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43. Nahum, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Psalms (Josiah Repents, Other Kings Choose Poorly)

A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application

Week 43

Sunday (Nahum 1-3)

Introduction

1:1 The oracle against Nineveh; the book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite:

God Takes Vengeance against His Enemies

1:2 The Lord is a zealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and very angry. The Lord takes vengeance against his foes; he sustains his rage against his enemies.

1:3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will certainly not allow the wicked to go unpunished.

The Divine Warrior Destroys His Enemies but Protects His People

He marches out in the whirlwind and the raging storm; dark storm clouds billow like dust under his feet.

1:4 He shouts a battle cry against the sea and makes it dry up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither; the blossom of Lebanon withers.

1:5 The mountains tremble before him, the hills convulse; the earth is laid waste before him, the world and all its inhabitants are laid waste.

1:6 No one can withstand his indignation! No one can resist his fierce anger! His wrath is poured out like volcanic fire, boulders are broken up as he approaches.

1:7 The Lord is good – indeed, he is a fortress in time of distress, and he protects those who seek refuge in him.

1:8 But with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of Nineveh; he will drive his enemies into darkness.

Denunciation and Destruction of Nineveh

1:9 Whatever you plot against the Lord, he will completely destroy! Distress will not arise a second time.

1:10 Surely they will be totally consumed like entangled thorn bushes, like the drink of drunkards, like very dry stubble.

1:11 From you, O Nineveh, one has marched forth who plots evil against the Lord, a wicked military strategist.

Oracle of Deliverance to Judah

1:12 This is what the Lord says: “Even though they are powerful – and what is more, even though their army is numerous – nevertheless, they will be destroyed and trickle away! Although I afflicted you, I will afflict you no more.

1:13 And now, I will break Assyria’s yoke bar from your neck; I will tear apart the shackles that are on you.”

Oracle of Judgment against the King of Nineveh

1:14 The Lord has issued a decree against you: “Your dynasty will come to an end. I will destroy the idols and images in the temples of your gods. I will desecrate your grave – because you are accursed!”

Proclamation of the Deliverance of Judah

1:15 Look! A herald is running on the mountains! A messenger is proclaiming deliverance: “Celebrate your sacred festivals, O Judah! Fulfill your sacred vows to praise God! For never again will the wicked Assyrians invade you, they have been completely destroyed.”

Proclamation of the Destruction of Nineveh

2:1 The watchmen of Nineveh shout: “An enemy who will scatter you is marching out to attack you!” “Guard the rampart! Watch the road! Prepare yourselves for battle! Muster your mighty strength!”

2:2 For the Lord will restore the majesty of Jacob, as well as the majesty of Israel, though their enemies have plundered them and have destroyed their fields.

Prophetic Vision of the Fall of Nineveh

2:3 The shields of his warriors are dyed red; the mighty soldiers are dressed in scarlet garments. The metal fittings of the chariots shine like fire on the day of battle; the soldiers brandish their spears.

2:4 The chariots race madly through the streets, they rush back and forth in the broad plazas; they look like lightning bolts, they dash here and there like flashes of lightning.

2:5 The commander orders his officers; they stumble as they advance; they rush to the city wall and they set up the covered siege tower.

2:6 The sluice gates are opened; the royal palace is deluged and dissolves.

2:7 Nineveh is taken into exile and is led away; her slave girls moan like doves while they beat their breasts.

2:8 Nineveh was like a pool of water throughout her days, but now her people are running away; she cries out: “Stop! Stop!” – but no one turns back.

2:9 Her conquerors cry out: “Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold!” There is no end to the treasure; riches of every kind of precious thing.

2:10 Destruction, devastation, and desolation! Their hearts faint, their knees tremble, each stomach churns, each face turns pale!

Taunt against the Once-Mighty Lion

2:11 Where now is the den of the lions, the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, lioness, and lion cub once prowled and no one disturbed them?

2:12 The lion tore apart as much prey as his cubs needed and strangled prey to provide food for his lionesses; he filled his lairs with prey and his dens with torn flesh.

Battle Cry of the Divine Warrior

2:13 “I am against you!” declares the Lord who commands armies: “I will burn your chariots with fire; the sword will devour your young lions; you will no longer prey upon the land; the voices of your messengers will no longer be heard.”

Reason for Judgment: Sins of Nineveh

3:1 Woe to the city guilty of bloodshed! She is full of lies; she is filled with plunder; she has hoarded her spoil!

Portrayal of the Destruction of Nineveh

3:2 The chariot drivers will crack their whips; the chariot wheels will shake the ground; the chariot horses will gallop; the war chariots will bolt forward!

3:3 The charioteers will charge ahead; their swords will flash and their spears will glimmer! There will be many people slain; there will be piles of the dead, and countless casualties – so many that people will stumble over the corpses.

Taunt against the Harlot City

3:4 “Because you have acted like a wanton prostitute – a seductive mistress who practices sorcery, who enslaves nations by her harlotry, and entices peoples by her sorcery –

3:5 I am against you,” declares the Lord who commands armies. “I will strip off your clothes! I will show your nakedness to the nations and your shame to the kingdoms;

3:6 I will pelt you with filth; I will treat you with contempt; I will make you a public spectacle.

3:7 Everyone who sees you will turn away from you in disgust; they will say, ‘Nineveh has been devastated! Who will lament for her?’ There will be no one to comfort you!”

Nineveh Will Suffer the Same Fate as Thebes

3:8 You are no more secure than Thebes – she was located on the banks of the Nile; the waters surrounded her, her rampart was the sea, the water was her wall.

3:9 Cush and Egypt had limitless strength; Put and the Libyans were among her allies.

3:10 Yet she went into captivity as an exile; even her infants were smashed to pieces at the head of every street. They cast lots for her nobility; all her dignitaries were bound with chains.

3:11 You too will act like drunkards; you will go into hiding; you too will seek refuge from the enemy.

The Assyrian Defenses Will Fail

3:12 All your fortifications will be like fig trees with first-ripe fruit: If they are shaken, their figs will fall into the mouth of the eater!

3:13 Your warriors will be like women in your midst; the gates of your land will be wide open to your enemies; fire will consume the bars of your gates.

3:14 Draw yourselves water for a siege! Strengthen your fortifications! Trample the mud and tread the clay! Make mud bricks to strengthen your walls!

3:15 There the fire will consume you; the sword will cut you down; it will devour you like the young locust would.

The Assyrian Defenders Will Flee

Multiply yourself like the young locust; multiply yourself like the flying locust!

3:16 Increase your merchants more than the stars of heaven! They are like the young locust which sheds its skin and flies away.

3:17 Your courtiers are like locusts, your officials are like a swarm of locusts! They encamp in the walls on a cold day, yet when the sun rises, they fly away; and no one knows where they are.

Concluding Dirge

3:18 Your shepherds are sleeping, O king of Assyria! Your officers are slumbering! Your people are scattered like sheep on the mountains and there is no one to regather them!

3:19 Your destruction is like an incurable wound; your demise is like a fatal injury! All who hear what has happened to you will clap their hands for joy, for no one ever escaped your endless cruelty!

Prayer

Lord, You offered Ninevah mercy through Jonah but they had forgotten You and returned to their evil ways, thus You judged them. May I be careful not to backslide.

Scripture In Perspective

Nahum prophesied to Ninevah about a century after Jonah’s visit. They had apparently drifted back into their pre-Jonah evil ways.

He described Ninevah’s great power to destroy other nations, the Lord’s permission for them to destroy Israel and Judah as judgment, then stated that they faced even worse punishment for worse sin than those they conquered.

Nahum declared “The Lord is good – indeed, he is a fortress in time of distress, and he protects those who seek refuge in him. But with an overwhelming flood he will make a complete end of Nineveh; he will drive his enemies into darkness.”

Interact with the text

Consider

Ninevah had a wonderful opportunity to start-over and to receive blessings from the Lord God, but they instead returned to their pagan and violent ways of the past.

Discuss

Why would the Ninevites have drifted backward?

Reflect

Despite their massive numbers and massive captured wealth the Ninevites could not stand before a God of judgment.

Share

When have you experienced or observed the giving of a second chance that was squandered due to a return to bad behavior?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you are backsliding some.

Act

Today I will confess and repent, seek and receive the Lord God's forgiveness, and then make the necessary adjustments to resist backsliding – including inviting a fellow believer to hold me accountable and to pray in-agreement with me.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (2 Kings 22–23, 2 Chronicles 34-35)

2 Kings

Josiah Repents

22:1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother was Jedidah, daughter of Adaiah, from Bozkath. 22:2 He did what the Lord approved and followed in his ancestor David’s footsteps; he did not deviate to the right or the left.

22:3 In the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, the king sent the scribe Shaphan son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, to the Lord’s temple with these orders: 22:4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him melt down the silver that has been brought by the people to the Lord’s temple and has been collected by the guards at the door. 22:5 Have them hand it over to the construction foremen assigned to the Lord’s temple. They in turn should pay the temple workers to repair it, 22:6 including craftsmen, builders, and masons, and should buy wood and chiseled stone for the repair work. 22:7 Do not audit the foremen who disburse the silver, for they are honest.”

22:8 Hilkiah the high priest informed Shaphan the scribe, “I found the law scroll in the Lord’s temple.” Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan and he read it. 22:9 Shaphan the scribe went to the king and reported, “Your servants melted down the silver in the temple and handed it over to the construction foremen assigned to the Lord’s temple.” 22:10 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” Shaphan read it out loud before the king. 22:11 When the king heard the words of the law scroll, he tore his clothes. 22:12 The king ordered Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, 22:13 “Go, seek an oracle from the Lord for me and the people – for all Judah. Find out about the words of this scroll that has been discovered. For the Lord’s fury has been ignited against us, because our ancestors have not obeyed the words of this scroll by doing all that it instructs us to do.”

22:14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shullam son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, the supervisor of the wardrobe. (She lived in Jerusalem in the Mishneh district.) They stated their business, 22:15 and she said to them: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘Say this to the man who sent you to me: 22:16 “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to bring disaster on this place and its residents, the details of which are recorded in the scroll which the king of Judah has read. 22:17 This will happen because they have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to other gods, angering me with all the idols they have made. My anger will ignite against this place and will not be extinguished!’” 22:18 Say this to the king of Judah, who sent you to seek an oracle from the Lord: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says concerning the words you have heard: 22:19 ‘You displayed a sensitive spirit and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard how I intended to make this place and its residents into an appalling example of an accursed people. You tore your clothes and wept before me, and I have heard you,’ says the Lord. 22:20 ‘Therefore I will allow you to die and be buried in peace. You will not have to witness all the disaster I will bring on this place.’”‘” Then they reported back to the king.

The King Institutes Religious Reform

23:1 The king summoned all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. 23:2 The king went up to the Lord’s temple, accompanied by all the people of Judah, all the residents of Jerusalem, the priests, and the prophets. All the people were there, from the youngest to the oldest. He read aloud all the words of the scroll of the covenant that had been discovered in the Lord’s temple. 23:3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant before the Lord, agreeing to follow the Lord and to obey his commandments, laws, and rules with all his heart and being, by carrying out the terms of this covenant recorded on this scroll. All the people agreed to keep the covenant.

23:4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the high-ranking priests, and the guards to bring out of the Lord’s temple all the items that were used in the worship of Baal, Asherah, and all the stars of the sky. The king burned them outside of Jerusalem in the terraces of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 23:5 He eliminated the pagan priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to offer sacrifices on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the area right around Jerusalem. (They offered sacrifices to Baal, the sun god, the moon god, the constellations, and all the stars in the sky.) 23:6 He removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. He smashed it to dust and then threw the dust in the public graveyard. 23:7 He tore down the quarters of the male cultic prostitutes in the Lord’s temple, where women were weaving shrines for Asherah.

23:8 He brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and ruined the high places where the priests had offered sacrifices, from Geba to Beer Sheba. He tore down the high place of the goat idols situated at the entrance of the gate of Joshua, the city official, on the left side of the city gate. 23:9 (Now the priests of the high places did not go up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat unleavened cakes among their fellow priests.) 23:10 The king ruined Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that no one could pass his son or his daughter through the fire to Molech. 23:11 He removed from the entrance to the Lord’s temple the statues of horses that the kings of Judah had placed there in honor of the sun god. (They were kept near the room of Nathan Melech the eunuch, which was situated among the courtyards.) He burned up the chariots devoted to the sun god. 23:12 The king tore down the altars the kings of Judah had set up on the roof of Ahaz’s upper room, as well as the altars Manasseh had set up in the two courtyards of the Lord’s temple. He crushed them up and threw the dust in the Kidron Valley. 23:13 The king ruined the high places east of Jerusalem, south of the Mount of Destruction, that King Solomon of Israel had built for the detestable Sidonian goddess Astarte, the detestable Moabite god Chemosh, and the horrible Ammonite god Milcom. 23:14 He smashed the sacred pillars to bits, cut down the Asherah pole, and filled those shrines with human bones.

23:15 He also tore down the altar in Bethel at the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who encouraged Israel to sin. He burned all the combustible items at that high place and crushed them to dust; including the Asherah pole. 23:16 When Josiah turned around, he saw the tombs there on the hill. So he ordered the bones from the tombs to be brought; he burned them on the altar and defiled it. This fulfilled the Lord’s announcement made by the prophet while Jeroboam stood by the altar during a festival. King Josiah turned and saw the grave of the prophet who had foretold this. 23:17 He asked, “What is this grave marker I see?” The men from the city replied, “It’s the grave of the prophet who came from Judah and foretold these very things you have done to the altar of Bethel.” 23:18 The king said, “Leave it alone! No one must touch his bones.” So they left his bones undisturbed, as well as the bones of the Israelite prophet buried beside him.

23:19 Josiah also removed all the shrines on the high places in the cities of Samaria. The kings of Israel had made them and angered the Lord. He did to them what he had done to the high place in Bethel. 23:20 He sacrificed all the priests of the high places on the altars located there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

23:21 The king ordered all the people, “Observe the Passover of the Lord your God, as prescribed in this scroll of the covenant.” 23:22 He issued this edict because a Passover like this had not been observed since the days of the judges; it was neglected for the entire period of the kings of Israel and Judah. 23:23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, such a Passover of the Lord was observed in Jerusalem.

23:24 Josiah also got rid of the ritual pits used to conjure up spirits, the magicians, personal idols, disgusting images, and all the detestable idols that had appeared in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem. In this way he carried out the terms of the law recorded on the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the Lord’s temple. 23:25 No king before or after repented before the Lord as he did, with his whole heart, soul, and being in accordance with the whole law of Moses.

23:26 Yet the Lord’s great anger against Judah did not subside; he was still infuriated by all the things Manasseh had done. 23:27 The Lord announced, “I will also spurn Judah, just as I spurned Israel. I will reject this city that I chose – both Jerusalem and the temple, about which I said, “I will live there.”

23:28 The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign and all his accomplishments are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah. 23:29 During Josiah’s reign Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt marched toward the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to fight him, but Necho killed him at Megiddo when he saw him. 23:30 His servants transported his dead body from Megiddo in a chariot and brought it to Jerusalem, where they buried him in his tomb. The people of the land took Josiah’s son Jehoahaz, poured olive oil on his head, and made him king in his father’s place.

Jehoahaz’s Reign over Judah

23:31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah, from Libnah. 23:32 He did evil in the sight of the Lord as his ancestors had done. 23:33 Pharaoh Necho imprisoned him in Riblah in the land of Hamath and prevented him from ruling in Jerusalem. He imposed on the land a special tax of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. 23:34 Pharaoh Necho made Josiah’s son Eliakim king in Josiah’s place, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. He took Jehoahaz to Egypt, where he died. 23:35 Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh the required amount of silver and gold, but to meet Pharaoh’s demands Jehoiakim had to tax the land. He collected an assessed amount from each man among the people of the land in order to pay Pharaoh Necho.

Jehoiakim’s Reign over Judah

23:36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah, from Rumah. 23:37 He did evil in the sight of the Lord as his ancestors had done.

2 Chronicles

Josiah Institutes Religious Reforms

34:1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 34:2 He did what the Lord approved and followed in his ancestor David’s footsteps; he did not deviate to the right or the left.

34:3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his ancestor David. In his twelfth year he began ridding Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, Asherah poles, idols, and images. 34:4 He ordered the altars of the Baals to be torn down, and broke the incense altars that were above them. He smashed the Asherah poles, idols and images, crushed them up and sprinkled the dust over the tombs of those who had sacrificed to them. 34:5 He burned the bones of the pagan priests on their altars; he purified Judah and Jerusalem. 34:6 In the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 34:7 he tore down the altars and Asherah poles, demolished the idols, and smashed all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

34:8 In the eighteenth year of his reign, he continued his policy of purifying the land and the temple. He sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the city official, and Joah son of Joahaz the secretary to repair the temple of the Lord his God. 34:9 They went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the silver that had been brought to God’s temple. The Levites who guarded the door had collected it from the people of Manasseh and Ephraim and from all who were left in Israel, as well as from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the residents of Jerusalem. 34:10 They handed it over to the construction foremen assigned to the Lord’s temple. They in turn paid the temple workers to restore and repair it. 34:11 They gave money to the craftsmen and builders to buy chiseled stone and wood for the braces and rafters of the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into disrepair. 34:12 The men worked faithfully. Their supervisors were Jahath and Obadiah (Levites descended from Merari), as well as Zechariah and Meshullam (descendants of Kohath). The Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians, 34:13 supervised the laborers and all the foremen on their various jobs. Some of the Levites were scribes, officials, and guards.

34:14 When they took out the silver that had been brought to the Lord’s temple, Hilkiah the priest found the law scroll the Lord had given to Moses. 34:15 Hilkiah informed Shaphan the scribe, “I found the law scroll in the Lord’s temple.” Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan. 34:16 Shaphan brought the scroll to the king and reported, “Your servants are doing everything assigned to them. 34:17 They melted down the silver in the Lord’s temple and handed it over to the supervisors of the construction foremen.” 34:18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” Shaphan read it out loud before the king. 34:19 When the king heard the words of the law scroll, he tore his clothes. 34:20 The king ordered Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, 34:21 “Go, seek an oracle from the Lord for me and those who remain in Israel and Judah. Find out about the words of this scroll that has been discovered. For the Lord’s fury has been ignited against us, because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the Lord by doing all that this scroll instructs!”

34:22 So Hilkiah and the others sent by the king went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, the supervisor of the wardrobe. (She lived in Jerusalem in the Mishneh district.) They stated their business, 34:23 and she said to them: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘Say this to the man who sent you to me: 34:24 “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to bring disaster on this place and its residents, the details of which are recorded in the scroll which they read before the king of Judah. 34:25 This will happen because they have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to other gods, angering me with all the idols they have made. My anger will ignite against this place and will not be extinguished!’” 34:26 Say this to the king of Judah, who sent you to seek an oracle from the Lord: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says concerning the words you have heard: 34:27 ‘You displayed a sensitive spirit and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words concerning this place and its residents. You humbled yourself before me, tore your clothes and wept before me, and I have heard you,’ says the Lord. 34:28 ‘Therefore I will allow you to die and be buried in peace. You will not have to witness all the disaster I will bring on this place and its residents.’”‘” Then they reported back to the king.

34:29 The king summoned all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. 34:30 The king went up to the Lord’s temple, accompanied by all the people of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, the priests, and the Levites. All the people were there, from the oldest to the youngest. He read aloud all the words of the scroll of the covenant that had been discovered in the Lord’s temple. 34:31 The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant before the Lord, agreeing to follow the Lord and to obey his commandments, laws, and rules with all his heart and being, by carrying out the terms of this covenant recorded on this scroll. 34:32 He made all who were in Jerusalem and Benjamin agree to it. The residents of Jerusalem acted in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. 34:33 Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the areas belonging to the Israelites and encouraged all who were in Israel to worship the Lord their God. Throughout the rest of his reign they did not turn aside from following the Lord God of their ancestors.

Josiah Observes the Passover

35:1 Josiah observed a Passover festival for the Lord in Jerusalem. They slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month. 35:2 He appointed the priests to fulfill their duties and encouraged them to carry out their service in the Lord’s temple. 35:3 He told the Levites, who instructed all Israel about things consecrated to the Lord, “Place the holy ark in the temple which King Solomon son of David of Israel built. Don’t carry it on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and his people Israel! 35:4 Prepare yourselves by your families according to your divisions, as instructed by King David of Israel and his son Solomon. 35:5 Stand in the sanctuary and, together with the Levites, represent the family divisions of your countrymen. 35:6 Slaughter the Passover lambs, consecrate yourselves, and make preparations for your countrymen to do what the Lord commanded through Moses.”

35:7 From his own royal flocks and herds, Josiah supplied the people with 30,000 lambs and goats for the Passover sacrifice, as well as 3,000 cattle. 35:8 His officials also willingly contributed to the people, priests, and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, the leaders of God’s temple, supplied 2,600 Passover sacrifices and 300 cattle. 35:9 Konaniah and his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, along with Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad, the officials of the Levites, supplied the Levites with 5,000 Passover sacrifices and 500 cattle. 35:10 Preparations were made, and the priests stood at their posts and the Levites in their divisions as prescribed by the king. 35:11 They slaughtered the Passover lambs and the priests splashed the blood, while the Levites skinned the animals. 35:12 They reserved the burnt offerings and the cattle for the family divisions of the people to present to the Lord, as prescribed in the scroll of Moses. 35:13 They cooked the Passover sacrifices over the open fire as prescribed and cooked the consecrated offerings in pots, kettles, and pans. They quickly served them to all the people. 35:14 Afterward they made preparations for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the descendants of Aaron, were offering burnt sacrifices and fat portions until evening. The Levites made preparations for themselves and for the priests, the descendants of Aaron. 35:15 The musicians, the descendants of Asaph, manned their posts, as prescribed by David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s prophet. The guards at the various gates did not need to leave their posts, for their fellow Levites made preparations for them. 35:16 So all the preparations for the Lord’s service were made that day, as the Passover was observed and the burnt sacrifices were offered on the altar of the Lord, as prescribed by King Josiah. 35:17 So the Israelites who were present observed the Passover at that time, as well as the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 35:18 A Passover like this had not been observed in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had observed a Passover like the one celebrated by Josiah, the priests, the Levites, all the people of Judah and Israel who were there, and the residents of Jerusalem. 35:19 This Passover was observed in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.

Josiah’s Reign Ends

35:20 After Josiah had done all this for the temple, King Necho of Egypt marched up to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River. Josiah marched out to oppose him. 35:21 Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “Why are you opposing me, O king of Judah? I am not attacking you today, but the kingdom with which I am at war. God told me to hurry. Stop opposing God, who is with me, or else he will destroy you.” 35:22 But Josiah did not turn back from him; he disguised himself for battle. He did not take seriously the words of Necho which he had received from God; he went to fight him in the Plain of Megiddo. 35:23 Archers shot King Josiah; the king ordered his servants, “Take me out of this chariot, for I am seriously wounded.” 35:24 So his servants took him out of the chariot, put him in another chariot that he owned, and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors; all the people of Judah and Jerusalem mourned Josiah. 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah which all the male and female singers use to mourn Josiah to this very day. It has become customary in Israel to sing these; they are recorded in the Book of Laments.

35:26 The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign, including the faithful acts he did in obedience to what is written in the law of the Lord 35:27 and his accomplishments, from start to finish, are recorded in the Scroll of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

Prayer

Lord, You know the hearts of every person among even a huge nation of people, so even the right heart of a single king cannot redeem a people bent upon rebellion. May I constantly check my heart-condition with Your Holy Spirit so that I never drift into a rebellious mind-set. You allow us to choose to repent – turn away – and to return to You, and You bless us when we do. May I be faithful to respond with humble repentance every time your Holy Spirit shows me where I have had any part in disobedience.

Scripture In Perspective

Josiah became king at the age of eight. By the time he was sixteen he was inquiring about the expectations of the Lord God and therefore went throughout the land to remove the altars to the false gods.

During his thirty-one years as king Josiah restored the faithful leadership of his grandfather, Hezekiah, following the rebellious leadership of his father Manassah.

Josiah destroyed every evil thing that Manassah had built and located and destroyed that which even his grandfather had missed.

Josiah instructed that the Temple be repaired. He instructed the priests to gather and melt silver for the repair of the temple and as the construction progressed and the silver was being transferred they discovered a scroll.

