The LORD said to me, "Jeremiah, go down to the palace of the king of Judah. Announce my message there. Tell him,
'King of Judah, listen to the LORD's message. You are sitting on David's throne. You and your officials and your people come through these gates.
The LORD says, "Do what is fair and right. Save those who have been robbed. Set them free from the people who have treated them badly. Do not do anything wrong to outsiders or widows in this place. Do not harm children whose fathers have died. Do not kill those who are not guilty of doing anything wrong.
" ' "Be careful to obey those commands. Then kings who sit on David's throne will come through the gates of this palace. They will come riding in chariots and on horses. Their officials and their people will come along with them.
" ' "But suppose you do not obey those commands," announces the Lord. "Then I promise you that this palace will be destroyed. I make that promise by taking an oath in my own name." ' "
The LORD speaks about the palace of the king of Judah. He says, "You are like the land of Gilead to me. You are like the highest mountain in Lebanon. But I will make you like a desert. You will become like towns that no one lives in.
I will send destroyers against you. All of them will come with their weapons. They will cut up your fine cedar beams. They will throw them into the fire.
"People from many nations will pass by this city. They will ask one another, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?'
"And the answer will be, 'Because its people have turned away from the covenant the LORD their God made with them. They have worshiped other gods. And they have served them.' "
Don't sob over dead King Josiah. Don't be sad because he's gone. Instead, sob bitterly over King Jehoahaz. He was forced to leave his country. He will never return. He'll never see his own land again.
Jehoahaz became king of Judah after his father Josiah. But he has gone away from this place. That's because the LORD says about him, "He will never return.
He will die in Egypt. That is where he was taken as a prisoner. He will not see this land again."
The LORD says, "How terrible it will be for King Jehoiakim! He builds his palace by mistreating his people. He builds its upstairs rooms with money that was gained by sinning. He makes his own people work for nothing. He does not pay them for what they do.
He says, 'I will build myself a great palace. It will have large rooms upstairs.' So he makes big windows in it. He covers its walls with cedar boards. He decorates it with red paint.
"Jehoiakim, does having more and more cedar boards make you a king? Your father Josiah had enough to eat and drink. He did what was right and fair. So everything went well with him.
He stood up for those who were poor or needy. So everything went well with him. That is what it means to know me," announces the Lord.
"Jehoiakim, the only thing on your mind is to get rich by cheating others. You would even kill people who are not guilty of doing anything wrong. You would mistreat them. You would take everything they own."
So the LORD speaks about King Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah. He says, "His people will not sob over him. They will not say, 'My poor brother! My poor sister!' They will not sob over him. They will not say, 'My poor master! How sad that his glory is gone!'
In fact, he will be buried like a donkey. His body will be dragged away and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem."
The LORD says, "People of Jerusalem, go up to Lebanon. Cry out for help. Let your voice be heard in the land of Bashan. Cry out from the mountains of Abarim. All those who were going to help you are crushed.
When you felt secure, I warned you. But you said, 'I won't listen!' You have acted like that ever since you were young. You have not obeyed me.
The wind will drive all of your shepherds away. All those who were going to help you will be carried off as prisoners. Then you will be dishonored and put to shame. That will happen because you have been so sinful.
Some of you live in Jerusalem in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. You are comfortable in your cedar buildings. But you will groan when pain comes on you. It will be like the pain of a woman having a baby.
"King Jehoiachin, you are the son of Jehoiakim," announces the Lord. "Suppose you were a ring on my right hand. And suppose the ring even had my royal seal on it. Then I would still pull you off my finger. And that is just as sure as I am alive.
"I will hand you over to those who are trying to kill you. I will turn you over to people you are afraid of. I will give you to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia. I will hand you over to his armies.
"I will throw you out into another country. I will throw your mother out. Neither of you was born in that country. But both of you will die there.
You will never come back to the land you long to return to."
This man Jehoiachin is like a broken pot. Everyone hates him. No one wants him. Why will he and his children be thrown out of this land? Why will they be sent to a land they didn't have anything to do with before?
Land, land, land, listen to the LORD's message!
The LORD says, "Let the record say that this man did not have any children. Let it report that he did not have any success in life. None of his children will have success either. None of them will sit on David's throne. None of them will ever rule over Judah.