Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 182

Jeremiah 23–27, Proverbs 23

Bible text(s)

Hope for the Future

1How terrible will be the LORD's judgement on those rulers who destroy and scatter his people! 2This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the rulers who were supposed to take care of his people: “You have not taken care of my people; you have scattered them and driven them away. Now I am going to punish you for the evil you have done. 3I will gather the rest of my people from the countries where I have scattered them, and I will bring them back to their homeland. They will have many children and increase in number. 4I will appoint rulers to take care of them. My people will no longer be afraid or terrified, and I will not punish them again. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

5The LORD says, “The time is coming when I will choose as king a righteous descendant of David. That king will rule wisely and do what is right and just throughout the land. 6When he is king, the people of Judah will be safe, and the people of Israel will live in peace. He will be called ‘The LORD Our Salvation’.

7“The time is coming,” says the LORD, “when people will no longer swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. 8Instead, 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. Then they will live in their own land.”

Jeremiah's Message about the Prophets

9My heart is crushed,

and I am trembling.

Because of the LORD,

because of his holy words,

I am like a man who is drunk,

a man who has had too much wine.

10The land is full of people unfaithful to the LORD;

they live wicked lives and misuse their power.

Because of the LORD's curse the land mourns

and the pastures are dry.

11The LORD says,

“The prophets and the priests are godless;

I have caught them doing evil in the Temple itself.

12The paths they follow will be slippery and dark;

I will make them stumble and fall.

I am going to bring disaster on them;

the time of their punishment is coming.

I, the LORD, have spoken.

13I have seen the sin of Samaria's prophets:

they have spoken in the name of Baal

and have led my people astray.

14But I have seen the prophets in Jerusalem do even worse:

they commit adultery and tell lies;

they help people to do wrong,

so that no one stops doing what is evil.

To me, they are all as bad

as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

15“So then, this is what I, the LORD Almighty, say about the prophets of Jerusalem:

I will give them bitter plants to eat

and poison to drink,

because they have spread ungodliness throughout the land.”

16The LORD Almighty said to the people of Jerusalem, “Do not listen to what the prophets say; they are filling you with false hopes. They tell you what they have imagined and not what I have said. 17To the people who refuse to listen to what I have said, they keep saying that all will go well with them. And they tell everyone who is stubborn that disaster will never touch him.”

18I said, “None of these prophets has ever known the LORD's secret thoughts. None of them has ever heard or understood his message, or ever listened or paid attention to what he said. 19His anger is a storm, a furious wind that will rage over the heads of the wicked, 20and it will not end until he has done everything he intends to do. In days to come his people will understand this clearly.”

21The LORD said, “I did not send these prophets, but even so they went. I did not give them any message, but still they spoke in my name. 22If they had known my secret thoughts, then they could have proclaimed my message to my people and could have made them give up the evil lives they live and the wicked things they do.

23“I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. 24No one can hide where I cannot see him. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth? 25I know what those prophets have said who speak lies in my name and claim that I have given them my messages in their dreams. 26How much longer will those prophets mislead my people with the lies they have invented? 27They think that the dreams they tell will make my people forget me, just as their ancestors forgot me and turned to Baal. 28The prophet who has had a dream should say it is only a dream, but the prophet who has heard my message should proclaim that message faithfully. What good is straw compared with wheat? 29My message is like a fire, and like a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces. 30I am against those prophets who take each other's words and proclaim them as my message. 31I am also against those prophets who speak their own words and claim they came from me. 32Listen to what I, the LORD, say! I am against the prophets who tell their dreams that are full of lies. They tell these dreams and lead my people astray with their lies and their boasting. I did not send them or order them to go, and they are of no help at all to the people. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

The LORD's Burden

33The LORD said to me, “Jeremiah, when one of my people or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the LORD's message?’ you are to tell him, ‘You are a burden to the LORD, and he is going to get rid of you.’ 34If any of my people or a prophet or a priest even uses the words ‘the LORD's burden’, I will punish them and their families. 35Instead, they should each ask their friends and relatives, ‘What answer has the LORD given? What has the LORD said?’ 36So they must no longer use the words ‘the LORD's burden’, because if anyone does, I will make my message a real burden to him. The people have perverted the words of their God, the living God, the LORD Almighty. 37Jeremiah, ask the prophets, ‘What answer did the LORD give you? What did the LORD say?’ 38And if they disobey my command and use the words ‘the LORD's burden’, then tell them that 39I will certainly pick them up and throw them far away from me, both them and the city that I gave to them and their ancestors. 40I will bring on them everlasting shame and disgrace that will never be forgotten.”