When the scroll was read aloud to Josiah he discovered that the Lord God was angry with Israel and Judah for rebellion. Josiah was heart-sick and tore his clothes and wept, then instructed the priests to get an oracle from the Lord via a prophet(ess) of God.

He commanded the people to gather to renew their vow of obedience before the Lord God. He also restored the Passover celebration which had been neglected during the entire period of the kings.

The prophesy contained in the scrolls was that the Lord God did intend to bring complete disaster upon the people for their rebellion but because Josiah responded righteously to the contents of the scroll he would not see that terrible day.

In his thirty-first year as king Josiah led his forces against the kings of Assyria and Egypt and was killed in battle.

King Necho of Egypt marched to help the king of Assyria (at the urging of God) and Josiah, without consulting the Lord God, went out to oppose him. Necho tried to explain but Josiah refused to listen and was struck by the arrows of the archers. He returned to Jerusalem where he died. The prophet Jeremiah celebrated his God-honoring leadership as king with songs that were sung for a long time after his death.

Josiah’s son Jehoahaz was made king by the people.

Jehoahaz was king for three months and did evil – so Pharoah Necho imprisoned him, levied a heavy tribute on the people, and installed Josiah’s son Eliakim king in Josiah’s place, and changed his name to Jehoiakim – he ruled for eleven years.

Interact with the text

Consider

Josiah was zealous for the Lord even before he read the scrolls. Between the age of eight and sixteen someone must have discipled Josiah so that he knew at age sixteen the right things to do.

Discuss

What might have prompted Josiah to choose the path of his grandfather rather than that of his father? Why would Josiah have neglected to consult the Lord God before challenging Necho?

Reflect

The scrolls provided Josiah the information he needed to fully restore the practices of the Israelites, and he did so; David and Solomon (and possibly other kings) had access to them – why would those practices have been abandoned? God chose to use the Egyptians to punish the remnants of Israel and Judah.

Share

When have you discovered something about the Lord, that you had not been taught in discipleship, and have then tried to live it out? When have you experienced or observed an otherwise faithful Christian making a choice or choices and setting out upon a path that proved, upon reflection, to be against God’s will – all because they did not pause to ask Him first?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something from the Word about which you have had either a wrong understanding or no awareness and to reveal to you a place where you think that you are making the right choices but are wrong because you failed to consult Him first.

Act

Today I will celebrate what the Holy Spirit has illuminated in my mind from the Word. I will be jealous in searching the Word for the most-complete Holy Spirit-inspired understanding and will be equally zealous in applying the combined knowledge and understanding to my life as transforming-wisdom from the Lord God. I will also repent of the choices I have made, and/or am making, without first consulting the Lord God. I will humbly pray and redirect my way.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Tuesday (Zephaniah 1–3)

Introduction

1:1 This is the prophetic message that the Lord gave to Zephaniah son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah. Zephaniah delivered this message during the reign of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah:

The Lord’s Day of Judgment is Approaching

1:2 “I will destroy everything from the face of the earth,” says the Lord.

1:3 “I will destroy people and animals; I will destroy the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. (The idolatrous images of these creatures will be destroyed along with evil people.)

I will remove humanity from the face of the earth,” says the Lord.

1:4 “I will attack Judah and all who live in Jerusalem. I will remove from this place every trace of Baal worship, as well as the very memory of the pagan priests.

1:5 I will remove those who worship the stars in the sky from their rooftops, those who swear allegiance to the Lord while taking oaths in the name of their ‘king,’

1:6 and those who turn their backs on the Lord and do not want the Lord’s help or guidance.”

1:7 Be silent before the Lord God, for the Lord’s day of judgment is almost here. The Lord has prepared a sacrificial meal; he has ritually purified his guests.

1:8 “On the day of the Lord’s sacrificial meal, I will punish the princes and the king’s sons, and all who wear foreign styles of clothing.

1:9 On that day I will punish all who leap over the threshold, who fill the house of their master with wealth taken by violence and deceit.

1:10 On that day,” says the Lord, “a loud cry will go up from the Fish Gate, wailing from the city’s newer district, and a loud crash from the hills.

1:11 Wail, you who live in the market district, for all the merchants will disappear and those who count money will be removed.

1:12 At that time I will search through Jerusalem with lamps. I will punish the people who are entrenched in their sin, those who think to themselves, ‘The Lord neither rewards nor punishes.’

1:13 Their wealth will be stolen and their houses ruined! They will not live in the houses they have built, nor will they drink the wine from the vineyards they have planted.

1:14 The Lord’s great day of judgment is almost here; it is approaching very rapidly! There will be a bitter sound on the Lord’s day of judgment; at that time warriors will cry out in battle.

1:15 That day will be a day of God’s anger, a day of distress and hardship, a day of devastation and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dark skies,

1:16 a day of trumpet blasts and battle cries. Judgment will fall on the fortified cities and the high corner towers.

1:17 I will bring distress on the people and they will stumble like blind men, for they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dirt; their flesh will be scattered like manure.

1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s angry judgment. The whole earth will be consumed by his fiery wrath. Indeed, he will bring terrifying destruction on all who live on the earth.”

The Prophet Warns the People

2:1 Bunch yourselves together like straw, you undesirable nation,

2:2 before God’s decree becomes reality and the day of opportunity disappears like windblown chaff, before the Lord’s raging anger overtakes you – before the day of the Lord’s angry judgment overtakes you!

2:3 Seek the Lord’s favor, all you humble people of the land who have obeyed his commands! Strive to do what is right! Strive to be humble! Maybe you will be protected on the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.

Judgment on Surrounding Nations

2:4 Indeed, Gaza will be deserted and Ashkelon will become a heap of ruins. Invaders will drive away the people of Ashdod by noon, and Ekron will be overthrown.

2:5 Those who live by the sea, the people who came from Crete, are as good as dead. The Lord has decreed your downfall, Canaan, land of the Philistines: “I will destroy everyone who lives there!”

2:6 The seacoast will be used as pasture lands by the shepherds and as pens for their flocks.

2:7 Those who are left from the kingdom of Judah will take possession of it. By the sea they will graze, in the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down in the evening, for the Lord their God will intervene for them and restore their prosperity.

2:8 “I have heard Moab’s taunts and the Ammonites’ insults. They taunted my people and verbally harassed those living in Judah.

2:9 Therefore, as surely as I live,” says the Lord who commands armies, the God of Israel, “be certain that Moab will become like Sodom and the Ammonites like Gomorrah. They will be overrun by weeds, filled with salt pits, and permanently desolate. Those of my people who are left will plunder their belongings; those who are left in Judah will take possession of their land.”

2:10 This is how they will be repaid for their arrogance, for they taunted and verbally harassed the people of the Lord who commands armies.

2:11 The Lord will terrify them, for he will weaken all the gods of the earth. All the distant nations will worship the Lord in their own lands.

2:12 “You Ethiopians will also die by my sword!”

2:13 The Lord will attack the north and destroy Assyria. He will make Nineveh a heap of ruins; it will be as barren as the desert.

2:14 Flocks and herds will lie down in the middle of it, as well as every kind of wild animal. Owls will sleep in the tops of its support pillars; they will hoot through the windows. Rubble will cover the thresholds; even the cedar work will be exposed to the elements.

2:15 This is how the once-proud city will end up – the city that was so secure. She thought to herself, “I am unique! No one can compare to me!” What a heap of ruins she has become, a place where wild animals live! Everyone who passes by her taunts her and shakes his fist.

Jerusalem is Corrupt

3:1 The filthy, stained city is as good as dead; the city filled with oppressors is finished!

3:2 She is disobedient; she refuses correction. She does not trust the Lord; she does not seek the advice of her God.

3:3 Her princes are as fierce as roaring lions; her rulers are as hungry as wolves in the desert, who completely devour their prey by morning.

3:4 Her prophets are proud; they are deceitful men. Her priests defile what is holy; they break God’s laws.

3:5 The just Lord resides within her; he commits no unjust acts. Every morning he reveals his justice. At dawn he appears without fail. Yet the unjust know no shame.

The Lord’s Judgment will Purify

3:6 “I destroyed nations; their walled cities are in ruins. I turned their streets into ruins; no one passes through them. Their cities are desolate; no one lives there.

3:7 I thought, ‘Certainly you will respect me! Now you will accept correction!’ If she had done so, her home would not be destroyed by all the punishments I have threatened. But they eagerly sinned in everything they did.

3:8 Therefore you must wait patiently for me,” says the Lord, “for the day when I attack and take plunder. I have decided to gather nations together and assemble kingdoms, so I can pour out my fury on them – all my raging anger. For the whole earth will be consumed by my fiery anger.

3:9 Know for sure that I will then enable the nations to give me acceptable praise. All of them will invoke the Lord’s name when they pray, and will worship him in unison.

3:10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, those who pray to me will bring me tribute.

3:11 In that day you will not be ashamed of all your rebelliousness against me, for then I will remove from your midst those who proudly boast, and you will never again be arrogant on my holy hill.

3:12 I will leave in your midst a humble and meek group of people, and they will find safety in the Lord’s presence.

3:13 The Israelites who remain will not act deceitfully. They will not lie, and a deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouth. Indeed, they will graze peacefully like sheep and lie down; no one will terrify them.”

3:14 Shout for joy, Daughter Zion! Shout out, Israel! Be happy and boast with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!

3:15 The Lord has removed the judgment against you; he has turned back your enemy. Israel’s king, the Lord, is in your midst! You no longer need to fear disaster.

3:16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Don’t be afraid, Zion! Your hands must not be paralyzed from panic!

3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst; he is a warrior who can deliver. He takes great delight in you; he renews you by his love; he shouts for joy over you.”

3:18 “As for those who grieve because they cannot attend the festivals – I took them away from you; they became tribute and were a source of shame to you.

3:19 Look, at that time I will deal with those who mistreated you. I will rescue the lame sheep and gather together the scattered sheep. I will take away their humiliation and make the whole earth admire and respect them.

3:20 At that time I will lead you – at the time I gather you together. Be sure of this! I will make all the nations of the earth respect and admire you when you see me restore you,” says the Lord.

Prayer

Lord, You always offer hope, even as you punish as Your ultimate purpose is to purify the willing and to purge the unwilling. May I be teachable so that You will not need to take extreme measures to purify me.

Scripture In Perspective

Zephaniah served at about the same time as Nahum, approximately between 650 and 600 BC. He prophesied to all of Israel and in some ways to all people.

He explained why the Lord God was angry and warned that the day of judgment was coming soon.

Zephaniah proclaimed the justice and mercy of the Lord “Seek the Lord’s favor, all you humble people of the land who have obeyed his commands! Strive to do what is right! Strive to be humble! Maybe you will be protected on the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.”

He challenged the people of Jerusalem with their chosen circumstance “The just Lord resides within her; he commits no unjust acts. Every morning he reveals his justice. At dawn he appears without fail. Yet the unjust know no shame.”

Zephaniah concluded with hope “... will rescue the lame sheep and gather together the scattered sheep. I will take away their humiliation and make the whole earth admire and respect them. At that time I will lead you – at the time I gather you together. Be sure of this! I will make all the nations of the earth respect and admire you when you see me restore you,” says the Lord.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

The judgment of the Lord God would come against every nation, first in judgment-to-purify Israel, then in judgment to punish the pagan nations.

Discuss

How is it that “The just Lord resides within her ...”, Jerusalem, could they have fallen into such sin?

Reflect

The entire time that He caused prophesies of judgment the Lord also caused prophesies of hope.

Share

When have you experienced or observed sin even in the high-level presence of the Lord?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Act

Today I will celebrate and give praise for the indwelling Holy Spirit and I will commit myself for a more intentional walk so as to not offend Him.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Wednesday (Jeremiah 1–11:17)

The Superscription

1:1 The following is a record of what Jeremiah son of Hilkiah prophesied. He was one of the priests who lived at Anathoth in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. 1:2 The Lord began to speak to him in the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon ruled over Judah. 1:3 The Lord also spoke to him when Jehoiakim son of Josiah ruled over Judah, and he continued to speak to him until the fifth month of the eleventh year that Zedekiah son of Josiah ruled over Judah. That was when the people of Jerusalem were taken into exile.

Jeremiah’s Call and Commission

1:4 The Lord said to me,

1:5 “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”

1:6 I answered, “Oh, Lord God, I really do not know how to speak well enough for that, for I am too young.” 1:7 The Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ But go to whomever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 1:8 Do not be afraid of those to whom I send you, for I will be with you to protect you,” says the Lord. 1:9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me. 1:10 Know for certain that I hereby give you the authority to announce to nations and kingdoms that they will be uprooted and torn down, destroyed and demolished, rebuilt and firmly planted.”

Visions Confirming Jeremiah’s Call and Commission

1:11 Later the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I answered, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 1:12 Then the Lord said, “You have observed correctly. This means I am watching to make sure my threats are carried out.”

1:13 The Lord again asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a pot of boiling water; it is tipped toward us from the north.” 1:14 Then the Lord said, “This means destruction will break out from the north on all who live in the land. 1:15 For I will soon summon all the peoples of the kingdoms of the north,” says the Lord. “They will come and their kings will set up their thrones near the entrances of the gates of Jerusalem. They will attack all the walls surrounding it, and all the towns in Judah. 1:16 In this way I will pass sentence on the people of Jerusalem and Judah because of all their wickedness. For they rejected me and offered sacrifices to other gods, worshiping what they made with their own hands.”

1:17 “But you, Jeremiah, get yourself ready! Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say. Do not be terrified of them, or I will give you good reason to be terrified of them. 1:18 I, the Lord, hereby promise to make you as strong as a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall. You will be able to stand up against all who live in the land, including the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and all the people of the land. 1:19 They will attack you but they will not be able to overcome you, for I will be with you to rescue you,” says the Lord.

The Lord Recalls Israel’s Earlier Faithfulness

2:1 The Lord spoke to me. He said: 2:2 “Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. 2:3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the first fruits of a harvest to him. All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.’”

The Lord Reminds Them of the Unfaithfulness of Their Ancestors

2:4 Now listen to what the Lord has to say, you descendants of Jacob, all you family groups from the nation of Israel.

2:5 This is what the Lord says: “What fault could your ancestors have possibly found in me that they strayed so far from me? They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.

2:6 They did not ask: ‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt, who brought us through the wilderness, through a land of desert sands and rift valleys, through a land of drought and deep darkness, through a land in which no one travels, and where no one lives?’

2:7 I brought you into a fertile land so you could enjoy its fruits and its rich bounty. But when you entered my land, you defiled it; you made the land I call my own loathsome to me.

2:8 Your priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those responsible for teaching my law did not really know me. Your rulers rebelled against me. Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal. They all worshiped idols that could not help them.

The Lord Charges Contemporary Israel with Spiritual Adultery

2:9 “So, once more I will state my case against you,” says the Lord. “I will also state it against your children and grandchildren.

2:10 Go west across the sea to the coasts of Cyprus and see. Send someone east to Kedar and have them look carefully. See if such a thing as this has ever happened:

2:11 Has a nation ever changed its gods (even though they are not really gods at all)? But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God, for a god that cannot help them at all!

2:12 Be amazed at this, O heavens! Be shocked and utterly dumbfounded,” says the Lord.

2:13 “Do so because my people have committed a double wrong: they have rejected me, the fountain of life-giving water, and they have dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns which cannot even hold water.”

Israel’s Reliance on Foreign Alliances (not on God)

2:14 “Israel is not a slave, is he? He was not born into slavery, was he? If not, why then is he being carried off?

2:15 Like lions his enemies roar victoriously over him; they raise their voices in triumph. They have laid his land waste; his cities have been burned down and deserted.

2:16 Even the soldiers from Memphis and Tahpanhes have cracked your skulls, people of Israel.

2:17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel, by deserting the Lord your God when he was leading you along the right path.

2:18 What good will it do you then to go down to Egypt to seek help from the Egyptians? What good will it do you to go over to Assyria to seek help from the Assyrians?

2:19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment. Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you. Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful it was for you to reject me, the Lord your God, to show no respect for me,” says the Lord God who rules over all.

The Lord Expresses His Exasperation at Judah’s Persistent Idolat

2:20 “Indeed, long ago you threw off my authority and refused to be subject to me. You said, ‘I will not serve you.’ Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill and under every green tree, like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.

2:21 I planted you in the land like a special vine of the very best stock. Why in the world have you turned into something like a wild vine that produces rotten, foul-smelling grapes?

2:22 You can try to wash away your guilt with a strong detergent. You can use as much soap as you want.

But the stain of your guilt is still there for me to see,” says the Lord God.

2:23 “How can you say, ‘I have not made myself unclean. I have not paid allegiance to the gods called Baal.’ Just look at the way you have behaved in the Valley of Hinnom! Think about the things you have done there! You are like a flighty, young female camel that rushes here and there, crisscrossing its path.

2:24 You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness. In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male. No one can hold her back when she is in heat. None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her. At mating time she is easy to find.

2:25 Do not chase after other gods until your shoes wear out and your throats become dry. But you say, ‘It is useless for you to try and stop me because I love those foreign gods and want to pursue them!’

2:26 Just as a thief has to suffer dishonor when he is caught, so the people of Israel will suffer dishonor for what they have done. So will their kings and officials, their priests and their prophets.

2:27 They say to a wooden idol, ‘You are my father.’ They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’ Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me. Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’

2:28 But where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them save you when you are in trouble. The sad fact is that you have as many gods as you have towns, Judah.

2:29 “Why do you try to refute me? All of you have rebelled against me,” says the Lord.

2:30 “It did no good for me to punish your people. They did not respond to such correction. You slaughtered your prophets like a voracious lion.”

2:31 You people of this generation, listen to what the Lord says. “Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel? Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you? Why then do you say, ‘We are free to wander. We will not come to you any more?’

2:32 Does a young woman forget to put on her jewels? Does a bride forget to put on her bridal attire? But my people have forgotten me for more days than can even be counted.

2:33 “My, how good you have become at chasing after your lovers! Why, you could even teach prostitutes a thing or two!

2:34 Even your clothes are stained with the lifeblood of the poor who had not done anything wrong; you did not catch them breaking into your homes. Yet, in spite of all these things you have done,

2:35 you say, ‘I have not done anything wrong, so the Lord cannot really be angry with me any more.’ But, watch out! I will bring down judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not committed any sin.’

2:36 Why do you constantly go about changing your political allegiances? You will get no help from Egypt just as you got no help from Assyria.

2:37 Moreover, you will come away from Egypt with your hands covering your faces in sorrow and shame because the Lord will not allow your reliance on them to be successful and you will not gain any help from them.

3:1 “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife, he may not take her back again. Doing that would utterly defile the land. But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods. So what makes you think you can return to me?” says the Lord.

3:2 “Look up at the hilltops and consider this. You have had sex with other gods on every one of them. You waited for those gods like a thief lying in wait in the desert. You defiled the land by your wicked prostitution to other gods.

3:3 That is why the rains have been withheld, and the spring rains have not come. Yet in spite of this you are obstinate as a prostitute. You refuse to be ashamed of what you have done.

3:4 Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father! You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young.

3:5 You will not always be angry with me, will you? You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’ That is what you say, but you continually do all the evil that you can.”

3:6 When Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done. You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods. 3:7 Yet even after she had done all that, I thought that she might come back to me. But she did not. Her sister, unfaithful Judah, saw what she did. 3:8 She also saw that I gave wayward Israel her divorce papers and sent her away because of her adulterous worship of other gods. Even after her unfaithful sister Judah had seen this, she still was not afraid, and she too went and gave herself like a prostitute to other gods. 3:9 Because she took her prostitution so lightly, she defiled the land through her adulterous worship of gods made of wood and stone. 3:10 In spite of all this, Israel’s sister, unfaithful Judah, has not turned back to me with any sincerity; she has only pretended to do so,” says the Lord. 3:11 Then the Lord said to me, “Under the circumstances, wayward Israel could even be considered less guilty than unfaithful Judah.

The Lord Calls on Israel and Judah to Repent

3:12 “Go and shout this message to my people in the countries in the north. Tell them, ‘Come back to me, wayward Israel,’ says the Lord. ‘I will not continue to look on you with displeasure. For I am merciful,’ says the Lord. ‘I will not be angry with you forever.

3:13 However, you must confess that you have done wrong, and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God. You must confess that you have given yourself to foreign gods under every green tree, and have not obeyed my commands,’ says the Lord.

3:14 “Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says the Lord, “for I am your true master. If you do, I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion. 3:15 I will give you leaders who will be faithful to me. They will lead you with knowledge and insight. 3:16 In those days, your population will greatly increase in the land. At that time,” says the Lord, “people will no longer talk about having the ark that contains the Lord’s covenant with us. They will not call it to mind, remember it, or miss it. No, that will not be done any more! 3:17 At that time the city of Jerusalem will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name. They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. 3:18 At that time the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited. Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession. “

3:19 “I thought to myself, ‘Oh what a joy it would be for me to treat you like a son! What a joy it would be for me to give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful piece of property there is in all the world!’ I thought you would call me, ‘Father’ and would never cease being loyal to me.

3:20 But, you have been unfaithful to me, nation of Israel, like an unfaithful wife who has left her husband,” says the Lord.

3:21 “A noise is heard on the hilltops. It is the sound of the people of Israel crying and pleading to their gods. Indeed they have followed sinful ways; they have forgotten to be true to the Lord their God.

3:22 Come back to me, you wayward people. I want to cure your waywardness. Say, ‘Here we are. We come to you because you are the Lord our God.

3:23 We know our noisy worship of false gods on the hills and mountains did not help us. We know that the Lord our God is the only one who can deliver Israel.

3:24 From earliest times our worship of that shameful god, Baal, has taken away all that our ancestors worked for. It has taken away our flocks and our herds, and even our sons and daughters.

3:25 Let us acknowledge our shame. Let us bear the disgrace that we deserve. For we have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors. From earliest times to this very day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.’

4:1 “If you, Israel, want to come back,” says the Lord, “if you want to come back to me you must get those disgusting idols out of my sight and must no longer go astray.

4:2 You must be truthful, honest and upright when you take an oath saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’ If you do, the nations will pray to be as blessed by him as you are and will make him the object of their boasting.”

4:3 Yes, the Lord has this to say to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Like a farmer breaking up hard unplowed ground, you must break your rebellious will and make a new beginning; just as a farmer must clear away thorns lest the seed is wasted, you must get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives.

4:4 Just as ritual circumcision cuts away the foreskin as an external symbol of dedicated covenant commitment, you must genuinely dedicate yourselves to the Lord and get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to me, people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. If you do not, my anger will blaze up like a flaming fire against you that no one will be able to extinguish. That will happen because of the evil you have done.”

Warning of Coming Judgment

4:5 The Lord said, “Announce this in Judah and proclaim it in Jerusalem: ‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’ Shout out loudly, ‘Gather together! Let us flee into the fortified cities!’

4:6 Raise a signal flag that tells people to go to Zion. Run for safety! Do not delay! For I am about to bring disaster out of the north. It will bring great destruction.

4:7 Like a lion that has come up from its lair the one who destroys nations has set out from his home base. He is coming out to lay your land waste. Your cities will become ruins and lie uninhabited.

4:8 So put on sackcloth! Mourn and wail, saying, ‘The fierce anger of the Lord has not turned away from us!’”

4:9 “When this happens,” says the Lord, “the king and his officials will lose their courage. The priests will be struck with horror, and the prophets will be speechless in astonishment.”

4:10 In response to all this I said, “Ah, Lord God, you have surely allowed the people of Judah and Jerusalem to be deceived by those who say, ‘You will be safe!’ But in fact a sword is already at our throats.”

4:11 “At that time the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be told, ‘A scorching wind will sweep down from the hilltops in the desert on my dear people. It will not be a gentle breeze for winnowing the grain and blowing away the chaff.

4:12 No, a wind too strong for that will come at my bidding. Yes, even now I, myself, am calling down judgment on them.’

4:13 Look! The enemy is approaching like gathering clouds. The roar of his chariots is like that of a whirlwind. His horses move more swiftly than eagles.” I cry out, “We are doomed, for we will be destroyed!”

4:14 “Oh people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts from evil so that you may yet be delivered. How long will you continue to harbor up wicked schemes within you?

4:15 For messengers are coming, heralding disaster, from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim.

