This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
"Stand at the gate of the LORD's house and there proclaim this message: " 'Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD.
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.
Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!"
If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly,
if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm,
then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.
But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
" 'Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known,
and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, "We are safe"--safe to do all these detestable things?
Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.
" 'Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel.
While you were doing all these things, declares the LORD, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer.
Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your fathers.
I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim.'
"So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.
Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?
The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger.
But am I the one they are provoking? declares the LORD. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?
" 'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched.
" 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves!
For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices,
but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.
But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.
From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets.
But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers.'
"When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer.
Therefore say to them, 'This is the nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.
Cut off your hair and throw it away; take up a lament on the barren heights, for the LORD has rejected and abandoned this generation that is under his wrath.
" 'The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the LORD. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it.
They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire--something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.
So beware, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room.
Then the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.
I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, for the land will become desolate.
" 'At that time, declares the LORD, the bones of the kings and officials of Judah, the bones of the priests and prophets, and the bones of the people of Jerusalem will be removed from their graves.
They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground.
Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life, declares the LORD Almighty.'
"Say to them, 'This is what the LORD says: " 'When men fall down, do they not get up? When a man turns away, does he not return?
Why then have these people turned away? Why does Jerusalem always turn away? They cling to deceit; they refuse to return.
I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. No one repents of his wickedness, saying, "What have I done?" Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle.
Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.
" 'How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?
The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?
Therefore I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD.
" 'I will take away their harvest, declares the LORD. There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them. ' "
"Why are we sitting here? Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities and perish there! For the LORD our God has doomed us to perish and given us poisoned water to drink, because we have sinned against him.
We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.
The snorting of the enemy's horses is heard from Dan; at the neighing of their stallions the whole land trembles. They have come to devour the land and everything in it, the city and all who live there."
"See, I will send venomous snakes among you, vipers that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you," declares the LORD.
O my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me.
Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: "Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?" "Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their worthless foreign idols?"
"The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved."
Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?
Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.
Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people.
"They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me," declares the LORD.
"Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer.
Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning.
You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me," declares the LORD.
Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: "See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?
Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit. With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him.
Should I not punish them for this?" declares the LORD. "Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?"
I will weep and wail for the mountains and take up a lament concerning the desert pastures. They are desolate and untraveled, and the lowing of cattle is not heard. The birds of the air have fled and the animals are gone.
"I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals; and I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there."
What man is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the LORD and can explain it? Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross?
The LORD said, "It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.
Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them."
Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water.
I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have destroyed them."
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them.
Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids.
The sound of wailing is heard from Zion: 'How ruined we are! How great is our shame! We must leave our land because our houses are in ruins.' "
Now, O women, hear the word of the LORD; open your ears to the words of his mouth. Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament.
Death has climbed in through our windows and has entered our fortresses; it has cut off the children from the streets and the young men from the public squares.
Say, "This is what the LORD declares: " 'The dead bodies of men will lie like refuse on the open field, like cut grain behind the reaper, with no one to gather them.' "
This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD.
"The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh--
Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the desert in distant places. For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart."