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The Lord Talks about Idols

10 The Lord said:

Listen to me,
    you people of Israel.
Don’t follow the customs
    of those nations
who become frightened
when they see
something strange
    happen in the sky.
Their religion is worthless!
They chop down a tree,
    carve the wood into an idol,
cover it with silver and gold,
and then nail it down
    so it won’t fall over.

An idol is no better
    than a scarecrow.
It can’t speak,
and it has to be carried,
    because it can’t walk.
Why worship an idol
    that can’t help or harm you?

Jeremiah Praises the Lord

Our Lord, great and powerful,
    you alone are God.
You are King of the nations.
    Everyone should worship you.
No human anywhere on earth
    is wiser than you.
Idols are worthless,
and anyone who worships them
    is a fool!
Idols are made by humans.
    A carver shapes the wood.
A metalworker hammers out
a covering
of gold from Uphaz
    or of silver from Tarshish.
Then the idol is dressed
    in blue and purple clothes.

10 You, Lord, are the only true
and living God.
    You will rule for all time.
When you are angry
the earth shakes,
    and nations are destroyed.

11 You told me to say
that idols did not create
    the heavens and the earth,
and that you, the Lord,
    will destroy every idol.

12 With your wisdom and power
you created the earth
    and spread out the heavens.
13 The waters in the heavens roar
    at your command.
You make clouds appear—
you send the winds
    from your storehouse
and make lightning flash
    in the rain.

14 People who make idols
    are so stupid!
They will be disappointed,
because their false gods
    are not alive.
15 Idols are merely a joke,
and when the time is right,
    they will be destroyed.

16 But you, Israel’s God,
    created all things,
and you chose Israel
    to be your very own.
Your name is the Lord
    All-Powerful.

Judah Will Be Thrown from Its Land

17 I said to the people of Judah,
“Gather your things;
    you are surrounded.
18 The Lord said these troubles
    will lead to your capture,
and he will throw you
from this land
    like a rock from a sling.”[a]

19 The people answered,
“We are wounded
    and doomed to die.
Why did we say
    we could stand the pain?
20 Our homes are destroyed;
    our children are dead.
No one is left
    to help us find shelter.”

21 But I told them,
“Our leaders were stupid failures,
    because they refused
    to listen to the Lord.
And so we’ve been scattered
    like sheep.

22 “Sounds of destruction
rumble from the north
    like distant thunder.
Soon our towns will be ruins
    where jackals[b] live.”

Jeremiah Prays

23 I know, Lord, that we humans
are not in control
    of our own lives.
24 Correct me, as I deserve,
but not in your anger,
    or I will be dead.
25 Our enemies refuse
to admit that you are God
    or to worship you.
They have wiped out our people
and left our nation
    lying in ruins.
So get angry
    and sweep them away!

Judah Has Broken the Lord’s Agreement

11 1-3 The Lord God told me to say to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:

I, the Lord, am warning you that I will put a curse on anyone who doesn’t keep the agreement I made with Israel. So pay attention to what it says. My commands haven’t changed since I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, a nation that seemed like a blazing furnace where iron ore is melted. I told your ancestors that if they obeyed my commands, I would be their God, and they would be my people. Then I did what I had promised and gave them this wonderful land, where you now live.

“Yes, Lord,” I replied, “that’s true.”

Then the Lord told me to say to everyone on the streets of Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah:

Pay attention to the commands in my agreement with you. Ever since I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, I have been telling your people to obey me. But you and your ancestors have always been stubborn. You have refused to listen, and instead you have done whatever your sinful hearts have desired.

You have not kept the agreement we made, so I will make you suffer every curse that goes with it.

The Lord said to me:

Jeremiah, the people of Judah and Jerusalem are plotting against me. 10 They have sinned in the same way their ancestors did, by turning from me and worshiping other gods. The northern kingdom of Israel broke the agreement I made with your ancestors, and now the southern kingdom of Judah[c] has done the same.

