"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD.
Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done," declares the LORD.
"I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.
I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD.
"The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.
"So then, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when people will no longer say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,'
but they will say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.' Then they will live in their own land."
Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and his holy words.
The land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land lies parched and the pastures in the desert are withered. The [ prophets] follow an evil course and use their power unjustly.
"Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness," declares the LORD.
"Therefore their path will become slippery; they will be banished to darkness and there they will fall. I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished," declares the LORD.
"Among the prophets of Samaria I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray.
And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah."
Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets: "I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land."
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
They keep saying to those who despise me, 'The LORD says: You will have peace.' And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, 'No harm will come to you.'
But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?
See, the storm of the LORD will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly.
I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.
"Am I only a God nearby," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away?
Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD.
"I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!'
How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?
They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal worship.
Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares the LORD.
"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
"Therefore," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me.
Yes," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, 'The LORD declares.'
Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the LORD. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the LORD.
"When these people, or a prophet or a priest, ask you, 'What is the oracle of the LORD?' say to them, 'What oracle? I will forsake you, declares the LORD.'
If a prophet or a priest or anyone else claims, 'This is the oracle of the LORD,' I will punish that man and his household.
This is what each of you keeps on saying to his friend or relative: 'What is the LORD's answer?' or 'What has the LORD spoken?'
But you must not mention 'the oracle of the LORD' again, because every man's own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the LORD Almighty, our God.
This is what you keep saying to a prophet: 'What is the LORD's answer to you?' or 'What has the LORD spoken?'
Although you claim, 'This is the oracle of the LORD,' this is what the LORD says: You used the words, 'This is the oracle of the LORD,' even though I told you that you must not claim, 'This is the oracle of the LORD.'
Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along with the city I gave to you and your fathers.
I will bring upon you everlasting disgrace--everlasting shame that will not be forgotten."
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.
He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!"
Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea."
When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants.
He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.
It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.
Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."14
"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."16
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate.
They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you.
So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."
Peter went down and said to the men, "I'm the one you're looking for. Why have you come?"
The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say."
Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along.
The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence.
But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself."
Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.
He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.
So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?"
Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me
and said, 'Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.
Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.'
So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached--
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,
but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,
"Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."
So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him
and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them."
Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened:
"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.
I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air.
Then I heard a voice telling me, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.'8
"I replied, 'Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
"The voice spoke from heaven a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'10
This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.
"Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying.
The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house.
He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.
He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.'
"As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.
Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'17
So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"
When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."
Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.
Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.
The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)
The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea.
This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
After Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the officials, the craftsmen and the artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the LORD.
One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very poor figs, so bad they could not be eaten.
Then the LORD asked me, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" "Figs," I answered. "The good ones are very good, but the poor ones are so bad they cannot be eaten."
Then the word of the LORD came to me:
"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians.
My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
" 'But like the poor figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,' says the LORD, 'so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt.
I will make them abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, an object of ridicule and cursing, wherever I banish them.
I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their fathers.' "