Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 180

Jeremiah 13–17, Psalm 49

Bible text(s)

The Linen Shorts

1The LORD told me to go and buy myself some linen shorts and to put them on; but he told me not to put them in water. 2So I bought them and put them on. 3Then the LORD spoke to me again, and said, 4“Go to the River Euphrates and hide the shorts in a hole in the rocks.” 5So I went and hid them near the Euphrates.

6Some time later the LORD told me to go back to the Euphrates and get the shorts. 7So I went back, and when I found the place where I had hidden them, I saw that they were ruined and were no longer any good.

8Then the LORD spoke to me again. He said, 9“This is how I will destroy the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10These evil people have refused to obey me. They have been as stubborn and wicked as ever, and have worshipped and served other gods. So then, they will become like these shorts that are no longer any good. 11Just as shorts fit tightly round the waist, so I intended all the people of Israel and Judah to hold tightly to me. I did this so that they would be my people and would bring praise and honour to my name; but they would not obey me.”

The Wine Jar

12The LORD God said to me, “Jeremiah, tell the people of Israel that every wine jar should be filled with wine. They will answer that they know every wine jar should be filled with wine. 13Then tell them that I, the LORD, am going to fill the people in this land with wine until they are drunk: the kings, who are David's descendants, the priests, the prophets, and all the people of Jerusalem. 14Then I will smash them like jars against one another, old and young alike. No pity, compassion, or mercy will stop me from killing them.”

Jeremiah Warns against Pride

15People of Israel, the LORD has spoken!

Be humble and listen to him.

16Honour the LORD, your God,

before he brings darkness,

and you stumble on the mountains;

before he turns into deep darkness

the light you hoped for.

17If you will not listen,

I will cry in secret because of your pride;

I will cry bitterly, and my tears will flow

because the LORD's people have been taken away as captives.

18The LORD said to me, “Tell the king and his mother to come down from their thrones, because their beautiful crowns have fallen from their heads. 19The towns of southern Judah are under siege; no one can get through to them. All the people of Judah have been taken away into exile.”

20Jerusalem, look! Your enemies are coming down from the north! Where are the people entrusted to your care, your people you were so proud of? 21What will you say when people you thought were your friends conquer you and rule over you? You will be in pain like a woman giving birth. 22If you ask why all this has happened to you — why your clothes have been torn off and you have been raped — it is because your sin is so terrible. 23Can a Nubian change the colour of his skin, or a leopard remove its spots? If they could, then you that do nothing but evil could learn to do what is right. 24The LORD will scatter you like straw that is blown away by the desert wind. 25He has said that this will be your fate. This is what he has decided to do with you, because you have forgotten him and have trusted in false gods. 26The LORD himself will strip off your clothes and expose you to shame. 27He has seen you do the things he hates. He has seen you go after pagan gods on the hills and in the fields, like a man lusting after his neighbour's wife or like a stallion after a mare. People of Jerusalem, you are doomed! When will you ever be pure?

Jeremiah 13GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Terrible Drought

1The LORD said to me concerning the drought,

2“Judah is in mourning;

its cities are dying,

its people lie on the ground in sorrow,

and Jerusalem cries out for help.

3The rich people send their servants for water;

they go to the cisterns,

but find no water;

they come back with their jars empty.

Discouraged and confused,

they hide their faces.

4Because there is no rain

and the ground is dried up,

the farmers are sick at heart;

they hide their faces.

5In the field the mother deer

abandons her newborn fawn

because there is no grass.

6The wild donkeys stand on the hilltops

and pant for breath like jackals;

their eyesight fails them

because they have no food.

7My people cry out to me,

‘Even though our sins accuse us,

help us, LORD, as you have promised.

We have turned away from you many times;

we have sinned against you.

8You are Israel's only hope;

you are the one who saves us from disaster.

Why are you like a stranger in our land,

like a traveller who stays for only one night?

9Why are you like someone taken by surprise,

like a soldier powerless to help?

Surely, LORD, you are with us!

We are your people;

do not abandon us.’ ”

10The LORD says about these people, “They love to run away from me, and they will not control themselves. So I am not pleased with them. I will remember the wrongs they have done and punish them because of their sins.”

