A message came to me from the Lord. He said,
"Stand at the gate of my house. Announce my message to the people there. Say, " 'Listen to the LORD's message, all of you people of Judah. You always come through these gates to worship the Lord.
The God of Israel is speaking to you. He is the LORD who rules over all. He says, "Change the way you live and act. Then I will let you live in this place.
" ' "Do not trust in lies. Do not say, 'This is the temple of the Lord! This is the temple of the Lord! This is the temple of the Lord!'
" ' "You must really change the way you live and act. Treat each other fairly.
Do not treat outsiders or widows badly in this place. Do not take advantage of children whose fathers have died. Do not kill those who are not guilty of doing anything wrong. Do not worship other gods. That will only bring harm to you.
" ' "If you obey me, I will let you live in this place. It is the land I gave your people who lived long ago. It was promised to them for ever and ever.
" ' "But look! You are trusting in worthless lies.
" ' "You continue to steal and commit murder. You commit adultery and tell lies. You burn incense to Baal. You worship other gods you have not known anything about before.
" ' "Then you come and stand in front of me. You keep coming to this house where I have put my Name. You say, 'We are safe.' You think you are safe when you do so many things I hate.
My Name is in this house. But you have made it a den for robbers! I have been watching you!" announces the Lord.
" ' "Go now to the town of Shiloh. Go to the place where I first made a home for my Name. See what I did to it because of the evil things my people Israel were doing.
" ' "I spoke to you again and again," announces the Lord. "I warned you while you were doing all of those things. But you did not listen. I called out to you. But you did not answer.
So what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house where my Name is. It is the temple you trust in. It is the place I gave to you and your people of long ago.
" ' "But I will throw you out of my land. That is exactly what I did to the people of Ephraim. And they are your relatives." '
"Jeremiah, do not pray for those people. Do not make any appeal or request for them. Do not beg me. I will not listen to you.
"Don't you see what they are doing? They are worshiping other gods in the towns of Judah. They are offering sacrifices to them in the streets of Jerusalem.
The children go out and gather wood. The fathers light the fire. The women mix the dough. They make flat cakes of bread for the goddess who is called the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods. That makes me very angry.
"But am I the one they are hurting?" announces the Lord. "Aren't they only harming themselves? They should be ashamed of it."
So the LORD and King says, "I will pour out my burning anger on this place. It will strike people and animals alike. It will destroy the trees and the crops in the fields. It will burn, and no one will be able to put it out."
The LORD who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, "Go ahead! Add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices. Eat the meat yourselves!
When I brought your people out of Egypt, I spoke to them. But I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices.
I also gave them another command. I said, 'Obey me. Then I will be your God. And you will be my people. Live the way I command you to live. Then things will go well with you.'
"But they did not listen. They refused to pay any attention to me. Instead, they did what their stubborn and evil hearts wanted them to do. They went backward and not forward.
"Again and again I sent my servants the prophets to you. They came to you day after day. They prophesied from the time your people left Egypt until now.
"But the people did not listen. They refused to pay any attention to me. They were stubborn. They did more evil things than their people who lived before them.
"Jeremiah, when you tell them all of that, they will not listen to you. When you call out to them, they will not answer.
"So say to them, 'You are a nation that has not obeyed the LORD your God. You did not pay attention when you were corrected. Truth has died out. You do not tell the truth anymore.' "
The LORD says to the people of Jerusalem, "Cut off your hair. Throw it away. Sing a song of sadness on the bare hilltops. I am very angry with you. I have turned my back on you. I have deserted you.
"The people of Judah have done what is evil in my eyes," announces the Lord. "They have set up statues of their gods. They have worshiped them in the house where my Name is. They have made my house 'unclean.' I hate those statues.
The people have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. There they worship other gods. And there they sacrifice their children in the fire. That is something I did not command. It did not even enter my mind.
"So watch out!" announces the Lord. "The days are coming when people will not call it Topheth anymore. And they will not call it the Valley of Ben Hinnom either. Instead, they will call it the Valley of Death. They will bury the dead bodies of some people in Topheth. But they will run out of room.
Then they will not be able to bury the bodies of other people there. So the bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the wild animals. And no one will scare them away.
"I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness. The voices of brides and grooms will not be heard anymore. There will not be any sounds of joy in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. The land will become a desert.
"At that time the tombs will be opened," announces the Lord. "The bones of the kings and officials of Judah will be brought out. The bones of the priests and prophets will be removed. So will the bones of the people of Jerusalem.
They will lie outside under the sun, moon and all of the stars. "All of those people had loved and served those things. They had followed them and worshiped them. They had asked them for advice. So the bones of those people will not be gathered up or buried again. Instead, they will be like trash lying there on the ground.
"Everyone who is left alive in this evil nation will want to die rather than live. That is what they will long for in the lands where I force them to go," announces the LORD who rules over all.
"Jeremiah, tell them, 'The LORD says, " ' "When people fall down, don't they get up again? When someone turns away, doesn't he come back?
Then why have the people of Jerusalem turned away from me? Why do they always turn away? They keep on telling lies. They refuse to come back to me.
I have listened carefully. But they do not say what is right. They refuse to turn away from their sins. No one says, 'What have I done?' All of them go their own way. They are like horses charging into battle.
Storks know when to fly south. So do doves, swifts and thrushes. But my people do not know what I require them to do.
" ' "How can you people say, 'We are wise. We have the law of the Lord'? Actually, the teachers of the law have told lies about it. Their pens have not written what is true.
