Destruction of Jerusalem Impending
6 “Run for safety, you children of Benjamin,
Out of the midst of Jerusalem!
And blow a trumpet in Tekoa [in Judah]
And raise a signal-fire in Beth-haccherem [near Jerusalem];
For evil is looking down [with eager anticipation] from the north,
And great destruction.
“I will destroy the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem), the lovely and delicate one [so like a luxurious pasture].
“Shepherds with their flocks will come against her;
They will pitch their tents all around her;
They will pasture, each one in his place [eating up all her rich grasses].
“[They shout], ‘Prepare for war against her;
Arise, let us [take her by surprise and] attack her at noon.
But alas, the daylight pales,
The evening shadows grow long.
‘Arise, let us [awaken to] attack her at night
And destroy her [fortified] palaces!’”
6 For the Lord of hosts has said,
“Cut down her trees
And build a siege [mound] against Jerusalem.
This is the city which must be punished;
There is nothing but oppression inside her [walls].
“As a fountain springs up and pours out its fresh waters,
So she [continually] pours out her fresh wickedness.
Violence and destruction are heard inside her [walls];
Sickness and wounds are always before Me.
“Be wise and be warned, O Jerusalem,
Or I will be alienated from you,
And make you a desolation,
An uninhabited land.”
Thus says the Lord of hosts,
“They will thoroughly gather like [fruit on] a vine what is left of Israel;
Pass your hand [over the vine] again and again [Babylon, tool of destruction] like a grape gatherer,
Over the branches [stripping the tendrils off the vine].”
To whom shall I (Jeremiah) speak and give warning
That they may hear?
Behold, their ears are [a]closed [absolutely deaf to God]
And they cannot listen.
Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reprimand and an object of scorn to them;
They have no delight in it.(A)
But I am full of the wrath (judgment) of the Lord;
I am tired of restraining it.
“[I will] pour it out on the children in the street
And on the young men gathered together;
For both the husband and wife shall be taken,
The aged and the very old [though full of days they are not exempt from judgment].
“Their houses shall be turned over to others,
Their fields and their wives together;
For I will stretch out My hand
Against the inhabitants of the land,” says the Lord.
“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for [unfair] gain;
And from the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals deceitfully.
“They have treated superficially the [bloody] broken wound of My people,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
When there is no peace.
“Were they ashamed because they had committed disgusting and vile things?
No, they were not at all ashamed;
They did not even know how to blush [at their idolatry].
Therefore they will fall among those who fall;
At the time that I punish them
They will be overthrown,” says the Lord.
Thus says the Lord,
“Stand by the roads and look; ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is; then walk in it,
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it!’(B)
“I have set watchmen (prophets) over you,
Saying, ‘Listen and pay attention to the [warning] sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not listen.’
“Therefore hear, O [Gentile] nations,
And see, O congregation, what [vengeful act] is to be done to them.
“Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people,
The fruit of their schemes,
Because they have not listened and paid attention to My words,
And as for My law, they have rejected it also.
“For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from [b]Sheba
And the sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable
And your sacrifices are not sweet and pleasing to Me.”
21 Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“Behold, I am laying stumbling blocks before this people.
The fathers and the sons together
Will stumble against them;
The neighbor and his friend will perish.”
The Enemy from the North
Thus says the Lord,
“Behold, a people is coming from the north country,
And a great nation shall be stirred up and put into action from the remote parts of the earth.
“They seize bow and spear;
They are cruel and inhuman and have no mercy.
Their voice sounds like the roaring sea;
They ride [in formation] on horses,
Arrayed as a man for battle
Against you, O Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem)!”
We have heard the report of it;
Our hands become limp and helpless.
Anguish has gripped us,
Pain like that of a woman in childbirth.
Do not go out into the field
Nor walk on the road,
For the enemy is armed with the sword;
Terror is on every side.
O daughter of my people [says Jeremiah],
Clothe yourself in sackcloth and wallow in ashes;
Mourn [aloud] as for an only son,
A most bitter cry [of sorrow and regret],
For suddenly the destroyer will come upon us [on both prophet and people].
“I [the Lord] have set you as an assayer [O Jeremiah] and as a tester [of the ore] of My people,
That you may know and analyze their acts.”
They are all the worst [kind] of [stiff-necked, godless] rebels,
Going around spreading slander.
They are [not gold and silver ore, but] bronze and iron;
They are all corrupt.
The bellows blow fiercely,
The lead is consumed by the fire;
In vain they continue refining,
But the wicked are not separated and removed.
They call them rejected silver [only dross, without value],
Because the Lord has rejected them.