11The LORD said to me, “Do not ask me to help these people. 12Even if they fast, I will not listen to their cry for help; and even if they offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not be pleased with them. Instead, I will kill them in war and by starvation and disease.”

13Then I said, “Sovereign LORD, you know that the prophets are telling the people that there will be no war or starvation, because you have promised, they say, that there will be only peace in our land.”

14But the LORD replied, “The prophets are telling lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I give them any orders or speak one word to them. The visions they talk about have not come from me; their predictions are worthless things that they have imagined. 15I, the LORD, tell you what I am going to do to those prophets whom I did not send but who speak in my name and say war and starvation will not strike this land — I will kill them in war and by starvation. 16The people to whom they have said these things will be killed in the same way. Their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, and there will be no one to bury them. This will happen to all of them — including their wives, their sons, and their daughters. I will make them pay for their wickedness.”

17The LORD commanded me to tell the people about my sorrow and to say:

“May my eyes flow with tears day and night,

may I never stop weeping,

for my people are deeply wounded

and are badly hurt.

18When I go out into the fields,

I see the bodies of men killed in war;

when I go into the towns,

I see people starving to death.

Prophets and priests carry on their work,

but they don't know what they are doing.”

The People Plead with the LORD

19LORD, have you completely rejected Judah?

Do you hate the people of Zion?

Why have you hurt us so badly

that we cannot be healed?

We looked for peace, but nothing good happened;

we hoped for healing, but terror came instead.

20We have sinned against you, LORD;

we confess our own sins

and the sins of our ancestors.

21Remember your promises and do not despise us;

do not bring disgrace on Jerusalem,

the place of your glorious throne.

Do not break the covenant you made with us.

22None of the idols of the nations can send rain;

the sky by itself cannot make showers fall.

We have put our hope in you, O LORD our God,

because you are the one who does these things.

Jeremiah 14GNBOpen in Bible reader

Doom for the People of Judah

1Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel were standing here pleading with me, I would not show these people any mercy. Make them go away; make them get out of my sight. 2When they ask you where they should go, tell them that I have said:

Some are doomed to die by disease —

that's where they will go!

Others are doomed to die in war —

that's where they will go!

Some are doomed to die of starvation —

that's where they will go!

Others are doomed to be taken away as prisoners —

that's where they will go!

3I, the LORD, have decided that four terrible things will happen to them: they will be killed in war; their bodies will be dragged off by dogs; birds will eat them, and wild animals will devour what is left over. 4I will make all the people of the world horrified at them because of what Hezekiah's son Manasseh did in Jerusalem when he was king of Judah.”

5The LORD says,

“Who will pity you, people of Jerusalem,

and who will grieve over you?

Who will stop long enough

to ask how you are?

6You people have rejected me;

you have turned your backs on me.

So I stretched out my hand and crushed you

because I was tired of controlling my anger.

7In every town in the land

I threw you to the wind like straw.

I destroyed you, my people,

I killed your children

because you did not stop your evil ways.

8There are more widows in your land

than grains of sand by the sea.

I killed your young men in their prime

and made their mothers suffer.

I suddenly struck them

with anguish and terror.

9The mother who lost her seven children has fainted,

gasping for breath.

Her daylight has turned to darkness;

she is disgraced and sick at heart.

I will let your enemies kill

those of you who are still alive.

I, the LORD, have spoken.”

Jeremiah Complains to the LORD

10What an unhappy man I am! Why did my mother bring me into the world? I have to quarrel and argue with everyone in the land. I have not lent any money or borrowed any; yet everyone curses me. 11LORD, may all their curses come true if I have not served you well, if I have not pleaded with you on behalf of my enemies when they were in trouble and distress. 12(No one can break iron, especially the iron from the north that is mixed with bronze.)

13The LORD said to me, “I will send enemies to carry away the wealth and treasures of my people, in order to punish them for the sins they have committed throughout the land. 14I will make them serve their enemies in a land they know nothing about, because my anger is like fire, and it will burn for ever.”

