Then the LORD said to me, "Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him,
'Listen to this message from the LORD, you king of Judah, sitting on David's throne. Let your officials and your people listen, too.
This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!
If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of officials and subjects.
But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the LORD, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.'"
Now this is what the LORD says concerning the royal palace: "You are as beloved to me as fruitful Gilead and the green forests of Lebanon. But I will destroy you and leave you deserted, with no one living within your walls.
I will call for wreckers, who will bring out their tools to dismantle you. They will tear out all your fine cedar beams and throw them on the fire.
People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, 'Why did the LORD destroy such a great city?'
And the answer will be, 'Because they violated their covenant with the LORD their God by worshiping other gods.'"
Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss. Instead, weep for the captive king being led away! For he will never return to see his native land again.
For this is what the LORD says about Jehoahaz, a who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: "He will never return.
He will die in a distant land and never again see his own country."
And the LORD says, "Destruction is certain for Jehoiakim, b who builds his palace with forced labor. c By not paying wages, he builds injustice into its walls and oppression into its doorframes and ceilings.
He says, 'I will build a magnificent palace with huge rooms and many windows, paneled throughout with fragrant cedar and painted a lovely red.'
"But a beautiful palace does not make a great king! Why did your father, Josiah, reign so long? Because he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.
He made sure that justice and help were given to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn't that what it means to know me?" asks the LORD.
"But you! You are full of selfish greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly."
Therefore, this is the LORD's decree of punishment against King Jehoiakim, who succeeded his father, Josiah, on the throne: "His family will not weep for him when he dies. His subjects will not even care that he is dead.
He will be buried like a dead donkey -- dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gate!
Weep, for your allies are all gone. Search for them in Lebanon. Shout for them at Bashan. Search for them in the regions east of the river. d See, they are all destroyed. Not one is left to help you.
"When you were prosperous, I warned you, but you replied, 'Don't bother me.' Since childhood you have been that way -- you simply will not listen!
And now your allies have all disappeared with a puff of wind. All your friends have been taken away as captives. Surely at last you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.
It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace lined with lumber from the cedars of Lebanon, but soon you will cry and groan in anguish -- anguish like that of a woman about to give birth.
"And as surely as I live," says the LORD, "I will abandon you, Jehoiachin e son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off.
I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, of whom you are so desperately afraid -- to King Nebuchadnezzar f of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian g army.
I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country.
You will never again return to the land of your desire.
"Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken dish? Why are he and his children to be exiled to distant lands?
O earth, earth, earth! Listen to this message from the LORD!
This is what the LORD says: Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless, for none of his children will ever sit on the throne of David to rule in Judah. His life will amount to nothing."
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)