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1“O Israel,” says the Lord,
“if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols
and stray away no more.
2Then when you swear by my name, saying,
‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
you could do so
with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
and all people would come and praise my name.”
Coming Judgment against Judah
3This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Plow up the hard ground of your hearts!
Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
4O people of Judah and Jerusalem,
surrender your pride and power.
Change your hearts before the Lord,#4:4 Hebrew Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart.
or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
because of all your sins.
5“Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem!
Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land:
‘Run for your lives!
Flee to the fortified cities!’
6Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem#4:6 Hebrew Zion.:
‘Flee now! Do not delay!’
For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you
from the north.”
7A lion stalks from its den,
a destroyer of nations.
It has left its lair and is headed your way.
It’s going to devastate your land!
Your towns will lie in ruins,
with no one living in them anymore.
8So put on clothes of mourning
and weep with broken hearts,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
is still upon us.
9“In that day,” says the Lord,
“the king and the officials will tremble in fear.
The priests will be struck with horror,
and the prophets will be appalled.”
10Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord,
the people have been deceived by what you said,
for you promised peace for Jerusalem.
But the sword is held at their throats!”
11The time is coming when the Lord will say
to the people of Jerusalem,
“My dear people, a burning wind is blowing in from the desert,
and it’s not a gentle breeze useful for winnowing grain.
12It is a roaring blast sent by me!
Now I will pronounce your destruction!”
13Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds!
His chariots are like whirlwinds.
His horses are swifter than eagles.
How terrible it will be, for we are doomed!
14O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart
that you may be saved.
How long will you harbor
your evil thoughts?
15Your destruction has been announced
from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.
16“Warn the surrounding nations
and announce this to Jerusalem:
The enemy is coming from a distant land,
raising a battle cry against the towns of Judah.
17They surround Jerusalem like watchmen around a field,
for my people have rebelled against me,”
says the Lord.
18“Your own actions have brought this upon you.
This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”
Jeremiah Weeps for His People
19My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain!
My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still.
For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets
and the roar of their battle cries.
20Waves of destruction roll over the land,
until it lies in complete desolation.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed;
in a moment my shelters are crushed.
21How long must I see the battle flags
and hear the trumpets of war?
22“My people are foolish
and do not know me,” says the Lord.
“They are stupid children
who have no understanding.
They are clever enough at doing wrong,
but they have no idea how to do right!”
Jeremiah’s Vision of Coming Disaster
23I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless.
I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.
24I looked at the mountains and hills,
and they trembled and shook.
25I looked, and all the people were gone.
All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness.
The towns lay in ruins,
crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.
27This is what the Lord says:
“The whole land will be ruined,
but I will not destroy it completely.
28The earth will mourn
and the heavens will be draped in black
because of my decree against my people.
I have made up my mind and will not change it.”
29At the noise of charioteers and archers,
the people flee in terror.
They hide in the bushes
and run for the mountains.
All the towns have been abandoned—
not a person remains!
30What are you doing,
you who have been plundered?
Why do you dress up in beautiful clothing
and put on gold jewelry?
Why do you brighten your eyes with mascara?
Your primping will do you no good!
The allies who were your lovers
despise you and seek to kill you.
31I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor,
the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child.
It is beautiful Jerusalem#4:31 Hebrew the daughter of Zion.
gasping for breath and crying out,
“Help! I’m being murdered!”
1 "O Israel, if you would return, says the Lord, then be converted to me. If you remove your offense from before my face, then you will not be shaken.
2 And you will swear, 'As the Lord lives,' in truth and in judgment and in justice." And the Gentiles will bless him, and they will praise him.
3 For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and of Jerusalem: "Break new ground, and do not choose to sow upon thorns.
4 Be circumcised to the Lord, and take away the foreskins from your hearts, O men of Judah, O inhabitants of Jerusalem. Otherwise my indignation may burst forth and flare up like a fire. And then there will be no one who can extinguish it, because of the wickedness of your thoughts.
5 Declare it in Judah, and make it known in Jerusalem! Speak out and sound the trumpet in the land! Cry out strongly and say: 'Gather yourselves! And let us go forth to fortified cities!'
6 Lift up a standard in Zion. Be strengthened! Do not choose to stand still. For I am bringing an evil from the north, with great destruction.
7 The lion has ascended from his den, and the pillager of the nations has lifted himself up. He has gone forth from his place, so that he may set your land in desolation. Your cities will be laid waste, remaining without an inhabitant.
8 Concerning this, wrap yourselves in haircloth, mourn and wail: 'For the wrath of the fury of the Lord has not been turned away from us.'
9 And this shall be in that day, says the Lord: The heart of the king will perish, with the heart of the princes. And the priests will be stupefied, and the prophets will be in consternation."
10 And I said: "Alas, alas, alas, O Lord God! Could it be that you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying: 'Peace shall be yours,' while, behold, the sword reaches even to the soul?"
11 "In that time, it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: 'A burning wind is in the ways that are in the desert, along the way of the daughter of my people, but not to winnow and not to cleanse.'
12 A full spirit from these places will come to me. And now I will speak my judgments over them.
13 Behold, he will ascend like a cloud, and his chariot will ascend like a tempest. His horses are swifter than eagles. 'Woe to us! For we are being devastated!'
14 Wash your heart from malice, O Jerusalem, so that you may be saved. How long will harmful thoughts abide in you?
15 For there is a voice, of someone announcing from Dan, and he is making known the idol from mount Ephraim.
16 Say to the nations: 'Behold, it has been heard in Jerusalem! Guardians are coming from a far away land, to utter their voice against the cities of Judah.'
17 They have been stationed over her, like the guardians of fields, all around. For she has provoked me to wrath, says the Lord.
18 Your ways and your thoughts have brought these things upon you. This is your own wickedness. And it is bitter, because it has touched your heart.
19 I am afflicted in my heart, in my heart. The senses of my heart have been stirred up within me. I will not remain silent. For my soul has heard the voice of the trumpet, the clamor of the battle.
20 Destruction upon destruction has been called forth. And the entire earth has been devastated. My tabernacles have been destroyed suddenly, and my tents in an instant.
21 How long shall I watch those who are fleeing, and listen to the voice of the trumpet?
22 For my foolish people have not known me. They are foolish and mad sons. They are clever in doing evil, but they do not know how to do good.
23 I gazed upon the earth, and behold, it was empty and brought to nothing. And I gazed upon the heavens, but there was no light in them.
24 I watched the mountains, and behold, they trembled, and all the hills were shaken.
25 I looked, and there was no man. And all the flying things of the air had gone away.
26 I gazed, and behold, Carmel was a desert, and all its cities were destroyed before the face of the Lord, and before the face of the wrath of his fury."
27 For thus says the Lord: "All the earth will be desolate, but I will not yet bring about its consummation.
28 The earth will mourn, and the heavens will lament from above. For I have spoken, I have decided, and I have not regretted. Neither will I be turned away from it.
29 Before the voice of the horsemen and of those who send forth arrows, the entire city has fled. They have entered steep places, and they have ascended the cliffs. All of the cities have been abandoned, and no man lives within them.
30 So then, when you have been devastated, what will you do? Though you will clothe yourself with scarlet, though you will adorn yourself with a gold necklace and tint your eyes with cosmetics, you will be dressing yourself up in vain. Your lovers have spurned you; they will be seeking your life.
31 For I have heard a voice, like that of a woman giving birth, during the difficulties of labor. It is the voice of the daughter of Zion, dying, extending her hands: 'Woe to me! For my soul is failing because of those who have been slain!' "