Jeremiah 3; Jeremiah 4; Jeremiah 5; 1 Timothy 4

1 The Lord says, "If a man divorces his wife, and she leaves him and becomes another man's wife, he cannot take her back again. This would completely defile the land. But, Israel, you have had many lovers, and now you want to return to me! 2 Look up at the hilltops. Is there any place where you have not acted like a prostitute? You waited for lovers along the roadside, as an Arab waits for victims in the desert. You have defiled the land with your prostitution. 3 That is why the rains were held back, and the spring showers did not come. You even look like a prostitute; you have no shame. 4 "And now you say to me, "You are my father, and you have loved me ever since I was a child. 5 You won't always be angry; you won't be mad at me forever.' Israel, that is what you said, but you did all the evil you could." 6 When Josiah was king, the Lord said to me, "Have you seen what Israel, that unfaithful woman, has done? She has turned away from me, and on every high hill and under every green tree she has acted like a prostitute. 7 I thought that after she had done all this, she would surely return to me. But she did not return, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it all. 8 Judah also saw that I divorced Israel and sent her away because she had turned from me and had become a prostitute. But Judah, Israel's unfaithful sister, was not afraid. She too became a prostitute 9 and was not at all ashamed. She defiled the land, and she committed adultery by worshiping stones and trees. 10 And after all this, Judah, Israel's unfaithful sister, only pretended to return to me; she was not sincere. I, the Lord, have spoken." 11 Then the Lord told me that, even though Israel had turned away from him, she had proved to be better than unfaithful Judah. 12 He told me to go and say to Israel, "Unfaithful Israel, come back to me. I am merciful and will not be angry; I will not be angry with you forever. 13 Only admit that you are guilty and that you have rebelled against the Lord, your God. Confess that under every green tree you have given your love to foreign gods and that you have not obeyed my commands. I, the Lord, have spoken. 14 "Unfaithful people, come back; you belong to me. I will take one of you from each town and two from each clan, and I will bring you back to Mount Zion. 15 I will give you rulers who obey me, and they will rule you with wisdom and understanding. 16 Then when you have become numerous in that land, people will no longer talk about my Covenant Box. They will no longer think about it or remember it; they will not even need it, nor will they make another one. 17 When that time comes, Jerusalem will be called "The Throne of the Lord,' and all nations will gather there to worship me. They will no longer do what their stubborn and evil hearts tell them. 18 Israel will join with Judah, and together they will come from exile in the country in the north and will return to the land that I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession." 19 The Lord says, "Israel, I wanted to accept you as my child and give you a delightful land, the most beautiful land in all the world. I wanted you to call me father and never again turn away from me. 20 But like an unfaithful wife, you have not been faithful to me. I, the Lord, have spoken." 21 A noise is heard on the hilltops: it is the people of Israel crying and pleading because they have lived sinful lives and have forgotten the Lord their God. 22 Return, all of you who have turned away from the Lord; he will heal you and make you faithful. You say, "Yes, we are coming to the Lord because he is our God. 23 We were not helped at all by our pagan worship on the hilltops. Help for Israel comes only from the Lord our God. 24 But the worship of Baal, the god of shame, has made us lose flocks and herds, sons and daughters - everything that our ancestors have worked for since ancient times. 25 We should lie down in shame and let our disgrace cover us. We and our ancestors have always sinned against the Lord our God; we have never obeyed his commands."
