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Jeremiah Speaks at the Temple
1 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! 3 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
“‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. 4 But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!”5 But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. 7 Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.
8 “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! 9 Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!
12 “‘Go now to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites. 13 While you were doing these wicked things, says the Lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. 14 So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears my name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. 15 And I will send you out of my sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.[a]’
Judah’s Persistent Idolatry
16 “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, and don’t beg me to help them, for I will not listen to you. 17 Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 No wonder I am so angry! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires. See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. And they pour out liquid offerings to their other idol gods! 19 Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the Lord. “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.”
20 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place. Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.”
21 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves! 22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. 23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’
24 “But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward. 25 From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out. 26 But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.
27 “Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond. 28 Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the Lord their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips. 29 Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the Lord has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury.’
The Valley of Slaughter
30 “The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the Lord. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. 31 They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! 32 So beware, for the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when that garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury the bodies in Topheth until there is no more room for them. 33 The bodies of my people will be food for the vultures and wild animals, and no one will be left to scare them away. 34 I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in the streets of Jerusalem. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard in the towns of Judah. The land will lie in complete desolation.
- 7:15 Hebrew of Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
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Christmas Against The Law
Jerusalem’s Last Warning
1 “Run for your lives, you people of Benjamin!
Get out of Jerusalem!
Sound the alarm in Tekoa!
Send up a signal at Beth-hakkerem!
A powerful army is coming from the north,
coming with disaster and destruction.
2 O Jerusalem,[a] you are my beautiful and delicate daughter—
but I will destroy you!
3 Enemies will surround you, like shepherds camped around the city.
Each chooses a place for his troops to devour.
4 They shout, ‘Prepare for battle!
Attack at noon!’
‘No, it’s too late; the day is fading,
and the evening shadows are falling.’
5 ‘Well then, let’s attack at night
and destroy her palaces!’”
6 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Cut down the trees for battering rams.
Build siege ramps against the walls of Jerusalem.
This is the city to be punished,
for she is wicked through and through.
7 She spouts evil like a fountain.
Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction.
I always see her sickness and sores.
8 Listen to this warning, Jerusalem,
or I will turn from you in disgust.
Listen, or I will turn you into a heap of ruins,
a land where no one lives.”
9 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Even the few who remain in Israel
will be picked over again,
as when a harvester checks each vine a second time
to pick the grapes that were missed.”
Judah’s Constant Rebellion
10 To whom can I give warning?
Who will listen when I speak?
Their ears are closed,
and they cannot hear.
They scorn the word of the Lord.
They don’t want to listen at all.
11 So now I am filled with the Lord’s fury.
Yes, I am tired of holding it in!
“I will pour out my fury on children playing in the streets
and on gatherings of young men,
on husbands and wives
and on those who are old and gray.
12 Their homes will be turned over to their enemies,
as will their fields and their wives.
For I will raise my powerful fist
against the people of this land,”
says the Lord.
13 “From the least to the greatest,
their lives are ruled by greed.
From prophets to priests,
they are all frauds.
14 They offer superficial treatments
for my people’s mortal wound.
They give assurances of peace
when there is no peace.
15 Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions?
Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush!
Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered.
They will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
Judah Rejects the Lord’s Way
16 This is what the Lord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.
But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
17 I posted watchmen over you who said,
‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’
But you replied,
‘No! We won’t pay attention!’
18 “Therefore, listen to this, all you nations.
Take note of my people’s situation.
19 Listen, all the earth!
I will bring disaster on my people.
It is the fruit of their own schemes,
because they refuse to listen to me.
They have rejected my word.
20 There’s no use offering me sweet frankincense from Sheba.
Keep your fragrant calamus imported from distant lands!
I will not accept your burnt offerings.
Your sacrifices have no pleasing aroma for me.”
21 Therefore, this is what the Lord says:
“I will put obstacles in my people’s path.
Fathers and sons will both fall over them.
Neighbors and friends will die together.”
An Invasion from the North
22 This is what the Lord says:
“Look! A great army coming from the north!
A great nation is rising against you from far-off lands.
23 They are armed with bows and spears.
They are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like a roaring sea
as they ride forward on horses.
