Jeremiah 1; Jeremiah 2; Jeremiah 3

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Jeremiah 1

1 These are the words Jeremiah received from the Lord. He was the son of Hilkiah. Jeremiah was one of the priests at Anathoth. That's a town in the territory of Benjamin.
2 A message came to Jeremiah from the Lord. It came in the 13th year that Josiah was king over Judah. Josiah was the son of Amon.
3 The LORD's message also came to Jeremiah during the whole time Jehoiakim was king over Judah. Jehoiakim was the son of Josiah. The LORD continued to speak to Jeremiah until the fifth month of the 11th year that Zedekiah was king over Judah. That's when the people of Jerusalem were forced to leave their country. Zedekiah was the son of Josiah. Here is what Jeremiah said.
4 A message came to me from the Lord. He said,
5 "Before I formed you in your mother's body I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart to serve me. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations."
6 "You are my LORD and King," I said. "I don't know how to speak. I'm only a child."
7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I'm only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to. You must say everything I command you to say.
8 Do not be afraid of the people I send you to. I am with you. I will save you," announces the Lord.
9 Then the LORD reached out his hand. He touched my mouth and spoke to me. He said, "I have put my words in your mouth.
10 Today I am appointing you to speak to nations and kingdoms. I want you to pull them up by the roots and tear them down. I want you to destroy them and crush them. But I also want you to build them up and plant them."
11 A message came to me from the Lord. He asked me, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" "The branch of an almond tree," I replied.
12 The LORD said to me, "You have seen correctly. I am watching to see that my word comes true."
13 Another message came to me from the Lord. He asked me, "What do you see?" "A pot that has boiling water in it," I answered. "It's leaning toward us from the north."
14 The LORD said to me, "Something very bad will be poured out on everyone who lives in this land. It will come from the north.
15 I am about to send for all of the armies in the northern kingdoms," announces the Lord. "Their kings will come to Jerusalem. They will set up their thrones at the very gates of the city. They will attack all of the walls that surround the city. They will go to war against all of the towns of Judah.
16 I will judge my people. They have done many evil things. They have deserted me. They have burned incense to other gods. They have worshiped the gods their own hands have made.
17 "So get ready! Stand up! Tell them everything I command you to. Do not let them terrify you. If you do, I will terrify you in front of them.
18 Today I have made you like a city that has a high wall around it. I have made you like an iron pillar and a bronze wall. Now you can stand up against the whole land. You can stand against the kings and officials of Judah. You can stand against its priests and its people.
19 They will fight against you. But they will not overcome you. I am with you. I will save you," announces the Lord.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.

Jeremiah 2

1 A message came to me from the Lord. He said,
2 "Go. Announce my message to the people in Jerusalem. I want everyone to hear it. Tell them, " 'I remember how faithful you were to me when you were young. You loved me as if you were my bride. You followed me through the desert. Nothing had been planted there.
3 Your people were holy to me. They were the first share of my harvest. All those who destroyed them were held guilty. And trouble came to their enemies,' " announces the Lord.
4 People of Jacob, hear the LORD's message. Listen, all you tribes of Israel.
5 The LORD says, "What did your people find wrong with me? Why did they wander so far away from me? They worshiped worthless statues of gods. Then they themselves became worthless.
6 They did not ask, 'Where is the Lord? He brought us up out of Egypt. He led us through a dry and empty land. He guided us through deserts and deep valleys. It was a land of darkness where there wasn't any rain. No one lived or traveled there.'
7 But I brought you into a land that has rich soil. I gave you its fruit and its finest food. In spite of that, you polluted my land. You turned it into something I hate.
8 The priests did not ask, 'Where is the Lord?' Those who taught my law did not know me. The leaders refused to obey me. The prophets prophesied in the name of Baal. They worshiped worthless statues of gods.
9 "So I am bringing charges against you again," announces the Lord. "And I will bring charges against your children's children.
10 Go over to the coasts of the western nations and look. Send people to the land of Kedar and have them look closely. See if there has ever been anything like this.
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods? Actually, they are not even gods at all. But my people have traded away their glorious God. They have traded me for worthless statues of gods.
12 Sky above, be shocked over that. Tremble with horror," announces the Lord.
13 "My people have sinned twice. They have deserted me, even though I am the spring of water that gives life. And they have dug their own wells. But those wells are broken. They can't hold any water.
14 Are you people of Israel servants? You were not born as slaves, were you? Then why have you been carried off like stolen goods?
15 Lions have roared. They have growled at you. They have destroyed your land. Your towns are burned and deserted.
16 The men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved your heads to dishonor you.
17 Haven't you brought that on yourselves? I am the LORD your God, but you deserted me. You left me even while I was leading you.
18 Why do you go to Egypt to drink water from the Shihor River? Why do you go to Assyria to drink from the Euphrates River?
19 You will be punished because you have sinned. You will be corrected for turning away from me. I am the LORD your God. If you desert me, bad things will happen to you. If you do not respect me, you will suffer bitterly. I want you to understand that," announces the LORD who rules over all.
20 "Long ago you broke off the yoke I put on you. You tore off the ropes I tied you up with. You said, 'I won't serve you!' In fact, on every high hill you lay down like a prostitute. You worshiped other gods under every green tree.
21 You were like a good vine when I planted you. You were a healthy plant. Then how did you turn against me? How did you become a bad, wild vine?
22 You might wash yourself with baking soda. You might use plenty of soap. But I can still see the stains your guilt covers you with," announces the LORD and King.
23 "You say, 'I am "clean." I haven't followed the gods that are named after Baal.' How can you say that? Remember how you acted in the valley. Consider what you have done. You are like a female camel running quickly here and there.
24 You are like a wild donkey that lives in the desert. She smells the wind when she longs for a mate. Who can hold her back? The males that run after her do not need to wear themselves out. At mating time they will easily find her.
25 Do not run after other gods until your sandals are worn out and your throat is dry. But you said, 'It's no use! I love those gods. I must go after them.'
26 "A thief is dishonored when he is caught. And you people of Israel are filled with shame. Your kings and officials are dishonored. So are your priests and your prophets.
27 You say to a piece of wood, 'You are my father.' You say to a stone, 'You are my mother.' You have turned your backs to me. You refuse to look at me. But when you are in trouble, you say, 'Come and save us!'
28 So where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come when you are in trouble! Let them save you if they can! Judah, you have as many gods as you have towns.
29 "Why do you bring charges against me? All of you have refused to obey me," announces the Lord.
30 "I punished your people. But it did not do them any good. They did not pay attention when they were corrected. You have killed your prophets with swords. You have swallowed them up like a hungry lion.
31 "You who are now living, consider my message. I am saying, "Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been like a land of deep darkness? Why do my people say, 'We are free to wander. We won't come to you anymore'?
32 Does a young woman forget all about her jewelry? Does a bride forget her wedding jewels? But my people have forgotten me more days than anyone can count.
33 You are very skilled at chasing after love! Even the worst of women can learn from how you act.
34 The blood of those you have killed is on your clothes. You have destroyed poor people who were not guilty. You did not catch them in the act of breaking in. In spite of all of that,
35 you say, 'I'm not guilty of doing anything wrong. The LORD isn't angry with me.' But I will judge you. That is because you say, 'I haven't sinned.'
36 Why do you keep on changing your ways so much? Assyria did not help you. And Egypt will not help you either.
37 So you will also leave Egypt with your hands tied together above your heads. I have turned my back on those you trust. They will not help you.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.

