Jeremiah 4; Jeremiah 5; Jeremiah 6

1 If you return, Israel, return to me, declares the LORD. If you get rid of your disgusting idols from my presence and wander no more, 2 and if you swear by the living God in truth, justice, and righteousness, then the nations will enjoy God's blessings; they will boast about him. 3 This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and to the residents of Jerusalem: Break up your hard rocky soil; don't plant among the thorns. 4 Dedicate yourselves to the LORD; don't be thick-skinned, people of Judah and residents of Jerusalem, or else my anger will spread like a wildfire. It will burn, with no one to put it out, because of your evil deeds. 5 Announce in Judah, in Jerusalem proclaim, sound the alarm throughout the land, cry out and say, "Gather together! Let's flee to the fortified towns!" 6 Set up a flag to Zion; take cover, don't just stand there! I'm bringing disaster from the north, massive devastation. 7 A lion bursts out of the thicket; a destroyer of nations advances. He's gone forth from his place to ravage your land, to wipe out your towns, until no one is left. 8 So put on funeral clothing. Weep and wail, for the LORD's fierce anger hasn't turned away from us. 9 On that day, declares the LORD, the courage of the king and his princes will fail, the priests will be stunned, and the prophets will be shocked. 10 Then I said, "LORD God, no! You have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem by promising them peace even though the sword is at their throats." 11 At that time, this people and Jerusalem will be told: A blistering wind from the bare heights; it rages in the desert toward my people, not merely to winnow or cleanse. 12 This wind is too devastating for that. Now I, even I, will pronounce my sentence against them. 13 Look! He approaches like the clouds; his chariots advance like a tempest, his horses swifter than eagles. How horrible! We're doomed! 14 Cleanse your heart of evil, Jerusalem, that you may be saved. How long will you entertain your destructive ideas? 15 A voice declares from Dan; someone proclaims disaster from the highlands of Ephraim. 16 Warn the nations, proclaim it to Jerusalem! Armies are approaching from a far-away country, raising their war cries against the towns of Judah. 17 They hem her in like those guarding a field, because she has rebelled against me, declares the LORD. 18 Your own conduct, your own deeds have done this to you. This is your payment and how bitter it is, piercing into the depths of your heart. 19 Oh, my suffering, my suffering! My pain is unbearable; my heart is in turmoil; it throbs nonstop. I can't be silent, because I hear the blast of the trumpet and the roar of the battle cry! 20 Disaster follows disaster; the whole land is ruined. Suddenly, my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment. 21 How long must I see the battle flags and hear the blast of the trumpet? 22 My people are foolish. They don't even know me! They are thoughtless children without understanding; they are skilled at doing wrong, inept at doing right. 23 I looked at the earth, and it was without shape or form; at the heavens and there was no light. 24 I looked at the mountains and they were quaking; all the hills were rocking back and forth. 25 I looked and there was no one left; every bird in the sky had taken flight. 26 I looked and the fertile land was a desert; all its towns were in ruins before the LORD, before his fury. 27 The LORD proclaims: The whole earth will become a desolation, but I will not destroy it completely. 28 Therefore, the earth will grieve and the heavens grow dark because I have declared my plan and will neither change my mind nor cancel the plan. 29 As the horsemen and archers approach, the people take flight. They hide in the bushes and escape to the cliffs. Every city is deserted; no one remains. 30 And you, devastated one, why dress up in scarlet, deck yourself in gold jewelry, and color your eyes with paint? In vain you get all decked out; your lovers have rejected you and now seek your life. 31 I hear the cry of a woman in labor, the distress of one delivering her first child. It is the cry of Daughter Zion, gasping for breath, her arms stretched out, and moaning, "I'm about to fall into the hands of murderers!"
1 Search every street in Jerusalem, comb the squares, look far and wide for one person, even one who acts justly and seeks truth that I may pardon her! 2 Even when making a pledge—"As the LORD lives"— they swear falsely. 3 LORD, don't you look for integrity? You have struck them down, but they didn't even cringe. You have crushed them, but they have ignored your discipline. They make their faces harder than rock and refuse to return. 4 Then I thought to myself, These are the poor who don't know better! They don't understand the LORD's way or the justice of their God. 5 Let me go and speak to the powerful people, for they will surely know the LORD's way and the justice of their God. But they too have broken their yoke and shattered the chains. 6 Therefore, a lion from the forest will attack them; a wolf from the desert will destroy them; a leopard prowling around their towns will tear to pieces anyone venturing out— because of their many crimes and countless acts of unfaithfulness. 7 How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me and swear by gods that are not gods. Although I could have satisfied them, they committed adultery, dashing off to the prostitution house. 8 They are lusty stallions roving about, snorting for another's wife. 9 The LORD declares: Shouldn't I confront these acts? Shouldn't I take revenge on such a nation? 10 Climb through her vineyards and ravage them, although not completely. Prune back her branches, because they aren't the LORD's. 11 The people of Israel and Judah have been utterly faithless to me, declares the LORD. 12 They have lied about the LORD and said, "He'll do nothing! Disaster won't come upon us; we won't see war or famine." 13 The prophets are so much wind; the word isn't in them. Thus and so may it be done to them. 14 Therefore, the LORD God of heavenly forces proclaims: Because you have spoken this way, I will put my words in your mouth as a fire; it will consume the people, who are but kindling. 