than live where I will scatter them," declares the LORD of Armies. 4 "Say to them, 'This is what the LORD says: When someone falls, he gets back up. When someone turns away from me, he returns. 5 The people of Jerusalem turned away from me without ever returning. They still cling to deceit. They refuse to return. 6 I have paid attention and listened, but they weren't honest. They don't turn away from their wickedness and ask, "What have we done?" They go their own ways like horses charging into battle. 7 Even storks know when it's time to return. Mourning doves, swallows, and cranes know when it's time to migrate. But my people don't know that I, the LORD, am urging them to return. 8 "'How can you say that you are wise and that you have the LORD's teachings? The scribes have used their pens to turn these teachings into lies. 9 Wise people are put to shame, confused, and trapped. They have rejected the word of the LORD. They don't really have any wisdom. 10 That is why I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. All of them, from the least important to the most important, are eager to make money dishonestly. All of them, from prophets to priests, act deceitfully. 11 They treat my dear people's wounds as though they were not serious, saying, "Everything is alright! Everything is alright!" But it's not alright. 12 Are they ashamed that they do disgusting things? No, they're not ashamed. They don't even know how to blush. So they will die with those who die. They will be brought down when I punish them,'" says the LORD. 13 "'I would have gathered their harvest,'" declares the LORD, "'but there are no grapes on the vine. There are no figs on the tree, and the leaves have dried up. What I have given them will be taken away.'" 14 Why are we just sitting here? Let's get up! Let's go into the fortified cities and die there. The LORD our God has condemned us to die. He has given us poison to drink because we have sinned against the LORD. 15 We hoped for peace, but nothing good has happened. We hoped for a time of healing, but there's only terror. 16 The snorting of horses can be heard from Dan. The neighing of stallions makes the whole land tremble. They are coming to devour the land and everything in it, the city and its people. 17 "I am going to send snakes among you, vipers that can't be charmed. They will bite you," declares the LORD. 18 Sorrow has overwhelmed me. I am sick at heart! 19 The cry from my dear people comes from a distant land: "Isn't the LORD in Zion? Isn't Zion's king still there?" They make me furious with their idols, with their foreign gods. 20 The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we haven't been saved. 21 I am crushed because my dear people have been crushed. I mourn; terror grips me. 22 Isn't there medicine in Gilead? Aren't there doctors there? Then why hasn't the health of my dear people been restored?
1 Never use harsh words when you correct an older man, but talk to him as if he were your father. Talk to younger men as if they were your brothers, 2 older women as if they were your mothers, and younger women as if they were your sisters, while keeping yourself morally pure. 3 Honor widows who have no families. 4 The children or grandchildren of a widow must first learn to respect their own family by repaying their parents. This is pleasing in God's sight. 5 A widow who has no family has placed her confidence in God by praying and asking for his help night and day. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead although she is still alive. 7 Insist on these things so that widows will have good reputations. 8 If anyone doesn't take care of his own relatives, especially his immediate family, he has denied the Christian faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 Any widow who had only one husband and is at least 60 years old should be put on your list [of widows]. 10 People should tell about the good things she has done: raising children, being hospitable, taking care of believers' needs, helping the suffering, or always doing good things. 11 Don't include younger widows [on your list]. Whenever their natural desires become stronger than their devotion to Christ, they'll want to marry. 12 They condemn themselves by rejecting the Christian faith, the faith they first accepted. 13 At the same time, they learn to go around from house to house since they have nothing else to do. Not only this, but they also gossip and get involved in other people's business, saying things they shouldn't say. 14 So I want younger widows to marry, have children, manage their homes, and not give the enemy any chance to ridicule them. 15 Some of them have already turned away to follow Satan. 16 If any woman is a believer and has relatives who are widows, she should help them. In this way the church is not burdened and can help widows who have no families. 17 Give double honor to spiritual leaders who handle their duties well. This is especially true if they work hard at teaching the word [of God]. 18 After all, Scripture says, "Never muzzle an ox when it is threshing grain," and "The worker deserves his pay." 19 Don't pay attention to an accusation against a spiritual leader unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. 20 Reprimand those leaders who sin. Do it in front of everyone so that the other leaders will also be afraid. 21 I solemnly call on you in the sight of God, Christ Jesus, and the chosen angels to be impartial when you follow what I've told you. Never play favorites. 22 Don't be in a hurry to place your hands on anyone [to ordain him]. Don't participate in the sins of others. Keep yourself morally pure. 23 Stop drinking only water. Instead, drink a little wine for your stomach because you are frequently sick. 24 The sins of some people are obvious, going ahead of them to judgment. The sins of others follow them there. 25 In the same way, the good things that people do are obvious, and those that aren't obvious can't remain hidden.