Prophets Who Tell Lies
Here is my message about the prophets.
My heart is broken inside me.
All my bones tremble with fear.
I am like a man who is drunk.
I am like a strong man who has had too much wine.
That’s what the Lord’s holy words
have done to me.
The land is full of people
who aren’t faithful to the Lord.
Now the land is under his curse.
And that’s why it is thirsty for water.
That’s why the desert grasslands are dry.
The prophets are leading sinful lives.
They don’t use their power in the right way.
“Prophets and priests alike are ungodly,”
announces the Lord.
“Even in my temple I find them sinning.
So their path will become slippery.
They will be thrown out into darkness.
There they will fall.
I will bring trouble on them
when the time to punish them comes,”
announces the Lord.
“Among the prophets of Samaria
I saw something I can’t stand.
They were prophesying in the name of Baal.
They were leading my people Israel astray.
I have also seen something horrible among Jerusalem’s prophets.
They are not faithful to me.
They are not living by the truth.
They strengthen the hands of those who do evil.
So not one of them turns from their sinful ways.
All of them are like the people of Sodom to me.
They are just like the people of Gomorrah.”
So the Lord who rules over all speaks about the prophets. He says,
“I will make them eat bitter food.
I will make them drink poisoned water.
The prophets of Jerusalem have spread
their ungodly ways all through the land.”
The Lord who rules over all says to the people of Judah,
“Do not listen to what the prophets are saying to you.
They fill you with false hopes.
They talk about visions that come from their own minds.
What they say does not come from my mouth.
They keep speaking to those who hate me. They say,
‘The Lord says you will have peace.’
They speak to all those who do
what their stubborn hearts want them to do.
They tell them, ‘No harm will come to you.’
But which of them has ever stood in my courts?
Have they been there to see a vision or hear my message?
Who has listened and heard my message there?
A storm will burst out
because of my great anger.
A windstorm will sweep down
on the heads of sinful people.
My anger will not turn back.
I will accomplish everything
I plan to do.
In days to come
you will understand it clearly.
I did not send these prophets.
But they have run to tell you their message anyway.
I did not speak to them.
But they have still prophesied.
Suppose they had stood in my courts.
Then they would have announced my message to my people.
They would have turned my people from their evil ways.
They would have turned them away from their sins.
“Am I only a God who is nearby?”
announces the Lord.
“Am I not a God who is also far away?
Who can hide in secret places
so that I can’t see them?”
announces the Lord.
“Don’t I fill heaven and earth?”
announces the Lord.
“I have heard what the prophets are saying. They prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! The Lord has given me a dream!’ How long will that continue in the hearts of these prophets who tell lies? They try to get others to believe their own mistaken ideas. They tell one another their dreams. They think that will make my people forget my name. In the same way, their people of long ago forgot my name when they worshiped Baal. Let the prophet who has a dream describe the dream. But let the one who has my message speak it faithfully. Your prophets have given you straw to eat instead of grain,” announces the Lord. “My message is like fire,” announces the Lord. “It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.
“So I am against these prophets,” announces the Lord. “I am against those who steal messages from one another. They claim that the messages come from me. Yes,” announces the Lord. “I am against the prophets who speak their own words. But they still say, ‘Here is what the Lord says.’ I am against prophets who talk about dreams that did not come from me,” announces the Lord. “They tell foolish lies. Their lies lead my people astray. But I did not send these prophets. I did not appoint them. They do not help my people in the least,” announces the Lord.