4:16 They are saying, ‘Announce to the surrounding nations, “The enemy is coming!” Proclaim this message to Jerusalem: “Those who besiege cities are coming from a distant land. They are ready to raise the battle cry against the towns in Judah.”‘

4:17 They will surround Jerusalem like men guarding a field because they have rebelled against me,” says the Lord.

4:18 “The way you have lived and the things you have done will bring this on you. This is the punishment you deserve, and it will be painful indeed. The pain will be so bad it will pierce your heart.”

4:19 I said, “Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach! I writhe in anguish. Oh, the pain in my heart! My heart pounds within me. I cannot keep silent. For I hear the sound of the trumpet; the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul!

4:20 I see one destruction after another taking place, so that the whole land lies in ruins. I see our tents suddenly destroyed, their curtains torn down in a mere instant.

4:21 “How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags and hear the military signals of their bugles?”

4:22 The Lord answered, “This will happen because my people are foolish. They do not know me. They are like children who have no sense. They have no understanding. They are skilled at doing evil. They do not know how to do good.”

4:23 “I looked at the land and saw that it was an empty wasteland. I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished.

4:24 I looked at the mountains and saw that they were shaking. All the hills were swaying back and forth!

4:25 I looked and saw that there were no more people, and that all the birds in the sky had flown away.

4:26 I looked and saw that the fruitful land had become a desert and that all of the cities had been laid in ruins. The Lord had brought this all about because of his blazing anger.

4:27 All this will happen because the Lord said, “The whole land will be desolate; however, I will not completely destroy it.

4:28 Because of this the land will mourn and the sky above will grow black. For I have made my purpose known and I will not relent or turn back from carrying it out.”

4:29 At the sound of the approaching horsemen and archers the people of every town will flee. Some of them will hide in the thickets. Others will climb up among the rocks. All the cities will be deserted. No one will remain in them.

4:30 And you, Zion, city doomed to destruction, you accomplish nothing by wearing a beautiful dress, decking yourself out in jewels of gold, and putting on eye shadow! You are making yourself beautiful for nothing. Your lovers spurn you. They want to kill you.

4:31 In fact, I hear a cry like that of a woman in labor, a cry of anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first baby. It is the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath, reaching out for help, saying, “I am done in! My life is ebbing away before these murderers!”

Judah is Justly Deserving of Coming Judgment

5:1 The Lord said, “Go up and down through the streets of Jerusalem. Look around and see for yourselves. Search through its public squares. See if any of you can find a single person who deals honestly and tries to be truthful. If you can, then I will not punish this city.

5:2 These people make promises in the name of the Lord. But the fact is, what they swear to is really a lie.”

5:3 Lord, I know you look for faithfulness. But even when you punish these people, they feel no remorse. Even when you nearly destroy them, they refuse to be corrected. They have become as hardheaded as a rock. They refuse to change their ways.

5:4 I thought, “Surely it is only the ignorant poor who act this way. They act like fools because they do not know what the Lord demands. They do not know what their God requires of them.

5:5 I will go to the leaders and speak with them. Surely they know what the Lord demands. Surely they know what their God requires of them.” Yet all of them, too, have rejected his authority and refuse to submit to him.

5:6 So like a lion from the thicket their enemies will kill them. Like a wolf from the desert they will destroy them. Like a leopard they will lie in wait outside their cities and totally destroy anyone who ventures out. For they have rebelled so much and done so many unfaithful things.

5:7 The Lord asked, “How can I leave you unpunished, Jerusalem? Your people have rejected me and have worshiped gods that are not gods at all. Even though I supplied all their needs, they were like an unfaithful wife to me. They went flocking to the houses of prostitutes.

5:8 They are like lusty, well-fed stallions. Each of them lusts after his neighbor’s wife.

5:9 I will surely punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord. “I will surely bring retribution on such a nation as this!”

5:10 The Lord commanded the enemy, “March through the vineyards of Israel and Judah and ruin them. But do not destroy them completely. Strip off their branches for these people do not belong to the Lord.

5:11 For the nations of Israel and Judah have been very unfaithful to me,” says the Lord.

5:12 “These people have denied what the Lord says. They have said, ‘That is not so! No harm will come to us. We will not experience war and famine.

5:13 The prophets will prove to be full of wind. The Lord has not spoken through them. So, let what they say happen to them.’”

5:14 Because of that, the Lord, the God who rules over all, said to me, “Because these people have spoken like this, I will make the words that I put in your mouth like fire. And I will make this people like wood which the fiery judgments you speak will burn up.”

5:15 The Lord says, “Listen, nation of Israel! I am about to bring a nation from far away to attack you. It will be a nation that was founded long ago and has lasted for a long time. It will be a nation whose language you will not know. Its people will speak words that you will not be able to understand.

5:16 All of its soldiers are strong and mighty. Their arrows will send you to your grave.

5:17 They will eat up your crops and your food. They will kill off your sons and your daughters. They will eat up your sheep and your cattle. They will destroy your vines and your fig trees. Their weapons will batter down the fortified cities you trust in.

5:18 Yet even then I will not completely destroy you,” says the Lord. 5:19 “So then, Jeremiah, when your people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ tell them, ‘It is because you rejected me and served foreign gods in your own land. So you must serve foreigners in a land that does not belong to you.’

5:20 “Proclaim this message among the descendants of Jacob. Make it known throughout Judah.

5:21 Tell them: ‘Hear this, you foolish people who have no understanding, who have eyes but do not discern, who have ears but do not perceive:

5:22 “You should fear me!” says the Lord. “You should tremble in awe before me! I made the sand to be a boundary for the sea, a permanent barrier that it can never cross. Its waves may roll, but they can never prevail. They may roar, but they can never cross beyond that boundary.”

5:23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned aside and gone their own way.

5:24 They do not say to themselves, “Let us revere the Lord our God. It is he who gives us the autumn rains and the spring rains at the proper time. It is he who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.”

5:25 Your misdeeds have stopped these things from coming. Your sins have deprived you of my bounty.’

5:26 “Indeed, there are wicked scoundrels among my people. They lie in wait like bird catchers hiding in ambush. They set deadly traps to catch people.

5:27 Like a cage filled with the birds that have been caught, their houses are filled with the gains of their fraud and deceit. That is how they have gotten so rich and powerful.

5:28 That is how they have grown fat and sleek. There is no limit to the evil things they do. They do not plead the cause of the fatherless in such a way as to win it. They do not defend the rights of the poor.

5:29 I will certainly punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord. “I will certainly bring retribution on such a nation as this!

5:30 “Something horrible and shocking is going on in the land of Judah:

5:31 The prophets prophesy lies. The priests exercise power by their own authority. And my people love to have it this way. But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes!

The Destruction of Jerusalem Depicted

6:1 “Run for safety, people of Benjamin! Get out of Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa! Light the signal fires at Beth Hakkerem! For disaster lurks out of the north; it will bring great destruction.

6:2 I will destroy Daughter Zion, who is as delicate and defenseless as a young maiden.

6:3 Kings will come against it with their armies. They will encamp in siege all around it. Each of them will devastate the portion assigned to him.

6:4 They will say, ‘Prepare to do battle against it! Come on! Let’s attack it at noon!’ But later they will say, ‘Oh, oh! Too bad! The day is almost over and the shadows of evening are getting long.

6:5 So come on, let’s go ahead and attack it by night and destroy all its fortified buildings.’

6:6 All of this is because the Lord who rules over all has said: ‘Cut down the trees around Jerusalem and build up a siege ramp against its walls. This is the city which is to be punished. Nothing but oppression happens in it.

6:7 As a well continually pours out fresh water so it continually pours out wicked deeds. Sounds of violence and destruction echo throughout it. All I see are sick and wounded people.’

6:8 So take warning, Jerusalem, or I will abandon you in disgust and make you desolate, a place where no one can live.”

6:9 This is what the Lord who rules over all said to me: “Those who remain in Israel will be like the grapes thoroughly gleaned from a vine. So go over them again, as though you were a grape harvester passing your hand over the branches one last time.”

6:10 I answered, “Who would listen if I spoke to them and warned them? Their ears are so closed that they cannot hear! Indeed, what the Lord says is offensive to them. They do not like it at all.

6:11 I am as full of anger as you are, Lord, I am tired of trying to hold it in.” The Lord answered, “Vent it, then, on the children who play in the street and on the young men who are gathered together. Husbands and wives are to be included, as well as the old and those who are advanced in years.

6:12 Their houses will be turned over to others as will their fields and their wives. For I will unleash my power against those who live in this land,” says the Lord.

6:13 “That is because, from the least important to the most important of them, all of them are greedy for dishonest gain. Prophets and priests alike, all of them practice deceit.

6:14 They offer only superficial help for the harm my people have suffered. They say, ‘Everything will be all right!’ But everything is not all right!

6:15 Are they ashamed because they have done such shameful things? No, they are not at all ashamed. They do not even know how to blush! So they will die, just like others have died. They will be brought to ruin when I punish them,” says the Lord.

6:16 The Lord said to his people: “You are standing at the crossroads. So consider your path. Ask where the old, reliable paths are. Ask where the path is that leads to blessing and follow it. If you do, you will find rest for your souls.” But they said, “We will not follow it!”

6:17 The Lord said, “I appointed prophets as watchmen to warn you, saying: ‘Pay attention to the warning sound of the trumpet!’” But they said, “We will not pay attention!”

6:18 So the Lord said, “Hear, you nations! Be witnesses and take note of what will happen to these people.

6:19 Hear this, you peoples of the earth: ‘Take note! I am about to bring disaster on these people. It will come as punishment for their scheming. For they have paid no attention to what I have said, and they have rejected my law.

6:20 I take no delight when they offer up to me frankincense that comes from Sheba or sweet-smelling cane imported from a faraway land. I cannot accept the burnt offerings they bring me. I get no pleasure from the sacrifices they offer to me.’

6:21 So, this is what the Lord says: ‘I will assuredly make these people stumble to their doom. Parents and children will stumble and fall to their destruction. Friends and neighbors will die.’

6:22 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Beware! An army is coming from a land in the north. A mighty nation is stirring into action in faraway parts of the earth.

6:23 Its soldiers are armed with bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they ride forth on their horses. Lined up in formation like men going into battle to attack you, Daughter Zion.’”

6:24 The people cry out, “We have heard reports about them! We have become helpless with fear! Anguish grips us, agony like that of a woman giving birth to a baby!

6:25 Do not go out into the countryside. Do not travel on the roads. For the enemy is there with sword in hand. They are spreading terror everywhere.”

6:26 So I said, “Oh, my dear people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes. Mourn with painful sobs as though you had lost your only child. For any moment now that destructive army will come against us.”

6:27 The Lord said to me, “I have made you like a metal assayer to test my people like ore. You are to observe them and evaluate how they behave.”

6:28 I reported, “All of them are the most stubborn of rebels! They are as hard as bronze or iron. They go about telling lies. They all deal corruptly.

6:29 The fiery bellows of judgment burn fiercely. But there is too much dross to be removed. The process of refining them has proved useless. The wicked have not been purged.

6:30 They are regarded as ‘rejected silver’ because the Lord rejects them.”

Faulty Religion and Unethical Behavior Will Lead to Judgment

7:1 The Lord said to Jeremiah: 7:2 “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s temple and proclaim this message: ‘Listen, all you people of Judah who have passed through these gates to worship the Lord. Hear what the Lord has to say. 7:3 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says: Change the way you have been living and do what is right. If you do, I will allow you to continue to live in this land. 7:4 Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, “We are safe! The temple of the Lord is here! The temple of the Lord is here! The temple of the Lord is here!” 7:5 You must change the way you have been living and do what is right. You must treat one another fairly. 7:6 Stop oppressing foreigners who live in your land, children who have lost their fathers, and women who have lost their husbands. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop paying allegiance to other gods. That will only bring about your ruin. 7:7 If you stop doing these things, I will allow you to continue to live in this land which I gave to your ancestors as a lasting possession.

7:8 “‘But just look at you! You are putting your confidence in a false belief that will not deliver you. 7:9 You steal. You murder. You commit adultery. You lie when you swear on oath. You sacrifice to the god Baal. You pay allegiance to other gods whom you have not previously known. 7:10 Then you come and stand in my presence in this temple I have claimed as my own and say, “We are safe!” You think you are so safe that you go on doing all those hateful sins! 7:11 Do you think this temple I have claimed as my own is to be a hideout for robbers? You had better take note! I have seen for myself what you have done! says the Lord. 7:12 So, go to the place in Shiloh where I allowed myself to be worshiped in the early days. See what I did to it because of the wicked things my people Israel did. 7:13 You also have done all these things, says the Lord, and I have spoken to you over and over again. But you have not listened! You have refused to respond when I called you to repent! 7:14 So I will destroy this temple which I have claimed as my own, this temple that you are trusting to protect you. I will destroy this place that I gave to you and your ancestors, just like I destroyed Shiloh. 7:15 And I will drive you out of my sight just like I drove out your relatives, the people of Israel.’”

7:16 Then the Lord said, “As for you, Jeremiah, do not pray for these people! Do not cry out to me or petition me on their behalf! Do not plead with me to save them, because I will not listen to you. 7:17 Do you see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 7:18 Children are gathering firewood, fathers are building fires with it, and women are mixing dough to bake cakes to offer to the goddess they call the Queen of Heaven. They are also pouring out drink offerings to other gods. They seem to do all this just to trouble me. 7:19 But I am not really the one being troubled!” says the Lord. “Rather they are bringing trouble on themselves to their own shame! 7:20 So,” the Lord God says, “my raging fury will be poured out on this land. It will be poured out on human beings and animals, on trees and crops. And it will burn like a fire which cannot be extinguished.”

7:21 The Lord said to the people of Judah, “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says: ‘You might as well go ahead and add the meat of your burnt offerings to that of the other sacrifices and eat it, too! 7:22 Consider this: When I spoke to your ancestors after I brought them out of Egypt, I did not merely give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 7:23 I also explicitly commanded them: “Obey me. If you do, I will be your God and you will be my people. Live exactly the way I tell you and things will go well with you.” 7:24 But they did not listen to me or pay any attention to me. They followed the stubborn inclinations of their own wicked hearts. They acted worse and worse instead of better. 7:25 From the time your ancestors departed the land of Egypt until now, I sent my servants the prophets to you again and again, day after day. 7:26 But your ancestors did not listen to me nor pay attention to me. They became obstinate and were more wicked than even their own forefathers.’”

7:27 Then the Lord said to me, “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you. When you call out to them, they will not respond to you. 7:28 So tell them: ‘This is a nation that has not obeyed the Lord their God and has not accepted correction. Faithfulness is nowhere to be found in it. These people do not even profess it anymore. 7:29 So, mourn, you people of this nation. Cut off your hair and throw it away. Sing a song of mourning on the hilltops. For the Lord has decided to reject and forsake this generation that has provoked his wrath!’”

7:30 The Lord says, “I have rejected them because the people of Judah have done what I consider evil. They have set up their disgusting idols in the temple which I have claimed for my own and have defiled it. 7:31 They have also built places of worship in a place called Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters by fire. That is something I never commanded them to do! Indeed, it never even entered my mind to command such a thing! 7:32 So, watch out!” says the Lord. “The time will soon come when people will no longer call those places Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom. But they will call that valley the Valley of Slaughter and they will bury so many people in Topheth they will run out of room. 7:33 Then the dead bodies of these people will be left on the ground for the birds and wild animals to eat. There will not be any survivors to scare them away. 7:34 I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, or the glad celebration of brides and grooms throughout the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. For the whole land will become a desolate wasteland.”

8:1 The Lord says, “When that time comes, the bones of the kings of Judah and its leaders, the bones of the priests and prophets and of all the other people who lived in Jerusalem will be dug up from their graves. 8:2 They will be spread out and exposed to the sun, the moon and the stars. These are things they adored and served, things to which they paid allegiance, from which they sought guidance, and worshiped. The bones of these people will never be regathered and reburied. They will be like manure used to fertilize the ground. 8:3 However, I will leave some of these wicked people alive and banish them to other places. But wherever these people who survive may go, they will wish they had died rather than lived,” says the Lord who rules over all.

Willful Disregard of God Will Lead to Destruction

8:4 The Lord said to me, “Tell them, ‘The Lord says, Do people not get back up when they fall down? Do they not turn around when they go the wrong way?

8:5 Why, then, do these people of Jerusalem continually turn away from me in apostasy? They hold fast to their deception. They refuse to turn back to me.

8:6 I have listened to them very carefully, but they do not speak honestly. None of them regrets the evil he has done. None of them says, “I have done wrong!” All of them persist in their own wayward course like a horse charging recklessly into battle.

8:7 Even the stork knows when it is time to move on. The turtledove, swallow, and crane recognize the normal times for their migration. But my people pay no attention to what I, the Lord, require of them.

8:8 How can you say, “We are wise! We have the law of the Lord”? The truth is, those who teach it have used their writings to make it say what it does not really mean.

8:9 Your wise men will be put to shame. They will be dumbfounded and be brought to judgment. Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what wisdom do they really have?

8:10 So I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. For from the least important to the most important of them, all of them are greedy for dishonest gain. Prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.

8:11 They offer only superficial help for the hurt my dear people have suffered. They say, “Everything will be all right!” But everything is not all right!

8:12 Are they ashamed because they have done such disgusting things? No, they are not at all ashamed! They do not even know how to blush! So they will die just like others have died. They will be brought to ruin when I punish them, says the Lord.

8:13 I will take away their harvests, says the Lord. There will be no grapes on their vines. There will be no figs on their fig trees. Even the leaves on their trees will wither. The crops that I gave them will be taken away.’”

Jeremiah Laments over the Coming Destruction

8:14 The people say, “Why are we just sitting here? Let us gather together inside the fortified cities. Let us at least die there fighting, since the Lord our God has condemned us to die. He has condemned us to drink the poison waters of judgment because we have sinned against him.

8:15 We hoped for good fortune, but nothing good has come of it. We hoped for a time of relief, but instead we experience terror.

8:16 The snorting of the enemy’s horses is already being heard in the city of Dan. The sound of the neighing of their stallions causes the whole land to tremble with fear. They are coming to destroy the land and everything in it! They are coming to destroy the cities and everyone who lives in them!”

8:17 The Lord says, “Yes indeed, I am sending an enemy against you that will be like poisonous snakes which cannot be charmed away. And they will inflict fatal wounds on you.”

8:18 Then I said, “There is no cure for my grief! I am sick at heart!

8:19 I hear my dear people crying out throughout the length and breadth of the land. They are crying, ‘Is the Lord no longer in Zion? Is her divine King no longer there?’” The Lord answers, “Why then do they provoke me to anger with their images, with their worthless foreign idols?”

8:20 “They cry, ‘Harvest time has come and gone, and the summer is over, and still we have not been delivered.’

8:21 My heart is crushed because my dear people are being crushed. I go about crying and grieving. I am overwhelmed with dismay.

8:22 There is still medicinal ointment available in Gilead! There is still a physician there! Why then have my dear people not been restored to health?

9:1 I wish that my head were a well full of water and my eyes were a fountain full of tears! If they were, I could cry day and night for those of my dear people who have been killed.

9:2 I wish I had a lodging place in the desert where I could spend some time like a weary traveler. Then I would desert my people and walk away from them because they are all unfaithful to God, a congregation of people that has been disloyal to him.

The Lord Laments That He Has No Choice But to Judge Them

9:3 The Lord says, “These people are like soldiers who have readied their bows. Their tongues are always ready to shoot out lies. They have become powerful in the land, but they have not done so by honest means. Indeed, they do one evil thing after another and do not pay attention to me.

9:4 Everyone must be on his guard around his friends. He must not even trust any of his relatives. For every one of them will find some way to cheat him. And all of his friends will tell lies about him.

9:5 One friend deceives another and no one tells the truth. These people have trained themselves to tell lies. They do wrong and are unable to repent.

9:6 They do one act of violence after another, and one deceitful thing after another. They refuse to pay attention to me,” says the Lord.

9:7 Therefore the Lord who rules over all says, “I will now purify them in the fires of affliction and test them. The wickedness of my dear people has left me no choice. What else can I do?

9:8 Their tongues are like deadly arrows. They are always telling lies. Friendly words for their neighbors come from their mouths. But their minds are thinking up ways to trap them.

9:9 I will certainly punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord. “I will certainly bring retribution on such a nation as this!”

The Coming Destruction Calls For Mourning

9:10 I said, “I will weep and mourn for the grasslands on the mountains, I will sing a mournful song for the pastures in the wilderness because they are so scorched no one travels through them. The sound of livestock is no longer heard there. Even the birds in the sky and the wild animals in the fields have fled and are gone.”

9:11 The Lord said, “I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins. Jackals will make their home there. I will destroy the towns of Judah so that no one will be able to live in them.”

9:12 I said, “Who is wise enough to understand why this has happened? Who has a word from the Lord that can explain it? Why does the land lie in ruins? Why is it as scorched as a desert through which no one travels?”

9:13 The Lord answered, “This has happened because these people have rejected my laws which I gave them. They have not obeyed me or followed those laws. 9:14 Instead they have followed the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts. They have paid allegiance to the gods called Baal, as their fathers taught them to do. 9:15 So then, listen to what I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, say. ‘I will make these people eat the bitter food of suffering and drink the poison water of judgment. 9:16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known anything about. I will send people chasing after them with swords until I have destroyed them.’”

9:17 The Lord who rules over all told me to say to this people, “Take note of what I say. Call for the women who mourn for the dead! Summon those who are the most skilled at it!”

9:18 I said, “Indeed, let them come quickly and sing a song of mourning for us. Let them wail loudly until tears stream from our own eyes and our eyelids overflow with water.

9:19 For the sound of wailing is soon to be heard in Zion. They will wail, ‘We are utterly ruined! We are completely disgraced! For our houses have been torn down and we must leave our land.’”

9:20 I said, “So now, you wailing women, hear what the Lord says. Open your ears to the words from his mouth. Teach your daughters this mournful song, and each of you teach your neighbor this lament.

9:21 ‘Death has climbed in through our windows. It has entered into our fortified houses. It has taken away our children who play in the streets. It has taken away our young men who gather in the city squares.’

9:22 Tell your daughters and neighbors, ‘The Lord says, “The dead bodies of people will lie scattered everywhere like manure scattered on a field. They will lie scattered on the ground like grain that has been cut down but has not been gathered.”‘”

9:23 The Lord says, “Wise people should not boast that they are wise. Powerful people should not boast that they are powerful. Rich people should not boast that they are rich.

9:24 If people want to boast, they should boast about this: They should boast that they understand and know me. They should boast that they know and understand that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth and that I desire people to do these things,” says the Lord.

9:25 The Lord says, “Watch out! The time is soon coming when I will punish all those who are circumcised only in the flesh. 9:26 That is, I will punish the Egyptians, the Judeans, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and all the desert people who cut their hair short at the temples. I will do so because none of the people of those nations are really circumcised in the Lord’s sight. Moreover, none of the people of Israel are circumcised when it comes to their hearts.”

The Lord, not Idols, is the Only Worthy Object of Worship

10:1 You people of Israel, listen to what the Lord has to say to you.

10:2 The Lord says, “Do not start following pagan religious practices. Do not be in awe of signs that occur in the sky even though the nations hold them in awe.

10:3 For the religion of these people is worthless. They cut down a tree in the forest, and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools.

10:4 He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold. He uses hammer and nails to fasten it together so that it will not fall over.

10:5 Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field. They cannot talk. They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them because they cannot hurt you. And they do not have any power to help you.”

10:6 I said, “There is no one like you, Lord. You are great. And you are renowned for your power.

10:7 Everyone should revere you, O King of all nations, because you deserve to be revered. For there is no one like you among any of the wise people of the nations nor among any of their kings.

10:8 The people of those nations are both stupid and foolish. Instruction from a wooden idol is worthless!

10:9 Hammered-out silver is brought from Tarshish and gold is brought from Uphaz to cover those idols. They are the handiwork of carpenters and goldsmiths. They are clothed in blue and purple clothes. They are all made by skillful workers.

10:10 The Lord is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King. When he shows his anger the earth shakes. None of the nations can stand up to his fury.

10:11 You people of Israel should tell those nations this: ‘These gods did not make heaven and earth. They will disappear from the earth and from under the heavens.’

10:12 The Lord is the one who by his power made the earth. He is the one who by his wisdom established the world. And by his understanding he spread out the skies.

10:13 When his voice thunders, the heavenly ocean roars. He makes the clouds rise from the far-off horizons. He makes the lightning flash out in the midst of the rain. He unleashes the wind from the places where he stores it.

10:14 All these idolaters will prove to be stupid and ignorant. Every goldsmith will be disgraced by the idol he made. For the image he forges is merely a sham. There is no breath in any of those idols.

10:15 They are worthless, mere objects to be mocked. When the time comes to punish them, they will be destroyed.

10:16 The Lord, who is the inheritance of Jacob’s descendants, is not like them. He is the one who created everything. And the people of Israel are those he claims as his own. He is known as the Lord who rules over all.”

Jeremiah Laments for and Prays for the Soon-to-be-Judged People

10:17 Gather your belongings together and prepare to leave the land, you people of Jerusalem who are being besieged.

10:18 For the Lord says, “I will now throw out those who live in this land. I will bring so much trouble on them that they will actually feel it.”

10:19 And I cried out, “We are doomed! Our wound is severe! We once thought, ‘This is only an illness. And we will be able to bear it!’

10:20 But our tents have been destroyed. The ropes that held them in place have been ripped apart. Our children are gone and are not coming back. There is no survivor to put our tents back up, no one left to hang their tent curtains in place.

10:21 For our leaders are stupid. They have not sought the Lord’s advice. So they do not act wisely, and the people they are responsible for have all been scattered.

10:22 Listen! News is coming even now. The rumble of a great army is heard approaching from a land in the north. It is coming to turn the towns of Judah into rubble, places where only jackals live.

10:23 Lord, we know that people do not control their own destiny. It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them.

10:24 Correct us, Lord, but only in due measure. Do not punish us in anger or you will reduce us to nothing.

10:25 Vent your anger on the nations that do not acknowledge you. Vent it on the peoples who do not worship you. For they have destroyed the people of Jacob. They have completely destroyed them and left their homeland in utter ruin.

The People Have Violated Their Covenant with God

11:1 The Lord said to Jeremiah: 11:2 “Hear the terms of the covenant I made with Israel and pass them on to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. 11:3 Tell them that the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Anyone who does not keep the terms of the covenant will be under a curse. 11:4 Those are the terms that I charged your ancestors to keep when I brought them out of Egypt, that place which was like an iron-smelting furnace. I said at that time, “Obey me and carry out the terms of the agreement exactly as I commanded you. If you do, you will be my people and I will be your God. 11:5 Then I will keep the promise I swore on oath to your ancestors to give them a land flowing with milk and honey.” That is the very land that you still live in today.’” And I responded, “Amen! Let it be so, Lord!”

11:6 The Lord said to me, “Announce all the following words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of my covenant with you and carry them out! 11:7 For I solemnly warned your ancestors to obey me. I warned them again and again, ever since I delivered them out of Egypt until this very day. 11:8 But they did not listen to me or pay any attention to me! Each one of them followed the stubborn inclinations of his own wicked heart. So I brought on them all the punishments threatened in the covenant because they did not carry out its terms as I commanded them to do.’”

11:9 The Lord said to me, “The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem have plotted rebellion against me! 11:10 They have gone back to the evil ways of their ancestors of old who refused to obey what I told them. They, too, have paid allegiance to other gods and worshiped them. Both the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah have violated the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11:11 So I, the Lord, say this: ‘I will soon bring disaster on them which they will not be able to escape! When they cry out to me for help, I will not listen to them. 11:12 Then those living in the towns of Judah and in Jerusalem will go and cry out for help to the gods to whom they have been sacrificing. However, those gods will by no means be able to save them when disaster strikes them. 11:13 This is in spite of the fact that the people of Judah have as many gods as they have towns and the citizens of Jerusalem have set up as many altars to sacrifice to that disgusting god, Baal, as they have streets in the city!’ 11:14 So, Jeremiah, do not pray for these people. Do not cry out to me or petition me on their behalf. Do not plead with me to save them. For I will not listen to them when they call out to me for help when disaster strikes them.”

11:15 The Lord says to the people of Judah, “What right do you have to be in my temple, my beloved people? Many of you have done wicked things. Can your acts of treachery be so easily canceled by sacred offerings that you take joy in doing evil even while you make them?

11:16 I, the Lord, once called you a thriving olive tree, one that produced beautiful fruit. But I will set you on fire, fire that will blaze with a mighty roar. Then all your branches will be good for nothing.

11:17 For though I, the Lord who rules over all, planted you in the land, I now decree that disaster will come on you because the nations of Israel and Judah have done evil and have made me angry by offering sacrifices to the god Baal.”

Prayer

Lord, when You called Jeremiah You made it clear that he was to be fearless in his work for You. May I also, with Your indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit, also be fearless. The foolish idolatry of false gods breaks the covenant of intimacy with You. May I learn from the past and be careful to place nothing between You and me.

Scripture In Perspective

Jeremiah was called to the prophetic ministry by the Lord God about 600BC. According to the text he was young, though no specific age was given, and was encouraged (as Paul later encouraged Timothy) to not to allow his age to be an impediment to ministry.

His calling was a powerful one “... get yourself ready! Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say. Do not be terrified of them, or I will give you good reason to be terrified of them. I, the Lord, hereby promise to make you as strong as a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall. You will be able to stand up against all who live in the land, including the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and all the people of the land. They will attack you but they will not be able to overcome you, for I will be with you to rescue you,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah was instructed to remind the people of their early faithfulness, followed by unfaithfulness, then what the Lord God described as “spiritual adultery”.

He proclaimed the Lord God’s challenge for seeking protection from pagan foreign governments and His ridicule for trusting pagan idols “They say to a wooden idol, ‘You are my father.’ They say to a stone image, ‘You gave birth to me.’ Yes, they have turned away from me instead of turning to me. Yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’

Jeremiah shared the frustration of the Lord God with their arrogant presumption “Even now you say to me, ‘You are my father! You have been my faithful companion ever since I was young. You will not always be angry with me, will you? You will not be mad at me forever, will you?’ That is what you say, but you continually do all the evil that you can.”

He chastised Judah for their foolishness, which was bring them the Lord God’s condemnation “... wayward Israel could even be considered less guilty than unfaithful Judah.” because they had seen that had happened to Israel yet they followed the same path and merely pretended to be faithful.

Jeremiah delivered the Lord God’s plea to Israel to repent of their sinful rebellion so that he might forgive, reconcile, and restore them – even reuniting them with Judah.

He delivered the Lord God’s warning of impending disastrous-judgment.

Jeremiah was challenged by the Lord God to seek out even one person of integrity in Jerusalem, an even lesser-standard than that which would have triggered His willingness to withhold destruction from Sodom and Gomorrah, but he could not find one.

He was sure that it was only the ‘ignorant’ who rebelled and went to those who were supposed to be the ‘elders’ but they also were in rebellion – and very-intentionally so. The Lord God declared a terrible judgment, but not annihilation.

He was assigned to deliver a tribulation and then to observe their response, he said “All of them are the most stubborn of rebels! They are as hard as bronze or iron. They go about telling lies. They all deal corruptly. The fiery bellows of judgment burn fiercely. But there is too much dross to be removed. The process of refining them has proved useless. The wicked have not been purged. They are regarded as ‘rejected silver’ because the Lord rejects them.”

Jeremiah was heartsick.

Jeremiah delivered a wisdom that the apostle Paul later paraphrased “If people want to boast, they should boast about this: They should boast that they understand and know me. They should boast that they know and understand that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth and that I desire people to do these things,” says the Lord.”

Jeremiah had been warned by the Lord God to not pray for his people to be pardoned from their punishment but he did lament, as he instructed them to prepare to be dispersed “Gather your belongings together and prepare to leave the land, you people of Jerusalem who are being besieged. For the Lord says, “I will now throw out those who live in this land. I will bring so much trouble on them that they will actually feel it.” And I cried out, “We are doomed! Our wound is severe! We once thought, ‘This is only an illness. And we will be able to bear it!’”

He lamented that the very human leaders they had demanded, rather than the Lord God-alone as their king, had predictably failed them “For our leaders are stupid. They have not sought the Lord’s advice. So they do not act wisely, and the people they are responsible for have all been scattered.”

He acknowledged that their corporate covenant with the Lord meant that He chose their fate “Lord, we know that people do not control their own destiny. It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them. Correct us, Lord, but only in due measure. Do not punish us in anger or you will reduce us to nothing.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

Jeremiah received a ‘no fear’ commission from the Lord God. Despite all of their sinful rebellion the Lord God still longed for them to make a new and right-choice to repent and to return home to Him.

Discuss

Why would the people of Judah have copied Israel when they saw the horrible things that happened to Israel as a result? How isolated must Jeremiah have felt, knowing that his fellow citizens were about to be destroyed, yet finding no one who would listen to his warnings?

Reflect

The Lord God wanted Israel, and then Judah, to choose Him but they refused.

Share

When have you observed a group of people, whose poor choices had resulted in trouble, reject the counsel of the wise to change their ways?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a mission He has for you and to reveal to you a place in your walk where you are forgetting to consult the Lord God first.

Act

Today I will gratefully and humbly accept the mission of the Lord God and prayerfully search-out the details He has provided as to how I should proceed. I will be a “good Berean”, consulting the Word, and will ask fellow believers to pray in-agreement for clarity and courage. Today I will repent and seek and receive the Lord’s forgiveness, then I will follow the Holy Spirit along the path of healing and restoration as I surrender that part of my life to His Lordship.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Jeremiah 11:18-22)

A Plot Against Jeremiah is Revealed and He Complains of Injustice

11:18 The Lord gave me knowledge, that I might have understanding. Then he showed me what the people were doing.

11:19 Before this I had been like a docile lamb ready to be led to the slaughter. I did not know they were making plans to kill me. I did not know they were saying, “Let’s destroy the tree along with its fruit! Let’s remove Jeremiah from the world of the living so people will not even be reminded of him any more.”

11:20 So I said to the Lord, “O Lord who rules over all, you are a just judge! You examine people’s hearts and minds. I want to see you pay them back for what they have done because I trust you to vindicate my cause.”

11:21 Then the Lord told me about some men from Anathoth who were threatening to kill me. They had threatened, “Stop prophesying in the name of the Lord or we will kill you!” 11:22 So the Lord who rules over all said, “I will surely punish them! Their young men will be killed in battle. Their sons and daughters will die of starvation. 11:23 Not one of them will survive. I will bring disaster on those men from Anathoth who threatened you. A day of reckoning is coming for them.”

12:1 Lord, you have always been fair whenever I have complained to you. However, I would like to speak with you about the disposition of justice. Why are wicked people successful? Why do all dishonest people have such easy lives?

12:2 You plant them like trees and they put down their roots. They grow prosperous and are very fruitful. They always talk about you, but they really care nothing about you.

12:3 But you, Lord, know all about me. You watch me and test my devotion to you. Drag these wicked men away like sheep to be slaughtered! Appoint a time when they will be killed!

12:4 How long must the land be parched and the grass in every field be withered? How long must the animals and the birds die because of the wickedness of the people who live in this land? For these people boast, “God will not see what happens to us.”

12:5 The Lord answered, “If you have raced on foot against men and they have worn you out, how will you be able to compete with horses? And if you feel secure only in safe and open country, how will you manage in the thick undergrowth along the Jordan River?

12:6 As a matter of fact, even your own brothers and the members of your own family have betrayed you too. Even they have plotted to do away with you. So do not trust them even when they say kind things to you.

12:7 “I will abandon my nation. I will forsake the people I call my own. I will turn my beloved people over to the power of their enemies.

12:8 The people I call my own have turned on me like a lion in the forest. They have roared defiantly at me. So I will treat them as though I hate them.

12:9 The people I call my own attack me like birds of prey or like hyenas. But other birds of prey are all around them. Let all the nations gather together like wild beasts. Let them come and destroy these people I call my own.

12:10 Many foreign rulers will ruin the land where I planted my people. They will trample all over my chosen land. They will turn my beautiful land into a desolate wasteland.

12:11 They will lay it waste. It will lie parched and empty before me. The whole land will be laid waste. But no one living in it will pay any heed.

12:12 A destructive army will come marching over the hilltops in the desert. For the Lord will use them as his destructive weapon against everyone from one end of the land to the other. No one will be safe.

12:13 My people will sow wheat, but will harvest weeds. They will work until they are exhausted, but will get nothing from it. They will be disappointed in their harvests because the Lord will take them away in his fierce anger.

12:14 “I, the Lord, also have something to say concerning the wicked nations who surround my land and have attacked and plundered the land that I gave to my people as a permanent possession. I say: ‘I will uproot the people of those nations from their lands and I will free the people of Judah who have been taken there. 12:15 But after I have uprooted the people of those nations, I will relent and have pity on them. I will restore the people of each of those nations to their own lands and to their own country. 12:16 But they must make sure you learn to follow the religious practices of my people. Once they taught my people to swear their oaths using the name of the god Baal. But then, they must swear oaths using my name, saying, “As surely as the Lord lives, I swear.” If they do these things, then they will be included among the people I call my own. 12:17 But I will completely uproot and destroy any of those nations that will not pay heed,’” says the Lord.

An Object Lesson from Ruined Linen Shorts

13:1 The Lord said to me, “Go and buy some linen shorts and put them on. Do not put them in water.” 13:2 So I bought the shorts as the Lord had told me to do and put them on. 13:3 Then the Lord spoke to me again and said, 13:4 “Take the shorts that you bought and are wearing and go at once to Perath. Bury the shorts there in a crack in the rocks.” 13:5 So I went and buried them at Perath as the Lord had ordered me to do. 13:6 Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go at once to Perath and get the shorts I ordered you to bury there.” 13:7 So I went to Perath and dug up the shorts from the place where I had buried them. I found that they were ruined; they were good for nothing.

13:8 Then the Lord said to me, 13:9 “I, the Lord, say: ‘This shows how I will ruin the highly exalted position in which Judah and Jerusalem take pride. 13:10 These wicked people refuse to obey what I have said. They follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts and pay allegiance to other gods by worshiping and serving them. So they will become just like these linen shorts which are good for nothing. 13:11 For,’ I say, ‘just as shorts cling tightly to a person’s body, so I bound the whole nation of Israel and the whole nation of Judah tightly to me.’ I intended for them to be my special people and to bring me fame, honor, and praise. But they would not obey me.

13:12 “So tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, says, “Every wine jar is made to be filled with wine.”‘ And they will probably say to you, ‘Do you not think we know that every wine jar is supposed to be filled with wine?’ 13:13 Then tell them, ‘The Lord says, “I will soon fill all the people who live in this land with stupor. I will also fill the kings from David’s dynasty, the priests, the prophets, and the citizens of Jerusalem with stupor. 13:14 And I will smash them like wine bottles against one another, children and parents alike. I will not show any pity, mercy, or compassion. Nothing will keep me from destroying them,’ says the Lord.”

13:15 Then I said to the people of Judah, “Listen and pay attention! Do not be arrogant! For the Lord has spoken.

13:16 Show the Lord your God the respect that is due him. Do it before he brings the darkness of disaster. Do it before you stumble into distress like a traveler on the mountains at twilight. Do it before he turns the light of deliverance you hope for into the darkness and gloom of exile.

13:17 But if you will not pay attention to this warning, I will weep alone because of your arrogant pride. I will weep bitterly and my eyes will overflow with tears because you, the Lord’s flock, will be carried into exile.”

13:18 The Lord told me, “Tell the king and the queen mother, ‘Surrender your thrones, for your glorious crowns will be removed from your heads.

13:19 The gates of the towns in southern Judah will be shut tight. No one will be able to go in or out of them. All Judah will be carried off into exile. They will be completely carried off into exile.’”

13:20 Then I said, “Look up, Jerusalem, and see the enemy that is coming from the north. Where now is the flock of people that were entrusted to your care? Where now are the ‘sheep’ that you take such pride in?

13:21 What will you say when the Lord appoints as rulers over you those allies that you, yourself, had actually prepared as such? Then anguish and agony will grip you like that of a woman giving birth to a baby.

13:22 You will probably ask yourself, ‘Why have these things happened to me? Why have I been treated like a disgraced adulteress whose skirt has been torn off and her limbs exposed?’ It is because you have sinned so much.

13:23 But there is little hope for you ever doing good, you who are so accustomed to doing evil. Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard remove its spots?

13:24 “The Lord says, ‘That is why I will scatter your people like chaff that is blown away by a desert wind.

13:25 This is your fate, the destiny to which I have appointed you, because you have forgotten me and have trusted in false gods.

13:26 So I will pull your skirt up over your face and expose you to shame like a disgraced adulteress!

13:27 People of Jerusalem, I have seen your adulterous worship, your shameless prostitution to, and your lustful pursuit of, other gods. I have seen your disgusting acts of worship on the hills throughout the countryside. You are doomed to destruction! How long will you continue to be unclean?’”

A Lament over the Ravages of Drought

14:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah about the drought.

14:2 “The people of Judah are in mourning. The people in her cities are pining away. They lie on the ground expressing their sorrow. Cries of distress come up to me from Jerusalem.

14:3 The leading men of the cities send their servants for water. They go to the cisterns, but they do not find any water there. They return with their containers empty. Disappointed and dismayed, they bury their faces in their hands.

14:4 They are dismayed because the ground is cracked because there has been no rain in the land. The farmers, too, are dismayed and bury their faces in their hands.

14:5 Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn in the field because there is no grass.

14:6 Wild donkeys stand on the hilltops and pant for breath like jackals. Their eyes are strained looking for food, because there is none to be found.”

14:7 Then I said, “O Lord, intervene for the honor of your name even though our sins speak out against us. Indeed, we have turned away from you many times. We have sinned against you.

14:8 You have been the object of Israel’s hopes. You have saved them when they were in trouble. Why have you become like a resident foreigner in the land? Why have you become like a traveler who only stops in to spend the night?

14:9 Why should you be like someone who is helpless, like a champion who cannot save anyone? You are indeed with us, and we belong to you. Do not abandon us!”

14:10 Then the Lord spoke about these people. “They truly love to go astray. They cannot keep from running away from me. So I am not pleased with them. I will now call to mind the wrongs they have done and punish them for their sins.”

Judgment for Believing the Misleading Lies of the False Prophets

14:11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for good to come to these people! 14:12 Even if they fast, I will not hear their cries for help. Even if they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will kill them through wars, famines, and plagues.”

14:13 Then I said, “Oh, Lord God, look! The prophets are telling them that you said, ‘You will not experience war or suffer famine. I will give you lasting peace and prosperity in this land.’”

14:14 Then the Lord said to me, “Those prophets are prophesying lies while claiming my authority! I did not send them. I did not commission them. I did not speak to them. They are prophesying to these people false visions, worthless predictions, and the delusions of their own mind. 14:15 I did not send those prophets, though they claim to be prophesying in my name. They may be saying, ‘No war or famine will happen in this land.’ But I, the Lord, say this about them: ‘War and starvation will kill those prophets.’ 14:16 The people to whom they are prophesying will die through war and famine. Their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem and there will be no one to bury them. This will happen to the men and their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out on them the destruction they deserve.”

Lament over Present Destruction and Threat of More to Come

14:17 “Tell these people this, Jeremiah: ‘My eyes overflow with tears day and night without ceasing. For my people, my dear children, have suffered a crushing blow. They have suffered a serious wound.

14:18 If I go out into the countryside, I see those who have been killed in battle. If I go into the city, I see those who are sick because of starvation. For both prophet and priest go about their own business in the land without having any real understanding.’”

14:19 Then I said, “Lord, have you completely rejected the nation of Judah? Do you despise the city of Zion? Why have you struck us with such force that we are beyond recovery? We hope for peace, but nothing good has come of it. We hope for a time of relief from our troubles, but experience terror.

14:20 Lord, we confess that we have been wicked. We confess that our ancestors have done wrong. We have indeed sinned against you.

14:21 For the honor of your name, do not treat Jerusalem with contempt. Do not treat with disdain the place where your glorious throne sits. Be mindful of your covenant with us. Do not break it!

14:22 Do any of the worthless idols of the nations cause rain to fall? Do the skies themselves send showers? Is it not you, O Lord our God, who does this? So we put our hopes in you because you alone do all this.”

15:1 Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I would not feel pity for them! Get them away from me! Tell them to go away! 15:2 If they ask you, ‘Where should we go?’ tell them the Lord says this: “Those who are destined to die of disease will go to death by disease. Those who are destined to die in war will go to death in war. Those who are destined to die of starvation will go to death by starvation. Those who are destined to go into exile will go into exile.”

15:3 “I will punish them in four different ways: I will have war kill them. I will have dogs drag off their dead bodies. I will have birds and wild beasts devour and destroy their corpses. 15:4 I will make all the people in all the kingdoms of the world horrified at what has happened to them because of what Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.”

15:5 The Lord cried out, “Who in the world will have pity on you, Jerusalem? Who will grieve over you? Who will stop long enough to inquire about how you are doing?

15:6 I, the Lord, say: ‘You people have deserted me! You keep turning your back on me.’ So I have unleashed my power against you and have begun to destroy you. I have grown tired of feeling sorry for you!”

15:7 The Lord continued, “In every town in the land I will purge them like straw blown away by the wind. I will destroy my people. I will kill off their children. I will do so because they did not change their behavior.

15:8 Their widows will become in my sight more numerous than the grains of sand on the seashores. At noontime I will bring a destroyer against the mothers of their young men. I will cause anguish and terror to fall suddenly upon them.

15:9 The mother who had seven children will grow faint. All the breath will go out of her. Her pride and joy will be taken from her in the prime of their life. It will seem as if the sun had set while it was still day. She will suffer shame and humiliation. I will cause any of them who are still left alive to be killed in war by the onslaughts of their enemies,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah Complains about His Lot and The Lord Responds

15:10 I said, “Oh, mother, how I regret that you ever gave birth to me! I am always starting arguments and quarrels with the people of this land. I have not lent money to anyone and I have not borrowed from anyone. Yet all of these people are treating me with contempt.”

15:11 The Lord said, “Jerusalem, I will surely send you away for your own good. I will surely bring the enemy upon you in a time of trouble and distress.

15:12 Can you people who are like iron and bronze break that iron fist from the north?

15:13 I will give away your wealth and your treasures as plunder. I will give it away free of charge for the sins you have committed throughout your land.

15:14 I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you know nothing about. For my anger is like a fire that will burn against you.”

15:15 I said, “Lord, you know how I suffer. Take thought of me and care for me. Pay back for me those who have been persecuting me. Do not be so patient with them that you allow them to kill me. Be mindful of how I have put up with their insults for your sake.

15:16 As your words came to me I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to you.

15:17 I did not spend my time in the company of other people, laughing and having a good time. I stayed to myself because I felt obligated to you and because I was filled with anger at what they had done.

15:18 Why must I continually suffer such painful anguish? Why must I endure the sting of their insults like an incurable wound? Will you let me down when I need you like a brook one goes to for water, but that cannot be relied on?”

15:19 Because of this, the Lord said, “You must repent of such words and thoughts! If you do, I will restore you to the privilege of serving me. If you say what is worthwhile instead of what is worthless, I will again allow you to be my spokesman. They must become as you have been. You must not become like them.

15:20 I will make you as strong as a wall to these people, a fortified wall of bronze. They will attack you, but they will not be able to overcome you. For I will be with you to rescue you and deliver you,” says the Lord.

15:21 “I will deliver you from the power of the wicked. I will free you from the clutches of violent people.”

Jeremiah Forbidden to Marry, to Mourn, or to Feast

16:1 The Lord said to me, 16:2 “Do not get married and do not have children here in this land. 16:3 For I, the Lord, tell you what will happen to the children who are born here in this land and to the men and women who are their mothers and fathers. 16:4 They will die of deadly diseases. No one will mourn for them. They will not be buried. Their dead bodies will lie like manure spread on the ground. They will be killed in war or die of starvation. Their corpses will be food for the birds and wild animals.

16:5 “Moreover I, the Lord, tell you: ‘Do not go into a house where they are having a funeral meal. Do not go there to mourn and express your sorrow for them. For I have stopped showing them my good favor, my love, and my compassion. I, the Lord, so affirm it! 16:6 Rich and poor alike will die in this land. They will not be buried or mourned. People will not cut their bodies or shave off their hair to show their grief for them. 16:7 No one will take any food to those who mourn for the dead to comfort them. No one will give them any wine to drink to console them for the loss of their father or mother.

