Jeremiah 6; Jeremiah 7; Jeremiah 8; 1 Timothy 5

1 People of Benjamin, run for safety! Escape from Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa and build a signal fire in Beth Haccherem. Disaster and destruction are about to come from the north. 2 The city of Zion is beautiful, but it will be destroyed; 3 kings will camp there with their armies. They will pitch their tents around the city, and each of them will camp wherever they want. 4 They will say, "Prepare to attack Jerusalem! Get ready! We'll attack at noon!" But then they will say, "It's too late, the day is almost over, and the evening shadows are growing long. 5 We'll attack by night; we'll destroy the city's fortresses." 6 The Lord Almighty has ordered these kings to cut down trees and build mounds in order to besiege Jerusalem. He has said, "I will punish this city because it is full of oppression. 7 As a well keeps its water fresh, so Jerusalem keeps its evil fresh. I hear violence and destruction in the city; sickness and wounds are all I see. 8 People of Jerusalem, let these troubles be a warning to you, or else I will abandon you; I will turn your city into a desert, a place where no one lives." 9 The Lord Almighty said to me, "Israel will be stripped clean like a vineyard from which every grape has been picked. So you must rescue everyone you can while there is still time." 10 I answered, "Who would listen to me if I spoke to them and warned them? They are stubborn and refuse to listen to your message; they laugh at what you tell me to say. 11 Your anger against them burns in me too, Lord, and I can't hold it in any longer." Then the Lord said to me, "Pour out my anger on the children in the streets and on the gatherings of the young people. Husbands and wives will be taken away, and even the very old will not be spared. 12 Their houses will be given to others, and so will their fields and their wives. I am going to punish the people of this land. 13 Everyone, great and small, tries to make money dishonestly; even prophets and priests cheat the people. 14 They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. "All is well,' they say, when all is not well. 15 Were they ashamed because they did these disgusting things? No, they were not at all ashamed; they don't even know how to blush. And so they will fall as others have fallen; when I punish them, that will be the end of them. I, the Lord, have spoken." 16 The Lord said to his people, "Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk in it, and you will live in peace." But they said, "No, we will not!" 17 Then the Lord appointed sentries to listen for the trumpet's warning. But they said, "We will not listen." 18 So the Lord said, "Listen, you nations, and learn what is going to happen to my people. 19 Listen, earth! As punishment for all their schemes I am bringing ruin on these people, because they have rejected my teaching and have not obeyed my words. 20 What do I care about the incense they bring me from Sheba, or the spices from a distant land? I will not accept their offerings or be pleased with their sacrifices. 21 And so I will make these people stumble and fall. Parents and children will die, and so will friends and neighbors." 22 The Lord says, "People are coming from a country in the north; a mighty nation far away is preparing for war. 23 They have taken up their bows and swords; they are cruel and merciless. They sound like the roaring sea, as they ride their horses. They are ready for battle against Jerusalem." 24 "We have heard the news," say the people of Jerusalem, "and our hands hang limp; we are seized by anguish and pain like a woman in labor. 25 We don't dare go to the countryside or walk on the roads, because our enemies are armed and terror is all around us." 26 The Lord says to his people, "Put on sackcloth and roll in ashes. Mourn with bitter tears as you would for an only child, because the one who comes to destroy you will suddenly attack. 27 Jeremiah, test my people, as you would test metal, and find out what they are like. 28 They are all stubborn rebels, hard as bronze and iron. They are all corrupt, going around and spreading gossip. 29 The furnace burns fiercely, but the waste metals do not melt and run off. It is useless to go on refining my people, because those who are evil are not taken away. 30 They will be called worthless dross, because I, the Lord, have rejected them."
