Jeremiah 7; Jeremiah 8; Jeremiah 9

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Jeremiah 7

1 This is the word that the Lord spoke to Jeremiah:
2 "Stand at the gate of the Temple and preach this message there: "'Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of the nation of Judah! All you who come through these gates to worship the Lord, listen to this message!
3 This is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: Change your lives and do what is right! Then I will let you live in this place.
4 Don't trust the lies of people who say, "This is the Temple of the Lord. This is the Temple of the Lord. This is the Temple of the Lord!"
5 You must change your lives and do what is right. Be fair to each other.
6 You must not be hard on strangers, orphans, and widows. Don't kill innocent people in this place! Don't follow other gods, or they will ruin your lives.
7 If you do these things, I will let you live in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.
8 "'But look, you are trusting lies, which is useless.
9 Will you steal and murder and be guilty of adultery? Will you falsely accuse other people? Will you burn incense to the god Baal and follow other gods you have not known?
10 If you do that, do you think you can come before me and stand in this place where I have chosen to be worshiped? Do you think you can say, "We are safe!" when you do all these hateful things?
11 This place where I have chosen to be worshiped is nothing more to you than a hideout for robbers. I have been watching you, says the Lord.
12 "'You people of Judah, go now to the town of Shiloh, where I first made a place to be worshiped. See what I did to it because of the evil things the people of Israel had done.
13 You people of Judah have done all these evil things too, says the Lord. I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen to me. I called you, but you did not answer.
14 So I will destroy the place where I have chosen to be worshiped in Jerusalem. You trust in that place, which I gave to you and your ancestors, but I will destroy it just as I destroyed Shiloh.
15 I will push you away from me just as I pushed away your relatives, the people of Israel!'
16 "As for you, Jeremiah, don't pray for these people. Don't cry out for them or ask anything for them or beg me to help them, because I will not listen to you.
17 Don't you see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?
18 The children gather wood, and the fathers use the wood to make a fire. The women make the dough for cakes of bread, and they offer them to the Queen Goddess. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to make me angry.
19 But I am not the one the people of Judah are really hurting, says the Lord. They are only hurting themselves and bringing shame upon themselves.
20 "'So this is what the Lord God says: I will pour out my anger on this place, on people and animals, on the trees in the field and the crops in the ground. My anger will be like a hot fire that no one can put out.
21 "'This is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: Offer burnt offerings along with your other sacrifices, and eat the meat yourselves!
22 When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, I did not speak to them and give them commands only about burnt offerings and sacrifices.
23 I also gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Do all that I command so that good things will happen to you.
24 But your ancestors did not listen or pay attention to me. They were stubborn and did whatever their evil hearts wanted. They went backward, not forward.
25 Since the day your ancestors left Egypt, I have sent my servants, the prophets, again and again to you.
26 But your ancestors did not listen or pay attention to me. They were very stubborn and did more evil than their ancestors.'
27 "Jeremiah, you will tell all these things to the people of Judah, but they will not listen to you. You will call to them, but they will not answer you.
28 So say to them, 'This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God. These people do nothing when I correct them. They do not tell the truth; it has disappeared from their lips.
29 "'Cut off your hair and throw it away. Go up to the bare hilltop and cry out, because the Lord has rejected these people. He has turned his back on them, and in his anger will punish them.
30 The people of Judah have done what I said was evil, says the Lord. They have set up their hateful idols in the place where I have chosen to be worshiped and have made it unclean.
31 The people of Judah have built places of worship at Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. There they burned their own sons and daughters as sacrifices, something I never commanded. It never even entered my mind.
32 So, I warn you. The days are coming, says the Lord, when people will not call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom anymore. They will call it the Valley of Killing. They will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no room to bury anyone else.
33 Then the bodies of the dead will become food for the birds of the sky and for the wild animals. There will be no one left alive to chase them away.
34 I will end the happy sounds of the bride and bridegroom. There will be no happy sounds in the cities of Judah or in the streets of Jerusalem, because the land will become an empty desert!
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jeremiah 8