15Then I said, “LORD, you understand. Remember me and help me. Let me have revenge on those who persecute me. Do not be so patient with them that they succeed in killing me. Remember that it is for your sake that I am insulted. 16You spoke to me, and I listened to every word. I belong to you, LORD God Almighty, and so your words filled my heart with joy and happiness. 17I did not spend my time with other people, laughing and having a good time. In obedience to your orders I stayed by myself and was filled with anger. 18Why do I keep on suffering? Why are my wounds incurable? Why won't they heal? Do you intend to disappoint me like a stream that goes dry in the summer?”

19To this the LORD replied, “If you return, I will take you back, and you will be my servant again. If instead of talking nonsense you proclaim a worthwhile message, you will be my prophet again. The people will come back to you, and you will not need to go to them. 20I will make you like a solid bronze wall as far as they are concerned. They will fight against you, but they will not defeat you. I will be with you to protect you and keep you safe. 21I will rescue you from the power of wicked and violent people. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

Jeremiah 15GNBOpen in Bible reader

The LORD's Will for Jeremiah's Life

1Again the LORD spoke to me and said, 2“Do not marry or have children in a place like this. 3I will tell you what is going to happen to the children who are born here and to their parents. 4They will die of terrible diseases, and no one will mourn for them or bury them. Their bodies will lie like piles of manure on the ground. They will be killed in war or die of starvation, and their bodies will be food for the birds and the wild animals.

5“You must not enter a house where there is mourning. Do not grieve for anyone. I will no longer bless my people with peace or show them love and mercy. 6The rich and the poor will die in this land, but no one will bury them or mourn for them. No one will gash himself or shave his head to show his grief. 7No one will eat or drink with anyone to comfort him when a loved one dies. No one will show sympathy, not even for someone who has lost his father or mother.

8“Do not enter a house where people are feasting. Do not sit down with them to eat and drink. 9Listen to what I, the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, have to say. I will silence the sounds of joy and gladness and the happy sounds of wedding feasts. The people here will live to see this happen.

10“When you tell them all this, they will ask you why I have decided to punish them so harshly. They will ask what crime they are guilty of and what sin they have committed against the LORD their God. 11Then tell them that the LORD has said, ‘Your ancestors turned away from me and worshipped and served other gods. They abandoned me and did not obey my teachings. 12But you have done even worse than your ancestors. All of you are stubborn and evil, and you do not obey me. 13So then, I will throw you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have ever known. And there you will serve other gods day and night, and I will show you no mercy.’ ”

The Return from Exile

14The LORD says, “The time is coming when people will no longer swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. 15Instead, they will swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of a northern land and out of all the other countries where I had scattered them. I will bring them back to their own country, to the land that I gave their ancestors. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

The Coming Punishment

16The LORD says, “I am sending for many fishermen to come and catch these people. Then I will send for many hunters to hunt them down on every mountain and hill and in the caves among the rocks. 17I see everything they do. Nothing is hidden from me; their sins do not escape my sight. 18I will make them pay double for their sin and wickedness, because they have defiled my land with idols that are as lifeless as corpses, and have filled it with their false gods.”

Jeremiah's Prayer of Confidence in the LORD

19LORD, you are the one who protects me and gives me strength; you help me in times of trouble. Nations will come to you from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors had nothing but false gods, nothing but useless idols. 20Can people make their own gods? No, if they did, those would not really be gods.”

21“So then,” says the LORD, “once and for all I will make the nations know my power and my might; they will know that I am the LORD.”

Jeremiah 16GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Sin and Punishment of Judah

1The LORD says, “People of Judah, your sin is written with an iron pen; it is engraved on your hearts with a diamond point and carved on the corners of your altars. 2Your people worship at the altars and the symbols that have been set up for the goddess Asherah by every green tree, on the hilltops 3and on the mountains in the open country. I will make your enemies take away your wealth and your treasures because of all the sins you have committed throughout your land. 4You will have to give up the land I gave you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land you know nothing about, because my anger is like a fire, and it will burn for ever.”

Various Sayings

5The LORD says,

“I will condemn those

who turn away from me

and put their trust in human beings,

in the strength of mortals.

6They are like bushes in the desert,

which grow in the dry wilderness,

on salty ground where nothing else grows.

Nothing good ever happens to them.

7“But I will bless those

who put their trust in me.

8They are like trees growing near a stream

and sending out roots to the water.

They are not afraid when hot weather comes,

because their leaves stay green;

they have no worries when there is no rain;

they keep on bearing fruit.

