Jeremiah 4; Jeremiah 5; Jeremiah 6

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Jeremiah 4

1 "If you will return, Israel, then return to me," says the Lord. "If you will throw away your idols that I hate, then don't wander away from me.
2 If you say when you make a promise, 'As surely as the Lord lives,' and you can say it in a truthful, honest, and right way, then the nations will be blessed by him, and they will praise him for what he has done."
3 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem: "Plow your unplowed fields, and don't plant seeds among thorns.
4 Give yourselves to the service of the Lord, and decide to obey him, people of Judah and people of Jerusalem. If you don't, my anger will spread among you like a fire, and no one will be able to put it out, because of the evil you have done.
5 "Announce this message in Judah and say it in Jerusalem: 'Blow the trumpet throughout the country!' Shout out loud and say, 'Come together! Let's all escape to the strong, walled cities!'
6 Raise the signal flag toward Jerusalem! Run for your lives, and don't wait, because I am bringing disaster from the north There will be terrible destruction."
7 A lion has come out of his den; a destroyer of nations has begun to march. He has left his home to destroy your land. Your towns will be destroyed with no one left to live in them.
8 So put on rough cloth, show how sad you are, and cry loudly. has not turned away from us.
9 "When this happens," says the Lord, "the king and officers will lose their courage. The priests will be terribly afraid, and the prophets will be shocked!"
10 Then I said, "Lord God, you have tricked the people of Judah and Jerusalem. You said, 'You will have peace,' but now the sword is pointing at our throats!"
11 At that time this message will be given to Judah and Jerusalem: "A hot wind blows from the bare hilltops of the desert toward the Lord's people. It is not a gentle wind to separate grain from chaff.
12 I feel a stronger wind than that. Now even I will announce judgments against the people of Judah."
13 Look! The enemy rises up like a cloud, and his chariots come like a tornado. His horses are faster than eagles.
14 People of Jerusalem, clean the evil from your hearts so that you can be saved. Don't continue making evil plans.
15 A voice from Dan makes an announcement and brings bad news from the mountains of Ephraim.
16 "Report this to the nations. 'Invaders are coming from a faraway country, shouting words of war against the cities of Judah.
17 The enemy has surrounded Jerusalem as men guard a field, because Judah turned against me,'" says the Lord.
18 "The way you have lived and acted has brought this trouble to you. This is your punishment. How terrible it is! The pain stabs your heart!"
19 Oh, how I hurt! How I hurt! I am bent over in pain. Oh, the torture in my heart! My heart is pounding inside me. I cannot keep quiet, because I have heard the sound of the trumpet. I have heard the shouts of war.
20 Disaster follows disaster; the whole country has been destroyed. My tents are destroyed in only a moment. My curtains are torn down quickly.
21 How long must I look at the war flag? How long must I listen to the war trumpet?
22 The Lord says, "My people are foolish. They do not know me. They are stupid children; they don't understand. They are skillful at doing evil, but they don't know how to do good."
23 I looked at the earth, and it was empty and had no shape. I looked at the sky, and its light was gone.
24 I looked at the mountains, and they were shaking. All the hills were trembling.
25 I looked, and there were no people. Every bird in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the good, rich land had become a desert. All its towns had been destroyed by the Lord and his great anger.
27 This is what the Lord says: "All the land will be ruined, but I will not completely destroy it.
28 So the people in the land will cry loudly, and the sky will grow dark, because I have spoken and will not change my mind. I have made a decision, and I will not change it."
29 At the sound of the horsemen and the archers, all the people in the towns run away. They hide in the thick bushes and climb up into the rocks. All of the cities of Judah are empty; no one lives in them.
30 Judah, you destroyed nation, what are you doing? Why do you put on your finest dress and decorate yourself with gold jewelry? Why do you put color around your eyes? You make yourself beautiful, but it is all useless. Your lovers hate you; they want to kill you.
