Walk around the streets of Jerusalem. Look around, and think about these things. Search the city squares. See if you can find anyone who does what is right and seeks the truth. Then I will forgive Jerusalem. 2 People say, “As the Lord lives . . .” Yet, they lie when they take this oath. 3 Lord, your eyes look for the truth. You strike these people, but they don’t feel it. You crush them, but they refuse to be corrected. They are more stubborn than rocks. They refuse to turn back. 4 I thought, “These are poor, foolish people. They don’t know the way of the Lord and the justice that God demands. 5 Let me go to important people and speak to them. They know the way of the Lord and the justice that God demands.” But they, too, had broken off their yokes[a] and torn off their chains. 6 That is why a lion from the forest will attack them. A wolf from the wilderness will destroy them. A leopard will lie in ambush outside their cities. All who leave the cities will be torn to pieces, because they rebel so often and they become more and more unfaithful.
7 “Why should I forgive you? Your children abandoned me. They took godless oaths. They committed adultery, even though I satisfied their needs. They traveled in crowds to the houses of prostitutes. 8 They are like well-fed stallions that are wild with desire. They neigh for their neighbors’ wives. 9 I will punish them for these things,” declares the Lord. “I will punish this nation.
10 “Go among Jerusalem’s rows of grapevines and destroy them, but don’t destroy all of them. Cut off the branches because they don’t belong to the Lord. 11 The nations of Israel and Judah are unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. 12 They lie about the Lord and say, “He doesn’t exist! Nothing bad will happen to us. We won’t experience war or famine. 13 The prophets are nothing but windbags. The Lord hasn’t spoken through them, so let what they say happen to them.”
14 This is what the Lord God of Armies says:
Because you’ve talked like this, I’m going to put my words in your mouth like a fire. These people will be like wood. My words will burn them up. 15 Nation of Israel, I’m going to bring a nation from far away to attack you, declares the Lord. It is a nation that has lasted a long time. It is an ancient nation. You don’t know the language of this nation. You can’t understand what its people say. 16 Their arrow quivers are like open graves. They are all mighty warriors. 17 They will devour your harvest and your food. They will devour your sons and your daughters. They will devour your flocks and your cattle. They will devour your grapevines and your fig trees. With their swords they will destroy the fortified cities you trust. 18 Yet, even in those days, declares the Lord, I won’t destroy all of you.
19 They will ask, “Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?” Answer them, “You have abandoned me and served foreign gods in your land. So you will serve foreigners in a land that isn’t yours.”
20 “Tell this to the descendants of Jacob, and make this heard in Judah: 21 Hear this, you stupid and senseless people! You have eyes, but you cannot see. You have ears, but you cannot hear. 22 Don’t you fear me?” asks the Lord. “Don’t you tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, a permanent barrier that it cannot cross. Although the waves toss continuously, they can’t break through. Although they roar, they can’t cross it. 23 But these people are stubborn and rebellious. They have turned aside and wandered away from me. 24 They don’t say to themselves, ‘We should fear the Lord our God. He sends rain at the right time, the autumn rain and the spring rain. He makes sure that we have harvest seasons.’ 25 Your wickedness has turned these things away. Your sins have kept good things away from you.
26 “Wicked people are found among my people. They lie in ambush like bird catchers. They set traps and catch people. 27 Like cages filled with birds, their houses are filled with deceit. That is why they become powerful and rich. 28 They grow big and fat. Their evil deeds have no limits. They have no respect for the rights of others. They have no respect for the rights of orphans. But they still prosper. They don’t defend the rights of the poor. 29 I will punish them for these things,” declares the Lord. “I will punish this nation.
30 “Something horrible and disgusting is happening in the land: 31 Prophets prophesy lies. Priests rule under the prophets’ directions, and my people love this. But what will you do in the end?”
Jeremiah 5:5A yoke is a wooden bar placed over the necks of work animals so that they can pull plows or carts.
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