9“Who can understand the human heart?

There is nothing else so deceitful;

it is too sick to be healed.

10I, the LORD, search human minds

and test human hearts.

I treat each one according to the way he lives,

according to what he does.”

11The person who gets money dishonestly

is like a bird that hatches eggs it didn't lay.

In the prime of life he will lose his riches,

and in the end he is nothing but a fool.

12Our Temple is like a glorious throne,

standing on a high mountain from the beginning.

13LORD, you are Israel's hope;

all who abandon you will be put to shame.

They will disappear like names written in the dust,

because they have abandoned you, the LORD,

the spring of fresh water.

Jeremiah Asks the LORD for Help

14LORD, heal me and I will be completely well; rescue me and I will be perfectly safe. You are the one I praise!

15The people say to me, “Where are those threats the LORD made against us? Let him carry them out now!”

16But, LORD, I never urged you to bring disaster on them; I did not wish a time of trouble for them. LORD, you know this; you know what I have said. 17Do not be a terror to me; you are my place of safety when trouble comes. 18Bring disgrace on those who persecute me, but spare me, LORD. Fill them with terror, but do not terrify me. Bring disaster on them and break them to pieces.

On Observing the Sabbath

19The LORD said to me, “Jeremiah, go and announce my message at the People's Gate, through which the kings of Judah enter and leave the city; then go to all the other gates of Jerusalem. 20Tell the kings and all the people of Judah and everyone who lives in Jerusalem and enters these gates, to listen to what I say. 21Tell them that if they love their lives, they must not carry any load on the Sabbath; they must not carry anything in through the gates of Jerusalem 22or carry anything out of their houses on the Sabbath. They must not work on the Sabbath; they must observe it as a sacred day, as I commanded their ancestors. 23Their ancestors did not listen to me or pay any attention. Instead, they became stubborn; they would not obey me or learn from me.

24“Tell these people that they must obey all my commands. They must not carry any load in through the gates of this city on the Sabbath. They must observe the Sabbath as a sacred day and must not do any work at all. 25Then their kings and princes will enter the gates of Jerusalem and have the same royal power that David had. Together with the people of Judah and of Jerusalem, they will ride in chariots and on horses, and the city of Jerusalem will always be filled with people. 26People will come from the towns of Judah and from the villages round Jerusalem; they will come from the territory of Benjamin, from the foothills, from the mountains, and from southern Judah. They will bring to my Temple burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, as well as thank-offerings. 27But they must obey me and observe the Sabbath as a sacred day. They must not carry any load through the gates of Jerusalem on that day, for if they do, I will set the gates of Jerusalem on fire. Fire will burn down the palaces of Jerusalem, and no one will be able to put it out.”

Jeremiah 17GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Foolishness of Trusting in Riches

1Hear this, everyone!

Listen, all people everywhere,

2great and small alike,

rich and poor together.

3My thoughts will be clear;

I will speak words of wisdom.

4I will turn my attention to proverbs

and explain their meaning as I play the harp.

5I am not afraid in times of danger

when I am surrounded by enemies,

6by evil people who trust in their riches

and boast of their great wealth.

7A person can never redeem himself;

he cannot pay God the price for his life,

8because the payment for a human life is too great.

What he could pay would never be enough

9to keep him from the grave,

to let him live for ever.

10Anyone can see that even the wise die,

as well as the foolish and stupid.

They all leave their riches to their descendants.

11Their graves are their homes for ever;

there they stay for all time,

though they once had lands of their own.

12No one's greatness can save him from death;

he will still die like the animals.

13See what happens to those who trust in themselves,

the fate of those who are satisfied with their wealth —

14they are doomed to die like sheep,

and Death will be their shepherd.

The righteous will triumph over them,

as their bodies quickly decay

in the world of the dead far from their homes.

15But God will rescue me;

he will save me from the power of death.

16Don't be upset when someone becomes rich,

when his wealth grows even greater;

17he cannot take it with him when he dies;

his wealth will not go with him to the grave.

18Even if he is satisfied with this life

and is praised because he is successful,

19he will join all his ancestors in death,

where the darkness lasts for ever.

20His greatness cannot save him from death;

he will still die like the animals.

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