16:8 “‘Do not go to a house where people are feasting and sit down to eat and drink with them either. 16:9 For I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, tell you what will happen. I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, to the glad celebration of brides and grooms in this land. You and the rest of the people will live to see this happen.’”

The Lord Promises Exile (But Also Restoration)

16:10 “When you tell these people about all this, they will undoubtedly ask you, ‘Why has the Lord threatened us with such great disaster? What wrong have we done? What sin have we done to offend the Lord our God?’ 16:11 Then tell them that the Lord says, ‘It is because your ancestors rejected me and paid allegiance to other gods. They have served them and worshiped them. But they have rejected me and not obeyed my law. 16:12 And you have acted even more wickedly than your ancestors! Each one of you has followed the stubborn inclinations of your own wicked heart and not obeyed me. 16:13 So I will throw you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have ever known. There you must worship other gods day and night, for I will show you no mercy.’”

16:14 Yet I, the Lord, say: “A new time will certainly come. People now affirm their oaths with ‘I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.’ 16:15 But in that time they will affirm them with ‘I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.’ At that time I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors.”

16:16 But for now I, the Lord, say: “I will send many enemies who will catch these people like fishermen. After that I will send others who will hunt them out like hunters from all the mountains, all the hills, and the crevices in the rocks. 16:17 For I see everything they do. Their wicked ways are not hidden from me. Their sin is not hidden away where I cannot see it. 16:18 Before I restore them I will punish them in full for their sins and the wrongs they have done. For they have polluted my land with the lifeless statues of their disgusting idols. They have filled the land I have claimed as my own with their detestable idols.”

16:19 Then I said, “Lord, you give me strength and protect me. You are the one I can run to for safety when I am in trouble. Nations from all over the earth will come to you and say, ‘Our ancestors had nothing but false gods – worthless idols that could not help them at all.

16:20 Can people make their own gods? No, what they make are not gods at all.”

16:21 The Lord said, “So I will now let this wicked people know – I will let them know my mighty power in judgment. Then they will know that my name is the Lord.”

17:1 The sin of Judah is engraved with an iron chisel on their stone-hard hearts. It is inscribed with a diamond point on the horns of their altars.

17:2 Their children are always thinking about their altars and their sacred poles dedicated to the goddess Asherah, set up beside the green trees on the high hills

17:3 and on the mountains and in the fields. I will give your wealth and all your treasures away as plunder. I will give it away as the price for the sins you have committed throughout your land.

17:4 You will lose your hold on the land which I gave to you as a permanent possession. I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you know nothing about. For you have made my anger burn like a fire that will never be put out.”

Individuals Are Challenged to Put Their Trust in the Lord

17:5 The Lord says, “I will put a curse on people who trust in mere human beings, who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, and whose hearts have turned away from the Lord.

17:6 They will be like a shrub in the desert. They will not experience good things even when they happen. It will be as though they were growing in the desert, in a salt land where no one can live.

17:7 My blessing is on those people who trust in me, who put their confidence in me.

17:8 They will be like a tree planted near a stream whose roots spread out toward the water. It has nothing to fear when the heat comes. Its leaves are always green. It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought. It does not stop bearing fruit.

17:9 The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad. Who can understand it?

17:10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds. I examine people’s hearts. I deal with each person according to how he has behaved. I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.

17:11 The person who gathers wealth by unjust means is like the partridge that broods over eggs but does not hatch them. Before his life is half over he will lose his ill-gotten gains. At the end of his life it will be clear he was a fool.”

Jeremiah Appeals to the Lord for Vindication

17:12 Then I said, “Lord, from the very beginning you have been seated on your glorious throne on high. You are the place where we can find refuge.

17:13 You are the one in whom Israel may find hope. All who leave you will suffer shame. Those who turn away from you will be consigned to the nether world. For they have rejected you, the Lord, the fountain of life.

17:14 Lord, grant me relief from my suffering so that I may have some relief. Rescue me from those who persecute me so that I may be rescued.

17:15 Listen to what they are saying to me. They are saying, “Where are the things the Lord threatens us with? Come on! Let’s see them happen!”

17:16 But I have not pestered you to bring disaster. I have not desired the time of irreparable devastation. You know that. You are fully aware of every word that I have spoken.

17:17 Do not cause me dismay! You are my source of safety in times of trouble.

17:18 May those who persecute me be disgraced. Do not let me be disgraced. May they be dismayed. Do not let me be dismayed. Bring days of disaster on them. Bring on them the destruction they deserve.”

Observance of the Sabbath Day Is a Key to the Future

17:19 The Lord told me, “Go and stand in the People’s Gate through which the kings of Judah enter and leave the city. Then go and stand in all the other gates of the city of Jerusalem. 17:20 As you stand in those places announce, ‘Listen, all you people who pass through these gates. Listen, all you kings of Judah, all you people of Judah and all you citizens of Jerusalem. Listen to what the Lord says. 17:21 The Lord says, ‘Be very careful if you value your lives! Do not carry any loads in through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. 17:22 Do not carry any loads out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath day. But observe the Sabbath day as a day set apart to the Lord, as I commanded your ancestors. 17:23 Your ancestors, however, did not listen to me or pay any attention to me. They stubbornly refused to pay attention or to respond to any discipline.’ 17:24 The Lord says, ‘You must make sure to obey me. You must not bring any loads through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day. You must set the Sabbath day apart to me. You must not do any work on that day. 17:25 If you do this, then the kings and princes who follow in David’s succession and ride in chariots or on horses will continue to enter through these gates, as well as their officials and the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. This city will always be filled with people. 17:26 Then people will come here from the towns in Judah, from the villages surrounding Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin, from the western foothills, from the southern hill country, and from the southern part of Judah. They will come bringing offerings to the temple of the Lord: burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings, and incense along with their thank offerings. 17:27 But you must obey me and set the Sabbath day apart to me. You must not carry any loads in through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. If you disobey, I will set the gates of Jerusalem on fire. It will burn down all the fortified dwellings in Jerusalem and no one will be able to put it out.’”

An Object Lesson from the Making of Pottery

18:1 The Lord said to Jeremiah: 18:2 “Go down at once to the potter’s house. I will speak to you further there.” 18:3 So I went down to the potter’s house and found him working at his wheel. 18:4 Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit.

18:5 Then the Lord said to me, 18:6 “I, the Lord, say: ‘O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.’ 18:7 There are times, Jeremiah, when I threaten to uproot, tear down, and destroy a nation or kingdom. 18:8 But if that nation I threatened stops doing wrong, I will cancel the destruction I intended to do to it. 18:9 And there are times when I promise to build up and establish a nation or kingdom. 18:10 But if that nation does what displeases me and does not obey me, then I will cancel the good I promised to do to it. 18:11 So now, tell the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem this: The Lord says, ‘I am preparing to bring disaster on you! I am making plans to punish you. So, every one of you, stop the evil things you have been doing. Correct the way you have been living and do what is right.’ 18:12 But they just keep saying, ‘We do not care what you say! We will do whatever we want to do! We will continue to behave wickedly and stubbornly!’”

18:13 Therefore, the Lord says, “Ask the people of other nations whether they have heard of anything like this. Israel should have been like a virgin. But she has done something utterly revolting!

18:14 Does the snow ever completely vanish from the rocky slopes of Lebanon? Do the cool waters from those distant mountains ever cease to flow?

18:15 Yet my people have forgotten me and offered sacrifices to worthless idols! This makes them stumble along in the way they live and leave the old reliable path of their fathers. They have left them to walk in bypaths, in roads that are not smooth and level.

18:16 So their land will become an object of horror. People will forever hiss out their scorn over it. All who pass that way will be filled with horror and will shake their heads in derision.

18:17 I will scatter them before their enemies like dust blowing in front of a burning east wind. I will turn my back on them and not look favorably on them when disaster strikes them.”

Jeremiah Petitions the Lord to Punish Those Who Attack Him

18:18 Then some people said, “Come on! Let us consider how to deal with Jeremiah! There will still be priests to instruct us, wise men to give us advice, and prophets to declare God’s word. Come on! Let’s bring charges against him and get rid of him! Then we will not need to pay attention to anything he says.”

18:19 Then I said, “Lord, pay attention to me. Listen to what my enemies are saying.

18:20 Should good be paid back with evil? Yet they are virtually digging a pit to kill me. Just remember how I stood before you pleading on their behalf to keep you from venting your anger on them.

18:21 So let their children die of starvation. Let them be cut down by the sword. Let their wives lose their husbands and children. Let the older men die of disease and the younger men die by the sword in battle.

18:22 Let cries of terror be heard in their houses when you send bands of raiders unexpectedly to plunder them. For they have virtually dug a pit to capture me and have hidden traps for me to step into.

18:23 But you, Lord, know all their plots to kill me. Do not pardon their crimes! Do not ignore their sins as though you had erased them! Let them be brought down in defeat before you! Deal with them while you are still angry!

An Object Lesson from a Broken Clay Jar

19:1 The Lord told Jeremiah, “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take with you some of the leaders of the people and some of the leaders of the priests. 19:2 Go out to the part of the Hinnom Valley which is near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. Announce there what I tell you. 19:3 Say, ‘Listen to what the Lord says, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “I will bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it ring! 19:4 I will do so because these people have rejected me and have defiled this place. They have offered sacrifices in it to other gods which neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah knew anything about. They have filled it with the blood of innocent children. 19:5 They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind! 19:6 So I, the Lord, say: “The time will soon come that people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Hinnom Valley. But they will call this valley the Valley of Slaughter! 19:7 In this place I will thwart the plans of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. I will deliver them over to the power of their enemies who are seeking to kill them. They will die by the sword at the hands of their enemies. I will make their dead bodies food for the birds and wild beasts to eat. 19:8 I will make this city an object of horror, a thing to be hissed at. All who pass by it will be filled with horror and will hiss out their scorn because of all the disasters that have happened to it. 19:9 I will reduce the people of this city to desperate straits during the siege imposed on it by their enemies who are seeking to kill them. I will make them so desperate that they will eat the flesh of their own sons and daughters and the flesh of one another.”‘”

19:10 The Lord continued, “Now break the jar in front of those who have come here with you. 19:11 Tell them the Lord who rules over all says, ‘I will do just as Jeremiah has done. I will smash this nation and this city as though it were a potter’s vessel which is broken beyond repair. The dead will be buried here in Topheth until there is no more room to bury them.’ 19:12 I, the Lord, say: ‘That is how I will deal with this city and its citizens. I will make it like Topheth. 19:13 The houses in Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled by dead bodies just like this place, Topheth. For they offered sacrifice to the stars and poured out drink offerings to other gods on the roofs of those houses.’”

19:14 Then Jeremiah left Topheth where the Lord had sent him to give that prophecy. He went to the Lord’s temple and stood in its courtyard and called out to all the people. 19:15 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘I will soon bring on this city and all the towns surrounding it all the disaster I threatened to do to it. I will do so because they have stubbornly refused to pay any attention to what I have said!’”

Jeremiah is Flogged and Put in A Cell

20:1 Now Pashhur son of Immer heard Jeremiah prophesy these things. He was the priest who was chief of security in the Lord’s temple. 20:2 When he heard Jeremiah’s prophecy, he had the prophet flogged. Then he put him in the stocks which were at the Upper Gate of Benjamin in the Lord’s temple. 20:3 But the next day Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks. When he did, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord’s name for you is not ‘Pashhur’ but ‘Terror is Everywhere.’ 20:4 For the Lord says, ‘I will make both you and your friends terrified of what will happen to you. You will see all of them die by the swords of their enemies. I will hand all the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will carry some of them away into exile in Babylon and he will kill others of them with the sword. 20:5 I will hand over all the wealth of this city to their enemies. I will hand over to them all the fruits of the labor of the people of this city and all their prized possessions, as well as all the treasures of the kings of Judah. Their enemies will seize it all as plunder and carry it off to Babylon. 20:6 You, Pashhur, and all your household will go into exile in Babylon. You will die there and you will be buried there. The same thing will happen to all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.’”

Jeremiah Complains about the Reaction to His Ministry

20:7 Lord, you coerced me into being a prophet, and I allowed you to do it. You overcame my resistance and prevailed over me. Now I have become a constant laughingstock. Everyone ridicules me.

20:8 For whenever I prophesy, I must cry out, “Violence and destruction are coming!” This message from the Lord has made me an object of continual insults and derision.

20:9 Sometimes I think, “I will make no mention of his message. I will not speak as his messenger any more.” But then his message becomes like a fire locked up inside of me, burning in my heart and soul. I grow weary of trying to hold it in; I cannot contain it.

20:10 I hear many whispering words of intrigue against me. Those who would cause me terror are everywhere! They are saying, “Come on, let’s publicly denounce him!” All my so-called friends are just watching for something that would lead to my downfall. They say, “Perhaps he can be enticed into slipping up, so we can prevail over him and get our revenge on him.

20:11 But the Lord is with me to help me like an awe-inspiring warrior. Therefore those who persecute me will fail and will not prevail over me. They will be thoroughly disgraced because they did not succeed. Their disgrace will never be forgotten.

20:12 O Lord who rules over all, you test and prove the righteous. You see into people’s hearts and minds. Pay them back for what they have done because I trust you to vindicate my cause.

20:13 Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord! For he rescues the oppressed from the clutches of evildoers.

20:14 Cursed be the day I was born! May that day not be blessed when my mother gave birth to me.

20:15 Cursed be the man who made my father very glad when he brought him the news that a baby boy had been born to him!

20:16 May that man be like the cities that the Lord destroyed without showing any mercy. May he hear a cry of distress in the morning and a battle cry at noon.

20:17 For he did not kill me before I came from the womb, making my pregnant mother’s womb my grave forever.

20:18 Why did I ever come forth from my mother’s womb? All I experience is trouble and grief, and I spend my days in shame.

The Lord Will Hand Jerusalem over to Enemies

21:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. Zedekiah sent them to Jeremiah to ask, 21:2 “Please ask the Lord to come and help us, because King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is attacking us. Maybe the Lord will perform one of his miracles as in times past and make him stop attacking us and leave.” 21:3 Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah 21:4 that the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘The forces at your disposal are now outside the walls fighting against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the Babylonians who have you under siege. I will gather those forces back inside the city. 21:5 In anger, in fury, and in wrath I myself will fight against you with my mighty power and great strength! 21:6 I will kill everything living in Jerusalem, people and animals alike! They will die from terrible diseases. 21:7 Then I, the Lord, promise that I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, and any of the people who survive the war, starvation, and disease. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will slaughter them with the sword. He will not show them any mercy, compassion, or pity.’

21:8 “But tell the people of Jerusalem that the Lord says, ‘I will give you a choice between two courses of action. One will result in life; the other will result in death. 21:9 Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians who are besieging it will live. They will escape with their lives. 21:10 For I, the Lord, say that I am determined not to deliver this city but to bring disaster on it. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon and he will destroy it with fire.’”

Warnings to the Royal Court

21:11 The Lord told me to say to the royal court of Judah, “Listen to what the Lord says,

21:12 O royal family descended from David. The Lord says: ‘See to it that people each day are judged fairly. Deliver those who have been robbed from those who oppress them. Otherwise, my wrath will blaze out against you. It will burn like a fire that cannot be put out because of the evil that you have done.

21:13 Listen, you who sit enthroned above the valley on a rocky plateau. I am opposed to you,’ says the Lord. ‘You boast, “No one can swoop down on us. No one can penetrate into our places of refuge.”

21:14 But I will punish you as your deeds deserve,’ says the Lord. ‘I will set fire to your palace; it will burn up everything around it.’”

22:1 The Lord told me, “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah. Give him a message from me there. 22:2 Say: ‘Listen, O king of Judah who follows in David’s succession. You, your officials, and your subjects who pass through the gates of this palace must listen to what the Lord says. 22:3 The Lord says, “Do what is just and right. Deliver those who have been robbed from those who oppress them. Do not exploit or mistreat foreigners who live in your land, children who have no fathers, or widows. Do not kill innocent people in this land. 22:4 If you are careful to obey these commands, then the kings who follow in David’s succession and ride in chariots or on horses will continue to come through the gates of this palace, as will their officials and their subjects. 22:5 But, if you do not obey these commands, I solemnly swear that this palace will become a pile of rubble. I, the Lord, affirm it!”

22:6 “‘For the Lord says concerning the palace of the king of Judah, “This place looks like a veritable forest of Gilead to me. It is like the wooded heights of Lebanon in my eyes. But I swear that I will make it like a wilderness whose towns have all been deserted.

22:7 I will send men against it to destroy it with their axes and hatchets. They will hack up its fine cedar panels and columns and throw them into the fire.

22:8 “‘People from other nations will pass by this city. They will ask one another, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?” 22:9 The answer will come back, “It is because they broke their covenant with the Lord their God and worshiped and served other gods.”

Judgment on Jehoahaz

22:10 “‘Do not weep for the king who was killed. Do not grieve for him. But weep mournfully for the king who has gone into exile. For he will never return to see his native land again.

22:11 “‘For the Lord has spoken about Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but was carried off into exile. He has said, “He will never return to this land. 22:12 For he will die in the country where they took him as a captive. He will never see this land again.”

Judgment on Jehoiakim

22:13 “‘Sure to be judged is the king who builds his palace using injustice and treats people unfairly while adding its upper rooms. He makes his countrymen work for him for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor.

22:14 He says, “I will build myself a large palace with spacious upper rooms.” He cuts windows in its walls, panels it with cedar, and paints its rooms red.

22:15 Does it make you any more of a king that you outstrip everyone else in building with cedar? Just think about your father. He was content that he had food and drink. He did what was just and right. So things went well with him.

22:16 He upheld the cause of the poor and needy. So things went well for Judah.’ The Lord says, ‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.’

22:17 But you are always thinking and looking for ways to increase your wealth by dishonest means. Your eyes and your heart are set on killing some innocent person and committing fraud and oppression.

22:18 So the Lord has this to say about Josiah’s son, King Jehoiakim of Judah: People will not mourn for him, saying, “This makes me sad, my brother! This makes me sad, my sister!” They will not mourn for him, saying, “Poor, poor lord! Poor, poor majesty!”

22:19 He will be left unburied just like a dead donkey. His body will be dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.’”

Warning to Jerusalem

22:20 People of Jerusalem, go up to Lebanon and cry out in mourning. Go to the land of Bashan and cry out loudly. Cry out in mourning from the mountains of Moab. For your allies have all been defeated.

22:21 While you were feeling secure I gave you warning. But you said, “I refuse to listen to you.” That is the way you have acted from your earliest history onward. Indeed, you have never paid attention to me.

22:22 My judgment will carry off all your leaders like a storm wind! Your allies will go into captivity. Then you will certainly be disgraced and put to shame because of all the wickedness you have done.

22:23 You may feel as secure as a bird nesting in the cedars of Lebanon. But oh how you will groan when the pains of judgment come on you. They will be like those of a woman giving birth to a baby.

Jeconiah Will Be Permanently Exiled

22:24 The Lord says, “As surely as I am the living God, you, Jeconiah, king of Judah, son of Jehoiakim, will not be the earthly representative of my authority. Indeed, I will take that right away from you. 22:25 I will hand you over to those who want to take your life and of whom you are afraid. I will hand you over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his Babylonian soldiers. 22:26 I will force you and your mother who gave you birth into exile. You will be exiled to a country where neither of you were born, and you will both die there. 22:27 You will never come back to this land to which you will long to return!”

22:28 This man, Jeconiah, will be like a broken pot someone threw away. He will be like a clay vessel that no one wants. Why will he and his children be forced into exile? Why will they be thrown out into a country they know nothing about?

22:29 O land of Judah, land of Judah, land of Judah! Listen to what the Lord has to say!

22:30 The Lord says, “Enroll this man in the register as though he were childless. Enroll him as a man who will not enjoy success during his lifetime. For none of his sons will succeed in occupying the throne of David or ever succeed in ruling over Judah.”

Prayer

Lord, the responsibility for the destiny of the people was upon them, You had given them generations of grace and now temporal justice and law had to be satisfied (present-day before You, not Your eternal Final White Throne Judgment). May I recognize that You still balance grace and justice and that there is a difference between Your present-day chastising and hard-knocks teaching and Your perfect and final eternal judgment.

Scripture In Perspective

Jeremiah asked the Lord for a wisdom-teaching “Lord, you have always been fair whenever I have complained to you. However, I would like to speak with you about the disposition of justice. Why are wicked people successful? Why do all dishonest people have such easy lives? … The Lord answered, “If you have raced on foot against men and they have worn you out, how will you be able to compete with horses? And if you feel secure only in safe and open country, how will you manage in the thick undergrowth along the Jordan River?” - essentially, he was reminded that it was not in his strength or wisdom that he would complete the ministry of the Lord God.

Jeremiah was told that when the people feign ignorance of the reason for their terrible punishment “Why has the Lord threatened us with such great disaster? What wrong have we done? What sin have we done to offend the Lord our God?’” he was to “… tell them that the Lord says, ‘It is because your ancestors rejected me and paid allegiance to other gods. They have served them and worshiped them. But they have rejected me and not obeyed my law. And you have acted even more wickedly than your ancestors! Each one of you has followed the stubborn inclinations of your own wicked heart and not obeyed me.”

He was also given a word of hope from the Lord God “A new time will certainly come. People now affirm their oaths with ‘I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.’ But in that time they will affirm them with ‘I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.’ At that time I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors.”“

Jeremiah was reminded that there was no chance of relief from this punishment The sin of Judah is engraved with an iron chisel on their stone-hard hearts. It is inscribed with a diamond point on the horns of their altars … You will lose your hold on the land which I gave to you as a permanent possession. I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you know nothing about. For you have made my anger burn like a fire that will never be put out.”“

Jeremiah confronted the people with the Lord God’s summary of choices and consequences.

He was indignant that the very people for whom he sought mercy from the Lord God now attacked and threatened him “So let their children die of starvation. Let them be cut down by the sword. Let their wives lose their husbands and children. Let the older men die of disease and the younger men die by the sword in battle.”

Jeremiah concluded with the Lord God’s declaration of imminent destruction.

Jeremiah shared the description of the Lord God as to the terrible end for Jerusalem and Judah.

He then described the flogging and time in the stocks at the order of the priest who was responsible for Temple security and that when released he announced the Lord’s specific curse upon that priest, his family and his friends.

Jeremiah informed the people that they were not to mourn the king who had been killed, the king who was to be killed, and the king who was to be deported and forgotten – none to follow him into royalty from his descendants – all because of their reckless and rebellious leadership.

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Lord God promised to have Jeremiah’s back – and He demonstrated it to Jeremiah – first making him aware of a secret plot against him, then describing the terrible consequences for the plotters. The blessing and suffering experienced by the people was always linked to their obedience.

Discuss

Is it possible that the Lord God allowed the flogging of Jeremiah to jog him loose from his reluctance to pronounce condemnation upon the rebellious people? After all of his prophesies, and his mistreatment at the hands of leaders and the people, why would king Zedekiah imagine that Jeremiah would even want to intervene for him with the Lord God – let alone imagine that the Lord might save them?

Reflect

When the term “destined” was used it did not imply fatalistic-predestination but merely the Lord God’s perfect awareness of where their choices and circumstances would lead. Just as the fire of hell is described as “never going out”, so it was written here “... you have made my anger burn like a fire that will never be put out.”, but it isn’t intended eternally. Jeremiah reached the same point of frustration as David and in an ‘imprecatory prayer’ asked the Lord God to take terrible vengeance upon the people. The phrase “... he did not kill me before I came from the womb, making my pregnant mother’s womb my grave forever.” creates a painful word picture for the mother of an aborted or miscarried child. The kings had failed the people as God warned them that they would.

Share

When have you experienced of observed someone pleading for a person who had spoiled so many ‘second chances’ as to have destroyed any possibility of yet another. When have you observed someone expecting help when they ignored multiple previous efforts to assist them when it could have made a difference?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you knowledge, to then be followed by understanding – said understanding to come from His perspective, and ultimately leading to wisdom. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where fear has caused you to resist telling the Lord’s story and testifying to His truth.

