1 The LORD says, "People of Benjamin, run for safety! Run away from Jerusalem! Blow trumpets in Tekoa! Warn everyone in Beth Hakkerem! Horrible trouble is coming from the north. The Babylonians will destroy everything with awful power. 2 I will destroy the city of Zion, even though it is very beautiful. 3 Shepherds will come against it with their flocks. They will set up their tents around it. All of them will take care of their own sheep." 4 The Babylonians say, "Prepare for battle against Judah! Get up! Let's attack them at noon! But the daylight is fading. The shadows of evening are getting longer. 5 So get up! Let's attack them at night! Let's destroy their strongest forts!" 6 The LORD who rules over all speaks to the Babylonians. He says, "Cut some trees down. Use the wood to build ramps against Jerusalem's walls. I must punish that city. It is filled with people who treat others badly. 7 Wells keep giving fresh water. And Jerusalem keeps on sinning. Its people are always fighting and causing trouble. When I look at them, I see nothing but sickness and wounds. 8 Jerusalem, listen to my warning. If you do not, I will turn away from you. Your land will become a desert. No one will be able to live there." 9 The LORD rules over all. He says to me, "People gather the few grapes that are left on a vine. So let Israel's enemies gather the few people who are left alive in the land. Look carefully at the branches again. Do it like someone who gathers the last few grapes." 10 Who can I speak to? Who can I warn? Who will even listen to me? Their ears are closed so they can't hear. The LORD's message displeases them. They don't take any delight in it. 11 But the LORD's anger burns inside me. I can no longer hold it in. The LORD says to me, "Pour out my anger on the children in the street. Pour it out on the young people who are gathered together. Husband and wife alike will be caught in it. So will those who are very old. 12 I will reach out my hand against those who live in the land," announces the Lord. "Then their houses will be turned over to others. So will their fields and their wives. 13 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. 14 They bandage the wounds of my people as if they were not very deep. 'Peace, peace,' they say. But there isn't any peace. 15 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. 16 The LORD tells the people of Judah, "Stand where the roads cross, and look around. Ask where the old paths are. Ask for the good path, and walk on it. Then your hearts will find rest in me. But you said, 'We won't walk on it.' 17 I appointed prophets to warn you. I said, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpets!' But you said, 'We won't listen.' 18 So pay attention, you nations. Be witnesses for me. Watch what will happen to my people. 19 Earth, pay attention. I am going to bring trouble on them. I will punish them because of the evil things they have done. They have not listened to my words. They have said no to my law. 20 What do I care about incense from the land of Sheba? Why should I bother with sweet-smelling cane from a land far away? I do not accept your burnt offerings. Your sacrifices do not please me." 21 So the LORD says, "I will bring an army against the people of Judah. Parents and children alike will trip and fall. Neighbors and friends will die." 22 The LORD says to Jerusalem, "Look! An army is coming from the land of the north. I am stirring up a great nation. Its army is coming from a land that is very far away. 23 Its soldiers are armed with bows and spears. They are mean. They do not show any mercy at all. They come riding in on their horses. They sound like the roaring ocean. They are lined up for battle. They are marching out to attack you, city of Zion." 24 We have heard reports about them. And our hands can't help us. We are suffering greatly. It's like the pain of a woman having a baby. 25 Don't go out to the fields. Don't walk on the roads. Our enemies have swords. And there is terror on every side. 26 Put on black clothes, my people. Roll among the ashes. Cry with bitter sobbing just as you would cry for an only child. The one who is going to destroy us will come suddenly. 27 The LORD says to me, "I have made you like one who tests metals. My people are the ore. I want you to watch them and test the way they live. 28 All of them are used to disobeying me. They go around telling lies about others. They are like bronze mixed with iron. All of them do very sinful things. 29 The fire is made very hot so the lead will burn away. But it is impossible to make those people pure. Those who are evil are not removed. 30 They are like silver that is thrown away. That is because I have not accepted them."
