The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,
"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Write down for the record everything I have said to you, Jeremiah.
For the time is coming when I will restore the fortunes of my people of Israel and Judah. I will bring them home to this land that I gave to their ancestors, and they will possess it and live here again. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
This is the message the LORD gave concerning Israel and Judah:
"This is what the LORD says: I have heard the people crying; there is only fear and trembling.
Now let me ask you a question: Do men give birth to babies? Then why do they stand there, ashen-faced, hands pressed against their sides like women about to give birth?
In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel. Yet in the end, they will be saved!
"For in that day, says the LORD Almighty, I will break the yoke from their necks and snap their chains. Foreigners will no longer be their masters.
For my people will serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
"So do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel, says the LORD. For I will bring you home again from distant lands, and your children will return from their exile. Israel will return and will have peace and quiet in their own land, and no one will make them afraid.
For I am with you and will save you, says the LORD. I will completely destroy the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not destroy you. But I must discipline you; I cannot let you go unpunished.
"This is what the LORD says: Yours is an incurable bruise, a terrible wound.
There is no one to help you or bind up your injury. You are beyond the help of any medicine.
All your allies have left you and do not care about you anymore. I have wounded you cruelly, as though I were your enemy. For your sins are many, and your guilt is great.
Why do you protest your punishment -- this wound that has no cure? I have had to punish you because your sins are many and your guilt is great.
"But in that coming day, all who destroy you will be destroyed, and all your enemies will be sent into exile. Those who plunder you will be plundered, and those who attack you will be attacked.
I will give you back your health and heal your wounds, says the LORD."Now you are called an outcast -- 'Jerusalem for whom nobody cares.'
But the LORD says this: When I bring you home again from your captivity and restore your fortunes, Jerusalem will be rebuilt on her ruins. The palace will be reconstructed as it was before.
There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving, and I will multiply my people and make of them a great and honored nation.
Their children will prosper as they did long ago. I will establish them as a nation before me, and I will punish anyone who hurts them.
They will have their own ruler again, and he will not be a foreigner. I will invite him to approach me, says the LORD, for who would dare to come unless invited?
You will be my people, and I will be your God."
Look! The LORD's anger bursts out like a storm, a driving wind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the LORD will not diminish until it has finished all his plans. In the days to come, you will understand all this.
"In that day," says the LORD, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.
I will care for the survivors as they travel through the wilderness. I will again come to give rest to the people of Israel."
Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines.
Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there.
The day will come when watchmen will shout from the hill country of Ephraim, 'Come, let us go up to Jerusalem to worship the LORD our God.'"
Now this is what the LORD says: "Sing with joy for Israel ! Shout for the greatest of nations! Shout out with praise and joy: 'Save your people, O LORD, the remnant of Israel!'
For I will bring them from the north and from the distant corners of the earth. I will not forget the blind and lame, the expectant mothers and women about to give birth. A great company will return!
Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and not stumble. For I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my oldest child.
"Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The LORD, who scattered his people, will gather them together and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock.
For the LORD has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them.
They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the many gifts the LORD has given them -- the good crops of wheat, wine, and oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone.
The young women will dance for joy, and the men -- old and young -- will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.
I will supply the priests with an abundance of offerings. I will satisfy my people with my bounty. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
This is what the LORD says: "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah -- mourning and weeping unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted -- for her children are dead."
But now the LORD says, "Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you. Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy.
There is hope for your future," says the LORD. "Your children will come again to their own land.
I have heard Israel saying, 'You disciplined me severely, but I deserved it. I was like a calf that needed to be trained for the yoke and plow. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the LORD my God.
I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.'
"Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?" asks the LORD. "I had to punish him, but I still love him. I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.
"Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your cities here.
How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the LORD will cause something new and different to happen -- Israel will embrace her God. "
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "When I bring them back again, the people of Judah and its cities will again say, 'The LORD bless you -- O righteous home, O holy mountain!'
And city dwellers and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness.
For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing."
At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.
"The time will come," says the LORD, "when I will greatly increase the population and multiply the number of cattle here in Israel and Judah.
In the past I uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will plant it and build it up," says the LORD.
"The people will no longer quote this proverb: 'The parents eat sour grapes, but their children's mouths pucker at the taste.'
All people will die for their own sins -- those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.
"The day will come," says the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.
This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife," says the LORD.
"But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day," says the LORD. "I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their family, saying, 'You should know the LORD.' For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will already know me," says the LORD. "And I will forgive their wickedness and will never again remember their sins."
It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night. It is he who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD Almighty, and this is what he says:
"I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to do away with the laws of nature!
Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundation of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away forever for their sins. I, the LORD, have spoken!
"The time is coming," says the LORD, "when all Jerusalem will be rebuilt for me, from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.
A measuring line will be stretched out over the hill of Gareb and across to Goah.
And the entire area -- including the graveyard and ash dump in the valley, and all the fields out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the Horse Gate -- will be holy to the LORD. The city will never again be captured or destroyed."
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)