Jeremiah 23GNBOpen in Bible reader

Two Baskets of Figs

1The LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the Temple. (This was after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had taken away Jehoiakim's son, King Jehoiachin of Judah, as a prisoner from Jerusalem to Babylonia, together with the leaders of Judah, the craftsmen, and the skilled workers.) 2The first basket contained good figs, those that ripen early; the other one contained bad figs, too bad to eat. 3Then the LORD said to me, “Jeremiah, what do you see?”

I answered, “Figs. The good ones are very good, and the bad ones are very bad, too bad to eat.”

4So the LORD said to me, 5“I, the LORD, the God of Israel, consider that the people who were taken away to Babylonia are like these good figs, and I will treat them with kindness. 6I will watch over them and bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not pull them up. 7I will give them the desire to know that I am the LORD. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God, because they will return to me with all their heart.

8“As for King Zedekiah of Judah, the politicians round him, and the rest of the people of Jerusalem who have stayed in this land or moved to Egypt — I, the LORD, will treat them all like these figs that are too bad to be eaten. 9I will bring such a disaster on them that all the nations of the world will be terrified. People will mock them, make jokes about them, ridicule them, and use their name as a curse everywhere I scatter them. 10I will bring war, starvation, and disease on them until there is not one of them left in the land that I gave to them and their ancestors.”

Jeremiah 24GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Enemy from the North

1In the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, I received a message from the LORD concerning all the people of Judah. (This was the first year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylonia.) 2I said to all the people of Judah and of Jerusalem, 3“For 23 years, from the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon was king of Judah until this very day, the LORD has spoken to me, and I have never failed to tell you what he said. But you have paid no attention. 4You would not listen or pay attention, even though the LORD has continued to send you his servants the prophets. 5They told you to turn from your wicked way of life and from the evil things you are doing, so that you could go on living in the land that the LORD gave you and your ancestors as a permanent possession. 6They told you not to worship and serve other gods and not to make the LORD angry by worshipping the idols you had made. If you had obeyed the LORD, then he would not have punished you. 7But the LORD himself says that you refused to listen to him. Instead, you made him angry with your idols and have brought his punishment on yourselves.

8“So then, because you would not listen to him, the LORD Almighty says, 9‘I am going to send for all the peoples from the north and for my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia. I am going to bring them to fight against Judah and its inhabitants and against all the neighbouring nations. I am going to destroy this nation and its neighbours and leave them in ruins for ever, a terrible and shocking sight. I, the LORD, have spoken. 10I will silence their shouts of joy and gladness and the happy sounds of wedding feasts. They will have no oil for their lamps, and there will be no more corn. 11This whole land will be left in ruins and will be a shocking sight, and the neighbouring nations will serve the king of Babylonia for seventy years. 12After that I will punish Babylonia and its king for their sin. I will destroy that country and leave it in ruins for ever. 13I will punish Babylonia with all the disasters that I threatened to bring on the nations when I spoke through Jeremiah — all the disasters recorded in this book. 14I will pay the Babylonians back for what they have done, and many nations and great kings will make slaves of them.’ ”

God's Judgement on the Nations

15The LORD, the God of Israel, said to me, “Here is a wine cup filled with my anger. Take it to all the nations to whom I send you, and make them drink from it. 16When they drink from it, they will stagger and go out of their minds because of the war I am sending against them.”

17So I took the cup from the LORD's hand, gave it to all the nations to whom the LORD had sent me, and made them drink from it. 18Jerusalem and all the towns of Judah, together with its kings and leaders, were made to drink from it, so that they would become a desert, a terrible and shocking sight, and so that people would use their name as a curse — as they still do.

19-26Here is the list of all the others who had to drink from the cup:

    the king of Egypt, his officials and leaders;
    all the Egyptians and all the foreigners in Egypt;
    all the kings of the land of Uz;
    all the kings of the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what remains of Ashdod;
    all the people of Edom, Moab, and Ammon;
    all the kings of Tyre and Sidon;
    all the kings of the Mediterranean lands;
    the cities of Dedan, Tema, and Buz;
    all the people who cut their hair short;
    all the kings of Arabia;
    all the kings of the desert tribes;
    all the kings of Zimri, Elam, and Media;
    all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another.

Every nation on the face of the earth had to drink from it. Last of all, the king of Babylonia will drink from it.

27Then the LORD said to me, “Tell the people that I, the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, am commanding them to drink until they are drunk and vomit, until they fall down and cannot get up, because of the war that I am sending against them. 28And if they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink from it, then tell them that the LORD Almighty has said that they will still have to drink from it. 29I will begin my work of destruction in my own city. Do they think they will go unpunished? No, they will be punished, for I am going to send war on all the people on earth. I, the LORD Almighty, have spoken.

30“You, Jeremiah, must proclaim everything I have said. You must tell these people,

‘The LORD will roar from heaven

and thunder from the heights of heaven.