11 Here is what I’ve decided to do. I will bring suffering on the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and no one will escape. They will beg me to help, but I won’t listen to their prayers. 12-13 Then they will offer sacrifices to their other gods and ask them for help. After all, the people of Judah have more gods than towns, and more altars for Baal than there are streets in Jerusalem. But those gods won’t be able to rescue the people of Judah from disaster.

14 Jeremiah, don’t pray for these people or beg me to rescue them. If you do, I won’t listen, and I certainly won’t listen if they pray!

15 Then the Lord told me to say to the people of Judah:

You are my chosen people,
    but you have no right
to be here in my temple,
    doing such terrible things.
The sacrifices you offer me
won’t protect you from disaster,
    so stop celebrating.[d]
16 Once you were like an olive tree
    covered with fruit.
But soon I will send a noisy mob
to break off your branches
    and set you on fire.

17 I am the Lord All-Powerful. You people of Judah were like a tree that I had planted, but you have made me angry by offering sacrifices to Baal, just as the northern kingdom did. And now I’m going to pull you up by the roots.

The Plot To Kill Jeremiah

18 Some people plotted to kill me.
And like a lamb
    being led to the butcher,
I knew nothing
    about their plans.
19 But then the Lord told me
    that they had planned
to chop me down like a tree—
    fruit and all—
so that no one would ever
    remember me again.
20 I prayed, “Lord All-Powerful,
you always do what is right,
    and you know every thought.
So I trust you to help me
    and to take revenge.”

21 Then the Lord said:

Jeremiah, some men from Anathoth[e] say they will kill you, if you keep on speaking for me. 22 But I will punish them. Their young men will die in battle, and their children will starve to death. 23 And when I am finished, no one from their families will be left alive.

Jeremiah Complains to the Lord

12 Whenever I complain
to you, Lord,
    you are always fair.
But now I have questions
    about your justice.
Why is life easy for sinners?
    Why are they successful?
You plant them like trees;
you let them prosper
    and produce fruit.
Yet even when they praise you,
    they don’t mean it.

But you know, Lord,
how faithful I’ve always been,
    even in my thoughts.
So drag my enemies away
    and butcher them like sheep!

How long will the ground be dry
    and the pasturelands parched?
The birds and animals
    are dead and gone.
And all of this happened because
    the people are so sinful.
They even brag, “God can’t see
    the sins we commit.”[f]

The Lord Answers Jeremiah

Jeremiah, if you get tired
    in a race against people,
how can you possibly run
    against horses?
If you fall in open fields,
what will happen in the forest
    along the Jordan River?
Even your own family
    has turned against you.
They act friendly,
    but don’t trust them.
They’re out to get you,
    and so is everyone else.

The Lord Is Furious with His People

I loved my people and chose them
    as my very own.
But now I will reject them
and hand them over
    to their enemies.
My people have turned against me
and roar at me like lions.
    That’s why I hate them.

My people are like a hawk
surrounded and attacked
    by other hawks.[g]
Tell the wild animals
    to come and eat their fill.
10 My beautiful land is ruined
    like a field or a vineyard
trampled by shepherds
and stripped bare
    by their flocks.
11 Every field I see lies barren,
    and no one cares.

12 A destroying army
marches along desert roads
    and attacks everywhere.
They are my deadly sword;
    no one is safe from them.

13 My people, you planted wheat,
but because I was furious,
    I let only weeds grow.
You wore yourselves out
    for nothing!

The Lord Will Have Pity on Other Nations

14 The Lord said:

I gave this land to my people Israel, but enemies around it have attacked and robbed it. So I will uproot them from their own countries just as I will uproot Judah from its land. 15 But later, I will have pity on these nations and bring them back to their own lands. 16 They once taught my people to worship Baal. But if they admit I am the only true God, and if they let my people teach them how to worship me, these nations will also become my people. 17 However, if they don’t listen to me, I will uproot them from their lands and completely destroy them. I, the Lord, have spoken.

Jeremiah’s Linen Shorts

13 The Lord told me, “Go and buy a pair of linen shorts. Wear them for a while, but don’t wash them.” So I bought a pair of shorts and put them on.