1 The Lord sent me to the gate of the Temple where the people of Judah went in to worship. He told me to stand there and announce what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, had to say to them: "Change the way you are living and the things you are doing, and I will let you go on living here. 4 Stop believing those deceitful words, "We are safe! This is the Lord's Temple, this is the Lord's Temple, this is the Lord's Temple!' 5 "Change the way you are living and stop doing the things you are doing. Be fair in your treatment of one another. 6 Stop taking advantage of aliens, orphans, and widows. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop worshiping other gods, for that will destroy you. 7 If you change, I will let you go on living here in the land which I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession. 8 "Look, you put your trust in deceitful words. 9 You steal, murder, commit adultery, tell lies under oath, offer sacrifices to Baal, and worship gods that you had not known before. 10 You do these things I hate, and then you come and stand in my presence, in my own Temple, and say, "We are safe!' 11 Do you think that my Temple is a hiding place for robbers? I have seen what you are doing. 12 Go to Shiloh, the first place where I chose to be worshiped, and see what I did to it because of the sins of my people Israel. 13 You have committed all these sins, and even though I spoke to you over and over again, you refused to listen. You would not answer when I called you. 14 And so, what I did to Shiloh I will do to this Temple of mine, in which you trust. Here in this place that I gave to your ancestors and you, I will do the same thing that I did to Shiloh. 15 I will drive you out of my sight as I drove out your relatives, the people of Israel. I, the Lord, have spoken." 16 The Lord said, "Jeremiah, do not pray for these people. Do not cry or pray on their behalf; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. 17 Don't you see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather firewood, the men build fires, and the women mix dough to bake cakes for the goddess they call the Queen of Heaven. They also pour out offerings of wine to other gods, in order to hurt me. 19 But am I really the one they are hurting? No, they are hurting themselves and bringing shame on themselves. 20 And so I, the Sovereign Lord, will pour out my fierce anger on this Temple. I will pour it out on people and animals alike, and even on the trees and the crops. My anger will be like a fire that no one can put out. 21 "My people, some sacrifices you burn completely on the altar, and some you are permitted to eat. But what I, the Lord, say is that you might as well eat them all. 22 I gave your ancestors no commands about burnt offerings or any other kinds of sacrifices when I brought them out of Egypt. 23 But I did command them to obey me, so that I would be their God and they would be my people. And I told them to live the way I had commanded them, so that things would go well for them. 24 But they did not obey or pay any attention. Instead, they did whatever their stubborn and evil hearts told them to do, and they became worse instead of better. 25 From the day that your ancestors came out of Egypt until this very day I have kept on sending to you my servants, the prophets. 26 Yet no one listened or paid any attention. Instead, you became more stubborn and rebellious than your ancestors. 27 "So, Jeremiah, you will speak all these words to my people, but they will not listen to you; you will call them, but they will not answer. 28 You will tell them that their nation does not obey me, the Lord their God, or learn from their punishment. Faithfulness is dead. No longer is it even talked about. 29 "Mourn, people of Jerusalem; cut off your hair and throw it away. Sing a funeral song on the hilltops, because I, the Lord, am angry and have rejected my people. 30 "The people of Judah have done an evil thing. They have placed their idols, which I hate, in my Temple and have defiled it. 31 In Hinnom Valley they have built an altar called Topheth, so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters in the fire. I did not command them to do this - it did not even enter my mind. 32 And so, the time will come when it will no longer be called Topheth or Hinnom Valley, but Slaughter Valley. They will bury people there because there will be nowhere else to bury them. 33 The corpses will be food for the birds and wild animals, and there will be no one to scare them off. 34 The land will become a desert. In the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the happy sounds of wedding feasts.
