The Lord Sends Jeremiah to the Potter’s House
A message from the Lord came to me. He said, “Jeremiah, go down to the potter’s house. I will give you my message there.” So I went down to the potter’s house. I saw him working at his wheel. His hands were shaping a pot out of clay. But he saw that something was wrong with it. So he formed it into another pot. He shaped it in the way that seemed best to him.
Then the Lord’s message came to me. “People of Israel, I can do with you just as this potter does,” announces the Lord. “The clay is in the potter’s hand. And you are in my hand, people of Israel. Suppose I announce that something will happen to a nation or kingdom. Suppose I announce that it will be pulled up by the roots. And I announce that it will be torn down and destroyed. But suppose the nation I warned turns away from its sins. Then I will not do what I said I would. I will not bring trouble on it as I had planned. But suppose I announce that a nation or kingdom is going to be built up and planted. And then it does what is evil in my eyes. It does not obey me. Then I will think again about the good things I had wanted to do for it.
“So speak to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Tell them, ‘The Lord says, “Look! I am making plans against you. I am going to bring trouble on you. So each one of you must turn from your evil ways. Change the way you live and act.” ’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue to do what we’ve already planned. All of us will do what our stubborn and evil hearts want us to do.’ ”
So the Lord says,
“Ask the nations a question. Say to them,
‘Who has ever heard anything like this?
The people of Israel have done
a very horrible thing.
Does the snow ever disappear
from Lebanon’s rocky slopes?
Do its cool waters ever stop
flowing from places far away?
But my people have forgotten me.
They burn incense to worthless gods.
Their gods made them trip and fall
as they walked on the old paths.
They made them use side roads
instead of roads that were built up.
So their land will become a horrible thing.
People will make fun of it again and again.
All those who pass by it will be shocked.
They will shake their heads.
I will sweep over my people like a wind from the east.
I will use the Babylonians to scatter them.
I will show them my back and not my face.
I will desert them when their day of trouble comes.’ ”
They said, “Come on. Let’s make plans against Jeremiah. We’ll still have priests to teach us the law. We’ll always have wise people to give us advice. We’ll have prophets to bring us messages from the Lord. So come on. Let’s speak out against Jeremiah. We shouldn’t pay any attention to what he says.”
Lord, please listen to me!
Hear what my enemies are saying about me!
Should the good things I’ve done be paid back with evil?
But my enemies have dug a pit for me.
Remember that I stood in front of you
and spoke up for them.
I tried to turn your anger away from them.
So let their children die of hunger.
Let my enemies be killed in war.
Let their wives lose their children and husbands.
Let their men be put to death.
Let their young men be killed in battle.
Bring their enemies against them without warning.
Let cries be heard from their houses.
They have dug a pit to capture me.
They have hidden traps for my feet.
But Lord, you know
all about their plans to kill me.
Don’t forgive their crimes.
Don’t erase their sins from your sight.
Destroy my enemies.
Punish them when the time to show your anger comes.
The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people. Also tell some of the priests to go with you. Go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom. Stand near the entrance of the gate where broken pieces of pottery are thrown away. There announce the message I give you. Tell the people, ‘Listen to the Lord’s message, you kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, “Listen! I am going to bring trouble on Jerusalem. It will be so horrible that it will make the ears of everyone who hears about it ring. My people have deserted me. They have made this city a place where other gods are worshiped. They have burned incense to them here. They, their people of long ago and the kings of Judah had never known these gods. My people have also filled this place with the blood of those who aren’t guilty. They have built the high places where they worship Baal. There they sacrifice their children in the fire as offerings to Baal. That is something I did not command or talk about. It did not even enter my mind. So watch out!” announces the Lord. “The days are coming when people will not call this place Topheth anymore. And they will not call it the Valley of Ben Hinnom either. Instead, they will call it the Valley of Death.