15 I am about to bring a distant nation against you, people of Israel, declares the LORD. It is an established nation, an ancient nation, a nation whose language you don't know, whose speech you won't understand. 16 Its weapons are deadly; its warriors are many. 17 It will devour your harvest and food; it will devour your sons and daughters; it will devour your flocks and herds; it will devour your vines and fig trees; it will shatter your fortified towns in which you trust— with the sword! 18 Yet even in those days, declares the LORD, I won't completely destroy you. 19 And when they ask, "Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?" you must reply, "Just as you have abandoned me and served foreign gods in your land, so you will serve strangers in a land not your own." 20 Declare this to the people of Jacob, announce it in Judah: 21 Listen, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but don't see and ears but don't hear. 22 Shouldn't you fear me, declares the LORD, and tremble before me, the one who set the shoreline for the sea, an ancient boundary that it can't pass? Though its waves may rise and roar, they can't pass the limits I have set. 23 And yet the people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they turn and go their own way. 24 They don't say in their hearts, Let's fear the LORD our God, who provides rain in autumn and spring and who assures us of a harvest in its season. 25 Your wrongdoing has turned these blessings away. Your sin has robbed you of good. 26 Criminals are found among my people; they set traps to catch people, like hunters lying in wait. 27 Like a cage full of birds, so their houses are full of loot. No wonder they are rich and powerful 28 and have grown fat and sleek! To be sure, their evil deeds exceed all limits, and yet they prosper. They are indifferent to the plight of the orphan, reluctant to defend the rights of the poor. 29 Shouldn't I punish such acts? declares the LORD. Shouldn't I repay that nation for its deeds? 30 An awful, a terrible thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, the priests rule at their sides, and my people love it this way! But what will you do when the end comes?
1 Escape, people of Benjamin, get out of Jerusalem! Blow the trumpet in Tekoa, sound the alarm in Beth-haccherem; for disaster looms from the north, massive devastation. 2 You are like a lovely pasture, Daughter Zion. 3 Shepherds come to her with their flocks. They pitch their tents around her and graze in their place. 4 "Prepare for battle against her; get ready; let's attack by noon! Oh, no! Daylight is fading, and the evening shadows lengthen. 5 Get ready, let's attack by night and destroy her fortresses!" 6 The LORD of heavenly forces proclaims: Cut down her trees, and build siege ramps against Jerusalem. This city must be held accountable, for there's nothing but oppression in her midst. 7 As a well brings forth fresh water, she brings forth evil. Violence and destruction are heard within her; injury and wounds are ever before me. 8 Hear me out, Jerusalem, or else I'll turn away from you and reduce you to ruins, a land unfit to live in. 9 This is what the LORD of heavenly forces says: From top to bottom, let them harvest the remaining few in Israel. Pick clean every last grape on the vine! 10 To whom can I speak and warn? How can I get someone's attention? Their ears are shut tight, so they won't hear. They are ashamed of the LORD's word and take no pleasure in it. 11 But I'm filled with the LORD's rage and am tired of holding it in. Pour it out on the children in the streets and on the youths gathered together; husband with wife will be trapped, as will those old and gray. 12 Their homes will be turned over to others, their fields and wives as well. I will stretch out my hand against the people of this land, declares the LORD. 13 From the least to the greatest, each is eager to profit; from prophet to priest, each trades in dishonesty. 14 They treat the wound of my people as if it were nothing: "All is well, all is well," they insist, when in fact nothing is well. 15 They should be ashamed of their detestable practices, but they have no shame; they don't even blush! Therefore, they will fall among the fallen and stumble when I bring disaster, declares the LORD. 16 The LORD proclaims: Stop at the crossroads and look around; ask for the ancient paths. Where is the good way? Then walk in it and find a resting place for yourselves. But you said, "We won't go!" 17 Still, I have appointed watchmen to warn you. But you said, "We won't listen!" 18 Therefore, pay attention, nations; take notice, assembly, what is ahead of them. 19 Pay attention, earth: I'm bringing disaster upon my people, the fruit of their own devices, because they have ignored my words and they have rejected my teaching. 20 What use to me is incense from Sheba or sweet cane from a faraway land? Your entirely burned offerings won't buy your pardon; your sacrifices won't appease me. 21 Therefore, the LORD proclaims: I'm putting obstacles before this people, and both parents and children will stumble over them; neighbor and friend alike will perish. 22 The LORD proclaims: An army is on the move from the northern regions; a great nation is roused from the ends of the earth. 23 Equipped with bow and spear, they are cruel; they show no mercy. Their horsemen sound like the roaring sea, arrayed in battle formation against you, Daughter Zion. 24 We have heard reports of them and are panic-stricken; distress overwhelms us, pain like that of a woman in labor. 25 Don't go out into the field! Don't walk on the road! The enemies' sword terrorizes at every turn. 26 My people, put on funeral clothes and roll in ashes; weep and wail as for an only child, because the destroyer will suddenly descend upon us. 27 I have made you a tester of metals, to examine my people to know and prove their ways. 28 They are tin and iron; they are headstrong and rebellious. They live to slander. They act corruptly—every last one! 29 The bellows roar; the lead is consumed. Yet the refining fails; the impurities remain. 30 They are called "rejected silver," for the LORD has rejected them.
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