Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 179

Jeremiah 7–12

Bible text(s)

Jeremiah Preaches in the Temple

1-3The 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. 4Stop 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. 6Stop taking advantage of aliens, orphans, and widows. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop worshipping other gods, for that will destroy you. 7If 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. 9You steal, murder, commit adultery, tell lies under oath, offer sacrifices to Baal, and worship gods that you had not known before. 10You do these things I hate, and then you come and stand in my presence, in my own Temple, and say, ‘We are safe!’ 11Do you think that my Temple is a hiding place for robbers? I have seen what you are doing. 12Go to Shiloh, the first place where I chose to be worshipped, and see what I did to it because of the sins of my people Israel. 13You 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. 14And 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 to you, I will do the same thing that I did to Shiloh. 15I will drive you out of my sight as I drove out your relatives, the people of Israel. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

The People's Disobedience

16The 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. 17Don't you see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18The 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 wine offerings to other gods, in order to hurt me. 19But am I really the one they are hurting? No, they are hurting themselves and bringing shame on themselves. 20And 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. 22I gave your ancestors no commands about burnt offerings or any other kinds of sacrifices, when I brought them out of Egypt. 23But 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 as I had commanded them, so that things would go well for them. 24But 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. 25From the day that your ancestors came out of Egypt until this very day, I have kept on sending my servants, the prophets, to you. 26Yet 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. 28You 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.

Sinful Deeds in the Valley of Hinnom

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. 31In the Valley of Hinnom 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. 32And so, the time will come when it will no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury people there because there will be nowhere else to bury them. 33The corpses will be food for the birds and wild animals, and there will be no one to scare them off. 34The 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.

Jeremiah 7GNBOpen in Bible reader

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. 2Instead 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 worshipped. 3And 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.”

Sin and Punishment

4The 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? 5Why then, my people, do you turn away from me without ever turning back? You cling to your idols and refuse to return to me. 6I listened carefully, but you did not speak the truth. Not one of you has been sorry for his wickedness; not one of you has asked, ‘What have I done wrong?’ Everyone keeps on going his own way, like a horse rushing into battle. 7Even 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. 8How can you say that you are wise, and that you know my laws? Look, the laws have been changed by dishonest scribes. 9Your wise men are put to shame; they are confused and trapped. They have rejected my words; what wisdom have they got now? 10So 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. 11They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well. 12My 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. 15We hoped for peace and a time of healing, but it was no use; terror came instead. 16Our 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.”

Jeremiah's Sorrow for his People

18My sorrow cannot be healed;

I am sick at heart.

19Listen! 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 worshipping your idols

and by bowing down to your useless foreign gods?”

20The people cry out,

“The summer is gone, the harvest is over,

but we have not been saved.”

21My heart has been crushed

because my people are crushed;

I mourn; I am completely dismayed.

22Is there no medicine in Gilead?

Are there no doctors there?

Why, then, have my people not been healed?

Jeremiah 8GNBOpen in Bible reader

1I wish my head were a well of water,

and my eyes a fountain of tears,

so that I could cry day and night

for my people who have been killed.

2I wish I had a place to stay in the desert

where I could get away from my people.

They are all unfaithful,

a mob of traitors.

3They are always ready to tell lies;

dishonesty instead of truth rules the land.

The LORD says,

“My people do one evil thing after another,

and do not acknowledge me as their God.”

4Everyone must be on guard against his friend,

and no one can trust his brother;

for every brother is as deceitful as Jacob,

and everyone slanders his friends.

5-6They all mislead their friends,

and no one tells the truth;

they have taught their tongues to lie

and will not give up their sinning.

They do one violent thing after another,

and one deceitful act follows another.

The LORD says that his people reject him.

7Because of this the LORD Almighty says,

“I will refine my people like metal

and put them to the test.

My people have done evil —

what else can I do with them?

8Their tongues are like deadly arrows;

they always tell lies.

Everyone speaks friendly words to his neighbour,

but is really setting a trap for him.

9Will I not punish them for these things?

Will I not take revenge on a nation like this?

I, the LORD, have spoken.”

10I said, “I will mourn for the mountains

and weep for the pastures,

because they have dried up,

and no one travels through them.

The sound of livestock is no longer heard;

birds and wild animals have fled and gone.”

11The LORD says, “I will make Jerusalem a pile of ruins,

a place where jackals live;

the cities of Judah will become a desert,

a place where no one lives.”

12I asked, “LORD, why is the land devastated and dry as a desert, so that no one travels through it? Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom have you explained it so that he can tell others?”

13The LORD answered, “This has happened because my people have abandoned the teaching that I gave them. They have not obeyed me or done what I told them. 14Instead, they have been stubborn and have worshipped the idols of Baal as their ancestors taught them to do. 15So then, listen to what I, the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, will do: I will give my people bitter plants to eat and poison to drink. 16I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have heard about, and I will send armies against them until I have completely destroyed them.”

The People of Jerusalem Cry Out for Help

17The LORD Almighty said,

“Think about what is happening!

Call for the mourners to come,

for the women who sing funeral songs.”

18The people said,

“Tell them to hurry and sing a funeral song for us,

until our eyes fill with tears,

and our eyelids are wet from crying.”

19Listen to the sound of crying in Zion,

“We are ruined!

We are completely disgraced!

We must leave our land;

our homes have been torn down.”

20I said,

“Listen to the LORD, you women,

and pay attention to his words.

Teach your daughters how to mourn,

and your friends how to sing a funeral song.

21Death has come in through our windows

and entered our palaces;

it has cut down the children in the streets

and the young men in the market places.

22Dead bodies are scattered everywhere,

like piles of manure on the fields,

like corn cut and left behind by the reapers,

corn that no one gathers.

This is what the LORD has told me to say.”

23The LORD says,

“The wise should not boast of their wisdom,

nor the strong of their strength,

nor the rich of their wealth.

24If anyone wants to boast,

he should boast that he knows and understands me,

because my love is constant,

and I do what is just and right.

These are the things that please me.

I, the LORD, have spoken.”

25-26The LORD says, “The time is coming when I will punish the people of Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and the desert people, who have their hair cut short. All these people are circumcised, but have not kept the covenant it symbolizes. None of these people and none of the people of Israel have kept my covenant.”

Jeremiah 9GNBOpen in Bible reader

Idolatry and True Worship

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 10GNBOpen in Bible reader

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 11GNBOpen in Bible reader

Jeremiah Questions the LORD

1LORD, 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.”

Jeremiah 12GNBOpen in Bible reader
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