They are coming in battle formation,
planning to destroy you, beautiful Jerusalem.[b]”
24 We have heard reports about the enemy,
and we wring our hands in fright.
Pangs of anguish have gripped us,
like those of a woman in labor.
25 Don’t go out to the fields!
Don’t travel on the roads!
The enemy’s sword is everywhere
and terrorizes us at every turn!
26 Oh, my people, dress yourselves in burlap
and sit among the ashes.
Mourn and weep bitterly, as for the loss of an only son.
For suddenly the destroying armies will be upon you!
27 “Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals,[c]
that you may determine the quality of my people.
28 They are the worst kind of rebel,
full of slander.
They are as hard as bronze and iron,
and they lead others into corruption.
29 The bellows fiercely fan the flames
to burn out the corruption.
But it does not purify them,
for the wickedness remains.
30 I will label them ‘Rejected Silver,’
for I, the Lord, am discarding them.”
1 “O Israel,” says the Lord,
“if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols
and stray away no more.
2 Then when you swear by my name, saying,
‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
you could do so
with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
and all people would come and praise my name.”
Coming Judgment against Judah
3 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts!
Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
4 O people of Judah and Jerusalem,
surrender your pride and power.
Change your hearts before the Lord,[a]
or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
because of all your sins.
5 “Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem!
Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land:
‘Run for your lives!
Flee to the fortified cities!’
6 Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem[b]:
‘Flee now! Do not delay!’
For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you
from the north.”
7 A lion stalks from its den,
a destroyer of nations.
It has left its lair and is headed your way.
It’s going to devastate your land!
Your towns will lie in ruins,
with no one living in them anymore.
8 So put on clothes of mourning
and weep with broken hearts,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
is still upon us.
9 “In that day,” says the Lord,
“the king and the officials will tremble in fear.
The priests will be struck with horror,
and the prophets will be appalled.”
10 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord,
the people have been deceived by what you said,
for you promised peace for Jerusalem.
But the sword is held at their throats!”
11 The time is coming when the Lord will say
to the people of Jerusalem,
“My dear people, a burning wind is blowing in from the desert,
and it’s not a gentle breeze useful for winnowing grain.
12 It is a roaring blast sent by me!
Now I will pronounce your destruction!”
13 Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds!
His chariots are like whirlwinds.
His horses are swifter than eagles.
How terrible it will be, for we are doomed!
14 O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart
that you may be saved.
How long will you harbor
your evil thoughts?
15 Your destruction has been announced
from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.
16 “Warn the surrounding nations
and announce this to Jerusalem:
The enemy is coming from a distant land,
raising a battle cry against the towns of Judah.
17 They surround Jerusalem like watchmen around a field,
for my people have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
18 “Your own actions have brought this upon you.
This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”
Jeremiah Weeps for His People
19 My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain!
My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still.
For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets
and the roar of their battle cries.
20 Waves of destruction roll over the land,
until it lies in complete desolation.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed;
in a moment my shelters are crushed.
21 How long must I see the battle flags
and hear the trumpets of war?
22 “My people are foolish
and do not know me,” says the Lord.
“They are stupid children
who have no understanding.
They are clever enough at doing wrong,
but they have no idea how to do right!”
Jeremiah’s Vision of Coming Disaster
23 I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless.
I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.
24 I looked at the mountains and hills,
and they trembled and shook.
25 I looked, and all the people were gone.
All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness.
The towns lay in ruins,
crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.
27 This is what the Lord says:
“The whole land will be ruined,
but I will not destroy it completely.
28 The earth will mourn
and the heavens will be draped in black
because of my decree against my people.
I have made up my mind and will not change it.”
29 At the noise of charioteers and archers,
the people flee in terror.
They hide in the bushes
and run for the mountains.
All the towns have been abandoned—
not a person remains!
30 What are you doing,
you who have been plundered?
Why do you dress up in beautiful clothing
and put on gold jewelry?
Why do you brighten your eyes with mascara?
Your primping will do you no good!
The allies who were your lovers
despise you and seek to kill you.
31 I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor,
the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child.
It is beautiful Jerusalem[c]
gasping for breath and crying out,
“Help! I’m being murdered!”
