While Jeremiah was still locked up in the courtyard of the guards, the Lord spoke his word to him a second time:
"These are the words of the Lord, who made the earth, shaped it, and gave it order, whose name is the Lord:
'Judah, pray to me, and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets you have never heard before.'
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the houses in Jerusalem and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used in defense of the attack by the Babylonian army:
'Some people will come to fight against the Babylonians. They will fill these houses with the bodies of people I killed in my hot anger. I have turned away from this city because of all the evil its people have done.
"'But then I will bring health and healing to the people there. I will heal them and let them enjoy great peace and safety.
I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and make them strong countries as in the past.
They sinned against me, but I will wash away that sin. They did evil and turned away from me, but I will forgive them.
Then "Jerusalem" will be to me a name that brings joy! And people from all nations of the earth will praise it when they hear about the good things I am doing there. They will be surprised and shocked at all the good things and the peace I will bring to Jerusalem.'
"You are saying, 'Our country is an empty desert, without people or animals.' But this is what the Lord says: It is now quiet in the streets of Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, without people or animals, but it will be noisy there soon!
There will be sounds of joy and gladness and the happy sounds of brides and bridegrooms. There will be the sounds of people bringing to the Temple of the Lord their offerings of thanks to the Lord. They will say, 'Praise the Lord All-Powerful, because the Lord is good! His love continues forever!' They will say this because I will again do good things for Judah, as I did in the beginning," says the Lord.
This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "This place is empty now, without people or animals. But there will be shepherds in all the towns of Judah and pastures where they let their flocks rest.
Shepherds will again count their sheep as the sheep walk in front of them. They will count them in the mountains and in the western hills, in southern Judah and the land of Benjamin, and around Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah!" says the Lord.
The Lord says, "The time is coming when I will do the good thing I promised to the people of Israel and Judah.
In those days and at that time, I will make a good branch sprout from David's family. He will do what is fair and right in the land.
At that time Judah will be saved, and the people of Jerusalem will live in safety. The branch will be named: The Lord Does What Is Right."
This is what the Lord says: "Someone from David's family will always sit on the throne of the family of Israel.
And there will always be priests from the family of Levi. They will always stand before me to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me."
The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah, saying:
"This is what the Lord says: I have an agreement with day and night that they will always come at the right times. If you could change that agreement,
only then could you change my agreement with David and Levi. Only then would my servant David not have a descendant ruling as king on David's throne. And only then would the family of Levi not be priests serving me in the Temple.
But I will give many descendants to my servant David and to the family group of Levi who serve me in the Temple. They will be as many as the stars in the sky that no one can count. They will be as many as the grains of sand on the seashore that no one can measure."
The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah, say-ing:
"Jeremiah, have you heard what the people are saying? They say: 'The Lord turned away from the two families of Israel and Judah that he chose.' Now they don't think of my people as a nation anymore!"
This is what the Lord says: "If I had not made my agreement with day and night, and if I had not made the laws for the sky and earth,
only then would I turn away from Jacob's descendants. And only then would I not let the descendants of David my servant rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But I will be kind to them and cause good things to happen to them again."