Message at the Temple Gate
7 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house and proclaim there this word and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter by these gates to worship the Lord.’” 3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Change your ways and your behavior, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in the deceptive and lying words [of the false prophets who claim that Jerusalem will be protected by God because of the temple], saying, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ 5 For if you thoroughly change your ways and your behavior, if you thoroughly and honestly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, 6 if you do not oppress the transient and the foreigner, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood [by oppression and by unjust judicial murders] in Jerusalem, nor follow after other gods to your own ruin, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers [to live in] forever and ever.
8 “Behold, you are trusting in deceptive and useless words that bring no benefit. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear [oaths] falsely, offer sacrifices or burn incense to Baal, and follow after other gods that you have not known, 10 and [then dare to] come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My [c]Name, and say, ‘We are protected and set free [by this act of religious ritual]!’—only to go on with this wickedness and these disgusting and loathsome things? 11 Has this house, which is called by My Name, become a den of robbers in your eyes [a place of retreat for you between acts of violence]? Behold, I Myself have seen it,” says the Lord.
12 “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh [in Ephraim], where I first set My Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.(C) 13 And now, because you have done all these things,” says the Lord, “and I spoke [persistently] to you, even rising up early and speaking, but you did not listen, and I called you but you did not answer, 14 therefore, I will do to this house (the temple) which is called by My Name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, just as I did to Shiloh. 15 I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers (relatives through Jacob), all the descendants of Ephraim.
16 “Therefore, do not pray for this people [of Judah] or lift up a cry or entreaty for them or make intercession to Me, for I do not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough to make cakes for the [d]queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods that they may offend and provoke Me to anger. 19 Do they offend and provoke Me to anger?” says the Lord. “Is it not themselves [they offend], to their own shame?” 20 Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and [the fire will] not be quenched.”
21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat the meat. 22 For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. 23 But this thing I did command them: ‘Listen to and obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, so that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey Me or bend their ear [to hear Me], but followed the counsels and the stubbornness of their [own] evil heart (mind), and [they turned and] went backward instead of forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have [persistently] sent you all My servants the prophets, sending them daily, early [and late]. 26 Yet they did not listen to Me and obey Me or bend their ear [to hear Me], but stiffened their neck; they did more evil and behaved worse than their fathers.
27 “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall [also] call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 You shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God or accept correction and warning; truth and faithfulness have perished and have completely vanished from their mouths.
‘Cut off your hair [your crown, O Jerusalem] and throw it away,
And take up a mournful cry on the barren heights,
For the Lord has rejected and abandoned
The generation of His wrath.’
30 For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight,” says the Lord; “they have set their disgusting and shamefully vile things in the house which is called by My Name, to defile it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of Ben-hinnom (son of Hinnom), to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire [to honor Molech, the fire god]—which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart (mind).(D)
32 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Ben-hinnom, but the Valley of the Slaughter, for [in bloody warfare] they will bury [the dead] in Topheth until there is no more room.(E) 33 And the dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth and no one will frighten them away. 34 Then I will cause the voices of joy and gladness, and the voices of the bridegroom and the bride to vanish from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem; for the land will become a ruin—a wasteland.
The Sin and Treachery of Judah
8 “At that time,” says the Lord, “they [the Babylonian army] will bring out from their graves the [e]bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its princes, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 2 They will [carelessly scatter and] spread them out before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which the dead have loved and which they have served, and which they have walked after and which they have sought, and which they have worshiped. They will not be gathered or be buried; they will be like [f]dung on the face of the earth. 3 And death will be chosen rather than life by all the remnant of those who remain of this evil family (nation), who remain in all the places to which I have driven them,” says the Lord of hosts. 4 “Moreover [Jeremiah], you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord,
“Do men fall and not rise up again?
Does one turn away [from God] and not repent and return [to Him]?
“Why then has this people of Jerusalem
Turned away with a perpetual turning away [from Me]?
They hold tightly to [g]deceit (idolatry);
They refuse to repent and return [to God].
“I have listened and heard,
But they have spoken what is not right;
No man repented of his wickedness,
Saying, ‘What have I done?’
Everyone turns to his [individual] course,
As the horse rushes like a torrent into battle.
“Even the stork in the sky
Knows her seasons [of migration],
And the turtledove, the swallow and the crane
Observe the time of their return.
But My people do not know
The law of the Lord.
“How can you say, ‘We are wise,
And the law of the Lord is with us [and we are learned in its language and teachings]’?
Behold, [the truth is that] the lying pen of the scribes
Has made the law into a lie [a mere code of ceremonial observances].(F)
“The wise men are shamed,
They are dismayed and caught.
Behold, they have [manipulated and] rejected the [truth in the] word of the Lord,
And what kind of wisdom and insight do they have?
