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Judah’s Inevitable Doom

15 Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight! And if they say to you, ‘But where can we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says:

“‘Those who are destined for death, to death;
    those who are destined for war, to war;
those who are destined for famine, to famine;
    those who are destined for captivity, to captivity.’

“I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,” says the Lord. “I will send the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, the vultures to devour, and the wild animals to finish up what is left. Because of the wicked things Manasseh son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem, I will make my people an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.

“Who will feel sorry for you, Jerusalem?
    Who will weep for you?
    Who will even bother to ask how you are?
You have abandoned me
    and turned your back on me,”
    says the Lord.
“Therefore, I will raise my fist to destroy you.
    I am tired of always giving you another chance.
I will winnow you like grain at the gates of your cities
    and take away the children you hold dear.
I will destroy my own people,
    because they refuse to change their evil ways.
There will be more widows
    than the grains of sand on the seashore.
At noontime I will bring a destroyer
    against the mothers of young men.
I will cause anguish and terror
    to come upon them suddenly.
The mother of seven grows faint and gasps for breath;
    her sun has gone down while it is still day.
She sits childless now,
    disgraced and humiliated.
And I will hand over those who are left
    to be killed by the enemy.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Jeremiah’s Complaint

10 Then I said,

“What sorrow is mine, my mother.
    Oh, that I had died at birth!
    I am hated everywhere I go.
I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose
    nor a borrower who refuses to pay—
    yet they all curse me.”

11 The Lord replied,

“I will take care of you, Jeremiah.
    Your enemies will ask you to plead on their behalf
    in times of trouble and distress.
12 Can a man break a bar of iron from the north,
    or a bar of bronze?
13 At no cost to them,
    I will hand over your wealth and treasures
as plunder to your enemies,
    for sin runs rampant in your land.
14 I will tell your enemies to take you
    as captives to a foreign land.
For my anger blazes like a fire
    that will burn forever.[a]

15 Then I said,

Lord, you know what’s happening to me.
    Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors!
Please give me time; don’t let me die young.
    It’s for your sake that I am suffering.
16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
    They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
    O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts.
    I sat alone because your hand was on me.
    I was filled with indignation at their sins.
18 Why then does my suffering continue?
    Why is my wound so incurable?
Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook,
    like a spring that has gone dry.”

19 This is how the Lord responds:

“If you return to me, I will restore you
    so you can continue to serve me.
If you speak good words rather than worthless ones,
    you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them;
    do not let them influence you!
20 They will fight against you like an attacking army,
    but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze.
They will not conquer you,
    for I am with you to protect and rescue you.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!
21 Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men.
    I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”

Jeremiah Forbidden to Marry

16 The Lord gave me another message. He said, “Do not get married or have children in this place. For this is what the Lord says about the children born here in this city and about their mothers and fathers: They will die from terrible diseases. No one will mourn for them or bury them, and they will lie scattered on the ground like manure. They will die from war and famine, and their bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.”

Judah’s Coming Punishment

This is what the Lord says: “Do not go to funerals to mourn and show sympathy for these people, for I have removed my protection and peace from them. I have taken away my unfailing love and my mercy. Both the great and the lowly will die in this land. No one will bury them or mourn for them. Their friends will not cut themselves in sorrow or shave their heads in sadness. No one will offer a meal to comfort those who mourn for the dead—not even at the death of a mother or father. No one will send a cup of wine to console them.

“And do not go to their feasts and parties. Do not eat and drink with them at all. For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: In your own lifetime, before your very eyes, I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in this land. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard.

10 “When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such terrible things against us? What have we done to deserve such treatment? What is our sin against the Lord our God?’

11 “Then you will give them the Lord’s reply: ‘It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to me. They worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned me and did not obey my word. 12 And you are even worse than your ancestors! You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land and send you into a foreign land where you and your ancestors have never been. There you can worship idols day and night—and I will grant you no favors!’

Hope despite the Disaster

14 “But the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when people who are taking an oath will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ 15 Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ For I will bring them back to this land that I gave their ancestors.

16 “But now I am sending for many fishermen who will catch them,” says the Lord. “I am sending for hunters who will hunt them down in the mountains, hills, and caves. 17 I am watching them closely, and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from me. 18 I will double their punishment for all their sins, because they have defiled my land with lifeless images of their detestable gods and have filled my territory with their evil deeds.”

Jeremiah’s Prayer of Confidence

19 Lord, you are my strength and fortress,
    my refuge in the day of trouble!
Nations from around the world
    will come to you and say,
“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
    for they worshiped worthless idols.
20 Can people make their own gods?
    These are not real gods at all!”

21 The Lord says,
“Now I will show them my power;
    now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand
    that I am the Lord.

Footnotes

  1. 15:14 As in some Hebrew manuscripts (see also 17:4); most Hebrew manuscripts read will burn against you.