Again, God’s Message:
“Listen to this! Laments coming out of Ramah,
wild and bitter weeping.
It’s Rachel weeping for her children,
Rachel refusing all solace.
Her children are gone,
gone—long gone into exile.”
But God says, “Stop your incessant weeping,
hold back your tears.
Collect wages from your grief work.” God’s Decree.
“They’ll be coming back home!
There’s hope for your children.” God’s Decree.
“I’ve heard the contrition of Ephraim.
Yes, I’ve heard it clearly, saying,
‘You trained me well.
You broke me, a wild yearling horse, to the saddle.
Now put me, trained and obedient, to use.
You are my God.
After those years of running loose, I repented.
After you trained me to obedience,
I was ashamed of my past, my wild, unruly past.
Humiliated, I beat on my chest.
Will I ever live this down?’
“Oh! Ephraim is my dear, dear son,
my child in whom I take pleasure!
Every time I mention his name,
my heart bursts with longing for him!
Everything in me cries out for him.
Softly and tenderly I wait for him.” God’s Decree.
“Set up signposts to mark your trip home.
Get a good map.
Study the road conditions.
The road out is the road back.
Come back, dear virgin Israel,
come back to your hometowns.
How long will you flit here and there, indecisive?
How long before you make up your fickle mind?
God will create a new thing in this land:
A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!”
A Message from Israel’s God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “When I’ve turned everything around and brought my people back, the old expressions will be heard on the streets: ‘God bless you!’ . . . ‘O True Home!’ . . . ‘O Holy Mountain!’ All Judah’s people, whether in town or country, will get along just fine with each other.
I’ll refresh tired bodies;
I’ll restore tired souls.
Just then I woke up and looked around—what a pleasant and satisfying sleep!
“Be ready. The time’s coming”—God’s Decree—“when I will plant people and animals in Israel and Judah, just as a farmer plants seed. And in the same way that earlier I relentlessly pulled up and tore down, took apart and demolished, so now I am sticking with them as they start over, building and planting.
“When that time comes you won’t hear the old proverb anymore,
Parents ate the green apples,
their children got the stomachache.
“No, each person will pay for his own sin. You eat green apples, you’re the one who gets sick.
“That’s right. The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah. It won’t be a repeat of the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master.” God’s Decree.
“This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” God’s Decree.
If This Ordered Cosmos Ever Fell to Pieces
God’s Message, from the God who lights up the day with sun and
brightens the night with moon and stars,
Who whips the ocean into a billowy froth,
whose name is God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“If this ordered cosmos ever fell to pieces,
fell into chaos before me”—God’s Decree—
“Then and only then might Israel fall apart
and disappear as a nation before me.”
“If the skies could be measured with a yardstick
and the earth explored to its core,
Then and only then would I turn my back on Israel,
disgusted with all they’ve done.” God’s Decree.
“The time is coming”—it’s God’s Decree—“when God’s city will be rebuilt, rebuilt all the way from the Citadel of Hanamel to the Corner Gate. The master plan will extend west to Gareb Hill and then around to Goath. The whole valley to the south where incinerated corpses are dumped—a death valley if there ever was one!—and all the terraced fields out to the Brook Kidron on the east as far north as the Horse Gate will be consecrated to me as a holy place.
“This city will never again be torn down or destroyed.”
Killing and Disease Are on Our Doorstep
The Message Jeremiah received from God in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah. It was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was holding Jerusalem under siege. Jeremiah was shut up in jail in the royal palace. Zedekiah, king of Judah, had locked him up, complaining, “How dare you preach, saying, ‘God says, I’m warning you: I will hand this city over to the king of Babylon and he will take it over. Zedekiah king of Judah will be handed over to the Chaldeans right along with the city. He will be handed over to the king of Babylon and forced to face the music. He’ll be hauled off to Babylon where he’ll stay until I deal with him. God’s Decree. Fight against the Babylonians all you want—it won’t get you anywhere.’”
Jeremiah said, “God’s Message came to me like this: Prepare yourself! Hanamel, your uncle Shallum’s son, is on his way to see you. He is going to say, ‘Buy my field in Anathoth. You have the legal right to buy it.’
“And sure enough, just as God had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me while I was in jail and said, ‘Buy my field in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin, for you have the legal right to keep it in the family. Buy it. Take it over.’ “That did it. I knew it was God’s Message.
“So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I paid him seventeen silver shekels. I followed all the proper procedures: In the presence of witnesses I wrote out the bill of sale, sealed it, and weighed out the money on the scales. Then I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy that contained the contract and its conditions and also the open copy—and gave them to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah. All this took place in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and the witnesses who had signed the deed, as the Jews who were at the jail that day looked on.
“Then, in front of all of them, I told Baruch, ‘These are orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: Take these documents—both the sealed and the open deeds—and put them for safekeeping in a pottery jar. For God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says, “Life is going to return to normal. Homes and fields and vineyards are again going to be bought in this country.”’
“And then, having handed over the legal documents to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to God, ‘Dear God, my Master, you created earth and sky by your great power—by merely stretching out your arm! There is nothing you can’t do. You’re loyal in your steadfast love to thousands upon thousands—but you also make children live with the fallout from their parents’ sins. Great and powerful God, named God-of-the-Angel-Armies, determined in purpose and relentless in following through, you see everything that men and women do and respond appropriately to the way they live, to the things they do.
“‘You performed signs and wonders in the country of Egypt and continue to do so right into the present, right here in Israel and everywhere else, too. You’ve made a reputation for yourself that doesn’t diminish. You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders—a powerful deliverance!—by merely stretching out your arm. You gave them this land and solemnly promised to their ancestors a bountiful and fertile land. But when they entered the land and took it over, they didn’t listen to you. They didn’t do what you commanded. They wouldn’t listen to a thing you told them. And so you brought this disaster on them.
“‘Oh, look at the siege ramps already set in place to take the city. Killing and starvation and disease are on our doorstep. The Babylonians are attacking! The Word you spoke is coming to pass—it’s daily news! And yet you, God, the Master, even though it is certain that the city will be turned over to the Babylonians, also told me, Buy the field. Pay for it in cash. And make sure there are witnesses.’”