The Potter and the Clay
18 This is the message that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Jeremiah, go down to the potter’s house. I will give you my message there.”
3 So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working with clay at the wheel. 4 He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot. So the potter used that clay to make another pot. With his hands he shaped the pot the way he wanted it to be.
5 Then this message from the Lord came to me: 6 “Family of Israel, you know that I can do the same thing with you. You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.” This message is from the Lord. 7 “There may come a time when I will speak about a nation or a kingdom that I will pull up by its roots or tear down and destroy it. 8 But if the people of that nation change their hearts and lives and stop doing evil things, I will change my mind and not bring on them the disaster I planned. 9 There may come another time when I speak about a nation that I will build up or plant. 10 But if I see that nation doing evil things and not obeying me, I will think again about the good I had planned to do for them.
11 “So, Jeremiah, say to the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am the potter preparing troubles for you and making plans against you. So stop doing the evil things you are doing. Each person must change and start doing good.’ 12 But the people of Judah will answer, ‘We don’t care what you say. We will continue to do what we want. We will do the evil our stubborn hearts want.’”
13 Listen to what the Lord says:
“Ask the other nations this question:
‘Have you ever heard of anything so bad?’
Israel, who is as dear to me as a young daughter,
has done this terrible thing!
14 It is as strange as not finding snow on Lebanon’s mountains
or seeing the cool streams that come from there stop flowing.
That just does not happen!
15 But my people have forgotten me.
They burn offerings to worthless idols.
They have left the right way that their ancestors followed,
and they stumble on the path they have chosen.
Instead of staying on the good road I showed them,
they prefer to walk on bumpy paths.
16 So their land will become an empty desert,
a place for people from now on to make fun of.
All who pass by there will be shocked by what has happened.
They will just shake their heads at what they see.
17 Like a strong east wind, I will scatter my people.
I will use their enemies to scatter them like dust.
When disaster comes upon them,
they will see me leaving, not coming to help.”
The People Plan Evil and Jeremiah Prays
18 Then the enemies of Jeremiah said, “Come, let us make plans against Jeremiah. We will always have a priest to tell us what the law says. We will still have wise men to advise us and prophets to tell us a message from God. So who needs Jeremiah? Let’s tell lies to ruin him and stop listening to what he says.”
19 Lord, listen to me!
Listen to what my enemies are saying.
20 I have done only good to them.
It is not right for them to pay me back with evil.
But they are preparing a death trap for me!
Remember that I prayed to you for them.
I asked only good for them.
I tried to keep you from punishing them in anger.
21 So now make their children starve to death!
Let their enemies kill them with swords.
Let their wives lose their children and husbands.
Let their men die from disease,
and let their young men be killed in battle.
22 Let them cry out in their houses,
when you suddenly bring an enemy against them.
Let it happen because they prepared a death trap for me.
They hid traps for me to step in.
23 Lord, you know about their plans to kill me.
So don’t forgive their crimes or erase their sins.
Make them fall down in defeat.
Punish them in your anger!