Act

Today I will humbly and joyfully receive the teaching the Holy Spirit has for me. I will partner with Him as He transforms my thinking to that of the Lord rather than that of the world. And I will praise Him! I will confess and repent, seek and accept the forgiveness of the Lord God, and then I will accept His courage to speak what He has been pressing me to speak.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Friday (Jeremiah 23-33)

New Leaders over a Regathered Remnant

23:1 The Lord says, “The leaders of my people are sure to be judged. They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered. 23:2 So the Lord God of Israel has this to say about the leaders who are ruling over his people: “You have caused my people to be dispersed and driven into exile. You have not taken care of them. So I will punish you for the evil that you have done. I, the Lord, affirm it! 23:3 Then I myself will regather those of my people who are still alive from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their homeland. They will greatly increase in number. 23:4 I will install rulers over them who will care for them. Then they will no longer need to fear or be terrified. None of them will turn up missing. I, the Lord, promise it!

23:5 “I, the Lord, promise that a new time will certainly come when I will raise up for them a righteous branch, a descendant of David. He will rule over them with wisdom and understanding and will do what is just and right in the land.

23:6 Under his rule Judah will enjoy safety and Israel will live in security. This is the name he will go by: ‘The Lord has provided us with justice.’

23:7 “So I, the Lord, say: ‘A new time will certainly come. People now affirm their oaths with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.” 23:8 But at that time they will affirm them with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the descendants of the former nation of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.” At that time they will live in their own land.’”

Oracles Against the False Prophets

23:9 Here is what the Lord says concerning the false prophets: My heart and my mind are deeply disturbed. I tremble all over. I am like a drunk person, like a person who has had too much wine, because of the way the Lord and his holy word are being mistreated.

23:10 For the land is full of people unfaithful to him. They live wicked lives and they misuse their power. So the land is dried up because it is under his curse. The pastures in the wilderness are withered.

23:11 Moreover, the Lord says, “Both the prophets and priests are godless. I have even found them doing evil in my temple!

23:12 So the paths they follow will be dark and slippery. They will stumble and fall headlong. For I will bring disaster on them. A day of reckoning is coming for them.” The Lord affirms it!

23:13 The Lord says, “I saw the prophets of Samaria doing something that was disgusting. They prophesied in the name of the god Baal and led my people Israel astray.

23:14 But I see the prophets of Jerusalem doing something just as shocking. They are unfaithful to me and continually prophesy lies. So they give encouragement to people who are doing evil, with the result that they do not stop their evildoing. I consider all of them as bad as the people of Sodom, and the citizens of Jerusalem as bad as the people of Gomorrah.

23:15 So then I, the Lord who rules over all, have something to say concerning the prophets of Jerusalem: ‘I will make these prophets eat the bitter food of suffering and drink the poison water of judgment. For the prophets of Jerusalem are the reason that ungodliness has spread throughout the land.’”

23:16 The Lord who rules over all says to the people of Jerusalem: “Do not listen to what those prophets are saying to you. They are filling you with false hopes. They are reporting visions of their own imaginations, not something the Lord has given them to say.

23:17 They continually say to those who reject what the Lord has said, ‘Things will go well for you!’ They say to all those who follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts, ‘Nothing bad will happen to you!’

23:18 Yet which of them has ever stood in the Lord’s inner circle so they could see and hear what he has to say? Which of them have ever paid attention or listened to what he has said?

23:19 But just watch! The wrath of the Lord will come like a storm! Like a raging storm it will rage down on the heads of those who are wicked.

23:20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has fully carried out his intended purposes. In days to come you people will come to understand this clearly.

23:21 I did not send those prophets. Yet they were in a hurry to give their message. I did not tell them anything. Yet they prophesied anyway.

23:22 But if they had stood in my inner circle, they would have proclaimed my message to my people. They would have caused my people to turn from their wicked ways and stop doing the evil things they are doing.

23:23 Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?” the Lord asks.

23:24 “Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?” the Lord asks. “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the Lord asks.

23:25 The Lord says, “I have heard what those prophets who are prophesying lies in my name are saying. They are saying, ‘I have had a dream! I have had a dream!’ 23:26 Those prophets are just prophesying lies. They are prophesying the delusions of their own minds. 23:27 How long will they go on plotting to make my people forget who I am through the dreams they tell one another? That is just as bad as what their ancestors did when they forgot who I am by worshiping the god Baal. 23:28 Let the prophet who has had a dream go ahead and tell his dream. Let the person who has received my message report that message faithfully. What is like straw cannot compare to what is like grain! I, the Lord, affirm it! 23:29 My message is like a fire that purges dross! It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces! I, the Lord, so affirm it! 23:30 So I, the Lord, affirm that I am opposed to those prophets who steal messages from one another that they claim are from me. 23:31 I, the Lord, affirm that I am opposed to those prophets who are using their own tongues to declare, ‘The Lord declares….’ 23:32 I, the Lord, affirm that I am opposed to those prophets who dream up lies and report them. They are misleading my people with their reckless lies. I did not send them. I did not commission them. They are not helping these people at all. I, the Lord, affirm it!”

23:33 The Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, when one of these people, or a prophet, or a priest asks you, ‘What burdensome message do you have from the Lord?’ Tell them, ‘You are the burden, and I will cast you away. I, the Lord, affirm it! 23:34 I will punish any prophet, priest, or other person who says “The Lord’s message is burdensome.” I will punish both that person and his whole family.’”

23:35 So I, Jeremiah, tell you, “Each of you people should say to his friend or his relative, ‘How did the Lord answer? Or what did the Lord say?’ 23:36 You must no longer say that the Lord’s message is burdensome. For what is ‘burdensome’ really pertains to what a person himself says. You are misrepresenting the words of our God, the living God, the Lord who rules over all. 23:37 Each of you should merely ask the prophet, ‘What answer did the Lord give you? Or what did the Lord say?’ 23:38 But just suppose you continue to say, ‘The message of the Lord is burdensome.’ Here is what the Lord says will happen: ‘I sent word to you that you must not say, “The Lord’s message is burdensome.” But you used the words “The Lord’s message is burdensome” anyway. 23:39 So I will carry you far off and throw you away. I will send both you and the city I gave to you and to your ancestors out of my sight. 23:40 I will bring on you lasting shame and lasting disgrace which will never be forgotten!’”

Good Figs and Bad Figs

24:1 The Lord showed me two baskets of figs sitting before his temple. This happened after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon deported Jehoiakim’s son, King Jeconiah of Judah. He deported him and the leaders of Judah, along with the craftsmen and metal workers, and took them to Babylon. 24:2 One basket had very good-looking figs in it. They looked like those that had ripened early. The other basket had very bad-looking figs in it, so bad they could not be eaten. 24:3 The Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I answered, “I see figs. The good ones look very good. But the bad ones look very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

24:4 The Lord said to me, 24:5 “I, the Lord, the God of Israel, say: ‘The exiles whom I sent away from here to the land of Babylon are like those good figs. I consider them to be good. 24:6 I will look after their welfare and will restore them to this land. There I will build them up and will not tear them down. I will plant them firmly in the land and will not uproot them. 24:7 I will give them the desire to acknowledge that I am the Lord. I will be their God and they will be my people. For they will wholeheartedly return to me.’

24:8 “I, the Lord, also solemnly assert: ‘King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, and the people who remain in Jerusalem or who have gone to live in Egypt are like those bad figs. I consider them to be just like those bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 24:9 I will bring such disaster on them that all the kingdoms of the earth will be horrified. I will make them an object of reproach, a proverbial example of disaster. I will make them an object of ridicule, an example to be used in curses. That is how they will be remembered wherever I banish them. 24:10 I will bring war, starvation, and disease on them until they are completely destroyed from the land I gave them and their ancestors.’”

Seventy Years of Servitude for Failure to Give Heed

25:1 In the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah. (That was the same as the first year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon.) 25:2 So the prophet Jeremiah spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the people who were living in Jerusalem. 25:3 “For the last twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon was ruling in Judah until now, the Lord has been speaking to me. I told you over and over again what he said. But you would not listen. 25:4 Over and over again the Lord has sent his servants the prophets to you. But you have not listened or paid attention. 25:5 He said through them, ‘Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and stop doing the evil things you are doing. If you do, I will allow you to continue to live here in the land that I gave to you and your ancestors as a lasting possession. 25:6 Do not pay allegiance to other gods and worship and serve them. Do not make me angry by the things that you do. Then I will not cause you any harm.’ 25:7 So, now the Lord says, ‘You have not listened to me. But you have made me angry by the things that you have done. Thus you have brought harm on yourselves.’

25:8 “Therefore, the Lord who rules over all says, ‘You have not listened to what I said. 25:9 So I, the Lord, affirm that I will send for all the peoples of the north and my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and all the nations that surround it. I will utterly destroy this land, its inhabitants, and all the nations that surround it and make them everlasting ruins. I will make them objects of horror and hissing scorn. 25:10 I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, to the glad celebration of brides and grooms in these lands. I will put an end to the sound of people grinding meal. I will put an end to lamps shining in their houses. 25:11 This whole area will become a desolate wasteland. These nations will be subject to the king of Babylon for seventy years.’

25:12 “‘But when the seventy years are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation for their sins. I will make the land of Babylon an everlasting ruin. I, the Lord, affirm it! 25:13 I will bring on that land everything that I said I would. I will bring on it everything that is written in this book. I will bring on it everything that Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. 25:14 For many nations and great kings will make slaves of the king of Babylon and his nation too. I will repay them for all they have done!’”

Judah and the Nations Will Experience God’s Wrath

25:15 So the Lord, the God of Israel, spoke to me in a vision. “Take this cup from my hand. It is filled with the wine of my wrath. Take it and make the nations to whom I send you drink it. 25:16 When they have drunk it, they will stagger to and fro and act insane. For I will send wars sweeping through them.”

25:17 So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand. I made all the nations to whom he sent me drink the wine of his wrath. 25:18 I made Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and its officials drink it. I did it so Judah would become a ruin. I did it so Judah, its kings, and its officials would become an object of horror and of hissing scorn, an example used in curses. Such is already becoming the case! 25:19 I made all of these other people drink it: Pharaoh, king of Egypt; his attendants, his officials, his people, 25:20 the foreigners living in Egypt; all the kings of the land of Uz; all the kings of the land of the Philistines, the people of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, the people who had been left alive from Ashdod; 25:21 all the people of Edom, Moab, Ammon; 25:22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon; all the kings of the coastlands along the sea; 25:23 the people of Dedan, Tema, Buz, all the desert people who cut their hair short at the temples; 25:24 all the kings of Arabia who live in the desert; 25:25 all the kings of Zimri; all the kings of Elam; all the kings of Media; 25:26 all the kings of the north, whether near or far from one another; and all the other kingdoms which are on the face of the earth. After all of them have drunk the wine of the Lord’s wrath, the king of Babylon must drink it.

25:27 Then the Lord said to me, “Tell them that the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘Drink this cup until you get drunk and vomit. Drink until you fall down and can’t get up. For I will send wars sweeping through you.’ 25:28 If they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink it, tell them that the Lord who rules over all says ‘You most certainly must drink it! 25:29 For take note, I am already beginning to bring disaster on the city that I call my own. So how can you possibly avoid being punished? You will not go unpunished! For I am proclaiming war against all who live on the earth. I, the Lord who rules over all, affirm it!’

25:30 “Then, Jeremiah, make the following prophecy against them: ‘Like a lion about to attack, the Lord will roar from the heights of heaven; from his holy dwelling on high he will roar loudly. He will roar mightily against his land. He will shout in triumph like those stomping juice from the grapes against all those who live on the earth.

25:31 The sounds of battle will resound to the ends of the earth. For the Lord will bring charges against the nations. He will pass judgment on all humankind and will hand the wicked over to be killed in war.’ The Lord so affirms it!

25:32 The Lord who rules over all says, ‘Disaster will soon come on one nation after another. A mighty storm of military destruction is rising up from the distant parts of the earth.’

25:33 Those who have been killed by the Lord at that time will be scattered from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned over, gathered up, or buried. Their dead bodies will lie scattered over the ground like manure.

25:34 Wail and cry out in anguish, you rulers! Roll in the dust, you who shepherd flocks of people! The time for you to be slaughtered has come. You will lie scattered and fallen like broken pieces of fine pottery.

25:35 The leaders will not be able to run away and hide. The shepherds of the flocks will not be able to escape.

25:36 Listen to the cries of anguish of the leaders. Listen to the wails of the shepherds of the flocks. They are wailing because the Lord is about to destroy their lands.

25:37 Their peaceful dwelling places will be laid waste by the fierce anger of the Lord.

25:38 The Lord is like a lion who has left his lair. So their lands will certainly be laid waste by the warfare of the oppressive nation and by the fierce anger of the Lord.”

Jeremiah Is Put on Trial as a False Prophet

26:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah at the beginning of the reign of Josiah’s son, King Jehoiakim of Judah. 26:2 The Lord said, “Go stand in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple. Speak out to all the people who are coming from the towns of Judah to worship in the Lord’s temple. Tell them everything I command you to tell them. Do not leave out a single word! 26:3 Maybe they will pay attention and each of them will stop living the evil way they do. If they do that, then I will forgo destroying them as I had intended to do because of the wicked things they have been doing. 26:4 Tell them that the Lord says, ‘You must obey me! You must live according to the way I have instructed you in my laws. 26:5 You must pay attention to the exhortations of my servants the prophets. I have sent them to you over and over again. But you have not paid any attention to them. 26:6 If you do not obey me, then I will do to this temple what I did to Shiloh. And I will make this city an example to be used in curses by people from all the nations on the earth.’”

26:7 The priests, the prophets, and all the people heard Jeremiah say these things in the Lord’s temple. 26:8 Jeremiah had just barely finished saying all the Lord had commanded him to say to all the people. All at once some of the priests, the prophets, and the people grabbed him and shouted, “You deserve to die! 26:9 How dare you claim the Lord’s authority to prophesy such things! How dare you claim his authority to prophesy that this temple will become like Shiloh and that this city will become an uninhabited ruin!” Then all the people crowded around Jeremiah.

26:10 However, some of the officials of Judah heard about what was happening and they rushed up to the Lord’s temple from the royal palace. They set up court at the entrance of the New Gate of the Lord’s temple. 26:11 Then the priests and the prophets made their charges before the officials and all the people. They said, “This man should be condemned to die because he prophesied against this city. You have heard him do so with your own ears.”

26:12 Then Jeremiah made his defense before all the officials and all the people. “The Lord sent me to prophesy everything you have heard me say against this temple and against this city. 26:13 But correct the way you have been living and do what is right. Obey the Lord your God. If you do, the Lord will forgo destroying you as he threatened he would. 26:14 As to my case, I am in your power. Do to me what you deem fair and proper. 26:15 But you should take careful note of this: If you put me to death, you will bring on yourselves and this city and those who live in it the guilt of murdering an innocent man. For the Lord has sent me to speak all this where you can hear it. That is the truth!”

26:16 Then the officials and all the people rendered their verdict to the priests and the prophets. They said, “This man should not be condemned to die. For he has spoken to us under the authority of the Lord our God.” 26:17 Then some of the elders of Judah stepped forward and spoke to all the people gathered there. They said, 26:18 “Micah from Moresheth prophesied during the time Hezekiah was king of Judah. He told all the people of Judah, ‘The Lord who rules over all says, “Zion will become a plowed field. Jerusalem will become a pile of rubble. The temple mount will become a mere wooded ridge.”‘

26:19 King Hezekiah and all the people of Judah did not put him to death, did they? Did not Hezekiah show reverence for the Lord and seek the Lord’s favor? Did not the Lord forgo destroying them as he threatened he would? But we are on the verge of bringing great disaster on ourselves.”

26:20 Now there was another man who prophesied as the Lord’s representative against this city and this land just as Jeremiah did. His name was Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim. 26:21 When the king and all his bodyguards and officials heard what he was prophesying, the king sought to have him executed. But Uriah found out about it and fled to Egypt out of fear. 26:22 However, King Jehoiakim sent some men to Egypt, including Elnathan son of Achbor, 26:23 and they brought Uriah back from there. They took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him executed and had his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.

26:24 However, Ahikam son of Shaphan used his influence to keep Jeremiah from being handed over and executed by the people.

Jeremiah Counsels Submission to Babylon

27:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah early in the reign of Josiah’s son, King Zedekiah of Judah. 27:2 The Lord told me, “Make a yoke out of leather straps and wooden crossbars and put it on your neck. 27:3 Use it to send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. Send them through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to King Zedekiah of Judah. 27:4 Charge them to give their masters a message from me. Tell them, ‘The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says to give your masters this message. 27:5 “I made the earth and the people and animals on it by my mighty power and great strength, and I give it to whomever I see fit. 27:6 I have at this time placed all these nations of yours under the power of my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have even made all the wild animals subject to him. 27:7 All nations must serve him and his son and grandson until the time comes for his own nation to fall. Then many nations and great kings will in turn subjugate Babylon. 27:8 But suppose a nation or a kingdom will not be subject to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Suppose it will not submit to the yoke of servitude to him. I, the Lord, affirm that I will punish that nation. I will use the king of Babylon to punish it with war, starvation, and disease until I have destroyed it. 27:9 So do not listen to your prophets or to those who claim to predict the future by divination, by dreams, by consulting the dead, or by practicing magic. They keep telling you, ‘You do not need to be subject to the king of Babylon.’ 27:10 Do not listen to them, because their prophecies are lies. Listening to them will only cause you to be taken far away from your native land. I will drive you out of your country and you will die in exile. 27:11 Things will go better for the nation that submits to the yoke of servitude to the king of Babylon and is subject to him. I will leave that nation in its native land. Its people can continue to farm it and live in it. I, the Lord, affirm it!”‘”

27:12 I told King Zedekiah of Judah the same thing. I said, “Submit to the yoke of servitude to the king of Babylon. Be subject to him and his people. Then you will continue to live. 27:13 There is no reason why you and your people should die in war or from starvation or disease! That’s what the Lord says will happen to any nation that will not be subject to the king of Babylon. 27:14 Do not listen to the prophets who are telling you that you do not need to serve the king of Babylon. For they are prophesying lies to you. 27:15 For I, the Lord, affirm that I did not send them. They are prophesying lies to you. If you listen to them, I will drive you and the prophets who are prophesying lies out of the land and you will all die in exile.”

27:16 I also told the priests and all the people, “The Lord says, ‘Do not listen to what your prophets are saying. They are prophesying to you that the valuable articles taken from the Lord’s temple will be brought back from Babylon very soon. But they are prophesying a lie to you. 27:17 Do not listen to them. Be subject to the king of Babylon. Then you will continue to live. Why should this city be made a pile of rubble?’” 27:18 I also told them, “If they are really prophets and the Lord is speaking to them, let them pray earnestly to the Lord who rules over all. Let them plead with him not to let the valuable articles that are still left in the Lord’s temple, in the royal palace, and in Jerusalem be taken away to Babylon. 27:19 For the Lord who rules over all has already spoken about the two bronze pillars, the large bronze basin called ‘The Sea,’ and the movable bronze stands. He has already spoken about the rest of the valuable articles that are left in this city. 27:20 He has already spoken about these things that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did not take away when he carried Jehoiakim’s son King Jeconiah of Judah and the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem away as captives. 27:21 Indeed, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all has already spoken about the valuable articles that are left in the Lord’s temple, in the royal palace of Judah, and in Jerusalem. 27:22 He has said, ‘They will be carried off to Babylon. They will remain there until it is time for me to show consideration for them again. Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.’ I, the Lord, affirm this!”

Jeremiah Confronted by a False Prophet

28:1 The following events occurred in that same year, early in the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah. To be more precise, it was the fifth month of the fourth year of his reign. The prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, who was from Gibeon, spoke to Jeremiah in the Lord’s temple in the presence of the priests and all the people. 28:2 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘I will break the yoke of servitude to the king of Babylon. 28:3 Before two years are over, I will bring back to this place everything that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took from it and carried away to Babylon. 28:4 I will also bring back to this place Jehoiakim’s son King Jeconiah of Judah and all the exiles who were taken to Babylon.’ Indeed, the Lord affirms, ‘I will break the yoke of servitude to the king of Babylon.’”

28:5 Then the prophet Jeremiah responded to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the Lord’s temple. 28:6 The prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do all this! May the Lord make your prophecy come true! May he bring back to this place from Babylon all the valuable articles taken from the Lord’s temple and the people who were carried into exile. 28:7 But listen to what I say to you and to all these people. 28:8 From earliest times, the prophets who preceded you and me invariably prophesied war, disaster, and plagues against many countries and great kingdoms. 28:9 So if a prophet prophesied peace and prosperity, it was only known that the Lord truly sent him when what he prophesied came true.”

28:10 The prophet Hananiah then took the yoke off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck and broke it. 28:11 Then he spoke up in the presence of all the people. “The Lord says, ‘In the same way I will break the yoke of servitude of all the nations to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon before two years are over.’” After he heard this, the prophet Jeremiah departed and went on his way.

28:12 But shortly after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. 28:13 “Go and tell Hananiah that the Lord says, ‘You have indeed broken the wooden yoke. But you have only succeeded in replacing it with an iron one! 28:14 For the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “I have put an irresistible yoke of servitude on all these nations so they will serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. And they will indeed serve him. I have even given him control over the wild animals.”‘” 28:15 Then the prophet Jeremiah told the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord did not send you! You are making these people trust in a lie! 28:16 So the Lord says, ‘I will most assuredly remove you from the face of the earth. You will die this very year because you have counseled rebellion against the Lord.’”

28:17 In the seventh month of that very same year the prophet Hananiah died.

Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles

29:1 The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles Nebuchadnezzar had carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon. It was addressed to the elders who were left among the exiles, to the priests, to the prophets, and to all the other people who were exiled in Babylon. 29:2 He sent it after King Jeconiah, the queen mother, the palace officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had been exiled from Jerusalem. 29:3 He sent it with Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah. King Zedekiah of Judah had sent these men to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The letter said:

29:4 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says to all those he sent into exile to Babylon from Jerusalem, 29:5 ‘Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. 29:6 Marry and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and allow your daughters get married so that they too can have sons and daughters. Grow in number; do not dwindle away. 29:7 Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the Lord for it. For as it prospers you will prosper.’

29:8 “For the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘Do not let the prophets or those among you who claim to be able to predict the future by divination deceive you. And do not pay any attention to the dreams that you are encouraging them to dream. 29:9 They are prophesying lies to you and claiming my authority to do so. But I did not send them. I, the Lord, affirm it!’

29:10 “For the Lord says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore you to your homeland. 29:11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. 29:12 When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. 29:13 When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, 29:14 I will make myself available to you,’ says the Lord. ‘Then I will reverse your plight and will regather you from all the nations and all the places where I have exiled you,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’

29:15 “You say, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets of good news for us here in Babylon.’ 29:16 But just listen to what the Lord has to say about the king who occupies David’s throne and all your fellow countrymen who are still living in this city of Jerusalem and were not carried off into exile with you. 29:17 The Lord who rules over all says, ‘I will bring war, starvation, and disease on them. I will treat them like figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten. 29:18 I will chase after them with war, starvation, and disease. I will make all the kingdoms of the earth horrified at what happens to them. I will make them examples of those who are cursed, objects of horror, hissing scorn, and ridicule among all the nations where I exile them. 29:19 For they have not paid attention to what I said to them through my servants the prophets whom I sent to them over and over again,’ says the Lord. ‘And you exiles have not paid any attention to them either,’ says the Lord. 29:20 ‘So pay attention to what I, the Lord, have said, all you exiles whom I have sent to Babylon from Jerusalem.’

29:21 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all also has something to say about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you and claiming my authority to do so. ‘I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and he will execute them before your very eyes. 29:22 And all the exiles of Judah who are in Babylon will use them as examples when they put a curse on anyone. They will say, “May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab whom the king of Babylon roasted to death in the fire!” 29:23 This will happen to them because they have done what is shameful in Israel. They have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives and have spoken lies while claiming my authority. They have spoken words that I did not command them to speak. I know what they have done. I have been a witness to it,’ says the Lord.”

