You are right, O God, and you set things right. I can't argue with that. But I do have some questions: Why do bad people have it so good? Why do con artists make it big?
You planted them and they put down roots. They flourished and produced fruit. They talk as if they're old friends with you, but they couldn't care less about you.
Meanwhile, you know me inside and out. You don't let me get by with a thing! Make them pay for the way they live, pay with their lives, like sheep marked for slaughter.
How long do we have to put up with this - the country depressed, the farms in ruin - And all because of wickedness, these wicked lives? Even animals and birds are dying off Because they'll have nothing to do with God and think God has nothing to do with them.
"So, Jeremiah, if you're worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? And if you can't keep your wits during times of calm, what's going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?
Those closest to you, your own brothers and cousins, are working against you. They're out to get you. They'll stop at nothing. Don't trust them, especially when they're smiling.
"I will abandon the House of Israel, walk away from my beloved people. I will turn over those I most love to those who are her enemies.
She's been, this one I held dear, like a snarling lion in the jungle, Growling and baring her teeth at me - and I can't take it anymore.
Has this one I hold dear become a preening peacock? But isn't she under attack by vultures? Then invite all the hungry animals at large, invite them in for a free meal!
Foreign, scavenging shepherds will loot and trample my fields, Turn my beautiful, well-cared-for fields into vacant lots of tin cans and thistles.
They leave them littered with junk - a ruined land, a land in lament. The whole countryside is a wasteland, and no one will really care.
"The barbarians will invade, swarm over hills and plains. The judgment sword of God will take its toll from one end of the land to the other. Nothing living will be safe.
They will plant wheat and reap weeds. Nothing they do will work out. They will look at their meager crops and wring their hands. All this the result of God's fierce anger!"
God's Message: "Regarding all the bad neighbors who abused the land I gave to Israel as their inheritance: I'm going to pluck them out of their lands, and then pluck Judah out from among them.
Once I've pulled the bad neighbors out, I will relent and take them tenderly to my heart and put them back where they belong, put each of them back in their home country, on their family farms.
Then if they will get serious about living my way and pray to me as well as they taught my people to pray to that god Baal, everything will go well for them.
But if they won't listen, then I'll pull them out of their land by the roots and cart them off to the dump. Total destruction!" God's Decree.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)