1 The Lord says, "People of Israel, if you want to turn, then turn back to me. If you are faithful to me and remove the idols I hate, 2 it will be right for you to swear by my name. Then all the nations will ask me to bless them, and they will praise me." 3 The Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, "Plow up your unplowed fields; do not plant your seeds among thorns. 4 Keep your covenant with me, your Lord, and dedicate yourselves to me, you people of Judah and Jerusalem. If you don't, my anger will burn like fire because of the evil things you have done. It will burn, and there will be no one to put it out." 5 Blow the trumpet throughout the land! Shout loud and clear! Tell the people of Judah and Jerusalem to run to the fortified cities. 6 Point the way to Zion! Run for safety! Don't delay! The Lord is bringing disaster and great destruction from the north. 7 Like a lion coming from its hiding place, a destroyer of nations has set out. He is coming to destroy Judah. The cities of Judah will be left in ruins, and no one will live in them. 8 So put on sackcloth, and weep and wail because the fierce anger of the Lord has not turned away from Judah. 9 The Lord said, "On that day kings and officials will lose their courage; priests will be shocked and prophets will be astonished." 10 Then I said, "Sovereign Lord, you have completely deceived the people of Jerusalem! You have said there would be peace, but a sword is at their throats." 11 The time is coming when the people of Jerusalem will be told that a scorching wind is blowing in from the desert toward them. It will not be a gentle wind that only blows away the chaff - 12 the wind that comes at the Lord's command will be much stronger than that! It is the Lord himself who is pronouncing judgment on his people. 13 Look, the enemy is coming like clouds. Their war chariots are like a whirlwind, and their horses are faster than eagles. We are lost! We are doomed! 14 Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart, so that you may be saved. How long will you go on thinking sinful thoughts? 15 Messengers from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim announce the bad news. 16 They have come to warn the nations and to tell Jerusalem that enemies are coming from a country far away. These enemies will shout against the cities of Judah 17 and will surround Jerusalem like men guarding a field, because her people have rebelled against the Lord. The Lord has spoken. 18 Judah, you have brought this on yourself by the way you have lived and by the things you have done. Your sin has caused this suffering; it has stabbed you through the heart. 19 The pain! I can't bear the pain! My heart! My heart is beating wildly! I can't keep quiet; I hear the trumpets and the shouts of battle. 20 One disaster follows another; the whole country is left in ruins. Suddenly our tents are destroyed; their curtains are torn to pieces. 21 How long must I see the battle raging and hear the blasts of trumpets? 22 The Lord says, "My people are stupid; they don't know me. They are like foolish children; they have no understanding. They are experts at doing what is evil, but failures at doing what is good." 23 I looked at the earth - it was a barren waste; at the sky - there was no light. 24 I looked at the mountains - they were shaking, and the hills were rocking back and forth. 25 I saw that there were no people; even the birds had flown away. 26 The fertile land had become a desert; its cities were in ruins because of the Lord's fierce anger. 27 (The Lord has said that the whole earth will become a wasteland, but that he will not completely destroy it.) 28 The earth will mourn; the sky will grow dark. The Lord has spoken and will not change his mind. He has made his decision and will not turn back. 29 At the noise of the cavalry and archers everyone will run away. Some will run to the forest; others will climb up among the rocks. Every town will be left empty, and no one will live in them again. 30 Jerusalem, you are doomed! Why do you dress in scarlet? Why do you put on jewelry and paint your eyes? You are making yourself beautiful for nothing! Your lovers have rejected you and want to kill you. 31 I heard a cry, like a woman in labor, a scream like a woman bearing her first child. It was the cry of Jerusalem gasping for breath, stretching out her hand and saying, "I am doomed! They are coming to kill me!"