1 "At that time the bones of the kings and of the officials of Judah, as well as the bones of the priests, of the prophets, and of the other people who lived in Jerusalem, will be taken out of their graves. 2 Instead of being gathered and buried, their bones will be like manure lying on the ground. They will be spread out before the sun, the moon, and the stars, which these people have loved and served, and which they have consulted and worshiped. 3 And the people of this evil nation who survive, who live in the places where I have scattered them, will prefer to die rather than to go on living. I, the Lord Almighty, have spoken." 4 The Lord told me to say to his people, "When someone falls down, doesn't he get back up? If someone misses the road, doesn't he turn back? 5 Why then, my people, do you turn away from me without ever turning back? You cling to your idols and refuse to return to me. 6 I listened carefully, but you did not speak the truth. Not one of you has been sorry for your wickedness; not one of you has asked, "What have I done wrong?' Each of you keep on going your own way, like a horse rushing into battle. 7 Even storks know when it is time to return; doves, swallows, and thrushes know when it is time to migrate. But, my people, you do not know the laws by which I rule you. 8 How can you say that you are wise and that you know my laws? Look, the laws have been changed by dishonest scribes. 9 Your wise men are put to shame; they are confused and trapped. They have rejected my words; what wisdom do they have now? 10 So I will give their fields to new owners and their wives to other men. Everyone, great and small, tries to make money dishonestly. Even prophets and priests cheat the people. 11 They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. "All is well,' they say, when all is not well. 12 My people, were you ashamed because you did these disgusting things? No, you were not ashamed at all; you don't even know how to blush! And so you will fall as others have fallen; when I punish you, that will be the end of you. I, the Lord, have spoken. 13 "I wanted to gather my people, as a farmer gathers a harvest; but they are like a vine with no grapes, like a fig tree with no figs; even the leaves have withered. Therefore, I have allowed outsiders to take over the land." 14 "Why are we sitting still?" God's people ask. "Come on, we will run to the fortified cities and die there. The Lord our God has condemned us to die; he has given us poison to drink, because we have sinned against him. 15 We hoped for peace and a time of healing, but it was no use; terror came instead. 16 Our enemies are already in the city of Dan; we hear the snorting of their horses. The whole land trembles when their horses neigh. Our enemies have come to destroy our land and everything in it, our city and all its people." 17 "Watch out!" the Lord says, "I am sending snakes among you, poisonous snakes that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you." 18 My sorrow cannot be healed; I am sick at heart. 19 Listen! Throughout the land I hear my people crying out, "Is the Lord no longer in Zion? Is Zion's king no longer there?" The Lord, their king, replies, "Why have you made me angry by worshiping your idols and by bowing down to your useless foreign gods?" 20 The people cry out, "The summer is gone, the harvest is over, but we have not been saved." 21 My heart has been crushed because my people are crushed; I mourn; I am completely dismayed. 22 Is there no medicine in Gilead? Are there no doctors there? Why, then, have my people not been healed?
1 Do not rebuke an older man, but appeal to him as if he were your father. Treat the younger men as your brothers, 2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, with all purity. 3 Show respect for widows who really are all alone. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should learn first to carry out their religious duties toward their own family and in this way repay their parents and grandparents, because that is what pleases God. 5 A widow who is all alone, with no one to take care of her, has placed her hope in God and continues to pray and ask him for his help night and day. 6 But a widow who gives herself to pleasure has already died, even though she lives. 7 Give them these instructions, so that no one will find fault with them. 8 But if any do not take care of their relatives, especially the members of their own family, they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever. 9 Do not add any widow to the list of widows unless she is over sixty years of age. In addition, she must have been married only once 10 and have a reputation for good deeds: a woman who brought up her children well, received strangers in her home, performed humble duties for other Christians, helped people in trouble, and devoted herself to doing good. 11 But do not include younger widows in the list; because when their desires make them want to marry, they turn away from Christ, 12 and so become guilty of breaking their earlier promise to him. 13 They also learn to waste their time in going around from house to house; but even worse, they learn to be gossips and busybodies, talking of things they should not. 14 So I would prefer that the younger widows get married, have children, and take care of their homes, so as to give our enemies no chance of speaking evil of us. 15 For some widows have already turned away to follow Satan. 16 But if any Christian woman has widows in her family, she must take care of them and not put the burden on the church, so that it may take care of the widows who are all alone. 17 The elders who do good work as leaders should be considered worthy of receiving double pay, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox when you are using it to thresh grain" and "Workers should be given their pay." 19 Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or more witnesses. 20 Rebuke publicly all those who commit sins, so that the rest may be afraid. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the holy angels I solemnly call upon you to obey these instructions without showing any prejudice or favor to anyone in anything you do. 22 Be in no hurry to lay hands on people to dedicate them to the Lord's service. Take no part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 23 Do not drink water only, but take a little wine to help your digestion, since you are sick so often. 24 The sins of some people are plain to see, and their sins go ahead of them to judgment; but the sins of others are seen only later. 25 In the same way good deeds are plainly seen, and even those that are not so plain cannot be hidden.
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