Don’t Follow the God-Fads of the Day
25 This is the Message given to Jeremiah for all the people of Judah. It came in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah. It was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
2 Jeremiah the prophet delivered the Message to all the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem:
3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah right up to the present day—twenty-three years it’s been!—God’s Word has come to me, and from early each morning to late every night I’ve passed it on to you. And you haven’t listened to a word of it!
4-6 Not only that but God also sent a steady stream of prophets to you who were just as persistent as me, and you never listened. They told you, “Turn back—right now, each one of you!—from your evil way of life and bad behavior, and live in the land God gave you and your ancestors, the land he intended to give you forever. Don’t follow the god-fads of the day, taking up and worshiping these no-gods. Don’t make me angry with your god-businesses, making and selling gods—a dangerous business!
7 “You refused to listen to any of this, and now I am really angry. These god-making businesses of yours are your doom.”
8-11 The verdict of God-of-the-Angel-Armies on all this: “Because you have refused to listen to what I’ve said, I’m stepping in. I’m sending for the armies out of the north headed by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, my servant in this, and I’m setting them on this land and people and even the surrounding countries. I’m devoting the whole works to total destruction—a horror to top all the horrors in history. And I’ll banish every sound of joy—singing, laughter, marriage festivities, genial workmen, candlelit suppers. The whole landscape will be one vast wasteland. These countries will be in subjection to the king of Babylon for seventy years.
12-14 “Once the seventy years is up, I’ll punish the king of Babylon and the whole nation of Babylon for their sin. Then they’ll be the wasteland. Everything that I said I’d do to that country, I’ll do—everything that’s written in this book, everything Jeremiah preached against all the godless nations. Many nations and great kings will make slaves of the Babylonians, paying them back for everything they’ve done to others. They won’t get by with anything.” God’s Decree.
God Puts the Human Race on Trial
15-16 This is a Message that the God of Israel gave me: “Take this cup filled with the wine of my wrath that I’m handing to you. Make all the nations where I send you drink it down. They’ll drink it and get drunk, staggering in delirium because of the killing that I’m going to unleash among them.”
17-26 I took the cup from God’s hand and made them drink it, all the nations to which he sent me:
Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, along with their kings and leaders, turning them into a vast wasteland, a horror to look at, a cussword—which, in fact, they now are;
Pharaoh king of Egypt with his attendants and leaders, plus all his people and the melting pot of foreigners collected there;
All the kings of Uz;
All the kings of the Philistines from Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what’s left of Ashdod;
Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites;
All the kings of Tyre, Sidon, and the coastlands across the sea;
Dedan, Tema, Buz, and the nomads on the fringe of the desert;
All the kings of Arabia and the various Bedouin sheiks and chieftains wandering about in the desert;
All the kings of Zimri, Elam, and the Medes;
All the kings from the north countries near and far, one by one;
All the kingdoms on planet Earth . . .
And the king of Sheshak (that is, Babylon) will be the last to drink.
27 “Tell them, ‘These are orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: Drink and get drunk and vomit. Fall on your faces and don’t get up again. You’re slated for a massacre.’
28 “If any of them refuse to take the cup from you and drink it, say to them, ‘God-of-the-Angel-Armies has ordered you to drink. So drink!
29 “‘Prepare for the worst! I’m starting off the catastrophe in the city that I claim as my own, so don’t think you are going to get out of it. No, you’re not getting out of anything. It’s the sword and nothing but the sword against everyone everywhere!’” The God-of-the-Angel-Armies’ Decree.
30-31 “Preach it all, Jeremiah. Preach the entire Message to them. Say:
“‘God roars like a lion from high heaven;
thunder rolls out from his holy dwelling—
Ear-splitting bellows against his people,
shouting hurrahs like workers in harvest.
The noise reverberates all over the earth;
everyone everywhere hears it.
God makes his case against the godless nations.
He’s about to put the human race on trial.
For the wicked the verdict is clear-cut:
death by the sword.’” God’s Decree.
* * *
32 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“Prepare for the worst! Doomsday!
Disaster is spreading from nation to nation.
A huge storm is about to rage
all across planet Earth.”
* * *
33 Laid end to end, those killed in God’s judgment that day will stretch from one end of the earth to the other. No tears will be shed and no burials conducted. The bodies will be left where they fall, like so much horse dung fertilizing the fields.
