New International Version

Jeremiah 5

Not One Is Upright

1“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem,
    look around and consider,
    search through her squares.
If you can find but one person
    who deals honestly and seeks the truth,
    I will forgive this city.
Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
    still they are swearing falsely.”

Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?
    You struck them, but they felt no pain;
    you crushed them, but they refused correction.
They made their faces harder than stone
    and refused to repent.
I thought, “These are only the poor;
    they are foolish,
for they do not know the way of the Lord,
    the requirements of their God.
So I will go to the leaders
    and speak to them;
surely they know the way of the Lord,
    the requirements of their God.”
But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke
    and torn off the bonds.
Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them,
    a wolf from the desert will ravage them,
a leopard will lie in wait near their towns
    to tear to pieces any who venture out,
for their rebellion is great
    and their backslidings many.

“Why should I forgive you?
    Your children have forsaken me
    and sworn by gods that are not gods.
I supplied all their needs,
    yet they committed adultery
    and thronged to the houses of prostitutes.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for another man’s wife.
Should I not punish them for this?”
    declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
    on such a nation as this?

10 “Go through her vineyards and ravage them,
    but do not destroy them completely.
Strip off her branches,
    for these people do not belong to the Lord.
11 The people of Israel and the people of Judah
    have been utterly unfaithful to me,”
declares the Lord.

12 They have lied about the Lord;
    they said, “He will do nothing!
No harm will come to us;
    we will never see sword or famine.
13 The prophets are but wind
    and the word is not in them;
    so let what they say be done to them.”

14 Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says:

“Because the people have spoken these words,
    I will make my words in your mouth a fire
    and these people the wood it consumes.
15 People of Israel,” declares the Lord,
    “I am bringing a distant nation against you—
an ancient and enduring nation,
    a people whose language you do not know,
    whose speech you do not understand.
16 Their quivers are like an open grave;
    all of them are mighty warriors.
17 They will devour your harvests and food,
    devour your sons and daughters;
they will devour your flocks and herds,
    devour your vines and fig trees.
With the sword they will destroy
    the fortified cities in which you trust.

18 “Yet even in those days,” declares the Lord, “I will not destroy you completely. 19 And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’

20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob
    and proclaim it in Judah:
21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
    who have eyes but do not see,
    who have ears but do not hear:
22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.
    “Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
    an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
    they may roar, but they cannot cross it.
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts;
    they have turned aside and gone away.
24 They do not say to themselves,
    ‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains in season,
    who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’
25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
    your sins have deprived you of good.

26 “Among my people are the wicked
    who lie in wait like men who snare birds
    and like those who set traps to catch people.
27 Like cages full of birds,
    their houses are full of deceit;
they have become rich and powerful
28     and have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit;
    they do not seek justice.
They do not promote the case of the fatherless;
    they do not defend the just cause of the poor.
29 Should I not punish them for this?”
    declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
    on such a nation as this?

30 “A horrible and shocking thing
    has happened in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy lies,
    the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
    But what will you do in the end?

The Message

Jeremiah 5

Sins Are Piled Sky-High

11-2 “Patrol Jerusalem’s streets.
    Look around. Take note.
Search the market squares.
    See if you can find one man, one woman,
A single soul who does what is right
    and tries to live a true life.
    I want to forgive that person.”
        God’s Decree.
“But if all they do is say, ‘As sure as God lives . . .’
    they’re nothing but a bunch of liars.”

3-6 But you, God,
    you have an eye for truth, don’t you?
You hit them hard, but it didn’t faze them.
    You disciplined them, but they refused correction.
Hardheaded, harder than rock,
    they wouldn’t change.
Then I said to myself, “Well, these are just poor people.
    They don’t know any better.
They were never taught anything about God.
    They never went to prayer meetings.
I’ll find some people from the best families.
    I’ll talk to them.
They’ll know what’s going on, the way God works.
    They’ll know the score.”
But they were no better! Rebels all!
    Off doing their own thing.
The invaders are ready to pounce and kill,
    like a mountain lion, a wilderness wolf,
Panthers on the prowl.
    The streets aren’t safe anymore.
And why? Because the people’s sins are piled sky-high;
    their betrayals are past counting.

