God showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the Temple of God. This was after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem into exile in Babylon, along with the leaders of Judah, the craftsmen, and the skilled laborers.
In one basket the figs were of the finest quality, ripe and ready to eat. In the other basket the figs were rotten, so rotten they couldn't be eaten.
God said to me, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" "Figs," I said. "Excellent figs of the finest quality, and also rotten figs, so rotten they can't be eaten."
Then God told me,
"This is the Message from the God of Israel: The exiles from here that I've sent off to the land of the Babylonians are like the good figs, and I'll make sure they get good treatment.
I'll keep my eye on them so that their lives are good, and I'll bring them back to this land. I'll build them up, not tear them down; I'll plant them, not uproot them.
"And I'll give them a heart to know me, God. They'll be my people and I'll be their God, for they'll have returned to me with all their hearts.
"But like the rotten figs, so rotten they can't be eaten, is Zedekiah king of Judah. Rotten figs - that's how I'll treat him and his leaders, along with the survivors here and those down in Egypt.
I'll make them something that the whole world will look on as disgusting - repugnant outcasts, their names used as curse words wherever in the world I drive them.
And I'll make sure they die like flies - from war, starvation, disease, whatever - until the land I once gave to them and their ancestors is completely rid of them."
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)