12 Lord, when I bring my case to you, you are always right. But I want to ask you about the justice you give. Why are evil people successful? Why do dishonest people have such easy lives? 2 You have put the evil people here like plants with strong roots. They grow and produce fruit. With their mouths they speak well of you, but their hearts are really far away from you. 3 But you know my heart, Lord. You see me and test my thoughts about you. Drag the evil people away like sheep to be butchered. Set them aside for the day of killing. 4 How much longer will the land stay dried up and the grass in every field be dead? The animals and birds in the land have died, because the people are evil. Yes, they are even saying, “God does not see what happens to us.”
The Lord’s Answer to Jeremiah
5 “If you get tired while racing against people, how can you race against horses? If you stumble in a country that is safe, what will you do in the thick thornbushes along the Jordan River? 6 Even your own brothers and members of your own family are making plans against you. They are crying out against you. Don’t trust them, even when they say nice things to you!
7 “I have left Israel; I have left my people. I have given the people I love over to their enemies. 8 My people have become to me like a lion in the forest. They roar at me, so I hate them. 9 My people have become to me like a speckled bird attacked on all sides by hawks. Go, gather the wild animals. Bring them to get something to eat. 10 Many shepherds have ruined my vineyards and trampled the plants in my field. They have turned my beautiful field into an empty desert. 11 They have turned my field into a desert that is wilted and dead. The whole country is an empty desert, because no one who lives there cares. 12 Many soldiers have marched over those barren hills. The Lord is using the armies to punish that land from one end to the other. No one is safe. 13 The people have planted wheat, but they have harvested only thorns. They have worked hard until they were very tired, but they have nothing for all their work. They are ashamed of their poor harvest, because the Lord’s terrible anger has caused this.”
14 This is what the Lord said to me: “Here is what I will do to all my wicked neighbors who take the land I gave my people Israel. I will pull them up and throw them out of their land. And I will pull up the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I pull them up, I will feel sorry for them again. I will bring each person back to his own property and to his own land. 16 I want them to learn their lessons well. In the past they taught my people to swear by Baal’s name. But if they will now learn to swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives . . . ’ I will allow them to rebuild among my people. 17 But if a nation will not listen to my message, I will pull it up completely and destroy it,” says the Lord.
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