1 “If a man divorces a woman
and she goes and marries someone else,
he will not take her back again,
for that would surely corrupt the land.
But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers,
so why are you trying to come back to me?”
says the Lord.
2 “Look at the shrines on every hilltop.
Is there any place you have not been defiled
by your adultery with other gods?
You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer.
You sit alone like a nomad in the desert.
You have polluted the land with your prostitution
and your wickedness.
3 That’s why even the spring rains have failed.
For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless.
4 Yet you say to me,
‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth.
5 Surely you won’t be angry forever!
Surely you can forget about it!’
So you talk,
but you keep on doing all the evil you can.”
Judah Follows Israel’s Example
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. 7 I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. 8 She saw[a] that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution. 9 Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted. 10 But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Hope for Wayward Israel
11 Then the Lord said to me, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah! 12 Therefore, go and give this message to Israel.[b] This is what the Lordsays:
“O Israel, my faithless people,
come home to me again,
for I am merciful.
I will not be angry with you forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt.
Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and committed adultery against him
by worshiping idols under every green tree.
Confess that you refused to listen to my voice.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
14 “Return home, you wayward children,”
says the Lord,
“for I am your master.
I will bring you back to the land of Israel[c]—
one from this town and two from that family—
from wherever you are scattered.
15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart,
who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.
16 “And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the Lord, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark. 17 In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the Lord.’ All nations will come there to honor the Lord. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires. 18 In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.
19 “I thought to myself,
‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’
I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—
the finest possession in the world.
I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’
and I wanted you never to turn from me.
20 But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel!
You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
21 Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains,
the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people.
For they have chosen crooked paths
and have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 “My wayward children,” says the Lord,
“come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.”
“Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply,
“for you are the Lord our God.
23 Our worship of idols on the hills
and our religious orgies on the mountains
are a delusion.
Only in the Lord our God
will Israel ever find salvation.
24 From childhood we have watched
as everything our ancestors worked for—
their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters—
was squandered on a delusion.
25 Let us now lie down in shame
and cover ourselves with dishonor,
for we and our ancestors have sinned
against the Lord our God.
From our childhood to this day
we have never obeyed him.”
1 This is what the Lord says:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Could you build me a temple as good as that?
Could you build me such a resting place?
2 My hands have made both heaven and earth;
they and everything in them are mine.[a]
I, the Lord, have spoken!
“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts,
who tremble at my word.
3 But those who choose their own ways—
delighting in their detestable sins—
will not have their offerings accepted.
When such people sacrifice a bull,
it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice.
When they sacrifice a lamb,
it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog!
When they bring an offering of grain,
they might as well offer the blood of a pig.
When they burn frankincense,
it’s as if they had blessed an idol.
4 I will send them great trouble—
all the things they feared.
For when I called, they did not answer.
When I spoke, they did not listen.
They deliberately sinned before my very eyes
and chose to do what they know I despise.”
5 Hear this message from the Lord,
all you who tremble at his words:
“Your own people hate you
and throw you out for being loyal to my name.
‘Let the Lord be honored!’ they scoff.
‘Be joyful in him!’
But they will be put to shame.
6 What is all the commotion in the city?
What is that terrible noise from the Temple?
It is the voice of the Lord
taking vengeance against his enemies.
7 “Before the birth pains even begin,
Jerusalem gives birth to a son.
8 Who has ever seen anything as strange as this?
Who ever heard of such a thing?
Has a nation ever been born in a single day?
Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment?
But by the time Jerusalem’s[b] birth pains begin,
her children will be born.
9 Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth
and then not deliver it?” asks the Lord.
“No! I would never keep this nation from being born,”
says your God.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem!
Be glad with her, all you who love her
and all you who mourn for her.
11 Drink deeply of her glory
even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts.”
12 This is what the Lord says:
“I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity.
The wealth of the nations will flow to her.
Her children will be nursed at her breasts,
carried in her arms, and held on her lap.
13 I will comfort you there in Jerusalem
as a mother comforts her child.”
14 When you see these things, your heart will rejoice.
You will flourish like the grass!
