New International Reader's Version

Jeremiah 4

1“If you, Israel, will return,” announces the Lord.
    “then return to me,”
“Put the statues of your gods out of my sight.
    I hate them.
    Stop going astray.
Make all your promises in my name.
    When you promise say, ‘You can be sure that the Lord is alive.’
    Be truthful, fair and honest when you make these promises.
Then the nations will ask for blessings from me.
    And they will boast about me.”

Here is what the Lord is telling the people of Judah and Jerusalem. He says,

“Your hearts are as hard as a field
    that has not been plowed.
So change your ways and produce good crops.
    Do not plant seeds among thorns.
People of Judah and you who live in Jerusalem, obey me.
    Do not let your hearts be stubborn.
If you do, my anger will blaze out against you.
    It will burn like fire because of the evil things you have done.
    No one will be able to put it out.

Trouble Will Come From the North

“Announce my message in Judah.
    Tell it in Jerusalem.
    Say, ‘Blow trumpets all through the land!’
Give a loud shout and say,
    ‘Gather together!
    Let’s run to cities that have high walls around them!’
Warn everyone to go to Zion!
    Run for safety! Do not wait!
I am bringing trouble from the north.
    Everything will be totally destroyed.”

Lions have come out of their dens.
    Those who destroy nations have begun to march out.
They have left their place
    to destroy your land completely.
Your towns will be broken to pieces.
    No one will live in them.
So put on the clothes of sadness.
    Mourn and weep over what has happened.
The Lord hasn’t turned
    his great anger away from us.

“A dark day is coming,” announces the Lord.
    “The king and his officials will lose hope.
The priests will be shocked.
    And the prophets will be terrified.”

10 Then I said, “You are my Lord and King. You have completely tricked the people of Judah and Jerusalem! You have told them, ‘You will have peace and rest.’ But swords are pointed at our throats!”

11 At that time the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be warned. They will be told, “A hot and dry wind is coming, my people. It is blowing toward you from the bare hilltops in the desert. But it does not separate straw from grain. 12 It is much too strong for that. The wind is coming from me. I am making my decision against you.”

13 Look! Our enemies are approaching like the clouds.
    Their chariots are coming like a strong wind.
Their horses are faster than eagles.
    How terrible it will be for us!
    We’ll be destroyed!
14 People of Jerusalem, wash your sins from your hearts and be saved.
    How long will you hold on to your evil thoughts?
15 A voice is speaking all the way from the city of Dan.
    From the hills of Ephraim it announces
    that trouble is coming.
16 “Tell the nations.
    Make an announcement concerning Jerusalem.
Say, ‘An army will attack Judah.
    It is coming from a land far away.
It will shout a war cry
    against the cities of Judah.
17 It will surround them like people who guard a field.
    Judah has refused to obey me,’ ”
    announces the Lord.
18 “The army will attack you
    because of your conduct and actions.
This is how you will be punished.
    It will be so bitter!
    It will cut deep down into your hearts!”

19 I’m suffering! I’m really suffering!
    I’m hurting badly.
My heart is suffering so much!
    It’s pounding inside me.
    I can’t keep silent.
I’ve heard the sound of trumpets.
    I’ve heard the battle cry.
20 One trouble follows another.
    The whole land is destroyed.
In an instant my tents are gone.
    My home disappears in a moment.
21 How long must I look at our enemy’s battle flag?
    How long must I hear the sound of the trumpets?

22 The Lord says, “My people are foolish.
    They do not know me.
They are children who do not have any sense.
    They have no understanding at all.
They are skilled in doing what is evil.
    They do not know how to do what is good.”

23 I looked at the earth.
    It didn’t have any shape. And it was empty.
I looked at the sky.
    Its light was gone.
24 I looked at the mountains.
    They were shaking.
    All the hills were swaying.
25 I looked. And there weren’t any people.
    Every bird in the sky had flown away.
26 I looked. And the fruitful land had become a desert.
    All its towns were destroyed.
    The Lord had done all this because of his great anger.

27 The Lord says,

“The whole land will be destroyed.
    But I will not destroy it completely.
28 So the earth will be filled with sadness.
    The sky above will grow dark.
I have spoken, and I will not take pity on them.
    I have made my decision, and I will not change my mind.”

29 People can hear the sound of horsemen.
    Men armed with bows are coming.
    The people in every town run away.
Some of them go into the bushes.
    Others climb up among the rocks.
All the towns are deserted.
    No one is living in them.

30 What are you doing, you who are destroyed?
    Why do you dress yourself in bright red clothes?
    Why do you put on jewels of gold?
Why do you put makeup on your eyes?
    You make yourself beautiful for no reason at all.
Your lovers hate you.
    They want to kill you.

31 I hear a cry like the cry of a woman having a baby.
    I hear a groan like someone having her first child.
It’s the cry of the people of Zion struggling to breathe.
    They reach out their hands and say,
“Help us! We’re fainting!
    Murderers are about to kill us!”