The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,
"Go down to the shop where clay pots and jars are made. I will speak to you while you are there."
So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel.
But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so the potter squashed the jar into a lump of clay and started again.
Then the LORD gave me this message:
"O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand.
If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed,
but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned.
And if I announce that I will build up and plant a certain nation or kingdom, making it strong and great,
but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless that nation as I had said I would.
"Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, 'This is what the LORD says: I am planning disaster against you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.'"
But they replied, "Don't waste your breath. We will continue to live as we want to, following our own evil desires."
Then the LORD said, "Has anyone ever heard of such a thing, even among the pagan nations? My virgin Israel has done something too terrible to understand!
Does the snow ever melt high up in the mountains of Lebanon? Do the cold, flowing streams from the crags of Mount Hermon ever run dry?
These can be counted on, but not my people! For they have deserted me and turned to worthless idols. They have stumbled off the ancient highways of good, and they walk the muddy paths of sin.
Therefore, their land will become desolate, a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and shake their heads in amazement at its utter desolation.
I will scatter my people before their enemies as the east wind scatters dust. And in all their trouble I will turn my back on them and refuse to notice their distress."
Then the people said, "Come on, let's find a way to stop Jeremiah. We have our own priests and wise men and prophets. We don't need him to teach the law and give us advice and prophecies. Let's spread rumors about him and ignore what he says."
LORD, help me! Listen to what they are planning to do to me!
Should they repay evil for good? They have set a trap to kill me, though I pleaded for them and tried to protect them from your anger.
So let their children starve! Let the sword pour out their blood! Let their wives become widows without any children! Let their old men die in a plague, and let their young men be killed in battle!
Let screaming be heard from their homes as warriors come suddenly upon them. For they have dug a pit for me, and they have hidden traps along my path.
LORD, you know all about their murderous plots against me. Don't forgive their crimes and blot out their sins. Let them die before you. Deal with them in your anger.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)