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The People of Israel Are Like Clay for a Potter

18 Yahweh spoke his word to Jeremiah. He said, “Go to the potter’s house. There I will give you my message.”

I went to the potter’s house, and he was working there at his wheel. Whenever a clay pot he was working on was ruined, he would rework it into a new clay pot the way he wanted to make it.

Yahweh spoke his word to me. Yahweh asked, “Nation of Israel, can’t I do with you as this potter does with clay? Nation of Israel, you are like the clay in the potter’s hands.

“At one time I may threaten to tear up, break down, and destroy a nation or a kingdom. But suppose the nation that I threatened turns away from doing wrong. Then I will change my plans about the disaster I planned to do to it.

“At another time I may promise to build and plant a nation or a kingdom. 10 But suppose that nation does what I consider evil and doesn’t obey me. Then I will change my plans about the good that I promised to do to it.

11 “Now say to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem, ‘This is what Yahweh says: I’m going to prepare a disaster and make plans against you. Turn from your evil ways, change your lives, and do good.’

12 “But they will answer, ‘It’s useless! We’ll live the way we want to. We’ll go our own stubborn, evil ways.’

13 “This is what Yahweh says:

Ask among the nations if anyone has ever heard anything like this.
    The people of Israel have done a very horrible thing.
14 The rocky slopes of Lebanon are never without snow.
    The cool mountain streams never dry up.
15 But my people have forgotten me.
    They burn incense as an offering to worthless idols,
        and they stumble along the way, on the ancient path.
        They go on side roads and not on major highways.
16 Their land will become desolate
    and something to be hissed at forever.
    Everyone who will pass by it will be stunned and shake his head.
17 Like the east wind I will scatter them in front of the enemy.
    On the day of their disaster,
    I will show them my back, not my face.”

18 Then they said, “Let’s plot against Jeremiah, because the teachings of the priests, the advice of wise people, and the word of the prophets won’t disappear. Accuse him! Pay no attention to anything he says.”

19 Pay attention to me, O Yahweh,
    and listen to what my accusers say.
20 Good should not be paid back with evil.
    They dig a pit to take my life.
        Remember how I stood in your presence and pleaded for them
            in order to turn your anger away from them.
21 Now, hand their children over to famine.
    Pour out their blood by using your sword.
        Then their wives will become childless widows.
            Their husbands will be put to death.
            Their young men will be struck down in battle.
22 Make them cry out from their homes
    when you suddenly send troops against them,
        because they dug a pit to catch me and hid snares for my feet.
23 But you, O Yahweh, know that they plan to kill me.
    Don’t forgive their crimes.
    Don’t wipe their sins out of your sight.
        Make them stumble in your presence.
            Deal with them when you get angry.