31 I hear a cry like a woman having a baby, distress like a woman having her first child. It is the sound of Jerusalem gasping for breath. She lifts her hands in prayer and says, "Oh! I am about to faint before my murderers!"
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jeremiah 5

1 The Lord says, "Walk up and down the streets of Jerusalem. Look around and discover these things. Search the public squares of the city. If you can find one person who does honest things, who searches for the truth, I will forgive this city.
2 Although the people say, 'As surely as the Lord lives!' they don't really mean it."
3 Lord, don't you look for truth in people? You struck the people of Judah, but they didn't feel any pain. You crushed them, but they refused to learn what is right. They became more stubborn than a rock; they refused to turn back to God.
4 But I thought, "These are only the poor, foolish people. and what their God wants them to do.
5 So I will go to the leaders of Judah and talk to them. and know what God wants them to do." But even the leaders had all joined together to break away from the Lord; they had broken their ties with him.
6 So a lion from the forest will attack them. A wolf from the desert will kill them. A leopard is waiting for them near their towns. It will tear to pieces anyone who comes out of the city, because the people of Judah have sinned greatly. many times.
7 The Lord said, "Tell me why I should forgive you. Your children have left me and have made promises to idols that are not gods at all. I gave your children everything they needed, but they still were like an unfaithful wife to me. They spent much time in houses of prostitutes.
8 They are like well-fed horses filled with sexual desire; each one wants another man's wife.
9 Shouldn't I punish the people of Judah for doing these things?" says the Lord. "Shouldn't I give a nation such as this the punishment it deserves?
10 "Go along and cut down Judah's vineyards, but do not completely destroy them. Cut off all her people as if they were branches, because they do not belong to the Lord.
11 The families of Israel and Judah have been completely unfaithful to me," says the Lord.
12 Those people have lied about the Lord and said, "He will not do anything to us! Nothing bad will happen to us! We will never see war or hunger!
13 The prophets are like an empty wind; the word of God is not in them. Let the bad things they say happen to them."
14 So this is what the Lord God All-Powerful says: "The people said I would not punish them. So, the words I give you will be like fire, and these people will be like wood that it burns up.
15 Listen, family of Israel," says the Lord, "I will soon bring a nation from far away to attack you. It is an old nation that has lasted a long time. The people there speak a language you do not know; you cannot understand what they say.
16 Their arrows bring death. All their people are strong warriors.
17 They will eat your crops and your food. They will eat your sons and daughters. They will eat your flocks and herds. They will eat your grapes and figs. They will destroy with their swords the strong, walled cities you trust.
18 "Yet even then," says the Lord, "I will not destroy you completely.
19 When the people of Judah ask, 'Why has the Lord our God done all these terrible things to us?' then give them this answer: 'You have left the Lord and served foreign idols in your own land. So now you will serve foreigners in a land that does not belong to you.'
20 "Announce this message to the family of Jacob, and tell it to the nation of Judah:
21 Hear this message, you foolish people who have no sense. They have eyes, but they don't really see. They have ears, but they don't really listen.
22 Surely you are afraid of me," says the Lord. "You should shake with fear in my presence. I am the one who made the beaches to be a border for the sea, a border the water can never go past. The waves may pound the beach, but they can't win over it. They may roar, but they cannot go beyond it.
23 But the people of Judah are stubborn and have turned against me. They have turned aside and gone away from me.
24 They do not say to themselves, 'We should fear the Lord our God, who gives us autumn and spring rains in their seasons, who makes sure we have the harvest at the right time.'
25 But your evil has kept away both rain and harvest. Your sins have kept you from enjoying good things.
26 There are wicked men among my people. Like those who make nets for catching birds, they set their traps to catch people.
27 Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of lies. They have become rich and powerful.
28 They have grown big and fat. There is no end to the evil things they do. They won't plead the case of the orphan or help the poor be judged fairly.
29 Shouldn't I punish the people of Judah for doing these things?" says the Lord. "Shouldn't I give a nation such as this the punishment it deserves?