He will roar against his people;

he will shout like a man treading grapes.

Everyone on earth will hear him,

31and the sound will echo to the ends of the earth.

The LORD has a case against the nations.

He will bring all people to trial

and put the wicked to death.

The LORD has spoken.’ ”

32The LORD Almighty says that disaster is coming on one nation after another, and a great storm is gathering at the far ends of the earth. 33On that day the bodies of those whom the LORD has killed will lie scattered from one end of the earth to the other. No one will mourn for them, and they will not be taken away and buried. They will lie on the ground like piles of manure.

34Cry, you leaders, you shepherds of my people, cry out loud! Mourn and roll in the dust. The time has come for you to be slaughtered, and you will be butchered like rams. 35There will be no way for you to escape. 36-37You moan and cry out in distress because the LORD in his anger has destroyed your nation and left your peaceful country in ruins. 38The LORD has abandoned his people like a lion that leaves its cave. The horrors of war and the LORD's fierce anger have turned the country into a desert.

Jeremiah 25GNBOpen in Bible reader

Jeremiah is Brought to Trial

1Soon after Jehoiakim son of Josiah became king of Judah, 2the LORD said to me, “Stand in the court of the Temple and proclaim all I have commanded you to say to the people who come from the towns of Judah to worship there. Do not leave out anything. 3Perhaps the people will listen and give up their evil ways. If they do, then I will change my mind about the destruction I plan to bring on them for all their wicked deeds.”

4The LORD told me to say to the people, “I, the LORD, have said that you must obey me by following the teaching that I gave you, 5and by paying attention to the words of my servants, the prophets, whom I have kept on sending to you. You have never obeyed what they said. 6If you continue to disobey, then I will do to this Temple what I did to Shiloh, and all the nations of the world will use the name of this city as a curse.”

7The priests, the prophets, and all the people heard me saying these things in the Temple, 8and as soon as I had finished all that the LORD had commanded me to speak, they seized me and shouted, “You ought to be killed for this! 9Why have you said in the LORD's name that this Temple will become like Shiloh and that this city will be destroyed and no one will live in it?” Then the people crowded round me.

10When the leaders of Judah heard what had happened, they hurried from the royal palace to the Temple and took their places at the New Gate. 11Then the priests and the prophets said to the leaders and to the people, “This man deserves to be sentenced to death because he has spoken against our city. You heard him with your own ears.”

12Then I said, “The LORD sent me to proclaim everything that you heard me say against this Temple and against this city. 13You must change the way you are living and the things you are doing, and must obey the LORD your God. If you do, he will change his mind about the destruction that he said he would bring on you. 14As for me, I am in your power! Do with me whatever you think is fair and right. 15But be sure of this: if you kill me, you and the people of this city will be guilty of killing an innocent man, because it is the LORD who sent me to give you this warning.”

16Then the leaders and the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man spoke to us in the name of the LORD our God; he should not be put to death.”

17After that, some of the elders stood up and said to the people who had assembled, 18“When Hezekiah was king of Judah, the prophet Micah of Moresheth told all the people that the LORD Almighty had said,

‘Zion will be ploughed like a field,

Jerusalem will become a pile of ruins,

and the Temple hill will become a forest.’

19King Hezekiah and the people of Judah did not put Micah to death. Instead, Hezekiah honoured the LORD and tried to win his favour. And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he said he would bring on them. Now we are about to bring a terrible disaster on ourselves.”

20(There was another man, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim, who spoke in the name of the LORD against this city and nation just as Jeremiah did. 21When King Jehoiakim and his soldiers and officials heard what Uriah had said, the king tried to have him killed. But Uriah heard about it; so he fled in terror and escaped to Egypt. 22King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Achbor and some other men to Egypt to get Uriah. 23They brought him back to King Jehoiakim, who had him killed and his body thrown into the public burial ground.)

24But because I had the support of Ahikam son of Shaphan, I was not handed over to the people and killed.

Jeremiah 26GNBOpen in Bible reader

Jeremiah Wears an Ox Yoke

1Soon after Josiah's son Zedekiah became king of Judah, the LORD told me 2to make myself a yoke out of leather straps and wooden crossbars and to put it on my neck. 3Then the LORD told me to send a message to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon through their ambassadors who had come to Jerusalem to see King Zedekiah. 4The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, told me to command them to tell their kings that the LORD had said: 5“By my great power and strength I created the world, the human race, and all the animals that live on the earth; and I give it to anyone I choose. 6I am the one who has placed all these nations under the power of my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, and I have made even the wild animals serve him. 7All nations will serve him, and they will serve his son and his grandson until the time comes for his own nation to fall. Then his nation will serve powerful nations and great kings.

