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Is Anyone Honest and Faithful?

The Lord said to me:

“Search Jerusalem
for honest people
    who try to be faithful.
If you can find even one,
    I’ll forgive the whole city.
Everyone breaks promises
    made in my name.”

I answered, “I know
    that you look for truth.
You punished your people
    for their lies,
but in spite of the pain,
    they became more stubborn
and refused to turn back
    to you.”
Then I thought to myself,
“These common people
    act like fools,
and they have never learned
what the Lord their God
    demands of them.
I’ll go and talk to the leaders.
They know what God demands.”
    But even they had decided
    not to obey the Lord.

The people have rebelled
and rejected the Lord
    too many times.
So enemies will attack
like lions from the forest
    or wolves from the desert.
Those enemies will watch
    the towns of Judah,
and like leopards
they will tear to pieces
    whoever goes outside.

Enemies Will Punish Judah

The Lord said:

People of Judah,
    how can I forgive you?
I gave you everything,
but you abandoned me
    and worshiped idols.
You men go to prostitutes
and are unfaithful
    to your wives.
You are no better than animals,
and you always want sex
    with someone else’s wife.

Why shouldn’t I punish
    the people of Judah?
10 I will tell their enemies,
    “Go through my vineyard.
Don’t destroy the vines,
    but cut off the branches,
because they are the people
    who don’t belong to me.”

11 In every way, Judah and Israel
    have been unfaithful to me.
12 Their prophets lie and say,
    “The Lord won’t punish us.
We will have peace
    and plenty of food.”
13 They tell these lies in my name,
so now they will be killed in war
    or starve to death.

14 I am the Lord God All-Powerful.
Jeremiah, I will tell you
    exactly what to say.
Your words will be a fire;
Israel and Judah
    will be the fuel.

15 People of Israel,
    I have made my decision.
An army from a distant country
    will attack you.
I’ve chosen an ancient nation,
and you won’t understand
    their language.
16 All of them are warriors,
    and their arrows bring death.
17 This nation will eat your crops
    and livestock;
they will leave no fruit
    on your vines or trees.
And although you feel safe
    behind thick walls,
your towns will be destroyed
    and your children killed.

Israel Refused To Worship the Lord

18 The Lord said:

Jeremiah, the enemy army won’t kill everyone in Judah. 19 And the people who survive will ask, “Why did the Lord our God do such terrible things to us?” Then tell them:

I am the Lord,
    but you abandoned me
and worshiped other gods
    in your own land.
Now you will be slaves
    in a foreign country.
20 Tell these things to each other,
you people of Judah,
    you descendants of Jacob.

21 You fools! Why don’t you listen
    when I speak?
Why can’t you understand
22 that you should worship me
    with fear and trembling?
I’m the one who made the shore
    to hold back the ocean.
Waves may crash on the beach,
    but they can come no farther.
23 You stubborn people have rebelled
    and turned your backs on me.
24 You refuse to say,
    “Let’s worship the Lord!
He’s the one who sends rain
in spring and autumn
    and gives us a good harvest.”
25 That’s why I cannot bless you!

26 A hunter traps birds
    and puts them in a cage,
but some of you trap humans
    and make them your slaves.
27 You are evil, and you lie and cheat
    to make yourselves rich.
You are powerful
28     and prosperous,
but you refuse
to help[a] the poor
    get the justice they deserve.
29 You need to be punished,
    and so I will take revenge.
30 Look at the terrible things
going on in this country.
    I am shocked!
31 Prophets give their messages
    in the name of a false god,[b]
my priests don’t want
    to serve me,[c]
and you—my own people—
    like it this way!
But on the day of disaster,
    where will you turn for help?

Footnotes

  1. 5.28 refuse to help: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 5.31 give. . . god: Or “tell lies.”
  3. 5.31 don’t. . . me: Or “don’t care what I want.”

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