Prophets Who Give Messages That Are Not From the Lord
“Jeremiah, these people might ask you a question. Or a prophet or priest might do this. They might ask, ‘What message have you received from the Lord?’ Then tell them, ‘You ask, “What message?” Here it is. “I will desert you,” announces the Lord.’ A prophet or priest might make a claim. Or someone else might do this. He might claim, ‘This is a message from the Lord.’ Then I will punish them and their family. Here is what each of you people keeps on saying to your friends and other Israelites. You ask, ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ Or you ask, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ But you must not talk about ‘a message from the Lord’ again. That’s because each person’s own words become their message. And so you twist the Lord’s words. He is the living God. He is the Lord who rules over all. And he is our God. Here is what you keep saying to a prophet. You ask, ‘What is the Lord’s answer to you?’ Or you ask, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ You claim, ‘This is a message from the Lord.’ But here is what the Lord says. ‘You used the words, “This is a message from the Lord.” But I told you that you must not claim, “This is a message from the Lord.” ’ So you can be sure I will forget you. I will throw you out of my sight. I will also destroy the city I gave you and your people of long ago. I will bring on you shame that will last forever. It will never be forgotten.”
Judah Is Like Two Baskets of Figs
King Jehoiachin was forced to leave Jerusalem. He was the son of Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin was taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. The officials and all the skilled workers were forced to leave with him. After they left, the Lord showed me two baskets of figs. They were in front of his temple. One basket had very good figs in it. They were like figs that ripen early. The other basket had very bad figs in it. In fact, they were so bad they couldn’t even be eaten.
Then the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good. But the others are so bad they can’t be eaten.”
Then a message from the Lord came to me. The Lord said, “I am the Lord, the God of Israel. I say, ‘I consider the people who were forced to leave Judah to be like these good figs. I sent them away from this place. I forced them to go to Babylon. My eyes will watch over them. I will be good to them. And I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up. I will not tear them down. I will plant them. I will not pull them up by the roots. I will change their hearts. Then they will know that I am the Lord. They will be my people. And I will be their God. They will return to me with all their heart.
“ ‘But there are also bad figs. In fact, they are so bad they can’t be eaten,’ says the Lord. ‘Zedekiah, the king of Judah, is like these bad figs. So are his officials and the people of Jerusalem who are still left alive. I will punish them whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. I will make all the kingdoms on earth displeased with them. In fact, they will hate them a great deal. They will shake their heads at them. They will curse them and make fun of them. All this will happen no matter where I force them to go. I will send war, hunger and plague against them. They will be destroyed from the land I gave them and their people of long ago.’ ”
Seventy Years in Babylon
A message from the Lord about all the people of Judah came to Jeremiah. It came in the fourth year that Jehoiakim was the king of Judah. It was the first year that Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon. Jehoiakim was the son of Josiah. Jeremiah, the Lord’s prophet, spoke to all the people of Judah and Jerusalem. He said, “For 23 years the Lord’s messages have been coming to me. They began to come in the 13th year that Josiah was king of Judah. He was the son of Amon. The Lord’s messages still come to me today. I’ve spoken to you people again and again. But you haven’t listened to me.
“The Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you. They’ve come to you again and again. But you haven’t listened. You haven’t paid any attention to them. They said, ‘Each of you must turn from your evil ways and practices. Then you can stay in the land forever. It’s the land the Lord gave you and your people of long ago. Don’t follow other gods. Don’t serve them or worship them. Don’t make the Lord angry with the gods your own hands have made. Then he won’t harm you.’
“ ‘But you did not listen to me,’ announces the Lord. ‘You have made me very angry with the gods your hands have made. And you have brought harm on yourselves.’
“The Lord who rules over all says, ‘You have not listened to my words. So I will send for all the nations in the north. And I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon,’ announces the Lord. ‘I will bring all of them against this land and against you who live here. They will march out against all the nations that are around this land. I will set apart Judah and the nations around it in a special way to be destroyed. People will be shocked because of them. And they will make fun of them. Those nations will be destroyed forever. I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness. I will put an end to the voices of brides and grooms. The sound of grinding millstones will not be heard anymore. And lamps will not be lit anymore. This whole country will become dry and empty. And these nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.
“ ‘But I will punish that king and his nation because they are guilty. I will do this when the 70 years are over,’ announces the Lord. ‘I will make that land a desert forever. I have spoken against that land. And I will make all these things happen to it. Everything will happen that is written in this book. And I will make everything Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations come true. The people of Babylon will become slaves of many other nations and great kings. I will pay them back for what they have done.’ ”