A Response to the Letter and a Subsequent Letter

29:24 The Lord told Jeremiah, “Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite 29:25 that the Lord God of Israel who rules over all has a message for him. Tell him, ‘On your own initiative you sent a letter to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah and to all the other priests and to all the people in Jerusalem. In your letter you said to Zephaniah, 29:26 “The Lord has made you priest in place of Jehoiada. He has put you in charge in the Lord’s temple of controlling any lunatic who pretends to be a prophet. And it is your duty to put any such person in the stocks with an iron collar around his neck. 29:27 You should have reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth who is pretending to be a prophet among you! 29:28 For he has even sent a message to us here in Babylon. He wrote and told us, “You will be there a long time. Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce.”‘”

29:29 Zephaniah the priest read that letter to the prophet Jeremiah. 29:30 Then the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. 29:31 “Send a message to all the exiles in Babylon. Tell them, ‘The Lord has spoken about Shemaiah the Nehelamite. “Shemaiah has spoken to you as a prophet even though I did not send him. He is making you trust in a lie. 29:32 Because he has done this,” the Lord says, “I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his whole family. There will not be any of them left to experience the good things that I will do for my people. I, the Lord, affirm it! For he counseled rebellion against the Lord.”‘”

Introduction to the Book of Consolation

30:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah. 30:2 “The Lord God of Israel says, ‘Write everything that I am about to tell you in a scroll. 30:3 For I, the Lord, affirm that the time will come when I will reverse the plight of my people, Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors and they will take possession of it once again.’”

Israel and Judah Will Be Delivered after a Time of Deep Distress

30:4 So here is what the Lord has to say about Israel and Judah.

30:5 Yes, here is what he says: “You hear cries of panic and of terror; there is no peace in sight.

30:6 Ask yourselves this and consider it carefully: Have you ever seen a man give birth to a baby? Why then do I see all these strong men grabbing their stomachs in pain like a woman giving birth? And why do their faces turn so deathly pale?

30:7 Alas, what a terrible time of trouble it is! There has never been any like it. It is a time of trouble for the descendants of Jacob, but some of them will be rescued out of it.

30:8 When the time for them to be rescued comes,” says the Lord who rules over all, “I will rescue you from foreign subjugation. I will deliver you from captivity. Foreigners will then no longer subjugate them.

30:9 But they will be subject to the Lord their God and to the Davidic ruler whom I will raise up as king over them.

30:10 So I, the Lord, tell you not to be afraid, you descendants of Jacob, my servants. Do not be terrified, people of Israel. For I will rescue you and your descendants from a faraway land where you are captives. The descendants of Jacob will return to their land and enjoy peace. They will be secure and no one will terrify them.

30:11 For I, the Lord, affirm that I will be with you and will rescue you. I will completely destroy all the nations where I scattered you. But I will not completely destroy you. I will indeed discipline you, but only in due measure. I will not allow you to go entirely unpunished.”

The Lord Will Heal the Wounds of Judah

30:12 Moreover, the Lord says to the people of Zion, “Your injuries are incurable; your wounds are severe.

30:13 There is no one to plead your cause. There are no remedies for your wounds. There is no healing for you.

30:14 All your allies have abandoned you. They no longer have any concern for you. For I have attacked you like an enemy would. I have chastened you cruelly. For your wickedness is so great and your sin is so much.

30:15 Why do you complain about your injuries, that your pain is incurable? I have done all this to you because your wickedness is so great and your sin is so much.

30:16 But all who destroyed you will be destroyed. All your enemies will go into exile. Those who plundered you will be plundered. I will cause those who pillaged you to be pillaged.

30:17 Yes, I will restore you to health. I will heal your wounds. I, the Lord, affirm it! For you have been called an outcast, Zion, whom no one cares for.”

The Lord Will Restore Israel and Judah

30:18 The Lord says, “I will restore the ruined houses of the descendants of Jacob. I will show compassion on their ruined homes. Every city will be rebuilt on its former ruins. Every fortified dwelling will occupy its traditional site.

30:19 Out of those places you will hear songs of thanksgiving and the sounds of laughter and merriment. I will increase their number and they will not dwindle away. I will bring them honor and they will no longer be despised.

30:20 The descendants of Jacob will enjoy their former privileges. Their community will be reestablished in my favor and I will punish all who try to oppress them.

30:21 One of their own people will be their leader. Their ruler will come from their own number. I will invite him to approach me, and he will do so. For no one would dare approach me on his own. I, the Lord, affirm it!

30:22 Then you will again be my people and I will be your God.

30:23 Just watch! The wrath of the Lord will come like a storm. Like a raging storm it will rage down on the heads of those who are wicked.

30:24 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has fully carried out his intended purposes. In days to come you will come to understand this.

31:1 At that time I will be the God of all the clans of Israel and they will be my people. I, the Lord, affirm it!”

Israel Will Be Restored and Join Judah in Worship

31:2 The Lord says, “The people of Israel who survived death at the hands of the enemy will find favor in the wilderness as they journey to find rest for themselves.

31:3 In a far-off land the Lord will manifest himself to them. He will say to them, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you.

31:4 I will rebuild you, my dear children Israel, so that you will once again be built up. Once again you will take up the tambourine and join in the happy throng of dancers.

31:5 Once again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria. Those who plant them will once again enjoy their fruit.

31:6 Yes, a time is coming when watchmen will call out on the mountains of Ephraim, “Come! Let us go to Zion to worship the Lord our God!”‘”

31:7 Moreover, the Lord says, “Sing for joy for the descendants of Jacob. Utter glad shouts for that foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard. Then say, ‘Lord, rescue your people. Deliver those of Israel who remain alive.’

31:8 Then I will reply, ‘I will bring them back from the land of the north. I will gather them in from the distant parts of the earth. Blind and lame people will come with them, so will pregnant women and women about to give birth. A vast throng of people will come back here.

31:9 They will come back shedding tears of contrition. I will bring them back praying prayers of repentance. I will lead them besides streams of water, along smooth paths where they will never stumble. I will do this because I am Israel’s father; Ephraim is my firstborn son.’”

31:10 Hear what the Lord has to say, O nations. Proclaim it in the faraway lands along the sea. Say, “The one who scattered Israel will regather them. He will watch over his people like a shepherd watches over his flock.”

31:11 For the Lord will rescue the descendants of Jacob. He will secure their release from those who had overpowered them.

31:12 They will come and shout for joy on Mount Zion. They will be radiant with joy over the good things the Lord provides, the grain, the fresh wine, the olive oil, the young sheep and calves he has given to them. They will be like a well-watered garden and will not grow faint or weary any more.

31:13 The Lord says, “At that time young women will dance and be glad. Young men and old men will rejoice. I will turn their grief into gladness. I will give them comfort and joy in place of their sorrow.

31:14 I will provide the priests with abundant provisions. My people will be filled to the full with the good things I provide.”

31:15 The Lord says, “A sound is heard in Ramah, a sound of crying in bitter grief. It is the sound of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are gone.”

31:16 The Lord says to her, “Stop crying! Do not shed any more tears! For your heartfelt repentance will be rewarded. Your children will return from the land of the enemy. I, the Lord, affirm it!

31:17 Indeed, there is hope for your posterity. Your children will return to their own territory. I, the Lord, affirm it!

31:18 I have indeed heard the people of Israel say mournfully, ‘We were like a calf untrained to the yoke. You disciplined us and we learned from it. Let us come back to you and we will do so, for you are the Lord our God.

31:19 For after we turned away from you we repented. After we came to our senses we beat our breasts in sorrow. We are ashamed and humiliated because of the disgraceful things we did previously.’

31:20 Indeed, the people of Israel are my dear children. They are the children I take delight in. For even though I must often rebuke them, I still remember them with fondness. So I am deeply moved with pity for them and will surely have compassion on them. I, the Lord, affirm it!

31:21 I will say, ‘My dear children of Israel, keep in mind the road you took when you were carried off. Mark off in your minds the landmarks. Make a mental note of telltale signs marking the way back. Return, my dear children of Israel. Return to these cities of yours.

31:22 How long will you vacillate, you who were once like an unfaithful daughter? For I, the Lord, promise to bring about something new on the earth, something as unique as a woman protecting a man!’”

Judah Will Be Restored

31:23 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “I will restore the people of Judah to their land and to their towns. When I do, they will again say of Jerusalem, ‘May the Lord bless you, you holy mountain, the place where righteousness dwells.’

31:24 The land of Judah will be inhabited by people who live in its towns as well as by farmers and shepherds with their flocks.

31:25 I will fully satisfy the needs of those who are weary and fully refresh the souls of those who are faint.

31:26 Then they will say, ‘Under these conditions I can enjoy sweet sleep when I wake up and look around.’”

Israel and Judah Will Be Repopulated

31:27 “Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will cause people and animals to sprout up in the lands of Israel and Judah. 31:28 In the past I saw to it that they were uprooted and torn down, that they were destroyed and demolished. But now I will see to it that they are built up and firmly planted. I, the Lord, affirm it!”

The Lord Will Make a New Covenant with Israel and Judah

31:29 “When that time comes, people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, but the children’s teeth have grown numb.’ 31:30 Rather, each person will die for his own sins. The teeth of the person who eats the sour grapes will themselves grow numb.

31:31 “Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 31:32 It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. 31:33 “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people.

31:34 “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

The Lord Guarantees Israel’s Continuance

31:35 The Lord has made a promise to Israel. He promises it as the one who fixed the sun to give light by day and the moon and stars to give light by night. He promises it as the one who stirs up the sea so that its waves roll. He promises it as the one who is known as the Lord who rules over all.

31:36 The Lord affirms, “The descendants of Israel will not cease forever to be a nation in my sight. That could only happen if the fixed ordering of the heavenly lights were to cease to operate before me.”

31:37 The Lord says, “I will not reject all the descendants of Israel because of all that they have done. That could only happen if the heavens above could be measured or the foundations of the earth below could all be explored,” says the Lord.

Jerusalem Will Be Enlarged

31:38 “Indeed a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt as my special city. It will be built from the Tower of Hananel westward to the Corner Gate. 31:39 The boundary line will extend beyond that, straight west from there to the Hill of Gareb and then turn southward to Goah. 31:40 The whole valley where dead bodies and sacrificial ashes are thrown and all the terraced fields out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far north as the Horse Gate will be included within this city that is sacred to the Lord. The city will never again be torn down or destroyed.”

Jeremiah Buys a Field

32:1 In the tenth year that Zedekiah was ruling over Judah the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. That was the same as the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.

32:2 Now at that time, the armies of the king of Babylon were besieging Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah was confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse attached to the royal palace of Judah. 32:3 For King Zedekiah had confined Jeremiah there after he had reproved him for prophesying as he did. He had asked Jeremiah, “Why do you keep prophesying these things? Why do you keep saying that the Lord says, ‘I will hand this city over to the king of Babylon? I will let him capture it. 32:4 King Zedekiah of Judah will not escape from the Babylonians. He will certainly be handed over to the king of Babylon. He must answer personally to the king of Babylon and confront him face to face. 32:5 Zedekiah will be carried off to Babylon and will remain there until I have fully dealt with him. I, the Lord, affirm it! Even if you continue to fight against the Babylonians, you cannot win.’”

32:6 So now, Jeremiah said, “The Lord told me, 32:7 ‘Hanamel, the son of your uncle Shallum, will come to you soon. He will say to you, “Buy my field at Anathoth because you are entitled as my closest relative to buy it.”‘ 32:8 Now it happened just as the Lord had said! My cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guardhouse. He said to me, ‘Buy my field which is at Anathoth in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. Buy it for yourself since you are entitled as my closest relative to take possession of it for yourself.’ When this happened, I recognized that the Lord had indeed spoken to me. 32:9 So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I weighed out seven ounces of silver and gave it to him to pay for it. 32:10 I signed the deed of purchase, sealed it, and had some men serve as witnesses to the purchase. I weighed out the silver for him on a scale. 32:11 There were two copies of the deed of purchase. One was sealed and contained the order of transfer and the conditions of purchase. The other was left unsealed. 32:12 I took both copies of the deed of purchase and gave them to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah. I gave them to him in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed of purchase, and all the Judeans who were housed in the courtyard of the guardhouse. 32:13 In the presence of all these people I instructed Baruch, 32:14 ‘The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “Take these documents, both the sealed copy of the deed of purchase and the unsealed copy. Put them in a clay jar so that they may be preserved for a long time to come.”‘ 32:15 For the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “Houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”‘

Jeremiah’s Prayer of Praise and Bewilderment

32:16 “After I had given the copies of the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord, 32:17 ‘Oh, Lord God, you did indeed make heaven and earth by your mighty power and great strength. Nothing is too hard for you! 32:18 You show unfailing love to thousands. But you also punish children for the sins of their parents. You are the great and powerful God who is known as the Lord who rules over all. 32:19 You plan great things and you do mighty deeds. You see everything people do. You reward each of them for the way they live and for the things they do. 32:20 You did miracles and amazing deeds in the land of Egypt which have had lasting effect. By this means you gained both in Israel and among humankind a renown that lasts to this day. 32:21 You used your mighty power and your great strength to perform miracles and amazing deeds and to bring great terror on the Egyptians. By this means you brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt. 32:22 You kept the promise that you swore on oath to their ancestors. You gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. 32:23 But when they came in and took possession of it, they did not obey you or live as you had instructed them. They did not do anything that you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster on them. 32:24 Even now siege ramps have been built up around the city in order to capture it. War, starvation, and disease are sure to make the city fall into the hands of the Babylonians who are attacking it. Lord, you threatened that this would happen. Now you can see that it is already taking place. 32:25 The city is sure to fall into the hands of the Babylonians. Yet, in spite of this, you, Lord God, have said to me, “Buy that field with silver and have the transaction legally witnessed.”‘”

The Lord Answers Jeremiah’s Prayer

32:26 The Lord answered Jeremiah. 32:27 “I am the Lord, the God of all humankind. There is, indeed, nothing too difficult for me. 32:28 Therefore I, the Lord, say: ‘I will indeed hand this city over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the Babylonian army. They will capture it. 32:29 The Babylonian soldiers that are attacking this city will break into it and set it on fire. They will burn it down along with the houses where people have made me angry by offering sacrifices to the god Baal and by pouring out drink offerings to other gods on their rooftops. 32:30 This will happen because the people of Israel and Judah have repeatedly done what displeases me from their earliest history until now and because they have repeatedly made me angry by the things they have done. I, the Lord, affirm it! 32:31 This will happen because the people of this city have aroused my anger and my wrath since the time they built it until now. They have made me so angry that I am determined to remove it from my sight. 32:32 I am determined to do so because the people of Israel and Judah have made me angry with all their wickedness – they, their kings, their officials, their priests, their prophets, and especially the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem have done this wickedness. 32:33 They have turned away from me instead of turning to me. I tried over and over again to instruct them, but they did not listen and respond to correction. 32:34 They set up their disgusting idols in the temple which I have claimed for my own and defiled it. 32:35 They built places of worship for the god Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that they could sacrifice their sons and daughters to the god Molech. Such a disgusting practice was not something I commanded them to do! It never even entered my mind to command them to do such a thing! So Judah is certainly liable for punishment.’

32:36 “You and your people are right in saying, ‘War, starvation, and disease are sure to make this city fall into the hands of the king of Babylon.’ But now I, the Lord God of Israel, have something further to say about this city: 32:37 ‘I will certainly regather my people from all the countries where I will have exiled them in my anger, fury, and great wrath. I will bring them back to this place and allow them to live here in safety. 32:38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 32:39 I will give them a single-minded purpose to live in a way that always shows respect for me. They will want to do that for their own good and the good of the children who descend from them. 32:40 I will make a lasting covenant with them that I will never stop doing good to them. I will fill their hearts and minds with respect for me so that they will never again turn away from me. 32:41 I will take delight in doing good to them. I will faithfully and wholeheartedly plant them firmly in the land.’

32:42 “For I, the Lord, say: ‘I will surely bring on these people all the good fortune that I am hereby promising them. I will be just as sure to do that as I have been in bringing all this great disaster on them. 32:43 You and your people are saying that this land will become desolate, uninhabited by either people or animals. You are saying that it will be handed over to the Babylonians. But fields will again be bought in this land. 32:44 Fields will again be bought with silver, and deeds of purchase signed, sealed, and witnessed. This will happen in the territory of Benjamin, the villages surrounding Jerusalem, the towns in Judah, the southern hill country, the western foothills, and southern Judah. For I will restore them to their land. I, the Lord, affirm it!’”

The Lord Promises a Second Time to Restore Israel and Judah

33:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah a second time while he was still confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse. 33:2 “I, the Lord, do these things. I, the Lord, form the plan to bring them about. I am known as the Lord. I say to you, 33:3 ‘Call on me in prayer and I will answer you. I will show you great and mysterious things which you still do not know about.’ 33:4 For I, the Lord God of Israel, have something more to say about the houses in this city and the royal buildings which have been torn down for defenses against the siege ramps and military incursions of the Babylonians: 33:5 ‘The defenders of the city will go out and fight with the Babylonians. But they will only fill those houses and buildings with the dead bodies of the people that I will kill in my anger and my wrath. That will happen because I have decided to turn my back on this city on account of the wicked things they have done. 33:6 But I will most surely heal the wounds of this city and restore it and its people to health. I will show them abundant peace and security. 33:7 I will restore Judah and Israel and will rebuild them as they were in days of old. 33:8 I will purify them from all the sin that they committed against me. I will forgive all their sins which they committed in rebelling against me. 33:9 All the nations will hear about all the good things which I will do to them. This city will bring me fame, honor, and praise before them for the joy that I bring it. The nations will tremble in awe at all the peace and prosperity that I will provide for it.’

33:10 “I, the Lord, say: ‘You and your people are saying about this place, “It lies in ruins. There are no people or animals in it.” That is true. The towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem will soon be desolate, uninhabited either by people or by animals. But happy sounds will again be heard in these places. 33:11 Once again there will be sounds of joy and gladness and the glad celebrations of brides and grooms. Once again people will bring their thank offerings to the temple of the Lord and will say, “Give thanks to the Lord who rules over all. For the Lord is good and his unfailing love lasts forever.” For I, the Lord, affirm that I will restore the land to what it was in days of old.’

33:12 “I, the Lord who rules over all, say: ‘This place will indeed lie in ruins. There will be no people or animals in it. But there will again be in it and in its towns sheepfolds where shepherds can rest their sheep. 33:13 I, the Lord, say that shepherds will once again count their sheep as they pass into the fold. They will do this in all the towns in the southern hill country, the western foothills, the southern hill country, the territory of Benjamin, the villages surrounding Jerusalem, and the towns of Judah.’

The Lord Reaffirms His Covenant with David, Israel, and Levi

33:14 “I, the Lord, affirm: ‘The time will certainly come when I will fulfill my gracious promise concerning the nations of Israel and Judah. 33:15 In those days and at that time I will raise up for them a righteous descendant of David.

“‘He will do what is just and right in the land. 33:16 Under his rule Judah will enjoy safety and Jerusalem will live in security. At that time Jerusalem will be called “The Lord has provided us with justice.” 33:17 For I, the Lord, promise: “David will never lack a successor to occupy the throne over the nation of Israel. 33:18 Nor will the Levitical priests ever lack someone to stand before me and continually offer up burnt offerings, sacrifice cereal offerings, and offer the other sacrifices.”‘”

33:19 The Lord spoke further to Jeremiah. 33:20 “I, Lord, make the following promise: ‘I have made a covenant with the day and with the night that they will always come at their proper times. Only if you people could break that covenant 33:21 could my covenant with my servant David and my covenant with the Levites ever be broken. So David will by all means always have a descendant to occupy his throne as king and the Levites will by all means always have priests who will minister before me. 33:22 I will make the children who follow one another in the line of my servant David very numerous. I will also make the Levites who minister before me very numerous. I will make them all as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sands which are on the seashore.’”

33:23 The Lord spoke still further to Jeremiah. 33:24 “You have surely noticed what these people are saying, haven’t you? They are saying, ‘The Lord has rejected the two families of Israel and Judah that he chose.’ So they have little regard that my people will ever again be a nation. 33:25 But I, the Lord, make the following promise: I have made a covenant governing the coming of day and night. I have established the fixed laws governing heaven and earth. 33:26 Just as surely as I have done this, so surely will I never reject the descendants of Jacob. Nor will I ever refuse to choose one of my servant David’s descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed, I will restore them and show mercy to them.”

Prayer

Lord, Your great plan included a purge and punishment of Israel and Judah and a desire to rescue and restore those whose hearts had turned toward You. May I be careful to keep my eyes and heart on You so that I do not require Your discipline.

Scripture In Perspective

Jeremiah delivered the angry observation of the Lord God that the religious leaders were failing His people “They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered.”

Jeremiah was challenged by the false prophets but he challenged them right back in the authority of the Lord God.

He prophesied that the Lord God would also rescue the people of Israel, and that He would destroy any who troubled them.

He prophesied that there would be a new covenant where “... each person will die for his own sins.” and knowledge of the Lord God would be individualized “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people.” and all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

Rebellious religious leaders generally represent a rebellious people and that is why the people were not innocent when the Lord God condemned the apostate leaders. In the midst of chronic rebellion the Lord God still sought a reason for hope among the exiles in Babylon. The Lord God would rescue a contrite and repentant people.

Discuss

Why would the false prophet have imagined that he could get away with lying about the Lord God, especially in the presence of Jeremiah? Given their propensity to trust false gods was it not necessary for the Lord God to remind the people that their situation was impossible for any but the One True God to alter?

Reflect

The people could make it possible to be returned from exile, if they turned back to the Lord God; otherwise, they would have to wait for the Messiah “This is the name he will go by: ‘The Lord has provided us with justice.’” The time of family or fellowship or national or tribal righteousness-to-salvation was soon to be over “... each person will die for his own sins.”

Share

When have you been in a difficult situation and realized that the only way out was to turn fully away from your heart-condition (repent) and to surrender to the Lordship of Christ? When have you been faced with a lengthy wait to accomplish or to be liberated and found yourself tempted by potential short-cuts? When have you been troubled and it was only the Lord’s promise of Heaven that could bring you certain joy? When have you discovered that a contrite and repentant heart before God brought blessing?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to a place where you need to become more closely aligned with the desires of the Lord God rather than merely responding to the demands of the world and a place in your life where a contrite and repentant heart would open the door to His blessing.

Act

Today I will prayerfully reflect in order to hear clearly where I need to make changes. The changes may be in my parenting, dealing with family and friends, in the classroom or the workplace, or in some other context. I will consider all things in the light of the Lord’s perfect and constant awareness and His desire and encouragement for me to choose rightly. I will confess and repent, seek and receive forgiveness from the Lord God, then I will invest myself in an “Ultrafidian” (beyond-faith) commitment to surrender everything to Him.

Be Specific _____________________________________________

Saturday (Jeremiah 34–40, Psalms 74, 79)

The Lord Makes an Ominous Promise to Zedekiah

34:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah while King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was attacking Jerusalem and the towns around it with a large army. This army consisted of troops from his own army and from the kingdoms and peoples of the lands under his dominion. 34:2 The Lord God of Israel told Jeremiah to go and give King Zedekiah of Judah a message. He told Jeremiah to tell him, “The Lord says, ‘I am going to hand this city over to the king of Babylon and he will burn it down. 34:3 You yourself will not escape his clutches, but will certainly be captured and handed over to him. You must confront the king of Babylon face to face and answer to him personally. Then you must go to Babylon. 34:4 However, listen to what I, the Lord, promise you, King Zedekiah of Judah. I, the Lord, promise that you will not die in battle or be executed. 34:5 You will die a peaceful death. They will burn incense at your burial just as they did at the burial of your ancestors, the former kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, saying, “Poor, poor master!” Indeed, you have my own word on this. I, the Lord, affirm it!’”

34:6 The prophet Jeremiah told all this to King Zedekiah of Judah in Jerusalem. 34:7 He did this while the army of the king of Babylon was attacking Jerusalem and the cities of Lachish and Azekah. He was attacking these cities because they were the only fortified cities of Judah which were still holding out.

