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Run up and down through every street in all Jerusalem; search high and low and see if you can find even one person who is fair and honest! Search every square, and if you find just one, I’ll not destroy the city! Even under oath, they all lie.

O Lord, you are looking for faithfulness. You have tried to get them to be honest, for you have punished them, but they won’t change! You have destroyed them, but they refuse to turn from their sins. They are determined, with faces hard as rock, not to repent.

Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor and ignorant? They don’t know the ways of God. How can they obey him?”

I will go now to their leaders, the men of importance, and speak to them, for they know the ways of the Lord and the judgment that follows sin. But they too had utterly rejected their God.

So I will send upon them the wild fury of the “lion from the forest”; the “desert wolves” shall pounce upon them, and a “leopard” shall lurk around their cities so that all who go out shall be torn apart. For their sins are very many; their rebellion against me is great.

How can I pardon you? For even your children have turned away and worship gods that are not gods at all. I fed my people until they were fully satisfied, and their thanks was to commit adultery wholesale and to gang up at the city’s brothels. They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s mate. Shall I not punish them for this? Shall I not send my vengeance on such a nation as this? 10 Go down the rows of the vineyards and destroy them! But leave a scattered few to live. Strip the branches from each vine, for they are not the Lord’s.

11 For the people of Israel and Judah are full of treachery against me, says the Lord. 12 They have lied and said, “He won’t bother us! No evil will come upon us! There will be neither famine nor war! 13 God’s prophets,” they say, “are windbags full of words with no divine authority. Their claims of doom will fall upon themselves, not us!”

14 Therefore, this is what the Lord God of Hosts says to his prophets: Because of talk like this, I’ll take your words and prophecies and turn them into raging fire and burn up these people like kindling wood. 15 See, I will bring a distant nation against you, O Israel, says the Lord. It is a mighty nation, an ancient nation[a] whose language you don’t understand. 16 Their weapons are deadly; the men are all mighty. 17 And they shall eat your harvest and your children’s bread, your flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, yes, and your grapes and figs; and they shall sack your walled cities that you think are safe.

18 But I will not completely blot you out. So says the Lord.

19 And when your people ask, “Why is it that the Lord is doing this to us?” then you shall say, “You rejected him and gave yourselves to other gods while in your land; now you must be slaves to foreigners in their lands.”

20 Make this announcement to Judah and to Israel:

21 Listen, O foolish, senseless people—you with the eyes that do not see and the ears that do not listen— 22 have you no respect at all for me? the Lord God asks. How can it be that you don’t even tremble in my presence? I set the shorelines of the world by perpetual decrees, so that the oceans, though they toss and roar, can never pass those bounds. Isn’t such a God to be feared and worshiped?

23-24 But my people have rebellious hearts; they have turned against me and gone off into idolatry. Though I am the one who gives them rain each year in spring and fall and sends the harvesttimes, yet they have no respect or fear for me. 25 And so I have taken away these wondrous blessings from them. This sin has robbed them of all of these good things.

26 Among my people are wicked men who lurk for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind. They set their traps for men. 27 Like a coop full of chickens their homes are full of evil plots. And the result? Now they are great and rich, 28 they are well fed and well groomed, and there is no limit to their wicked deeds. They refuse justice to orphans and the rights of the poor. 29 Should I sit back and act as though nothing is going on? the Lord God asks. Shouldn’t I punish a nation such as this?

30 A horrible thing has happened in this land— 31 the priests are ruled by false prophets, and my people like it so! But your doom is certain.


  1. Jeremiah 5:15 an ancient nation. The kingdom of Babylonia, being revived in Jeremiah’s time (around 626 B.C.) had a long and illustrious history. The old Babylonian Empire lasted from about 1900 B.C.–1550 B.C. (the days of the Hebrew patriarchs), and earlier kingdoms had ruled on Babylonian soil as early as 3000 B.C.

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