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Promises of Peace and Prosperity

33 While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the Lord gave him this second message: “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: You have torn down the houses of this city and even the king’s palace to get materials to strengthen the walls against the siege ramps and swords of the enemy. You expect to fight the Babylonians,[a] but the men of this city are already as good as dead, for I have determined to destroy them in my terrible anger. I have abandoned them because of all their wickedness.

“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.

10 “This is what the Lord says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing,

‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    for the Lord is good.
    His faithful love endures forever!’

For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord.

12 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: This land—though it is now desolate and has no people and animals—will once more have pastures where shepherds can lead their flocks. 13 Once again shepherds will count their flocks in the towns of the hill country, the foothills of Judah,[b] the Negev, the land of Benjamin, the vicinity of Jerusalem, and all the towns of Judah. I, the Lord, have spoken!

14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.

15 “In those days and at that time
    I will raise up a righteous descendant[c] from King David’s line.
    He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
16 In that day Judah will be saved,
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
And this will be its name:
    ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’[d]

17 For this is what the Lord says: David will have a descendant sitting on the throne of Israel forever. 18 And there will always be Levitical priests to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me.”

19 Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 20 “This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, 21 only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me. 22 And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me.”

23 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 24 “Have you noticed what people are saying?—‘The Lord chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them!’ They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation. 25 But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. 26 I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.”

A Warning for Zedekiah

34 King Nebuchadnezzar[e] of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.

“‘But listen to this promise from the Lord, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the Lord says: You will not be killed in war but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the Lord.’”

So Jeremiah the prophet delivered the message to King Zedekiah of Judah. At this time the Babylonian army was besieging Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah—the only fortified cities of Judah not yet captured.

Freedom for Hebrew Slaves

This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves. He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves—both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage. 10 The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command, 11 but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again.

12 So the Lord gave them this message through Jeremiah: 13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors long ago when I rescued them from their slavery in Egypt. 14 I told them that every Hebrew slave must be freed after serving six years. But your ancestors paid no attention to me. 15 Recently you repented and did what was right, following my command. You freed your slaves and made a solemn covenant with me in the Temple that bears my name. 16 But now you have shrugged off your oath and defiled my name by taking back the men and women you had freed, forcing them to be slaves once again.

17 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says: Since you have not obeyed me by setting your countrymen free, I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine. You will be an object of horror to all the nations of the earth. 18 Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows. 19 Yes, I will cut you apart, whether you are officials of Judah or Jerusalem, court officials, priests, or common people—for you have broken your oath. 20 I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.

21 “I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to the army of the king of Babylon. And although they have left Jerusalem for a while, 22 I will call the Babylonian armies back again. They will fight against this city and will capture it and burn it down. I will see to it that all the towns of Judah are destroyed, with no one living there.”

Footnotes

  1. 33:5 Or Chaldeans.
  2. 33:13 Hebrew the Shephelah.
  3. 33:15 Hebrew a righteous branch.
  4. 33:16 Hebrew Yahweh Tsidqenu.
  5. 34:1 Hebrew Nebuchadrezzar, a variant spelling of Nebuchadnezzar.

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