1 A message came to me from the Lord. He said, 2 "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. 3 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. 4 " ' "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!' 5 " ' "You must really change the way you live and act. Treat each other fairly. 6 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. 7 " ' "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. 8 " ' "But look! You are trusting in worthless lies. 9 " ' "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. 10 " ' "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. 11 My Name is in this house. But you have made it a den for robbers! I have been watching you!" announces the Lord. 12 " ' "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. 13 " ' "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. 14 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. 15 " ' "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." ' 16 "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. 17 "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. 18 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. 19 "But am I the one they are hurting?" announces the Lord. "Aren't they only harming themselves? They should be ashamed of it." 20 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." 21 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! 22 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. 23 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.' 24 "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. 25 "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. 26 "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. 27 "Jeremiah, when you tell them all of that, they will not listen to you. When you call out to them, they will not answer. 28 "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.' " 29 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. 30 "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. 31 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. 32 "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. 33 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. 34 "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.
1 "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. 2 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. 3 "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. 4 "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? 5 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. 6 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. 7 Storks know when to fly south. So do doves, swifts and thrushes. But my people do not know what I require them to do. 8 " ' "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. 9 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? 10 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. 11 They bandage the wounds of my people as if they were not very deep. 'Peace, peace,' they say. But there isn't any peace. 12 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. 13 " ' "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." ' " 14 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. 15 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. 16 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. 17 "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. 18 Lord, my heart is weak inside me. You comfort me when I'm sad. 19 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?" 20 The people say, "The harvest is over. The summer has ended. And we still haven't been saved." 21 My people are crushed, so I am crushed. I sob, and I am filled with horror. 22 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?
1 Don't tell an older man off. Make an appeal to him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as if they were your brothers. 2 Treat older women as if they were your mothers. Treat younger women as if they were your sisters. Be completely pure in the way you treat them. 3 Take care of the widows who really need help. 4 But suppose a widow has children or grandchildren. They should first learn to put their faith into practice. They should care for their own family. In that way they will pay back their parents and grandparents. That pleases God. 5 The widow who really needs help and is left all alone puts her hope in God. Night and day she keeps on praying. Night and day she asks God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she is still living. 7 Give those directions to the people also. Then no one can be blamed. 8 Everyone should provide for his own relatives. Most of all, everyone should take care of his own family. If he doesn't, he has left the faith. He is worse than someone who doesn't believe. 9 No widow should be put on the list of widows unless she is more than 60 years old. She must also have been faithful to her husband. 10 She must be well known for the good things she does. That includes bringing up children. It includes inviting guests into her home. It includes washing the feet of God's people. It includes helping those who are in trouble. A widow should spend her time doing all kinds of good things. 11 Don't put younger widows on that kind of list. They might want pleasure more than they want Christ. Then they would want to get married again. 12 If they do that, they will be judged. They have broken their first promise. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of having nothing to do. They go around from house to house. They waste time. They talk about others. They bother people. They say things they shouldn't say. 14 So here is the advice I give to younger widows. Get married. Have children. Take care of your own homes. Don't give the enemy the chance to tell lies about you. 15 In fact, some have already turned away to follow Satan. 16 Suppose a woman is a believer and has widows in her family. She should help them. She shouldn't let the church pay the expenses. Then the church can help the widows who really need it. 17 The elders who do the church's work well are worth twice as much honor. That is true in a special way of elders who preach and teach. 18 Scripture says, "Do not stop the ox from eating while it helps separate the grain from the straw."(Deuteronomy 25:4) Scripture also says, "Workers are worthy of their pay."(Luke 10:7) 19 Don't believe a charge against an elder unless two or three witnesses bring it. 20 Elders who sin should be corrected in front of the other believers. That will be a warning to the others. 21 I command you to follow those directions. I command you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the chosen angels. Treat everyone the same. Don't favor one person over another. 22 Don't be too quick to place your hands on others to set them apart to serve God. Don't take part in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. 23 Stop drinking only water. If your stomach is upset, drink a little wine. It can also help the other sicknesses you often have. 24 The sins of some people are easy to see. They are already being judged. Others will be judged later. 25 In the same way, good works are easy to see. But even good works that are hard to see can't stay hidden.