Jeremiah’s Enemies Make Evil Plans Against Him
The Lord told me about the evil plans of my enemies. That’s how I knew about them. He showed me what they were doing. I had been like a gentle lamb led off to be killed. I didn’t realize they had made plans against me. They had said,
“Let’s destroy the tree and its fruit.
Let’s take away his life.
Then his name won’t be remembered anymore.”
But Lord, you rule over all.
You always judge fairly.
You test people’s hearts and minds.
So pay them back for what they’ve done.
I’ve committed my cause to you.
The Lord says, “Jeremiah, here is what I am telling you about the people of Anathoth. They say they’re going to kill you. They are saying, ‘Don’t prophesy in the Lord’s name. If you do, we will kill you with our own hands.’ ” So the Lord who rules over all says, “I will punish them. Their young men will be killed by swords. Their sons and daughters will die of hunger. Only a few people will be left alive. I will judge the people of Anathoth. I will destroy them when the time comes to punish them.”
Jeremiah Complains to the Lord
Lord, when I bring a matter to you,
you always do what is right.
But now I would like to speak with you
about whether you are being fair.
Why are sinful people successful?
Why do those who can’t be trusted have an easy life?
You have planted them.
Their roots are deep in the ground.
They grow and produce fruit.
They honor you by what they say.
But their hearts are far away from you.
Lord, you know me and see me.
You test my thoughts about you.
Drag those people off like sheep to be killed!
Set them apart for the day of their death!
How long will the land be thirsty for water?
How long will the grass in every field be dry?
The people who live in the land are evil.
So the animals and birds have died.
And that’s not all. The people are saying,
“The Lord won’t see what happens to us.”
The Lord Answers Jeremiah
The Lord says, “Suppose you have raced against people.
And suppose they have worn you out.
Then how would you be able to race against horses?
Suppose you feel safe only in open country.
Then how would you get along in the bushes near the Jordan River?
Even your relatives have turned against you.
They are members of your own family.
They have shouted loudly at you.
They might say nice things about you.
But do not trust them.
“I will turn my back on my people.
I will desert my land.
I love the people of Judah.
In spite of that, I will hand them over to their enemies.
My land has become to me
like a lion in the forest.
It roars at me.
So I hate it.
My own land has become like a spotted hawk.
And other hawks surround it and attack it.
Come, all you wild animals!
Come together to eat up my land.
Many shepherds will destroy my vineyard.
They will walk all over it.
They will turn my pleasant vineyard
into a dry and empty land.
My vineyard will become a desert.
It will be dry and empty in my sight.
The whole land will be completely destroyed.
And no one even cares.
Many will come to destroy it.
They will gather on the bare hilltops in the desert.
I will use them as my sword to destroy my people.
They will kill them from one end of the land to the other.
No one will be safe.
People will plant wheat. But all they will gather is thorns.
They will wear themselves out. But they will not have anything to show for it.
I am very angry with them.
So they will be ashamed of the crop they gather.”
Here is what the Lord says. “All my evil neighbors have taken over the land I gave my people Israel. So I will pull them up by their roots from the lands they live in. And I will pull up the roots of the people of Judah from among them. But after I pull up those nations, I will give my tender love to them again. I will bring all of them back to their own lands. I will take all of them back to their own countries. Suppose those nations learn to follow the practices of my people. And they make their promises in my name. When they promise, they say, ‘You can be sure that the Lord is alive.’ They do this just as they once taught my people to make promises in Baal’s name. Then I will give them a place among my people. But what if one of those nations does not listen? Then you can be sure of this. I will pull it up by the roots and destroy it,” announces the Lord.
A Linen Belt
The Lord said to me, “Go and buy a linen belt. Put it around your waist. But do not let it get wet.” So I bought a belt, just as the Lord had told me to do. And I put it around my waist.
Then another message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, “Take off the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist. Go to Perath. Hide the belt there in a crack in the rocks.” So I went and hid it at Perath. I did just as the Lord had told me to do.
Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go to Perath. Get the belt I told you to hide there.” So I went to Perath. I dug up the belt. I took it from the place where I had hidden it. But it had rotted. It was completely useless.
Then another message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, “In the same way, I will destroy Judah’s pride. And I will destroy the great pride of Jerusalem. These people are evil. They refuse to listen to what I say. They do what their stubborn hearts want them to do. They chase after other gods. They serve them and worship them. So they will be like this belt. They will be completely useless. A belt is tied around a person’s waist. In the same way, I tied all the people of Israel to me. I also tied all the people of Judah to me like a belt. I wanted them to be my people. They should have brought me fame and praise and honor. But they have not listened to me,” announces the Lord.
“Tell them, ‘The Lord is the God of Israel. He says, “Every wineskin should be filled with wine.” ’ Here is what the people might say to you. ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’ If they do, here is what you must tell them. ‘The Lord says, “I am going to fill with wine everyone who lives in this land. I will make the kings who sit on David’s throne drunk. And I will fill with wine the priests, the prophets and everyone who lives in Jerusalem. I will smash them against one another. I will punish parents and children alike,” announces the Lord. “I will not feel sorry for them. I will not show them any kindness. My tender love for them will not keep me from destroying them.” ’ ”
Judah Will Be Taken Away From Their Land
People of Judah, listen to me.
Pay attention and don’t be proud.
The Lord has spoken.
Give glory to the Lord your God.
Honor him before he sends
darkness to cover the land.
Do this before you trip and fall
on the darkened hills.
You hope that light will come.
But he will turn it into thick darkness.
He will change it to deep shadows.
If you don’t listen,
I will weep in secret.
Because you are so proud,
I will weep bitterly.
Tears will flow from my eyes.
The Lord’s flock will be taken away as prisoners.
Speak to the king and his mother. Tell them,
“Come down from your thrones.
Your glorious crowns
are about to fall from your heads.”
The gates of the cities in the Negev Desert will be shut tight.
There won’t be anyone to open them.
Everyone in Judah will be carried away as prisoners.
You will be completely taken away.
Jerusalem, look up!
Your enemies are coming from the north.
Where is the flock you were supposed to take care of?
Where are the sheep you were so proud of?
You have worked hard to make special friends.
But the Lord will let them rule over you.
Then what will you say?
Suffering will take hold of you.
It will be like the pain of a woman having a baby.
Suppose you ask yourself,
“Why has this happened to me?”
It’s because you have committed so many sins.
That’s the reason your skirt has been torn off.
That’s why your body has been treated so badly.
Can people from Ethiopia change their skin?
Can leopards change their spots?
It’s the same with you.
You have always done what is evil.
So how can you do what is good?
The Lord says, “I will scatter you like straw
that the desert wind blows away.
This is what will happen to you.
I have appointed it for you,” announces the Lord.
“You have forgotten me.
You have trusted in other gods.
So I will pull your skirt up over your face.
Then people will see the shame of your naked body.
They will see that you have not been faithful to me.
You have committed adultery with other gods.
And you have acted like a prostitute
who does not have any shame.
I have seen what you did
on the hills and in the fields.
And I hate it.
How terrible it will be for you, Jerusalem!
How long will you choose to be ‘unclean’?”