The Lord Threatens to Destroy Those Who Wronged Their Slaves

34:8 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to grant their slaves their freedom. 34:9 Everyone was supposed to free their male and female Hebrew slaves. No one was supposed to keep a fellow Judean enslaved. 34:10 All the people and their leaders had agreed to this. They had agreed to free their male and female slaves and not keep them enslaved any longer. They originally complied with the covenant and freed them. 34:11 But later they had changed their minds. They had taken back their male and female slaves that they had freed and forced them to be slaves again. 34:12 That was when the Lord spoke to Jeremiah, 34:13 “The Lord God of Israel has a message for you. ‘I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt where they had been slaves. It stipulated, 34:14 “Every seven years each of you must free any fellow Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. After they have served you for six years, you shall set them free.” But your ancestors did not obey me or pay any attention to me. 34:15 Recently, however, you yourselves showed a change of heart and did what is pleasing to me. You granted your fellow countrymen their freedom and you made a covenant to that effect in my presence in the house that I have claimed for my own. 34:16 But then you turned right around and showed that you did not honor me. Each of you took back your male and female slaves whom you had freed as they desired, and you forced them to be your slaves again. 34:17 So I, the Lord, say: “You have not really obeyed me and granted freedom to your neighbor and fellow countryman. Therefore, I will grant you freedom, the freedom to die in war, or by starvation or disease. I, the Lord, affirm it! I will make all the kingdoms of the earth horrified at what happens to you. 34:18 I will punish those people who have violated their covenant with me. I will make them like the calf they cut in two and passed between its pieces. I will do so because they did not keep the terms of the covenant they made in my presence. 34:19 I will punish the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests, and all the other people of the land who passed between the pieces of the calf. 34:20 I will hand them over to their enemies who want to kill them. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals. 34:21 I will also hand King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials over to their enemies who want to kill them. I will hand them over to the army of the king of Babylon, even though they have temporarily withdrawn from attacking you. 34:22 For I, the Lord, affirm that I will soon give the order and bring them back to this city. They will fight against it and capture it and burn it down. I will also make the towns of Judah desolate so that there will be no one living in them.”‘”

Judah’s Unfaithfulness Contrasted with the Rechabites’ Fai

35:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah when Jehoiakim son of Josiah was ruling over Judah. 35:2 “Go to the Rechabite community. Invite them to come into one of the side rooms of the Lord’s temple and offer them some wine to drink.” 35:3 So I went and got Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah the grandson of Habazziniah, his brothers, all his sons, and all the rest of the Rechabite community. 35:4 I took them to the Lord’s temple. I took them into the room where the disciples of the prophet Hanan son of Igdaliah stayed. That room was next to the one where the temple officers stayed and above the room where Maaseiah son of Shallum, one of the doorkeepers of the temple, stayed. 35:5 Then I set cups and pitchers full of wine in front of the members of the Rechabite community and said to them, “Have some wine.” 35:6 But they answered, “We do not drink wine because our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab commanded us not to. He told us, ‘You and your children must never drink wine. 35:7 Do not build houses. Do not plant crops. Do not plant a vineyard or own one. Live in tents all your lives. If you do these things you will live a long time in the land that you wander about on.’ 35:8 We and our wives and our sons and daughters have obeyed everything our ancestor Jonadab commanded us. We have never drunk wine. 35:9 We have not built any houses to live in. We do not own any vineyards, fields, or crops. 35:10 We have lived in tents. We have obeyed our ancestor Jonadab and done exactly as he commanded us. 35:11 But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded the land we said, ‘Let’s get up and go to Jerusalem to get away from the Babylonian and Aramean armies.’ That is why we are staying here in Jerusalem.”

35:12 Then the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. 35:13 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all told him, “Go and speak to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. Tell them, ‘I, the Lord, say: “You must learn a lesson from this about obeying what I say! 35:14 Jonadab son of Rechab ordered his descendants not to drink wine. His orders have been carried out. To this day his descendants have drunk no wine because they have obeyed what their ancestor commanded them. But I have spoken to you over and over again, but you have not obeyed me! 35:15 I sent all my servants the prophets to warn you over and over again. They said, “Every one of you, stop doing the evil things you have been doing and do what is right. Do not pay allegiance to other gods and worship them. Then you can continue to live in this land that I gave to you and your ancestors.” But you did not pay any attention or listen to me. 35:16 Yes, the descendants of Jonadab son of Rechab have carried out the orders that their ancestor gave them. But you people have not obeyed me! 35:17 So I, the Lord, the God who rules over all, the God of Israel, say: “I will soon bring on Judah and all the citizens of Jerusalem all the disaster that I threatened to bring on them. I will do this because I spoke to them but they did not listen. I called out to them but they did not answer.”‘”

35:18 Then Jeremiah spoke to the Rechabite community, “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘You have obeyed the orders of your ancestor Jonadab. You have followed all his instructions. You have done exactly as he commanded you.’ 35:19 So the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘Jonadab son of Rechab will never lack a male descendant to serve me.’”

Jehoiakim Burns the Scroll Containing the Lord’s Messages

36:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah in the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was ruling over Judah. 36:2 “Get a scroll. Write on it everything I have told you to say about Israel, Judah, and all the other nations since I began to speak to you in the reign of Josiah until now. 36:3 Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about all the disaster I intend to bring on them, they will all stop doing the evil things they have been doing. If they do, I will forgive their sins and the wicked things they have done.”

36:4 So Jeremiah summoned Baruch son of Neriah. Then Jeremiah dictated to Baruch everything the Lord had told him to say and Baruch wrote it all down in a scroll. 36:5 Then Jeremiah told Baruch, “I am no longer allowed to go into the Lord’s temple. 36:6 So you go there the next time all the people of Judah come in from their towns to fast in the Lord’s temple. Read out loud where all of them can hear you what I told you the Lord said, which you wrote in the scroll. 36:7 Perhaps then they will ask the Lord for mercy and will all stop doing the evil things they have been doing. For the Lord has threatened to bring great anger and wrath against these people.”

36:8 So Baruch son of Neriah did exactly what the prophet Jeremiah had told him to do. He read what the Lord had said from the scroll in the temple of the Lord. 36:9 All the people living in Jerusalem and all the people who came into Jerusalem from the towns of Judah came to observe a fast before the Lord. The fast took place in the ninth month of the fifth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was ruling over Judah. 36:10 At that time Baruch went into the temple of the Lord. He stood in the entrance of the room of Gemariah the son of Shaphan who had been the royal secretary. That room was in the upper court near the entrance of the New Gate. There, where all the people could hear him, he read from the scroll what Jeremiah had said.

36:11 Micaiah, who was the son of Gemariah and the grandson of Shaphan, heard Baruch read from the scroll everything the Lord had said. 36:12 He went down to the chamber of the royal secretary in the king’s palace and found all the court officials in session there. Elishama the royal secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials were seated there. 36:13 Micaiah told them everything he had heard Baruch read from the scroll in the hearing of the people. 36:14 All the officials sent Jehudi, who was the son of Nethaniah and the grandson of Cushi, to Baruch. They ordered him to tell Baruch, “Come here and bring with you the scroll you read in the hearing of the people.” So Baruch son of Neriah went to them, carrying the scroll in his hand. 36:15 They said to him, “Please sit down and read it to us.” So Baruch sat down and read it to them. 36:16 When they had heard it all, they expressed their alarm to one another. Then they said to Baruch, “We must certainly give the king a report about everything you have read!” 36:17 Then they asked Baruch, “How did you come to write all these words? Do they actually come from Jeremiah’s mouth?” 36:18 Baruch answered, “Yes, they came from his own mouth. He dictated all these words to me and I wrote them down in ink on this scroll.” 36:19 Then the officials said to Baruch, “You and Jeremiah must go and hide. You must not let anyone know where you are.”

36:20 The officials put the scroll in the room of Elishama, the royal secretary, for safekeeping. Then they went to the court and reported everything to the king. 36:21 The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. He went and got it from the room of Elishama, the royal secretary. Then he himself read it to the king and all the officials who were standing around him. 36:22 Since it was the ninth month of the year, the king was sitting in his winter quarters. A fire was burning in the firepot in front of him. 36:23 As soon as Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king would cut them off with a penknife and throw them on the fire in the firepot. He kept doing so until the whole scroll was burned up in the fire. 36:24 Neither he nor any of his attendants showed any alarm when they heard all that had been read. Nor did they tear their clothes to show any grief or sorrow. 36:25 The king did not even listen to Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah, who had urged him not to burn the scroll. 36:26 He also ordered Jerahmeel, who was one of the royal princes, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest the scribe Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah. However, the Lord hid them.

Baruch and Jeremiah Write Another Scroll

36:27 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah after Jehoiakim had burned the scroll containing what Jeremiah had spoken and Baruch had written down. 36:28 “Get another scroll and write on it everything that was written on the original scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah burned. 36:29 Tell King Jehoiakim of Judah, ‘The Lord says, “You burned the scroll. You asked Jeremiah, ‘How dare you write in this scroll that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land and wipe out all the people and animals on it?’” 36:30 So the Lord says concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah, “None of his line will occupy the throne of David. His dead body will be thrown out to be exposed to scorching heat by day and frost by night. 36:31 I will punish him and his descendants and the officials who serve him for the wicked things they have done. I will bring on them, the citizens of Jerusalem, and the people of Judah all the disaster that I threatened to do to them. I will punish them because I threatened them but they still paid no heed.”‘” 36:32 Then Jeremiah got another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah. As Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on this scroll everything that had been on the scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah burned in the fire. They also added on this scroll several other messages of the same kind.

Introduction to Incidents During the Reign of Zedekiah

37:1 Zedekiah son of Josiah succeeded Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim as king. He was elevated to the throne of the land of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 37:2 Neither he nor the officials who served him nor the people of Judah paid any attention to what the Lord said through the prophet Jeremiah.

The Lord Responds to Zedekiah’s Hope for Help

37:3 King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to the prophet Jeremiah. He told them to say, “Please pray to the Lord our God on our behalf.” 37:4 (Now Jeremiah had not yet been put in prison. So he was still free to come and go among the people as he pleased. 37:5 At that time the Babylonian forces had temporarily given up their siege against Jerusalem. They had had it under siege, but withdrew when they heard that the army of Pharaoh had set out from Egypt.) 37:6 The Lord gave the prophet Jeremiah a message for them. He told him to tell them, 37:7 “The Lord God of Israel says, ‘Give a message to the king of Judah who sent you to ask me to help him. Tell him, “The army of Pharaoh that was on its way to help you will go back home to Egypt. 37:8 Then the Babylonian forces will return. They will attack the city and will capture it and burn it down. 37:9 Moreover, I, the Lord, warn you not to deceive yourselves into thinking that the Babylonian forces will go away and leave you alone. For they will not go away. 37:10 For even if you were to defeat all the Babylonian forces fighting against you so badly that only wounded men were left lying in their tents, they would get up and burn this city down.”‘”

Jeremiah is Charged with Deserting, Arrested, and Imprisoned

37:11 The following events also occurred while the Babylonian forces had temporarily withdrawn from Jerusalem because the army of Pharaoh was coming. 37:12 Jeremiah started to leave Jerusalem to go to the territory of Benjamin. He wanted to make sure he got his share of the property that was being divided up among his family there. 37:13 But he only got as far as the Benjamin Gate. There an officer in charge of the guards named Irijah, who was the son of Shelemiah and the grandson of Hananiah, stopped him. He seized Jeremiah and said, “You are deserting to the Babylonians!” 37:14 Jeremiah answered, “That’s a lie! I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him. Irijah put Jeremiah under arrest and took him to the officials. 37:15 The officials were very angry at Jeremiah. They had him flogged and put in prison in the house of Jonathan, the royal secretary, which they had converted into a place for confining prisoners.

37:16 So Jeremiah was put in prison in a cell in the dungeon in Jonathan’s house. He was kept there for a long time. 37:17 Then King Zedekiah had him brought to the palace. There he questioned him privately and asked him, “Is there any message from the Lord?” Jeremiah answered, “Yes, there is.” Then he announced, “You will be handed over to the king of Babylon.” 37:18 Then Jeremiah asked King Zedekiah, “What crime have I committed against you, or the officials who serve you, or the people of Judah? What have I done to make you people throw me into prison? 37:19 Where now are the prophets who prophesied to you that the king of Babylon would not attack you or this land? 37:20 But now please listen, your royal Majesty, and grant my plea for mercy. Do not send me back to the house of Jonathan, the royal secretary. If you do, I will die there.” 37:21 Then King Zedekiah ordered that Jeremiah be committed to the courtyard of the guardhouse. He also ordered that a loaf of bread be given to him every day from the baker’s street until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah was kept in the courtyard of the guardhouse.

Jeremiah Is Charged with Treason and Put in a Cistern to Die

38:1 Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah had heard the things that Jeremiah had been telling the people. They had heard him say, 38:2 “The Lord says, ‘Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians will live. They will escape with their lives.’” 38:3 They had also heard him say, “The Lord says, ‘This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon. They will capture it.’” 38:4 So these officials said to the king, “This man must be put to death. For he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in the city as well as all the other people there by these things he is saying. This man is not seeking to help these people but is trying to harm them.” 38:5 King Zedekiah said to them, “Very well, you can do what you want with him. For I cannot do anything to stop you.” 38:6 So the officials took Jeremiah and put him in the cistern of Malkijah, one of the royal princes, that was in the courtyard of the guardhouse. There was no water in the cistern, only mud. So when they lowered Jeremiah into the cistern with ropes he sank in the mud.

An Ethiopian Official Rescues Jeremiah from the Cistern

38:7 An Ethiopian, Ebed Melech, a court official in the royal palace, heard that Jeremiah had been put in the cistern. While the king was holding court at the Benjamin Gate, 38:8 Ebed Melech departed the palace and went to speak to the king. He said to him, 38:9 “Your royal Majesty, those men have been very wicked in all that they have done to the prophet Jeremiah. They have thrown him into a cistern and he is sure to die of starvation there because there is no food left in the city. 38:10 Then the king gave Ebed Melech the Ethiopian the following order: “Take thirty men with you from here and go pull the prophet Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.” 38:11 So Ebed Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the treasure room in the palace. He got some worn-out clothes and old rags from there and let them down by ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 38:12 Ebed Melech called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags and worn-out clothes under your armpits to pad the ropes. Jeremiah did as Ebed Melech instructed. 38:13 So they pulled Jeremiah up from the cistern with ropes. Jeremiah, however, still remained confined to the courtyard of the guardhouse.

Jeremiah Responds to Zedekiah’s Request for Secret Advice

38:14 Some time later Zedekiah sent and had Jeremiah brought to him at the third entrance of the Lord’s temple. The king said to Jeremiah, “I would like to ask you a question. Do not hide anything from me when you answer.” 38:15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I answer you, you will certainly kill me. If I give you advice, you will not listen to me.” 38:16 So King Zedekiah made a secret promise to Jeremiah and sealed it with an oath. He promised, “As surely as the Lord lives who has given us life and breath, I promise you this: I will not kill you or hand you over to those men who want to kill you.”

38:17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “The Lord, the God who rules over all, the God of Israel, says, ‘You must surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon. If you do, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down. Indeed, you and your whole family will be spared. 38:18 But if you do not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians and they will burn it down. You yourself will not escape from them.’” 38:19 Then King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Babylonians. The Babylonians might hand me over to them and they will torture me.” 38:20 Then Jeremiah answered, “You will not be handed over to them. Please obey the Lord by doing what I have been telling you. Then all will go well with you and your life will be spared. 38:21 But if you refuse to surrender, the Lord has shown me a vision of what will happen. Here is what I saw: 38:22 All the women who are left in the royal palace of Judah will be led out to the officers of the king of Babylon. They will taunt you saying,

‘Your trusted friends misled you; they have gotten the best of you. Now that your feet are stuck in the mud, they have turned their backs on you.’

38:23 “All your wives and your children will be turned over to the Babylonians. You yourself will not escape from them but will be captured by the king of Babylon. This city will be burned down.”

38:24 Then Zedekiah told Jeremiah, “Do not let anyone know about the conversation we have had. If you do, you will die. 38:25 The officials may hear that I have talked with you. They may come to you and say, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you. Do not hide anything from us. If you do, we will kill you.’ 38:26 If they do this, tell them, ‘I was pleading with the king not to send me back to die in the dungeon of Jonathan’s house.’” 38:27 All the officials did indeed come and question Jeremiah. He told them exactly what the king had instructed him to say. They stopped questioning him any further because no one had actually heard their conversation. 38:28 So Jeremiah remained confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse until the day Jerusalem was captured.

38:28b The Fall of Jerusalem and Its Aftermath

The following events occurred when Jerusalem was captured.

39:1 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it. The siege began in the tenth month of the ninth year that Zedekiah ruled over Judah. 39:2 It lasted until the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year. On that day they broke through the city walls. 39:3 Then Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim, who was a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer, who was a high official, and all the other officers of the king of Babylon came and set up quarters in the Middle Gate. 39:4 When King Zedekiah of Judah and all his soldiers saw them, they tried to escape. They departed from the city during the night. They took a path through the king’s garden and passed out through the gate between the two walls. Then they headed for the Jordan Valley. 39:5 But the Babylonian army chased after them. They caught up with Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho and captured him. They took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon at Riblah in the territory of Hamath and Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him there. 39:6 There at Riblah the king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. The king of Babylon also had all the nobles of Judah put to death. 39:7 Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains to be led off to Babylon. 39:8 The Babylonians burned down the royal palace, the temple of the Lord, and the people’s homes, and they tore down the wall of Jerusalem. 39:9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, took captive the rest of the people who were left in the city. He carried them off to Babylon along with the people who had deserted to him. 39:10 But he left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing. He gave them fields and vineyards at that time.

39:11 Now King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had issued orders concerning Jeremiah. He had passed them on through Nebuzaradan, the captain of his royal guard, 39:12 “Find Jeremiah and look out for him. Do not do anything to harm him, but do with him whatever he tells you.” 39:13 So Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, Nebushazban, who was a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer, who was a high official, and all the other officers of the king of Babylon 39:14 sent and had Jeremiah brought from the courtyard of the guardhouse. They turned him over to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and the grandson of Shaphan, to take him home with him. But Jeremiah stayed among the people.

Ebed Melech Is Promised Deliverance because of His Faith

39:15 Now the Lord had spoken to Jeremiah while he was still confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse, 39:16 “Go and tell Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, ‘The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “I will carry out against this city what I promised. It will mean disaster and not good fortune for it. When that disaster happens, you will be there to see it. 39:17 But I will rescue you when it happens. I, the Lord, affirm it! You will not be handed over to those whom you fear. 39:18 I will certainly save you. You will not fall victim to violence. You will escape with your life because you trust in me. I, the Lord, affirm it!”‘”

Jeremiah Is Set Free A Second Time

40:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah after Nebuzaradan the captain of the royal guard had set him free at Ramah. He had taken him there in chains along with all the people from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried off to exile to Babylon. 40:2 The captain of the royal guard took Jeremiah aside and said to him, “The Lord your God threatened this place with this disaster. 40:3 Now he has brought it about. The Lord has done just as he threatened to do. This disaster has happened because you people sinned against the Lord and did not obey him. 40:4 But now, Jeremiah, today I will set you free from the chains on your wrists. If you would like to come to Babylon with me, come along and I will take care of you. But if you prefer not to come to Babylon with me, you are not required to do so. You are free to go anywhere in the land you want to go. Go wherever you choose.” 40:5 Before Jeremiah could turn to leave, the captain of the guard added, “Go back to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon appointed to govern the towns of Judah. Go back and live with him among the people. Or go wherever else you choose.” Then the captain of the guard gave Jeremiah some food and a present and let him go. 40:6 So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah and lived there with him. He stayed there to live among the people who had been left in the land of Judah.

A Small Judean Province is Established at Mizpah

40:7 Now some of the officers of the Judean army and their troops had been hiding in the countryside. They heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam to govern the country. They also heard that he had been put in charge over the men, women, and children from the poorer classes of the land who had not been carried off into exile in Babylon. 40:8 So all these officers and their troops came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. The officers who came were Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah son of the Maacathite. 40:9 Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, took an oath so as to give them and their troops some assurance of safety. “Do not be afraid to submit to the Babylonians. Settle down in the land and submit to the king of Babylon. Then things will go well for you. 40:10 I for my part will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians whenever they come to us. You for your part go ahead and harvest the wine, the dates, the figs, and the olive oil, and store them in jars. Go ahead and settle down in the towns that you have taken over.” 40:11 Moreover, all the Judeans who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and all the other countries heard what had happened. They heard that the king of Babylon had allowed some people to stay in Judah and that he had appointed Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, to govern them. 40:12 So all these Judeans returned to the land of Judah from the places where they had been scattered. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. Thus they harvested a large amount of wine and dates and figs.

Ishmael Murders Gedaliah and Carries the Judeans at Mizpah off as Capt

40:13 Johanan and all the officers of the troops that had been hiding in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 40:14 They said to him, “Are you at all aware that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to kill you?” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam would not believe them. 40:15 Then Johanan son of Kareah spoke privately to Gedaliah there at Mizpah, “Let me go and kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah before anyone knows about it. Otherwise he will kill you and all the Judeans who have rallied around you will be scattered. Then what remains of Judah will disappear.” 40:16 But Gedaliah son of Ahikam said to Johanan son of Kareah, “Do not do that because what you are saying about Ishmael is not true.”

Prayer

Lord, You had to send a foreigner to rescue Jeremiah because none of his people were listening to you. May I be watchful as Your blessing may come from an unexpected source.

Scripture In Perspective

Jeremiah delivered the Lord’s judgment because as king Zedekiah, his court, and the people of Judah ignored the Lord God “... even if you were to defeat all the Babylonian forces fighting against you so badly that only wounded men were left lying in their tents, they would get up and burn this city down.”

He was falsely accused of intent to deserting to the Babylonians, flogged and imprisoned. When the king summoned him and asked if there was word from the Lord he told him what he had before, that the Babylonians would destroy the city and take him prisoner. He asked not to be left in prison and was moved to the courtyard and given a loaf of bread a day until all of the bread in the city was gone – due to the siege.

Jeremiah was falsely charged with treason and lowered into a muddy cistern [a shallow well] and left to die. The king was aware of the plan but said he could not prevent it. An Ethiopian official received the king’s permission to rescue him from the cistern but not the courtyard.

He was secretly summoned to the king where he repeated the requirement that he surrender or he and the city would be destroyed. He was instructed by the king to tell no one of his conversation. He remain imprisoned in the courtyard.

Just as Jeremiah had warned, the failure of the king to surrender to the Babylonians resulted in terrible consequences; no only was Jerusalem destroyed and the people taken away to Babylon “There at Riblah the king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. The king of Babylon also had all the nobles of Judah put to death. 39:7 Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains to be led off to Babylon.”

Jeremiah was protected by the orders of the Babylonian king and allowed to remain among the people. Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian was also protected for acting from faith in rescuing Jeremiah.

Gedaliah was appointed by the Babylonians to oversee the remnant people and a community rose at Mizpah. Some soldiers who had been hiding, as well as civilians who also managed to hide from the Babylonian army, joined them. “Thus they harvested a large amount of wine and dates and figs.”

Interact With The Text

Consider

The Rechabites proved that it was possible to keep ones word across many generations. King Zedekiah was so confused that even as he deliberately ignored the Lord God and mistreated His prophet he still asked him for help and information from the Lord. The Lord God kept providing opportunities for the people to choose faithful-obedience to Him and they persisted in rebellion.

Discuss

Why would the people have imagined that they could renege on the covenant promise to free their fellow Israelite slaves and suffer no consequences? Why would the Ethiopian official have responded to Jeremiah’s need but no one else? Isn’t it amazing that the Lord God caused the king of Babylon to preserve Jeremiah and the Ethiopian in the midst of the battle and the deportations?

Reflect

The arrogance of King Jehoiakim cost he and his family and friends dearly. The Lord God allowed the people extra time to make a choice to obey but they refused. Even in the sad times following the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of the people Ishmael attacked and tried to force the remnant into slavery under the Ammonites.

Share

When have you observed a family or a fellowship keeping a sacrificial promise across generations? When have you experienced or observed help coming from a source other than expected? When have you had your own pity-party because things were going badly all around you?

Faith In Action

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you have read the Word of the Lord God but have chosen to ignore it, even in a small way, a way that He blessed you from an unexpected source of which you have been unaware, and a place where you are too obsessed with your own stuff to notice what the Lord is doing all around you.

Act

Today I will confess and repent, seek and receive the Lord’s forgiveness, and intentionally begin looking at the world through His eyes.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –“Genesis 3. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.