"Run for your lives, you people of Benjamin! Flee from Jerusalem! Sound the alarm in Tekoa! Send up a signal at Beth-hakkerem! Warn everyone that a powerful army is coming from the north to destroy this nation.
O Jerusalem, a you are my beautiful and delicate daughter -- but I will destroy you!
Enemy shepherds will surround you. They will set up camp around the city and divide your pastures for their flocks.
They shout, 'Prepare for battle and attack at noon! But now the day is fading, and the evening shadows are falling.
So let us attack by night and destroy her palaces!'"
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Cut down the trees for battering rams. Build ramps against the walls of Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished, for she is wicked through and through.
She spouts evil like a fountain! Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction. Her sickness and sores are ever before me.
This is your last warning, Jerusalem! If you do not listen, I will empty the land."
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Disaster will fall upon you. Even the few who remain in Israel will be gleaned again, as when a harvester checks each vine a second time to pick the grapes that were missed."
To whom can I give warning? Who will listen when I speak? Their ears are closed, and they cannot hear. They scorn the word of the LORD. They don't want to listen at all.
So now I am filled with the LORD's fury. Yes, I am weary of holding it in!"I will pour out my fury over Jerusalem, even on children playing in the streets, on gatherings of young men, and on husbands and wives and grandparents.
Their homes will be turned over to their enemies, and so will their fields and their wives. For I will punish the people of this land," says the LORD.
"From the least to the greatest, they trick others to get what does not belong to them. Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that!
They offer superficial treatments for my people's mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when all is war.
Are they ashamed when they do these disgusting things? No, not at all -- they don't even blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be humbled beneath my punishing anger," says the LORD.
So now the LORD says, "Stop right where you are! Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, 'No, that's not the road we want!'
I set watchmen over you who said, 'Listen for the sound of the trumpet!' But you replied, 'No! We won't pay attention!'
"Therefore, listen to this, all you nations. Take note of my people's condition.
Listen, all the earth! I will bring disaster upon my people. It is the fruit of their own sin because they refuse to listen to me. They have rejected all my instructions.
There is no use now in offering me sweet incense from Sheba. Keep your expensive perfumes! I cannot accept your burnt offerings. Your sacrifices have no sweet fragrance for me."
Therefore, this is what the LORD says: "I will put obstacles in my people's path. Fathers and sons will both fall over them. Neighbors and friends will collapse together."
This is what the LORD says: "See a great army marching from the north! A great nation is rising against you from far-off lands.
They are fully armed for slaughter. They are cruel and show no mercy. As they ride forward, the noise of their army is like a roaring sea. They are marching in battle formation to destroy you, Jerusalem. b "
We have heard reports about the enemy, and we are weak with fright. Fear and pain have gripped us, like that of a woman about to give birth.
Don't go out to the fields! Don't travel the roads! The enemy is everywhere, and they are ready to kill. We are terrorized at every turn!
Now my people, dress yourselves in sackcloth, and sit among the ashes. Mourn and weep bitterly, as for the loss of an only son. For suddenly, the destroying armies will be upon you!
"Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals, that you may determine the quality of my people.
Are they not the worst of rebels, full of slander? They are as insolent as bronze, as hard and cruel as iron. All of them lead others into corruption.
The bellows blow fiercely. The refining fire grows hotter. But it will never purify and cleanse them because there is no purity in them to refine.
I will label them 'Rejected Silver' because I, the LORD, am discarding them."
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)