6 “Run for your lives, people of Benjamin! Run away from Jerusalem! Blow the war trumpet in the town of Tekoa! Raise the warning flag over the town of Beth Hakkerem! Disaster is coming from the north. Terrible destruction is coming to you. 2 Jerusalem, I will destroy you. You are fragile and gentle. 3 Shepherds with their flocks will come against Jerusalem. They will set up their tents all around her. Each shepherd will take care of his own section.” 4 They say, “Get ready to fight against Jerusalem! Get up! We will attack at noon! But it is already getting late. The evening shadows are growing long. 5 So get up! We will attack at night. We will destroy the strong towers of Jerusalem!”
6 This is what the Lord of heaven’s armies says:
“Cut down the trees around Jerusalem. Build an attack ramp to the top of Jerusalem’s walls. This city must be punished! Inside this city is nothing but slavery. 7 Jerusalem pours out her evil as a well pours out its water. The sounds of violence and destruction are heard within her. I can see the sickness and hurts of Jerusalem. 8 Listen to this warning, Jerusalem. If you don’t listen, I will turn my back on you. I will make your land an empty desert. No one will be able to live there!”
9 This is what the Lord of heaven’s armies says:
“Gather the few people of Israel who are left alive. Gather them as you would the last grapes on a grapevine. Check each vine again, like someone who gathers grapes.”
10 To whom can I speak? Whom can I warn? Who will listen to me? The people of Israel have closed ears! So they cannot hear my warnings. They don’t like the word of the Lord. They don’t want to listen to it! 11 But I am full of the anger of the Lord. I am tired of holding it in.
“Pour out the Lord’s anger on the children who play in the street. Pour it out on the young men gathered together. A husband and his wife will both be caught in his anger. The very old people will be caught in it. 12 Their houses will be turned over to others. Their fields and wives will be given away. I will raise my hand and punish the people of Judah,” says the Lord. 13 “Everyone, from the least important to the greatest, is greedy for money. Even the prophets and priests all tell lies. 14 They try to heal my people’s serious injuries as if they were small wounds. They say, ‘It’s all right, it’s all right!’ But really, it is not all right. 15 They should be ashamed of the terrible way they act. But they are not ashamed at all. They don’t even know how to blush about their sins. So they will fall, along with everyone else. They will be thrown to the ground when I punish them,” says the Lord.
16 This is what the Lord says:
“Stand where the roads cross and look. Ask where the old way is. Ask where the good way is, and walk on it. If you do, you will find rest for yourselves. But you have said, ‘We will not walk on the good way!’ 17 I chose watchmen to watch over you. I told you, ‘Listen for the sound of the war trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’ 18 So listen, all you nations. Pay attention, you witnesses. Watch what I will do to the people of Judah. 19 Hear this, people of the earth: I am going to bring disaster to the people of Judah! It will happen because of the evil they plan. They have not listened to my messages. They have rejected my teachings. 20 Why do you bring me offerings of incense from the land of Sheba? Why do you bring me sweet-smelling cane from a faraway land? Your burnt offerings will not be accepted. Your sacrifices do not please me.”
21 So this is what the Lord says:
“I will put problems in front of Judah. Fathers and sons will stumble over them. Neighbors and friends will die.”
22 This is what the Lord says:
“Look, an army is coming from the land of the north. A great nation is coming from the far sides of the earth. 23 The soldiers carry bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring ocean when they ride their horses. That army is coming lined up for battle. It is coming to attack you, Jerusalem.”
24 We have heard the news about that army. We are helpless from fear. We feel trapped by our troubles. We are in pain like a woman having a baby. 25 Don’t go out into the fields. Don’t walk down the roads! This is because the enemy has swords. There is terror on every side. 26 My people, put on rough cloth and roll in the ashes to show how sad you are. Cry loudly for those who are dead. Cry as if your only son had died. Do it because the destroyer will soon come against us.
27 “Jeremiah, I have made you like a worker who tests metal. And my people are like the ore for the metal. You must observe their ways. And you must test them. 28 My people have turned against me and are stubborn. They go around telling lies about people. They are like bronze and iron, that became covered with rust. 29 The fire is fanned to make it hotter. But the lead does not melt. The pure silver does not come out. And the evil is not removed from my people. 30 My people will be called rejected silver. They will be given that name because the Lord has rejected them.”
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