The Potter and the Clay
1This is the word the Lord spoke to Jeremiah: 2“Go down to the potter’s house, and I will give you my message there.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working at the potter’s wheel. 4He was using his hands to make a pot from clay, but something went wrong with it. So he used that clay to make another pot the way he wanted it to be.
5Then the Lord spoke his word to me: 6“Family of Israel, can’t I do the same thing with you?” says the Lord. “You are in my hands like the clay in the potter’s hands. 7There may come a time when I will speak about a nation or a kingdom that I will pull up by its roots or that I will pull down to destroy it. 8But if the people of that nation stop doing the evil they have done, I will change my mind and not carry out my plans to bring disaster to them. 9There may come another time when I will speak about a nation that I will build up and plant. 10But if I see it doing evil by not obeying me, I will change my mind and not carry out my plans to do good for them.
11“So, say this to the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am preparing disaster for you and making plans against you. So stop doing evil. Change your ways and do what is right.’ 12But the people of Judah will answer, ‘It won’t do any good to try! We will continue to do what we want. Each of us will do what his stubborn, evil heart wants!’ ”
13So this is what the Lord says:
“Ask the people in other nations this question:
‘Have you ever heard anything like this?’
The people of Israel have done a horrible thing.
14The snow on the mountains of Lebanon
never melts from the rocks.
Its cool, flowing streams
do not dry up.
15But my people have forgotten me.
They burn incense to worthless idols
and have stumbled in what they do
and in the old ways of their ancestors.
They walk along back roads
and on poor highways.
16So Judah’s country will become an empty desert.
People will not stop making fun of it.
They will shake their heads as they pass by;
they will be shocked at how the country was destroyed.
17Like a strong east wind,
I will scatter them before their enemies.
At that awful time they will not see me coming to help them;
they will see me leaving.”
Jeremiah’s Fourth Complaint
18Then the people said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah. Surely the teaching of the law by the priest will not be lost. We will still have the advice from the wise teachers and the words of the prophets. So let’s ruin him by telling lies about him. We won’t pay attention to anything he says.”
19Lord, listen to me.
Listen to what my accusers are saying!
20Good should not be paid back with evil,
but they have dug a pit in order to kill me.
Remember that I stood before you
and asked you to do good things for these people
and to turn your anger away from them.
21So now, let their children starve,
and let their enemies kill them with swords.
Let their wives lose their children and husbands.
Let the men from Judah be put to death
and the young men be killed with swords in battle.
22Let them cry out in their houses
when you bring an enemy against them suddenly.
Let all this happen, because my enemies have dug
a pit to capture me and have hidden traps for my feet.
23Lord, you know
about all their plans to kill me.
Don’t forgive their crimes
or erase their sins from your mind.
Make them fall from their places;
punish them while you are angry.