“Therefore I will give their wives to others
And their fields to new owners;
Because from the least even to the greatest
Everyone is greedy for [unjust] gain;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone practices deceit and deals in corruption.
“For they have treated the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
When there is no peace.
“Were they ashamed because of the extremely disgusting and shamefully vile things they had done?
They were not at all ashamed,
And they did not know how to blush.
Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time of their punishment they shall be overthrown,”
Says the Lord.(G)
“I will gather and snatch them away [utterly consuming them],” says the Lord.
“There will be no grapes on the vine,
Nor figs on the fig tree,
And even the leaf will wither;
And the things that I have given them will pass away [by the hand of those whom I have appointed].”’”(H)
Why are we sitting still [the people wonder]?
Assemble yourselves, and let us enter the fortified cities
And let us die there,
For the Lord our God has decreed our ruin
And given us bitter and poisonous water to drink,
Because we have sinned against the Lord.
We waited for peace and salvation, but no good came,
And for a time of healing, but behold, terror!
The snorting of [Nebuchadnezzar’s] horses is heard from Dan [on Palestine’s northern border].
At the sound of the neighing of his strong stallions
The whole land quakes;
For they come and devour the land and all that is in it,
The city and those who live in it.
“For behold, I am sending serpents among you,
Vipers which cannot be charmed,
And they will bite you,” says the Lord.
Oh, that I (Jeremiah) could find comfort from my sorrow [for my grief is beyond healing],
My heart is sick and faint within me!
Behold, [hear the sound of] the cry of the daughter of my people from the distant land [of Babylon]:
“Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King within her?”
[But the Lord answers] “Why have they provoked Me to anger with their carved images and with foreign idols?”
“The harvest is past, the summer has ended and the gathering of fruit is over,
But we are not saved,” [comes the voice of the people again].
For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I (Jeremiah) am broken;
I mourn, anxiety has gripped me.
Is there no balm in [h]Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has not the [spiritual] health of the daughter of my people been restored?
5 Do not sharply reprimand an older man, but appeal to him as [you would to] a father, to younger men as brothers, 2 to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters, in all purity [being careful to maintain appropriate relationships].
3 Honor and help those widows who are truly widowed [alone, and without support]. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren [who are adults], see to it that these first learn to show great respect to their own family [as their religious duty and natural obligation], and to compensate their parents or grandparents [for their upbringing]; for this is acceptable and pleasing in the sight of God. 5 Now a woman who is really a widow and has been left [entirely] alone [without adequate income] trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 Whereas she who lives for pleasure and self-indulgence is spiritually dead even while she still lives. 7 Keep instructing [the people to do] these things as well, so that they may be blameless and beyond reproach. 8 If anyone fails to provide for his own, and especially for those of his own family, he has denied the faith [by disregarding its precepts] and is worse than an unbeliever [who fulfills his obligation in these matters].
9 A widow is to be put on the list [to receive regular assistance] only if she is over sixty years of age, [having been] the wife of one man, 10 and has a reputation for good deeds; [she is eligible] if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the feet of the saints (God’s people), if she has assisted the distressed, and has devoted herself to doing good in every way. 11 But refuse [to enroll the] younger widows, for when they feel their natural desires in disregard of Christ, they wish to marry again, 12 and so they incur condemnation for having set aside their [a]previous pledge. 13 Now at the same time, they also learn to be idle as they go from house to house; and not only idle, but also gossips and [b]busybodies [meddlers in things that do not concern them], talking about things they should not mention. 14 So I want younger widows to get married, have children, manage their households, and not give opponents of the faith any occasion for slander. 15 Some [widows] have already turned away [from the faith] to follow Satan. 16 If any believing woman has [dependent] widows [in her household], [c]she must assist them [according to her ability]; and the church must not be burdened [with them], so that it may assist those who are truly widows [those who are all alone and are dependent].
17 The elders who perform their leadership duties well are to be considered worthy of double honor (financial support), especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching [the word of God concerning eternal salvation through Christ]. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain [to keep it from eating],” and, “The worker is worthy of his wages [he deserves fair compensation].”(A) 19 Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it is based on [the testimony of at least] two or three witnesses.(B) 20 As for those [elders] who continue in sin, reprimand them in the presence of all [the congregation], so that the rest will be warned. 21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels that you guard and keep these rules without bias, doing nothing out of favoritism. 22 Do not hurry to lay hands on anyone [ordaining and approving someone for ministry or an office in the church, or in reinstating expelled offenders], and thereby share in the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
23 No longer [d]continue drinking [only] water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
24 [e]The sins of some people are conspicuous, leading the way for them into judgment [so that they are clearly not qualified for ministry]; but the sins of others appear later [for they are hidden and follow behind them]. 25 Likewise, good deeds are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be hidden [indefinitely].