1 People of Jerusalem, run through your streets! Look around! See for yourselves! Search the marketplaces! Can you find one person who does what is right and tries to be faithful to God? If you can, the Lord will forgive Jerusalem. 2 Even though you claim to worship the Lord, you do not mean what you say. 3 Surely the Lord looks for faithfulness. He struck you, but you paid no attention; he crushed you, but you refused to learn. You were stubborn and would not turn from your sins. 4 Then I thought, "These are only the poor and ignorant. They behave foolishly; they don't know what their God requires, what the Lord wants them to do. 5 I will go to the people in power and talk with them. Surely they know what their God requires, what the Lord wants them to do." But all of them have rejected the Lord's authority and refuse to obey him. 6 That is why lions from the forest will kill them; wolves from the desert will tear them to pieces, and leopards will prowl through their towns. If those people go out, they will be torn apart because their sins are numerous and time after time they have turned from God. 7 The Lord asked, "Why should I forgive the sins of my people? They have abandoned me and have worshiped gods that are not real. I fed my people until they were full, but they committed adultery and spent their time with prostitutes. 8 They were like well-fed stallions wild with desire, each lusting for his neighbor's wife. 9 Shouldn't I punish them for these things and take revenge on a nation such as this? 10 I will send enemies to cut down my people's vineyards, but not to destroy them completely. I will tell them to strip away the branches, because those branches are not mine. 11 The people of Israel and Judah have betrayed me completely. I, the Lord, have spoken." 12 The Lord's people have denied him and have said, "He won't really do anything. We won't have hard times; we won't have war or famine." 13 They have said that the prophets are nothing but windbags and that they have no message from the Lord. The Lord God Almighty said to me, "Jeremiah, because these people have said such things, I will make my words like a fire in your mouth. The people will be like wood, and the fire will burn them up." 15 People of Israel, the Lord is bringing a nation from far away to attack you. It is a strong and ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know. 16 Their archers are mighty soldiers who kill without mercy. 17 They will devour your crops and your food; they will kill your sons and your daughters. They will slaughter your flocks and your herds and destroy your vines and fig trees. The fortified cities in which you trust will be destroyed by their army. 18 The Lord says, "Yet even in those days I will not completely destroy my people. 19 When they ask why I did all these things, tell them, Jeremiah, that just as they turned away from me and served foreign gods in their own land, so they will serve strangers in a land that is not theirs." 20 The Lord says, "Tell the descendants of Jacob, tell the people of Judah: 21 Pay attention, you foolish and stupid people, who have eyes, but cannot see, and have ears, but cannot hear. 22 I am the Lord; why don't you fear me? Why don't you tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary of the sea, a permanent boundary that it cannot cross. The sea may toss, but it cannot go beyond it; the waves may roar, but they cannot break through. 23 But you people! You are stubborn and rebellious; you have turned aside and left me. 24 You never thought to honor me, even though I send the autumn rains and the spring rains and give you the harvest season each year. 25 Instead, your sins have kept these good things from you. 26 "Evildoers live among my people; they lie in wait like those who lay nets to catch birds, but they have set their traps to catch people. 27 Just as a hunter fills a cage with birds, they have filled their houses with loot. That is why they are powerful and rich, 28 why they are fat and well fed. There is no limit to their evil deeds. They do not give orphans their rights or show justice to the oppressed. 29 "But I, the Lord, will punish them for these things; I will take revenge on this nation. 30 A terrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 prophets speak nothing but lies; priests rule as the prophets command, and my people offer no objections. But what will they do when it all comes to an end?"
1 The Spirit says clearly that some people will abandon the faith in later times; they will obey lying spirits and follow the teachings of demons. 2 Such teachings are spread by deceitful liars, whose consciences are dead, as if burnt with a hot iron. 3 Such people teach that it is wrong to marry and to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten, after a prayer of thanks, by those who are believers and have come to know the truth. 4 Everything that God has created is good; nothing is to be rejected, but everything is to be received with a prayer of thanks, 5 because the word of God and the prayer make it acceptable to God. 6 If you give these instructions to the believers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, as you feed yourself spiritually on the words of faith and of the true teaching which you have followed. 7 But keep away from those godless legends, which are not worth telling. Keep yourself in training for a godly life. 8 Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future. 9 This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed. 10 We struggle and work hard, because we have placed our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all and especially of those who believe. 11 Give them these instructions and these teachings. 12 Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity. 13 Until I come, give your time and effort to the public reading of the Scriptures and to preaching and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift that is in you, which was given to you when the prophets spoke and the elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things and devote yourself to them, in order that your progress may be seen by all. 16 Watch yourself and watch your teaching. Keep on doing these things, because if you do, you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
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