Start Each Day with a Sense of Justice

21 1-2 God’s Message to Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent Pashur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to him with this request: “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has waged war against us. Pray to God for us. Ask him for help. Maybe God will intervene with one of his famous miracles and make him leave.”

3-7 But Jeremiah said, “Tell Zedekiah: ‘This is the God of Israel’s Message to you: You can say good-bye to your army, watch morale and weapons flushed down the drain. I’m going to personally lead the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans, against whom you’re fighting so hard, right into the city itself. I’m joining their side and fighting against you, fighting all-out, holding nothing back. And in fierce anger. I’m prepared to wipe out the population of this city, people and animals alike, in a raging epidemic. And then I will personally deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, his princes, and any survivors left in the city who haven’t died from disease, been killed, or starved. I’ll deliver them to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—yes, hand them over to their enemies, who have come to kill them. He’ll kill them ruthlessly, showing no mercy.’

8-10 “And then tell the people at large, ‘God’s Message to you is this: Listen carefully. I’m giving you a choice: life or death. Whoever stays in this city will die—either in battle or by starvation or disease. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who have surrounded the city will live. You’ll lose everything—but not your life. I’m determined to see this city destroyed. I’m that angry with this place! God’s Decree. I’m going to give it to the king of Babylon, and he’s going to burn it to the ground.’

11-14 “To the royal house of Judah, listen to God’s Message!
    House of David, listen—God’s Message to you:
‘Start each day by dealing with justice.
    Rescue victims from their exploiters.
Prevent fire—the fire of my anger—
    for once it starts, it can’t be put out.
Your evil regime
    is fuel for my anger.
Don’t you realize that I’m against you,
    yes, against you.
You think you’ve got it made,
    all snug and secure.
You say, “Who can possibly get to us?
    Who can crash our party?”
Well, I can—and will!
    I’ll punish your evil regime.
I’ll start a fire that will rage unchecked,
    burn everything in sight to cinders.’”

Walking Out on the Covenant of God

22 1-3 God’s orders: “Go to the royal palace and deliver this Message. Say, ‘Listen to what God says, O King of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you and your officials and all the people who go in and out of these palace gates. This is God’s Message: Attend to matters of justice. Set things right between people. Rescue victims from their exploiters. Don’t take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, the widows. Stop the murdering!

4-5 “‘If you obey these commands, then kings who follow in the line of David will continue to go in and out of these palace gates mounted on horses and riding in chariots—they and their officials and the citizens of Judah. But if you don’t obey these commands, then I swear—God’s Decree!—this palace will end up a heap of rubble.’”

6-7 This is God’s verdict on Judah’s royal palace:

“I number you among my favorite places—
    like the lovely hills of Gilead,
    like the soaring peaks of Lebanon.
Yet I swear I’ll turn you into a wasteland,
    as empty as a ghost town.
I’ll hire a demolition crew,
    well-equipped with sledgehammers and wrecking bars,
Pound the country to a pulp
    and burn it all up.

8-9 “Travelers from all over will come through here and say to one another, ‘Why would God do such a thing to this wonderful city?’ They’ll be told, ‘Because they walked out on the covenant of their God, took up with other gods and worshiped them.’”

Building a Fine House but Destroying Lives

10 Don’t weep over dead King Josiah.
    Don’t waste your tears.
Weep for his exiled son:
    He’s gone for good.
    He’ll never see home again.

11-12 For this is God’s Word on Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah: “He’s gone from here, gone for good. He’ll die in the place they’ve taken him to. He’ll never see home again.”

13-17 “Doom to him who builds palaces but bullies people,
    who makes a fine house but destroys lives,
Who cheats his workers
    and won’t pay them for their work,
Who says, ‘I’ll build me an elaborate mansion
    with spacious rooms and fancy windows.
I’ll bring in rare and expensive woods
    and the latest in interior decor.’
So, that makes you a king—
    living in a fancy palace?
Your father got along just fine, didn’t he?
    He did what was right and treated people fairly,
And things went well with him.
    He stuck up for the down-and-out,
And things went well for Judah.
    Isn’t this what it means to know me?”
        God’s Decree!
“But you’re blind and brainless.
    All you think about is yourself,
Taking advantage of the weak,
    bulldozing your way, bullying victims.”

18-19 This is God’s epitaph on Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:
    “Doom to this man!
Nobody will shed tears over him,
    ‘Poor, poor brother!’
Nobody will shed tears over him,
    ‘Poor, poor master!’
They’ll give him a donkey’s funeral,
    drag him out of the city and dump him.

You’ve Made a Total Mess of Your Life

20-23 “People of Jerusalem, climb a Lebanon peak and weep,
    climb a Bashan mountain and wail,
Climb the Abarim ridge and cry—
    you’ve made a total mess of your life.
I spoke to you when everything was going your way.
    You said, ‘I’m not interested.’
You’ve been that way as long as I’ve known you,
    never listened to a thing I said.
All your leaders will be blown away,
    all your friends end up in exile,
And you’ll find yourself in the gutter,
    disgraced by your evil life.
You big-city people thought you were so important,
    thought you were ‘king of the mountain’!
You’re soon going to be doubled up in pain,
    pain worse than the pangs of childbirth.

24-26 “As sure as I am the living God”—God’s Decree—“even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, I’d pull you off and give you to those who are out to kill you, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Chaldeans, and then throw you, both you and your mother, into a foreign country, far from your place of birth. There you’ll both die.

27 “You’ll be homesick, desperately homesick, but you’ll never get home again.”

28-30 Is Jehoiachin a leaky bucket,
    a rusted-out pail good for nothing?
Why else would he be thrown away, he and his children,
    thrown away to a foreign place?
O land, land, land,
    listen to God’s Message!
This is God’s verdict:
“Write this man off as if he were childless,
    a man who will never amount to anything.
Nothing will ever come of his life.
    He’s the end of the line, the last of the kings.”

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