7-9 “Why should I even bother with you any longer?
    Your children wander off, leaving me,
Taking up with gods
    that aren’t even gods.
I satisfied their deepest needs, and then they went off with the ‘sacred’ whores,
    left me for orgies in sex shrines!
A bunch of well-groomed, lusty stallions,
    each one pawing and snorting for his neighbor’s wife.
Do you think I’m going to stand around and do nothing?”
    God’s Decree.
“Don’t you think I’ll take serious measures
    against a people like this?

Eyes That Don’t Really Look, Ears That Don’t Really Listen

10-11 “Go down the rows of vineyards and rip out the vines,
    but not all of them. Leave a few.
Prune back those vines!
    That growth didn’t come from God!
They’ve betrayed me over and over again,
    Judah and Israel both.”
        God’s Decree.

12-13 “They’ve spread lies about God.
    They’ve said, ‘There’s nothing to him.
Nothing bad will happen to us,
    neither famine nor war will come our way.
The prophets are all windbags.
    They speak nothing but nonsense.’”

14 Therefore, this is what God said to me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“Because they have talked this way,
    they are going to eat those words.
Watch now! I’m putting my words
    as fire in your mouth.
And the people are a pile of kindling
    ready to go up in flames.

15-17 “Attention! I’m bringing a far-off nation
    against you, O house of Israel.”
        God’s Decree.
“A solid nation,
    an ancient nation,
A nation that speaks another language.
    You won’t understand a word they say.
When they aim their arrows, you’re as good as dead.
    They’re a nation of real fighters!
They’ll clean you out of house and home,
    rob you of crops and children alike.
They’ll feast on your sheep and cattle,
    strip your vines and fig trees.
And the fortresses that made you feel so safe—
    leveled with a stroke of the sword!

18-19 “Even then, as bad as it will be”—God’s Decree!—“it will not be the end of the world for you. And when people ask, ‘Why did our God do all this to us?’ you must say to them, ‘It’s tit for tat. Just as you left me and served foreign gods in your own country, so now you must serve foreigners in their own country.’

20-25 “Tell the house of Jacob this,
    put out this bulletin in Judah:
Listen to this,
    you scatterbrains, airheads,
With eyes that see but don’t really look,
    and ears that hear but don’t really listen.
Why don’t you honor me?
    Why aren’t you in awe before me?
Yes, me, who made the shorelines
    to contain the ocean waters.
I drew a line in the sand
    that cannot be crossed.
Waves roll in but cannot get through;
    breakers crash but that’s the end of them.
But this people—what a people!
    Uncontrollable, untameable runaways.
It never occurs to them to say,
    ‘How can we honor our God with our lives,
The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn
    and maintains the rhythm of the seasons,
Who sets aside time each year for harvest
    and keeps everything running smoothly for us?’
Of course you don’t! Your bad behavior blinds you to all this.
    Your sins keep my blessings at a distance.

To Stand for Nothing and Stand Up for No One

26-29 “My people are infiltrated by wicked men,
    unscrupulous men on the hunt.
They set traps for the unsuspecting.
    Their victims are innocent men and women.
Their houses are stuffed with ill-gotten gain,
    like a hunter’s bag full of birds.
Pretentious and powerful and rich,
    hugely obese, oily with rolls of fat.
Worse, they have no conscience.
    Right and wrong mean nothing to them.
They stand for nothing, stand up for no one,
    throw orphans to the wolves, exploit the poor.
Do you think I’ll stand by and do nothing about this?”
    God’s Decree.
“Don’t you think I’ll take serious measures
    against a people like this?

30-31 “Unspeakable! Sickening!
    What’s happened in this country?
Prophets preach lies
    and priests hire on as their assistants.
And my people love it. They eat it up!
    But what will you do when it’s time to pick up the pieces?”