1People of Israel, listen to the message that the LORD has for you. 2He says,
“Do not follow the ways of other nations;
do not be disturbed by unusual sights in the sky,
even though other nations are terrified.
3The religion of these people is worthless.
A tree is cut down in the forest;
it is carved by the tools of the woodcarver,
4and decorated with silver and gold.
It is fastened down with nails
to keep it from falling over.
5Such idols are like scarecrows in a field of melons;
they cannot speak;
they have to be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them:
they can cause you no harm,
and they can do you no good.”
6LORD, there is no one like you;
you are mighty,
and your name is great and powerful.
7Who would not honour you, the king of all nations?
You deserve to be honoured.
There is no one like you
among all the wise men of the nations
or among any of their kings.
8All of them are stupid and foolish.
What can they learn from wooden idols?
9Their idols are covered with silver from Spain
and with gold from Uphaz,
all the work of artists;
they are dressed in violet and purple cloth
woven by skilled weavers.
10But you, LORD, are the true God,
you are the living God
and the eternal king.
When you are angry, the world trembles;
the nations cannot endure your anger.
11(You people must tell them that the gods who did not make the earth and the sky will be destroyed. They will no longer exist anywhere on earth.)
A Hymn of Praise to God
12The LORD made the earth by his power;
by his wisdom he created the world
and stretched out the heavens.
13At his command the waters above the sky roar;
he brings clouds from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning flash in the rain
and sends the wind from his storeroom.
14At the sight of this, people feel stupid and senseless;
those who make idols are disillusioned,
because the gods they make are false and lifeless.
15They are worthless and should be despised;
they will be destroyed when the LORD comes to deal with them.
16The God of Jacob is not like them;
he is the one who made everything,
and he has chosen Israel to be his very own people.
The LORD Almighty is his name.
The Coming Exile
17People of Jerusalem, you are under siege! Gather up your belongings. 18The LORD is going to throw you out of this land; he is going to crush you until not one of you is left. The LORD has spoken.
19The people of Jerusalem cried out,
“How badly we are hurt!
Our wounds will not heal.
And we thought this was something we could endure!
20Our tents are ruined;
the ropes that held them have broken.
Our children have all gone away;
there is no one left to put up our tents again;
there is no one to hang their curtains.”
21I answered, “Our leaders are stupid;
they do not ask the LORD for guidance.
This is why they have failed,
and our people have been scattered.
22Listen! News has come!
There is a great commotion in a nation to the north;
its army will turn the cities of Judah into a desert,
a place where jackals live.”
23LORD, I know that no one is the master of his own destiny;
no person has control over his own life.
24Correct your people, LORD;
but do not be too hard on us
or punish us when you are angry;
that would be the end of us.
25Turn your anger on the nations that do not worship you
and on the people who reject you.
They have killed your people;
they have destroyed us completely
and left our country in ruins.
Jeremiah and the Covenant
1The LORD said to me, 2“Listen to the terms of the covenant. Tell the people of Judah and of Jerusalem 3that I, the LORD God of Israel, have placed a curse on everyone who does not obey the terms of this covenant. 4It is the covenant I made with their ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, the land that was like a blazing furnace to them. I told them to obey me and to do everything that I had commanded. I told them that if they obeyed, they would be my people and I would be their God. 5Then I would keep the promise I made to their ancestors that I would give them the rich and fertile land which they now have.”
I said, “Yes, LORD.”
6Then the LORD said to me, “Go to the cities of Judah and to the streets of Jerusalem. Proclaim my message there and tell the people to listen to the terms of the covenant and to obey them. 7When I brought their ancestors out of Egypt, I solemnly warned them to obey me, and I have kept on warning the people until this day. 8But they did not listen or obey. Instead, everyone continued to be as stubborn and evil as ever. I had commanded them to keep the covenant, but they refused. So I brought on them all the punishments described in it.”
