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Eternal One: Roam the streets of Jerusalem, and tell Me what you see, Jeremiah.
        See if you can find anything good happening anywhere.
    Look in the marketplaces and open spaces of the city.
        If you can find just one honest person who lives according to My ways,
    I’ll spare the city of this horror.
    I hear them making oaths in My name. “As the Eternal lives,” they say.
        But they know the oaths are not true.

As when Abraham pleaded with God over Sodom’s fate (Genesis 18:23–32), God is willing to spare Jerusalem if the prophet can find a single person, honest and true, living there.

Jeremiah: O Eternal One, aren’t You looking for truth and integrity?
        You struck them, but they did not flinch.
    You destroyed them, but they did not yield to Your correction.
        They wouldn’t change their ways.
    They have set their stony faces against You
        defiant and determined, refusing to repent.

And I thought to myself, “How could they know any better?
    They are poor and senseless people, unfamiliar with the ways of the Eternal,
Unaware of what their God requires.
So I will go to their leaders and share what I see.
    They will do the right thing because they know the Eternal’s ways.
Surely, they will do what their God requires.”
    But to a person, I was wrong; leaders were no different;
They, too, had broken the yoke, burst the bonds,
    and pulled away from God’s guidance and correction.
Therefore, from the forest, a lion will strike.
    From the desert, a wolf will pounce and destroy.
And from the shadows, a leopard now stalks their villages,
    waiting to tear apart any who dare wander outside.
Such is the fate of all who fall away,
    for their rebellion is great; their sins are many.

Eternal One (to His people): How can I forgive what you’ve done?
        You have passed on your legacy of rebellion to your children who also rejected Me.
    They have made unholy oaths in the names of so-called gods.
        Why? I have fed them till they were full, and still they wanted more.
    So they betrayed Me with their adultery,
        trooping off to worship idols, filling up the houses of prostitutes.
    They have everything they need, and still they want more.
        Like lusty stallions, they call for each other’s mate.
    Should I not punish them for these atrocities?
        Against this nation, should I not avenge Myself?

10     (to His people’s enemies) Walk through the rows in her vineyards, and destroy them.
        But do not destroy them completely.
    Lop off the branches,
        for they do not belong to Me, the Eternal.
11     Both the house of Israel and the house of Judah have betrayed Me.

12     They spew lies about the Eternal that mock My sovereign power.
        They have said, “Nothing will happen! God will not hurt us!
    All this talk of war and famine is just talk.
13     As for the prophets, they are full of hot air;
        the word of God is not in them;
    Let their words of doom fall on them.”

14 The Eternal One, Commander of heavenly armies, has this to say:

Eternal One (to Jeremiah): Because this is the way they[a] speak,
        I am going to turn My words in your mouth into a fire,
    A fire that will consume these people; they are nothing but kindling for My fury.

15     (to His people) O house of Israel, I am stirring up a distant nation to march against you.
        They are an enduring people from ancient times.
    The language they speak is unknown to you;
        you will not understand them.
16     Their quiver is like a gaping grave, full of death.
        They are all mighty warriors.
17     They will devour your harvest and your food.
        They will devour your sons and daughters.
    They will devour your livestock, flocks, and herds.
        They will devour your vineyards and orchards.
    They will wield their swords
        and cut down the fortified cities you think are so safe.

(to Jeremiah) 18 But even then, I will not destroy your people completely. 19 So when they ask you, “Why has the Eternal done this to us? Why would our one True God treat us this way?” remind them and speak to them My words: “Because you have rejected Me and bowed down to foreign gods in a land that was yours, now you will bow down to a foreign people in a land that is not yours.”

20     Declare My truth to the house of Jacob.
        Proclaim it throughout the land of Judah:
21     Hear Me you foolish, heartless people.
        Even with eyes and ears you are still blind and deaf to what is happening.
22     Do you not realize who I am? Do you not fear Me?
        Do you not shake in the presence of the Eternal, the Creator of all things?
    It is I who has drawn for all time the boundaries of the sea.
        The waves may crash and roar against the sand,
    But the waters do not cross the lines I have drawn.
23     But with stubborn and defiant hearts, this people
        ignored Me and left Me for another.
24     It never occurs to them to say,
        “Let us stand in awe of the Eternal our God,
    For He sends the rain—both the autumn and the spring rain—
        and He brings the harvest at just the right time year after year.”
25     It is your sins that hold back the rain.
        It is your rebellion that keeps good things from happening to you.
26     Lurking among My own people are the wicked
        who watch and wait, preying on the less fortunate.
    Like hunters who set traps for birds,
        they ensnare people for their own benefit.
27     Like a cage full of noisy birds, their homes are filled with screeching lies.
        This is how they have become so rich and important—because others fell for their lies.
28     This is how they have grown so fat and polished.
        Their evil deeds know no boundaries.
    They do not take the side of the orphaned to help them prosper.
        They do not seek justice for the poor;
29     Should I not punish them for these atrocities?
        Against a nation like this, should I not avenge Myself?

30     (to His people) Something horrible and appalling has happened
        in this land of promise.
31     The prophets who claim to speak for Me
        are nothing more than false prophets, spewing lies and empty predictions.
    The priests who were to do My bidding have chosen to go their own way,
        and all the while, My people think nothing of it.
    They actually prefer it this way,
        but when the end comes, when My justices arrives, what will you do then?


  1. 5:14 Hebrew manuscripts read, “you.”

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