“ ‘ “In this place I will make the plans of Judah and Jerusalem as useless as a broken jar. I will use their enemies to kill my people by swords. They will die at the hands of those who want to take their lives. I will give their dead bodies as food to the birds and the wild animals. I will completely destroy this city. I will make it a horrible thing. People will make fun of it. All those who pass by it will be shocked. They will laugh at its people because of all their wounds. I will make the people of this city eat their sons and daughters. And they will eat one another. They will do this because things will be so bad during the attack. The enemies who want to take their lives will bring all this trouble on them.” ’
“Jeremiah, break the jar while those who go with you are watching. Tell them, ‘Here is what the Lord who rules over all says. “This potter’s jar is smashed and can’t be repaired. And I will smash this nation and this city. People will bury their dead in Topheth. But they will run out of room. Here is what I will do to Jerusalem and those who live here,” ’ announces the Lord. ‘ “I will make this city like Topheth. The houses in Jerusalem will be made ‘unclean’ like Topheth. So will the houses of the kings of Judah. All these people burned incense on their roofs to all the stars. They poured out drink offerings to other gods.” ’ ”
Then Jeremiah returned from Topheth. That’s where the Lord had sent him to prophesy. Jeremiah stood in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple. He spoke to all the people. He said, “The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, ‘Listen! I am going to punish this city and all the villages around it. I am going to bring against them all the trouble I have announced. That’s because my people were stubborn. They would not listen to what I said.’ ”
Jeremiah and Pashhur
Pashhur the priest was the official in charge of the Lord’s temple. He was the son of Immer. Pashhur heard Jeremiah prophesying that Jerusalem would be destroyed. So he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten. Then Pashhur put him in prison at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple. The next day Pashhur set him free. Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord’s name for you isn’t Pashhur. The Lord’s name for you is Terror on Every Side. The Lord says to you, ‘I will make you a terror to yourself. You will also be a terror to all your friends. With your own eyes you will see them die. Their enemies will kill them with swords. I will hand over all the people of Judah to the king of Babylon. He will carry them away to Babylon or kill them with swords. I will hand over all the wealth of this city to Judah’s enemies. I will give them all its products and everything of value. I will turn over to them all the treasures that belonged to the kings of Judah. They will take these things and carry them off to Babylon. Pashhur, you and everyone who lives in your house will also be forced to go there. You have prophesied lies to all your friends. So all of you will die and be buried in Babylon.’ ”
Jeremiah Complains to the Lord
You tricked me, Lord, and I was tricked.
You overpowered me and won.
People make fun of me all day long.
Everyone laughs at me.
Every time I speak, I cry out.
All you ever tell me to talk about
is fighting and trouble.
Your message has brought me nothing but dishonor.
It has made me suffer shame all day long.
Sometimes I think, “I won’t talk about his message anymore.
I’ll never speak in his name again.”
But then your message burns in my heart.
It’s like a fire deep inside my bones.
I’m tired of holding it in.
In fact, I can’t.
I hear many people whispering,
“There is terror on every side!
Bring charges against Jeremiah! Let’s bring charges against him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip.
They are saying, “Perhaps he will be tricked
into making a mistake.
Then we’ll win out over him.
We’ll get even with him.”
But you are with me like a mighty warrior.
So those who are trying to harm me will trip and fall.
They won’t win out over me.
They will fail. They’ll be totally put to shame.
Their dishonor will never be forgotten.
Lord, you rule over all.
You test those who do what is right.
You see what is in people’s hearts and minds.
So pay them back for what they’ve done.
I’ve committed my cause to you.
Sing to the Lord, you people!
Give praise to him!
He saves the lives of people in need.
He saves them from the power of sinful people.
May the day I was born be cursed!
May the day I was born to my mother not be blessed!
May the man who brought my father the news be cursed!
He’s the one who made my father very glad.
He said, “You have had a baby! It’s a boy!”
May that man be like the towns
the Lord destroyed without pity.
May that man hear loud weeping in the morning.
May he hear a battle cry at noon.
He should have killed me in my mother’s body.
He should have made my mother my grave.
He should have let her body stay large forever.
Why did I ever come out of my mother’s body?
I’ve seen nothing but trouble and sorrow.
My days will end in shame.