9Then the LORD said to me, “The people of Judah and of Jerusalem are plotting against me. 10They have gone back to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to do what I said; they have worshipped other gods. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant that I made with their ancestors. 11So now, I, the LORD, warn them that I am going to bring destruction on them, and they will not escape. And when they cry out to me for help, I will not listen to them. 12Then the people of Judah and of Jerusalem will go to the gods to whom they offer sacrifices and will cry out to them for help. But those gods will not be able to save them when this destruction comes. 13The people of Judah have as many gods as they have cities, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem have set up as many altars for sacrifices to that disgusting god Baal as there are streets in the city. 14Jeremiah, don't pray to me or plead with me on behalf of these people. When they are in trouble and call to me for help, I will not listen to them.”
15The LORD says, “The people I love are doing evil things. What right have they to be in my Temple? Do they think they can prevent disaster by making promises and by offering animal sacrifices? Will that make them happy? 16I once called them a leafy olive tree, full of beautiful fruit; but now, with a roar like thunder I will set its leaves on fire and break its branches.
17“I, the LORD Almighty, planted Israel and Judah; but now I threaten them with disaster. They have brought this on themselves because they have done wrong; they have made me angry by offering sacrifices to Baal.”
A Plot against Jeremiah's Life
18The LORD informed me of the plots that my enemies were making against me. 19I was like a trusting lamb taken out to be killed, and I did not know that it was against me that they were planning evil things. They were saying, “Let's chop down the tree while it is still healthy; let's kill him so that no one will remember him any more.”
20Then I prayed, “Almighty LORD, you are a just judge; you test people's thoughts and feelings. I have placed my cause in your hands; so let me watch you take revenge on these people.”
21The people of Anathoth wanted me killed, and they told me that they would kill me if I kept on proclaiming the LORD's message. 22So the LORD Almighty said, “I will punish them! Their young men will be killed in war; their children will die of starvation. 23I have set a time for bringing disaster on the people of Anathoth, and when that time comes, none of them will survive.”
Jeremiah Questions the LORD
1“LORD, if I argued my case with you,
you would prove to be right.
Yet I must question you about matters of justice.
Why are the wicked so prosperous?
Why do dishonest people succeed?
2You plant them, and they take root;
they grow and bear fruit.
They always speak well of you,
yet they do not really care about you.
3But, LORD, you know me;
you see what I do,
and how I love you.
Drag these evil people away like sheep to be butchered;
guard them until it is time for them to be slaughtered.
4How long will our land be dry,
and the grass in every field be withered?
Animals and birds are dying
because of the wickedness of our people,
people who say, ‘God doesn't see what we are doing.’ ”
5The LORD said,
“Jeremiah, if you get tired racing against people,
how can you race against horses?
If you can't even stand up in open country,
how will you manage in the jungle by the Jordan?
6Even your relatives, members of your own family, have betrayed you;
they join in the attacks against you.
Do not trust them, even though they speak friendly words.”
The LORD's Sorrow because of his People
7The LORD says,
“I have abandoned Israel;
I have rejected my chosen nation.
I have given the people I love
into the power of their enemies.
8My chosen people have turned against me;
like a lion in the forest
they have roared at me,
and so I hate them.
9My chosen people are like a bird
attacked from all sides by hawks.
Call the wild animals
to come and join in the feast!
10Many foreign rulers have destroyed my vineyard;
they have trampled down my fields;
they have turned my lovely land into a desert.
11They have made it a wilderness;
it lies desolate before me.
The whole land has become a desert,
and no one cares.
12Across all the desert highlands
people have come to plunder.
I have sent war to destroy the entire land;
no one can live in peace.
13My people sowed wheat, but gathered weeds;
they have worked hard, but got nothing for it.
Because of my fierce anger
their crops have failed.”
The LORD's Promise to Israel's Neighbours
14The LORD says, “I have something to say about Israel's neighbours who have ruined the land I gave to my people Israel. I will take those wicked people away from their countries like an uprooted plant, and I will rescue Judah from them. 15But after I have taken them away, I will have mercy on them; I will bring each nation back to its own land and to its own country. 16If with all their hearts they will accept the religion of my people and will swear, ‘As the LORD lives’ — as they once taught my people to swear by Baal — then they will also be a part of my people and will prosper. 17But if any nation will not obey, then I will completely uproot it and destroy it. I, the LORD, have spoken.”