* * *
34-38 Wail, shepherds! Cry out for help!
Grovel in the dirt, you masters of flocks!
Time’s up—you’re slated for the slaughterhouse,
like a choice ram with its throat cut.
There’s no way out for the rulers,
no escape for those shepherds.
Hear that? Rulers crying for help,
shepherds of the flock wailing!
God is about to ravage their fine pastures.
The peaceful sheepfolds will be silent with death,
silenced by God’s deadly anger.
God will come out into the open
like a lion leaping from its cover,
And the country will be torn to pieces,
ripped and ravaged by his anger.
Change the Way You’re Living
26 At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this Message came from God to Jeremiah:
2-3 “God’s Message: Stand in the court of God’s Temple and preach to the people who come from all over Judah to worship in God’s Temple. Say everything I tell you to say to them. Don’t hold anything back. Just maybe they’ll listen and turn back from their bad lives. Then I’ll reconsider the disaster that I’m planning to bring on them because of their evil behavior.
4-6 “Say to them, ‘This is God’s Message: If you refuse to listen to me and live by my teaching that I’ve revealed so plainly to you, and if you continue to refuse to listen to my servants the prophets that I tirelessly keep on sending to you—but you’ve never listened! Why would you start now?—then I’ll make this Temple a pile of ruins like Shiloh, and I’ll make this city nothing but a bad joke worldwide.’”
7-9 Everybody there—priests, prophets, and people—heard Jeremiah preaching this Message in the Temple of God. When Jeremiah had finished his sermon, saying everything God had commanded him to say, the priests and prophets and people all grabbed him, yelling, “Death! You’re going to die for this! How dare you preach—and using God’s name!—saying that this Temple will become a heap of rubble like Shiloh and this city be wiped out without a soul left in it!”
All the people mobbed Jeremiah right in the Temple itself.
* * *
10 Officials from the royal court of Judah were told of this. They left the palace immediately and came to God’s Temple to investigate. They held court on the spot, at the New Gate entrance to God’s Temple.
11 The prophets and priests spoke first, addressing the officials, but also the people: “Death to this man! He deserves nothing less than death! He has preached against this city—you’ve heard the evidence with your own ears.”
12-13 Jeremiah spoke next, publicly addressing the officials before the crowd: “God sent me to preach against both this Temple and city everything that’s been reported to you. So do something about it! Change the way you’re living, change your behavior. Listen obediently to the Message of your God. Maybe God will reconsider the disaster he has threatened.
14-15 “As for me, I’m at your mercy—do whatever you think is best. But take warning: If you kill me, you’re killing an innocent man, and you and the city and the people in it will be liable. I didn’t say any of this on my own. God sent me and told me what to say. You’ve been listening to God speak, not Jeremiah.”
16 The court officials, backed by the people, then handed down their ruling to the priests and prophets: “Acquittal. No death sentence for this man. He has spoken to us with the authority of our God.”
17-18 Then some of the respected leaders stood up and addressed the crowd: “In the reign of Hezekiah king of Judah, Micah of Moresheth preached to the people of Judah this sermon: This is God-of-the-Angel-Armies’ Message for you:
“‘Because of people like you,
Zion will be turned back into farmland,
Jerusalem end up as a pile of rubble,
and instead of the Temple on the mountain,
a few scraggly scrub pines.’
19 “Did King Hezekiah or anyone else in Judah kill Micah of Moresheth because of that sermon? Didn’t Hezekiah honor him and pray for mercy from God? And then didn’t God call off the disaster he had threatened?
“Friends, we’re at the brink of bringing a terrible calamity upon ourselves.”
* * *
20-23 (At another time there had been a man, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim, who had preached similarly in the name of God. He preached against this same city and country just as Jeremiah did. When King Jehoiakim and his royal court heard his sermon, they determined to kill him. Uriah, afraid for his life, went into hiding in Egypt. King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Achbor with a posse of men after him. They brought him back from Egypt and presented him to the king. And the king had him killed. They dumped his body unceremoniously outside the city.
24 But in Jeremiah’s case, Ahikam son of Shaphan stepped forward and took his side, preventing the mob from lynching him.)