8“But if any nation or kingdom will not submit to his rule, then I will punish that nation by war, starvation, and disease until I have let Nebuchadnezzar destroy it completely. 9Do not listen to your prophets or to anyone who claims he can predict the future, either by dreams or by calling up the spirits of the dead or by magic. They all tell you not to submit to the king of Babylonia. 10They are deceiving you and will cause you to be taken far away from your country. I will drive you out, and you will be destroyed. 11But if any nation submits to the king of Babylonia and serves him, then I will let it stay on in its own land, to farm it and live there. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

12I said the same thing to King Zedekiah of Judah, “Submit to the king of Babylonia. Serve him and his people, and you will live. 13Why should you and your people die in war or of starvation or disease? That is what the LORD has said will happen to any nation that does not submit to the king of Babylonia. 14Do not listen to the prophets who tell you not to surrender to him. They are deceiving you. 15The LORD himself has said that he did not send them and that they are lying to you in his name. And so he will drive you out, and you will be killed, you and the prophets who are telling you these lies.”

16Then I told the priests and the people that the LORD had said: “Do not listen to the prophets who say that the temple treasures will soon be brought back from Babylonia. They are lying to you. 17Don't listen to them! Submit to the king of Babylonia and you will live! Why should this city become a pile of ruins? 18If they are really prophets and if they have my message, let them ask me, the LORD Almighty, not to allow the treasures that remain in the Temple and in the royal palace to be taken to Babylonia.”

19-20(When King Nebuchadnezzar took away to Babylonia the king of Judah, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, and the leading men of Judah and Jerusalem, he left the columns, the bronze tank, the carts, and some of the other temple treasures.)

21“Listen to what I, the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, say about the treasures that are left in the Temple and in the royal palace in Jerusalem: 22They will be taken to Babylonia and will remain there until I turn my attention to them. Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

Jeremiah 27GNBOpen in Bible reader
The Sixth Saying

1When you sit down to eat with someone important, keep in mind who he is. 2If you have a big appetite, restrain yourself. 3Don't be greedy for the fine food he serves; he may be trying to trick you.

The Seventh Saying

4Be wise enough not to wear yourself out trying to get rich. 5Your money can be gone in a flash, as if it had grown wings and flown away like an eagle.

The Eighth Saying

6Don't eat at the table of a stingy person or be greedy for the fine food he serves. 7“Come on and have some more,” he says, but he doesn't mean it. What he thinks is what he really is. 8You will vomit up what you have eaten, and all your flattery will be wasted.

The Ninth Saying

9Don't try to talk sense to a fool; he can't appreciate it.

The Tenth Saying

10Never move an old boundary mark or take over land owned by orphans. 11The LORD is their powerful defender, and he will argue their case against you.

The Eleventh Saying

12Pay attention to your teacher and learn all you can.

The Twelfth Saying

13Don't hesitate to discipline children. A good spanking won't kill them. 14As a matter of fact, it may save their lives.

The Thirteenth Saying

15Son, if you become wise, I will be very happy. 16I will be proud when I hear you speaking words of wisdom.

The Fourteenth Saying

17Don't be envious of sinful people; let reverence for the LORD be the concern of your life. 18If it is, you have a bright future.

The Fifteenth Saying

19Listen, my child, be wise and give serious thought to the way you live. 20Don't associate with people who drink too much wine or stuff themselves with food. 21Drunkards and gluttons will be reduced to poverty. If all you do is eat and sleep, you will soon be wearing rags.

The Sixteenth Saying

22Listen to your father; without him you would not exist. When your mother is old, show her your appreciation.

23Truth, wisdom, learning, and good sense — these are worth paying for, but too valuable for you to sell.

24A righteous man's father has good reason to be happy. You can take pride in a wise son.

25Make your father and mother proud of you; give your mother that happiness.

The Seventeenth Saying

26Pay close attention, son, and let my life be your example. 27Prostitutes and immoral women are a deadly trap. 28They wait for you like robbers and cause many men to be unfaithful.

The Eighteenth Saying

29-30Show me someone who drinks too much, who has to try out some new drink, and I will show you someone miserable and sorry for himself, always causing trouble and always complaining. His eyes are bloodshot, and he has bruises that could have been avoided. 31Don't let wine tempt you, even though it is rich red, though it sparkles in the cup, and it goes down smoothly. 32The next morning you will feel as if you had been bitten by a poisonous snake. 33Weird sights will appear before your eyes, and you will not be able to think or speak clearly. 34You will feel as if you were out on the ocean, sea-sick, swinging high up in the rigging of a tossing ship. 35“I must have been hit,” you will say; “I must have been beaten up, but I don't remember it. Why can't I wake up? I need another drink.”

Proverbs 23GNBOpen in Bible reader
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