Jeremiah 3

1 "Suppose a man divorces his wife. What if she then gets married to another man? Should her first husband return to her again? If he does, won't the land become completely 'unclean'? People of Israel, you have lived like a prostitute. You have loved many other gods. So do you think you can return to me now?" announces the Lord.
2 "Look up at the bare hilltops. Is there any place where you have not committed adultery with other gods? By the side of the road you sat waiting for lovers. You sat there like someone who wanders in the desert. You have polluted the land. You are like a sinful prostitute.
3 So I have held the showers back. I have kept the spring rains from falling. But you still have the bold face of a prostitute. You refuse to blush with shame.
4 You have just now called out to me. You said, 'My Father, you have been my friend ever since I was young.
5 Will you always be angry with me? Will your anger continue forever?' That is how you talk. But you do all of the evil things you can."
6 During the time Josiah was king, the LORD spoke to me. He said, "Have you seen what the people of Israel have done? They have not been faithful to me. They have committed adultery with other gods. They worshiped them on every high hill and under every green tree.
7 "I thought that after they had done all of those things, they would return to me. But they did not. Their sister nation Judah saw it. And they were not faithful to me either.
8 "I gave Israel their letter of divorce. I sent them away because they were unfaithful to me so many times. But I saw that their sister nation Judah did not have any respect for me. They were not faithful to me either. They also went out and committed adultery with other gods.
9 "Israel was not faithful to me, but that did not bother them at all. They made the land 'unclean.' They worshiped gods that were made out of stone and wood.
10 In spite of all that, their sister Judah did not come back to me. They were not faithful to me either. They did not return with all their heart. They only pretended to," announces the Lord.
11 The LORD said to me, "Israel and Judah have not been faithful to me. But Israel was not as bad as Judah was.
12 "Go. Announce this message to the people in the north. Tell them, " 'Israel, you have not been faithful,' announces the Lord. 'Return to me. Then I will look on you with favor again. My love is faithful,' announces the Lord. 'I will not be angry with you forever.
13 Admit that you are guilty of doing what is wrong. You have refused to obey me. I am the LORD your God. You have committed adultery with other gods. You worshiped them under every green tree. And you have not obeyed me,' " announces the Lord.
14 "You people have not been faithful," announces the Lord. "Return to me. I am your husband. I will choose one of you from each town. I will choose two from each territory. And I will bring you to the city of Zion.
15 "Then I will give you shepherds who are dear to my heart. Their knowledge and understanding will help them lead you.
16 In those days your numbers will increase greatly in the land," announces the Lord. "Then people will not talk about the ark of the covenant of the LORD anymore. It will never enter their minds. They will not remember it. The ark will not be missed. And another one will not be made.
17 "At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord. All of the nations will gather together there. They will go there to honor me. They will no longer do what their stubborn and evil hearts want them to do.
18 "In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel. Together they will come from a land in the north. They will come to the land I gave to your people long ago. I wanted them to have it as their very own.
19 "I myself said, " 'I would gladly treat you like my children. I would give you a pleasant land. It is the most beautiful land any nation could have.' I thought you would call me 'Father.' I hoped you would always follow me.
20 But you people are like a woman who is not faithful to her husband. Israel, you have not been faithful to me," announces the Lord.
21 A cry is heard on the bare hilltops. The people of Israel are sobbing and praying. That's because their lives are so twisted. They've forgotten the LORD their God.
22 "You have not been faithful," says the Lord. "Return to me. I will heal you. Then you will not turn away from me anymore." "Yes," the people say. "We will come to you. You are the LORD our God.
23 The gods we worship on the hills and mountains are useless. You are the LORD our God. You are the only one who can save us.
24 From our earliest years shameful gods have eaten up everything our people worked for. They have eaten up our flocks and herds. They've destroyed our sons and daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame. Let our dishonor cover us. You are the LORD our God. But we have sinned against you. We and our people before us have sinned. We haven't obeyed you from our earliest years until now."
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.