Everyone will see the Lord’s hand of blessing on his servants—
and his anger against his enemies.
15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,
and his swift chariots roar like a whirlwind.
He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger
and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke.
16 The Lord will punish the world by fire
and by his sword.
He will judge the earth,
and many will be killed by him.
17 “Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the Lord.
18 “I can see what they are doing, and I know what they are thinking. So I will gather all nations and peoples together, and they will see my glory. 19 I will perform a sign among them. And I will send those who survive to be messengers to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans[c] and Lydians[d] (who are famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece,[e] and to all the lands beyond the sea that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. There they will declare my glory to the nations. 20 They will bring the remnant of your people back from every nation. They will bring them to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord. They will ride on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. 21 “And I will appoint some of them to be my priests and Levites. I, the Lord, have spoken!
22 “As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain,
so will you always be my people,
with a name that will never disappear,”
says the Lord.
23 “All humanity will come to worship me
from week to week
and from month to month.
24 And as they go out, they will see
the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me.
For the worms that devour them will never die,
and the fire that burns them will never go out.
All who pass by
will view them with utter horror.”
Judgment and Final Salvation
1 The Lord says,
“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.[a]
2 All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.[b]
But they follow their own evil paths
and their own crooked schemes.
3 All day long they insult me to my face
by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens.
They burn incense on pagan altars.
4 At night they go out among the graves,
worshiping the dead.
They eat the flesh of pigs
and make stews with other forbidden foods.
5 Yet they say to each other,
‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me!
I am holier than you!’
These people are a stench in my nostrils,
an acrid smell that never goes away.
6 “Look, my decree is written out[c] in front of me:
I will not stand silent;
I will repay them in full!
Yes, I will repay them—
7 both for their own sins
and for those of their ancestors,”
says the Lord.
“For they also burned incense on the mountains
and insulted me on the hills.
I will pay them back in full!
8 “But I will not destroy them all,”
says the Lord.
“For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones
(and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away—
some of those grapes are good!’),
so I will not destroy all Israel.
For I still have true servants there.
9 I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel[d]
and of Judah to possess my land.
Those I choose will inherit it,
and my servants will live there.
10 The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks
for my people who have searched for me,
and the valley of Achor will be a place to pasture herds.
11 “But because the rest of you have forsaken the Lord
and have forgotten his Temple,
and because you have prepared feasts to honor the god of Fate
and have offered mixed wine to the god of Destiny,
12 now I will ‘destine’ you for the sword.
All of you will bow down before the executioner.
For when I called, you did not answer.
When I spoke, you did not listen.
You deliberately sinned—before my very eyes—
and chose to do what you know I despise.”
13 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“My servants will eat,
but you will starve.
My servants will drink,
but you will be thirsty.
My servants will rejoice,
but you will be sad and ashamed.
14 My servants will sing for joy,
but you will cry in sorrow and despair.
15 Your name will be a curse word among my people,
for the Sovereign Lord will destroy you
and will call his true servants by another name.
16 All who invoke a blessing or take an oath
will do so by the God of truth.
For I will put aside my anger
and forget the evil of earlier days.
17 “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
18 Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.
Her people will be a source of joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and delight in my people.
And the sound of weeping and crying
will be heard in it no more.
20 “No longer will babies die when only a few days old.
No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life.
No longer will people be considered old at one hundred!
Only the cursed will die that young!
21 In those days people will live in the houses they build
and eat the fruit of their own vineyards.
22 Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses
and confiscate their vineyards.
For my people will live as long as trees,
and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.
23 They will not work in vain,
and their children will not be doomed to misfortune.
For they are people blessed by the Lord,
and their children, too, will be blessed.
24 I will answer them before they even call to me.
While they are still talking about their needs,
I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
But the snakes will eat dust.
In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
- 65:1 Or to a nation that did not bear my name.
- 65:1-2 Greek version reads I was found by people who were not looking for me. / I showed myself to those who were not asking for me. / All day long I opened my arms to them, / but they were disobedient and rebellious. Compare Rom 10:20-21.
- 65:6 Or their sins are written out; Hebrew reads it stands written.
- 65:9 Hebrew remnant of Jacob. See note on 14:1.