1 "'The Lord says: At that time they will remove from their tombs the bones of Judah's kings and officers, priests and prophets, and the people of Jerusalem.
2 The bones will be spread on the ground under the sun, moon, and stars that the people loved and served and went after and searched for and worshiped. No one will gather up the bones and bury them. So they will be like dung thrown on the ground.
3 I will force the people of Judah to leave their homes and their land. Those of this evil family who are not dead will wish they were, says the Lord All-Powerful.'
4 "Say to the people of Judah: 'This is what the Lord says: When people fall down, don't they get up again? And when someone goes the wrong way, doesn't he turn back?
5 Why, then, have the people of Jerusalem gone the wrong way and not turned back? They believe their own lies and refuse to turn around and come back.
6 I have listened to them very carefully, but they do not say what is right. They do not feel sorry about their wicked ways, saying, "What have I done?" Each person goes his own way, like a horse charging into a battle.
7 Even the birds in the sky know the right times to do things. The storks, doves, swifts, and thrushes know when it is time to migrate. But my people don't know what the Lord wants them to do.
8 "'You keep saying, "We are wise, because we have the teachings of the Lord." But actually, those who explain the Scriptures have written lies with their pens.
9 These wise men refused to listen to the word of the Lord, so they are not really wise at all. They will be ashamed. They will be shocked and trapped.
10 So I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. Everyone, from the least important to the greatest, is greedy for money. Even the prophets and priests all tell lies.
11 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.
12 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.
13 "'I will take away their crops, says the Lord. There will be no grapes on the vine and no figs on the fig tree. Even the leaves will dry up and die. I will take away what I gave them.'"
14 "Why are we just sitting here? Let's get together! We have sinned against the Lord, so he has given us poisoned water to drink. Come, let's run to the strong, walled cities. The Lord our God has decided that we must die, so let's die there.
15 We hoped to have peace, but nothing good has come. We hoped for a time when he would heal us, but only terror has come.
16 From the land of Dan, the snorting of the enemy's horses is heard. The ground shakes from the neighing of their large horses. They have come and destroyed the land and everything in it, the city and all who live there."
17 "Look! I am sending poisonous snakes to attack you. These snakes cannot be charmed, and they will bite you," says the Lord.
18 God, you are my comfort when I am very sad and when I am afraid.
19 Listen to the sound of my people. They cry from a faraway land: "Isn't the Lord still in Jerusalem? But God says, "Why did the people make me angry by worshiping idols, useless foreign idols?"
20 And the people say, "Harvest time is over; summer has ended, and we have not been saved."
21 Because my people are crushed, I am crushed. I cry loudly and am afraid for them.
22 Isn't there balm in the land of Gilead? Isn't there a doctor there? So why aren't the hurts of my people healed?
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jeremiah 9

1 I wish my head were like a spring of water and my eyes like a fountain of tears! Then I could cry day and night for my people who have been killed.
2 I wish I had a place in the desert -- a house where travelers spend the night -- so I could leave my people. I could go away from them, because they are all unfaithful to God; they are all turning against him.
3 "They use their tongues like a bow, shooting lies from their mouths like arrows. Lies, not truth, have grown strong in the land. They go from one evil thing to another. They do not know who I am," says the Lord.
4 "Watch out for your friends, and don't trust your own relatives, because every relative is a cheater, and every friend tells lies about you.
5 Everyone lies to his friend, and no one speaks the truth. tongues to lie. They have become tired from sinning.
6 Jeremiah, you live in the middle of lies. With their lies the people refuse to know me," says the Lord.
7 So this is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "I will test the people of Judah as a person tests metal in a fire. I have no other choice, because my people have sinned.
8 Their tongues are like sharp arrows. Their mouths speak lies. Everyone speaks nicely to his neighbor, but he is secretly planning to attack him.
9 Shouldn't I punish the people for doing this?" says the Lord. "Shouldn't I give a nation like this the punishment it deserves?"
10 I, Jeremiah, will cry loudly for the mountains and sing a funeral song for the empty fields. They are empty, and no one passes through. The mooing of cattle cannot be heard. The birds have flown away, and the animals are gone.
11 "I, the Lord, will make the city of Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a home for wild dogs. so no one can live there."
12 What person is wise enough to understand these things? Is there someone who has been taught by the Lord who can explain them? Why was the land ruined? Why has it been made like an empty desert where no one goes?
13 The Lord answered, "It is because Judah quit following my teachings that I gave them. They have not obeyed me or done what I told them to do.
14 Instead, they were stubborn and followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them to do.
15 So this is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: "I will soon make the people of Judah eat bitter food and drink poisoned water.
16 I will scatter them through other nations that they and their ancestors never knew about. I will chase the people of Judah with the sword until they are all killed."
17 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "Now, think about these things! Call for the women who cry at funerals to come. Send for those women who are good at that job.
18 Let them come quickly and cry loudly for us. Then our eyes will fill with tears, and streams of water will flow from our eyelids.
19 The sound of loud crying is heard from Jerusalem: 'We are truly ruined! We are truly ashamed! We must leave our land, because our houses are in ruins.'"
20 Now, women of Judah, listen to the word of the Lord; open your ears to hear the words of his mouth. Teach your daughters how to cry loudly. Teach one another a funeral song.
21 Death has climbed in through our windows and has entered our strong cities. Death has taken away our children who play in the streets and the young men who meet in the city squares.
22 Say, "This is what the Lord says: 'The dead bodies of people will lie in the open field like dung. They will lie like grain a farmer has cut, but there will be no one to gather them.'"
23 This is what the Lord says: "The wise must not brag about their wisdom. The strong must not brag about their strength. The rich must not brag about their money.
24 But if someone wants to brag, let him brag that he understands and knows me. Let him brag that I am the Lord, and that I am kind and fair, and that I do things that are right on earth. This kind of bragging pleases me," says the Lord.
25 The Lord says, "The time is coming when I will punish all those who are circumcised only in the flesh:
26 the people of Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and the desert people who cut their hair short. The men in all those countries are not circumcised. And the whole family of Israel does not give itself to serving me."
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.