30 "A terrible and shocking thing has happened in the land of Judah:
31 The prophets speak lies, and the priests take power into their own hands, and my people love it this way. But what will you do when the end comes?
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jeremiah 6

1 "Run for your lives, people of Benjamin! Run away from Jerusalem! Disaster is coming from the north; terrible destruction is coming to you.
2 Jerusalem, I will destroy you, you who are fragile and gentle.
3 Shepherds with their flocks will come against Jerusalem. They will set up their tents all around her, each shepherd taking care of his own section."
4 They say, "Get ready to fight against Jerusalem! But it is already getting late; the evening shadows are growing long.
5 So get up! We will attack at night.
6 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "Cut down the trees around Jerusalem, and build an attack ramp to the top of its walls. This city must be punished. Inside it is nothing but slavery.
7 Jerusalem pours out her evil as a well pours out its water. The sounds of violence and destruction are heard within her. I can see the sickness and hurts of Jerusalem.
8 Listen to this warning, Jerusalem, or I will turn my back on you and make your land an empty desert where no one can live."
9 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "Gather the few people of Israel who are left alive, as you would gather the last grapes on a grapevine. Check each vine again, like someone who gathers grapes."
10 To whom can I speak? Whom can I warn? Who will listen to me? The people of Israel have closed ears, so they cannot hear my warnings. They don't like the word of the Lord; they don't want to listen to it!
11 But I am full of the anger of the Lord, and I am tired of holding it in. "Pour out my anger on the children who play in the street and on the young men gathered together. A husband and his wife will both be caught in his anger, as will the very old.
12 Their houses will be turned over to others, along with their fields and wives, because I will raise my hand and punish the people of Judah," says the Lord.
13 "Everyone, from the least important to the greatest, is greedy for money. Even the prophets and priests all tell lies.
14 They tried to heal my people's serious injuries as if they were small wounds. They said, 'It's all right, it's all right.' But really, it is not all right.
15 They should be ashamed of the terrible way they act, but they are not ashamed at all. They don't even know how to blush about their sins. So they will fall, along with everyone else. They will be thrown to the ground when I punish them," says the Lord.
16 This is what the Lord says: "Stand where the roads cross and look. Ask where the old way is, where the good way is, and walk on it. If you do, you will find rest for yourselves. But they have said, 'We will not walk on the good way.'
17 I set watchmen over you and told you, 'Listen for the sound of the war trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.'
18 So listen, all you nations, and pay attention, you witnesses. Watch what I will do to the people of Judah.
19 Hear this, people of the earth: I am going to bring disaster to the people of Judah because of the evil they plan. They have not listened to my messages and have rejected my teachings.
20 Why do you bring me offerings of incense from the land of Sheba? Why do you bring me sweet-smelling cane from a faraway land? Your burnt offerings will not be accepted; your sacrifices do not please me."
21 So this is what the Lord says: "I will put problems in front of Judah. Fathers and sons will stumble over them together. Neighbors and friends will die."
22 This is what the Lord says: "Look, an army is coming from the land of the north; a great nation is coming from the far sides of the earth.
23 The soldiers carry bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring ocean when they ride their horses. That army is coming lined up for battle, ready to attack you, Jerusalem."
24 We have heard the news about that army and are helpless from fear. We are gripped by our pain, like a woman having a baby.
25 Don't go out into the fields or walk down the roads, because the enemy has swords. There is terror on every side.
26 My people, put on rough cloth and roll in the ashes to show how sad you are. Cry loudly for those who are dead, as if your only son were dead, because the destroyer will soon come against us.
27 "Jeremiah, I have made you like a worker who tests metal, and my people are like the ore. You must observe their ways and test them.
28 All my people have turned against me and are stubborn. They go around telling lies about others. They are like bronze and iron that became covered with rust. They all act dishonestly.
29 The fire is fanned to make it hotter, but the lead does not melt. The pure metal does not come out; the evil is not removed from my people.
30 My people will be called rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them."
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.