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 who are fragile and gentle. 3 Shepherds with their flocks will come against Jerusalem. They will set up their tents all around her, each shepherd taking 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 All-Powerful says:
“Cut down the trees around Jerusalem, and build an attack ramp to the top of its walls. This city must be punished. Inside it 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, or I will turn my back on you and make your land an empty desert where no one can live.”
9 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says:
“Gather the few people of Israel who are left alive, as you would gather 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, and I am tired of holding it in.
“Pour out my anger on the children who play in the street and on the young men gathered together. A husband and his wife will both be caught in his anger, as will the very old. 12 Their houses will be turned over to others, along with their fields and wives, because 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 tried to heal my people’s serious injuries as if they were small wounds. They said, ‘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, where the good way is, and walk on it. If you do, you will find rest for yourselves. But they have said, ‘We will not walk on the good way.’ 17 I set watchmen over you and told you, ‘Listen for the sound of the war trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ 18 So listen, all you nations, and 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 because of the evil they plan. They have not listened to my messages and 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 together. 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, ready to attack you, Jerusalem.”
24 We have heard the news about that army and are helpless from fear. We are gripped by our pain, like a woman having a baby. 25 Don’t go out into the fields or walk down the roads, 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, as if your only son were dead, 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. You must observe their ways and test them. 28 All my people have turned against me and are stubborn. They go around telling lies about others. They are like bronze and iron that became covered with rust. They all act dishonestly. 29 The fire is fanned to make it hotter, but the lead does not melt. The pure metal does not come out; the evil is not removed from my people. 30 My people will be called rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them.”
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