Then the Lord said, “Take off the shorts. Go to Parah[h] and hide the shorts in a crack between some large rocks.” And that’s what I did.

Some time later the Lord said, “Go back and get the shorts.” I went back and dug the shorts out of their hiding place, but the cloth had rotted, and the shorts were ruined.

Then the Lord said:

Jeremiah, I will use Babylonia to[i] destroy the pride of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 The people of Judah are evil and stubborn. So instead of listening to me, they do whatever they want and even worship other gods. When I am finished with these people, they will be good for nothing, just like this pair of shorts. 11 These shorts were tight around your waist, and that’s how tightly I held onto the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. I wanted them to be my people. I wanted to make them famous, so that other nations would praise and honor me, but they refused to obey me.

Wine Jars

The Lord said:

12 Jeremiah, tell the people of Judah, “The Lord God of Israel orders you to fill your wine jars with wine.”

They will answer, “Of course we fill our wine jars with wine! Why are you telling us something we already know?”

13 Then say to them:

I am the Lord, and what I’m going to do will make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem appear to be full of wine. And the worst ones will be the kings of David’s family and the priests and the prophets. 14 Then I will smash them against each other like jars. I will have no pity on the young or the old, and they will all be destroyed. I, the Lord, have spoken.

The People of Judah Will Be Taken Away

15 People of Judah,
don’t be too proud to listen
    to what the Lord has said.
16 You hope for light,
    but God is sending darkness.
Evening shadows already deepen
    in the hills.
So return to God
and confess your sins to him
    before you trip and fall.
17 If you are too proud to listen,
    I will weep alone.
Tears will stream from my eyes
when the Lord’s people
    are taken away as prisoners.

18 The Lord told me to tell you
that your king and his mother[j]
    must surrender their thrones
    and remove their crowns.[k]
19 The cities in the Southern Desert
are surrounded;
    no one can get in or out.
Everyone in Judah
    will be taken away.
20 Jerusalem, you were so proud
of ruling the people of Judah.
    But where are they now?

Look north, and you will see
    your enemies approaching.
21 You once trusted them to help,
but now I’ll let them rule you.[l]
    What do you say about that?
You will be in pain
    like a woman giving birth.

22 Do you know why
your clothes were torn off
    and you were abused?
It was because
    of your terrible sins.
23 Can you ever change
    and do what’s right?
Can people change the color
    of their skin,
or can a leopard
    remove its spots?
If so, then maybe you can change
    and learn to do right.

24 I will scatter you,
    just as the desert wind
blows husks from grain
    tossed in the air.
25 I won’t change my mind.
    I, the Lord, have spoken.

You rejected me
    and worshiped false gods.
26 You were married to me,
    but you were unfaithful.
You even became a prostitute[m]
by worshiping disgusting gods
    on hilltops and in fields.
27 So I’ll rip off your clothes
and leave you naked and ashamed
    for everyone to see.
You are doomed!
Will you ever be worthy
    to worship me again?

Footnotes

  1. 10.18 like a rock from a sling: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 10.22 jackals: See the note at 9.11.
  3. 11.10 Israel. . . Judah: See the note at 2.4.
  4. 11.15 celebrating: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
  5. 11.21 Anathoth: Jeremiah’s hometown (see 1.1).
  6. 12.4 God can’t see the sins we commit: Or “Jeremiah won’t live to see what happens to us.”
  7. 12.9 My people. . . other hawks: Or “My land has become a hyena’s den with vultures circling above.”
  8. 13.4 Parah: Or “the Euphrates River.” Parah was a village about five and a half miles northeast of Jerusalem.
  9. 13.9 I will use Babylonia to: Or “that’s how I’m going to.”
  10. 13.18 mother: The king’s mother usually had an important position in the royal court.
  11. 13.18 and remove their crowns: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  12. 13.21 You once. . . rule you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  13. 13.26 prostitute: See the note at 2.20.

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