Those who think they are wise will be put to shame. They will become terrified. They will be trapped. They have not accepted my message. So what kind of wisdom do they have?
I will give their wives to other men. I will give their fields to new owners. Everyone wants to get richer and richer, from the least important of them to the most important. Prophets and priests alike try to fool everyone they can.
They bandage the wounds of my people as if they were not very deep. 'Peace, peace,' they say. But there isn't any peace.
Are they ashamed of their hateful actions? No. They do not feel any shame at all. They do not even know how to blush. So they will fall like others who have already fallen. They will be brought down when I punish them," says the Lord.
" ' "I will take away their harvest," announces the Lord. "There will not be any grapes on the vines. The trees will not bear any figs. The leaves on the trees will dry up. What I have given them will be taken away from them." ' "
Why are we sitting here? Let's gather together! Let's run to the cities that have high walls around them! Let's die there! The LORD our God has sentenced us to death. He has given us poisoned water to drink. That's because we've sinned against him.
We hoped peace would come. But nothing good has happened to us. We hoped we would finally be healed. But all we got was terror.
When our enemy's horses snort, the noise is heard all the way from Dan. When their stallions neigh, the whole land trembles with fear. They have come to destroy the land and everything in it. The city and everyone who lives there will be destroyed.
"People of Judah, I will send poisonous snakes among you. No one will be able to charm them. And they will bite you," announces the Lord.
Lord, my heart is weak inside me. You comfort me when I'm sad.
Listen to the cries of my people from a land far away. They cry out, "Isn't the LORD in Zion? Isn't its King there anymore?" The LORD says, "Why have they made me so angry by worshiping their wooden gods? Why have they made me angry with their worthless statues of gods from other lands?"
The people say, "The harvest is over. The summer has ended. And we still haven't been saved."
My people are crushed, so I am crushed. I sob, and I am filled with horror.
Isn't there any healing lotion in Gilead? Isn't there a doctor there? Then why doesn't someone heal the wounds of my people?
I wish my head were a spring of water! I wish my eyes were a fountain of tears! I would sob day and night over my people who have been killed.
I wish I had somewhere to go in the desert where a traveler could stay! Then I could leave my people. I could get away from them. All of them commit adultery by worshiping other gods. They aren't faithful to the Lord.
"They get ready to use their tongues like bows," announces the Lord. "Their mouths shoot out lies like arrows. They tell lies to gain power in the land. They go from one sin to another. They do not pay any attention to me.
Be on guard against your friends. Do not trust the members of your own family. Every one of them cheats. Every friend tells lies.
One friend cheats another. No one tells the truth. They have taught their tongues how to lie. They wear themselves out sinning.
Jeremiah, you live among people who tell lies. When they lie, they refuse to pay any attention to me," announces the Lord.
So the LORD who rules over all says, "I will put them through the fire to test them. What else can I do? My people are so sinful!
Their tongues are like deadly arrows. They tell lies. With their mouths all of them speak kindly to their neighbors. But in their hearts they set traps for them.
Shouldn't I punish them for that?" announces the Lord. "Shouldn't I pay back the nation that does those things?"
I will cry and sob over the fields in the hills. I will sing a song of sadness about the desert grasslands. They are dry and empty. No one travels through them. The mooing of cattle isn't heard there. The birds of the air have flown away. All of the animals are gone.
The LORD says, "I will knock all of Jerusalem's buildings down. I will make it a home for wild dogs. The towns of Judah will be completely destroyed. No one will be able to live in them."
Who is wise enough to understand those things? Who has been taught by the Lord? Who can explain them? Why has the land been destroyed so completely? Why has it become like a desert that no one can go across?
The LORD answered me, "Because my people have turned away from my law. I gave it to them. But they have not kept it. They have not obeyed me.
Instead, they have done what their stubborn hearts wanted them to do. They have worshiped the gods that are named after Baal. They have done what their people have taught them to do down through the years."
So now the LORD who rules over all speaks. He is the God of Israel. He says, "I will make these people eat bitter food. I will make them drink poisoned water.
I will scatter them among the nations. They and their people before them have not had anything to do with those nations before. I will chase these people with swords. I will hunt them down until I have destroyed them."
The LORD rules over all. He says, "Here is something I want you to think about. Send for the women who sob over the dead. Send for the most skilled among them."
Let them come quickly and sob over us. Let them cry until tears flow from our eyes. Let them sob until water pours out of our eyes.
People are heard sobbing in Zion. They are saying, "We are destroyed! We are filled with shame! We must leave our land. Our houses have been torn down."
Women, hear the LORD's message. Listen to what he's saying. Teach your daughters how to sob over the dead. Teach one another a song of sadness.
Death has climbed in through our windows. It has entered our forts. It has removed the children from the streets. It has taken the young people out of the market places.
Say, "The LORD announces, " 'The dead bodies of men will be like trash lying in the open fields. They will lie there like grain that is cut down at harvest time. No one will gather them up.' "
The LORD says, "Do not let a wise man brag about how wise he is. Do not let a strong man boast about how strong he is. Do not let a rich person brag about how rich he is.
But here is what the one who brags should boast about. He should brag that he has understanding and knows me. I want him to know that I am the Lord. No matter what I do on earth, I am always kind, fair and right. And I take delight in that," announces the Lord.
"The days are coming when I will judge people," announces the Lord. "I will punish all those who are circumcised only in their bodies.
That includes the people of Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon and Moab. It also includes all those who live in the desert in places far away. None of the people in those nations is really circumcised. And not even the people of Israel are circumcised in their hearts."