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6
Jerusalem’s Last Warning
1“Run for your lives, you people of Benjamin!
Get out of Jerusalem!
Sound the alarm in Tekoa!
Send up a signal at Beth-hakkerem!
A powerful army is coming from the north,
coming with disaster and destruction.
2O Jerusalem,#6:2 Hebrew Daughter of Zion. you are my beautiful and delicate daughter—
but I will destroy you!
3Enemies will surround you, like shepherds camped around the city.
Each chooses a place for his troops to devour.
4They shout, ‘Prepare for battle!
Attack at noon!’
‘No, it’s too late; the day is fading,
and the evening shadows are falling.’
5‘Well then, let’s attack at night
and destroy her palaces!’”
6This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Cut down the trees for battering rams.
Build siege ramps against the walls of Jerusalem.
This is the city to be punished,
for she is wicked through and through.
7She spouts evil like a fountain.
Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction.
I always see her sickness and sores.
8Listen to this warning, Jerusalem,
or I will turn from you in disgust.
Listen, or I will turn you into a heap of ruins,
a land where no one lives.”
9This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Even the few who remain in Israel
will be picked over again,
as when a harvester checks each vine a second time
to pick the grapes that were missed.”
Judah’s Constant Rebellion
10To whom can I give warning?
Who will listen when I speak?
Their ears are closed,
and they cannot hear.
They scorn the word of the Lord.
They don’t want to listen at all.
11So now I am filled with the Lord’s fury.
Yes, I am tired of holding it in!
“I will pour out my fury on children playing in the streets
and on gatherings of young men,
on husbands and wives
and on those who are old and gray.
12Their homes will be turned over to their enemies,
as will their fields and their wives.
For I will raise my powerful fist
against the people of this land,”
says the Lord.
13“From the least to the greatest,
their lives are ruled by greed.
From prophets to priests,
they are all frauds.
14They offer superficial treatments
for my people’s mortal wound.
They give assurances of peace
when there is no peace.
15Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions?
Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush!
Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered.
They will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
Judah Rejects the Lord’s Way
16This is what the Lord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.
But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
17I posted watchmen over you who said,
‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’
But you replied,
‘No! We won’t pay attention!’
18“Therefore, listen to this, all you nations.
Take note of my people’s situation.
19Listen, all the earth!
I will bring disaster on my people.
It is the fruit of their own schemes,
because they refuse to listen to me.
They have rejected my word.
20There’s no use offering me sweet frankincense from Sheba.
Keep your fragrant calamus imported from distant lands!
I will not accept your burnt offerings.
Your sacrifices have no pleasing aroma for me.”
21Therefore, this is what the Lord says:
“I will put obstacles in my people’s path.
Fathers and sons will both fall over them.
Neighbors and friends will die together.”
An Invasion from the North
22This is what the Lord says:
“Look! A great army coming from the north!
A great nation is rising against you from far-off lands.
23They are armed with bows and spears.
They are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like a roaring sea
as they ride forward on horses.
They are coming in battle formation,
planning to destroy you, beautiful Jerusalem.#6:23 Hebrew daughter of Zion.
24We have heard reports about the enemy,
and we wring our hands in fright.
Pangs of anguish have gripped us,
like those of a woman in labor.
25Don’t go out to the fields!
Don’t travel on the roads!
The enemy’s sword is everywhere
and terrorizes us at every turn!
26Oh, my people, dress yourselves in burlap
and sit among the ashes.
Mourn and weep bitterly, as for the loss of an only son.
For suddenly the destroying armies will be upon you!
27“Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals,#6:27 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads a tester of my people a fortress.
that you may determine the quality of my people.
28They are the worst kind of rebel,
full of slander.
They are as hard as bronze and iron,
and they lead others into corruption.
29The bellows fiercely fan the flames
to burn out the corruption.
But it does not purify them,
for the wickedness remains.
30I will label them ‘Rejected Silver,’
for I, the Lord, am discarding them.”
6
A Warning for the People of Jerusalem
The Lord said:
1Run for your lives,
people of Benjamin.
Get out of Jerusalem.
Sound a trumpet in Tekoa
and light a signal fire
in Beth-Haccherem.
Soon you will be struck
by disaster from the north.
2Jerusalem is a lovely pasture,
3but shepherds will surround it
and divided up,
then let their flocks
eat all the grass.#6.2,3 Jerusalem … grass: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
4Kings will tell their troops,
“If we reach Jerusalem
in the morning,
we'll attack at noon.
But if we arrive later,
5we'll attack after dark
and destroy its fortresses.”
6I am the Lord All-Powerful,
and I will command these armies
to chop down trees
and build a ramp up to the walls
of Jerusalem.
People of Jerusalem,
I must punish you
for your injustice.
7Evil pours from your city
like water from a spring.
Sounds of injustice and violence
echo within your walls;
victims are everywhere,
wounded and dying.
8Listen to me,
you people of Jerusalem
and Judah.
I will abandon you,
and your land will become
an empty desert.
9I will tell your enemies
to leave your nation bare
like a vine stripped of grapes.
I, the Lord All-Powerful,
have spoken.
Jeremiah's Anger
10I have told the people
that you, Lord,
will punish them,
but they just laugh
and refuse to listen.
11Your anger against Judah
flames up inside me,
and I can't hold it in
much longer.
The Lord's Anger Will Sweep Everyone Away
The Lord answered:
Don't hold back my anger!
Let it sweep away everyone—
the children at play
and all adults,
young and old alike.
12 # Jr 8.10-12. I'll punish the people of Judah
and give to others
their houses and fields,
as well as their wives.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
13Everyone is greedy and dishonest,
whether poor or rich.
Even the prophets and priests
cannot be trusted.
14 # Ez 13.10. All they ever offer
to my deeply wounded people
are empty hopes for peace.
15They should be ashamed
of their disgusting sins,
but they don't even blush.
And so, when I punish Judah,
they will end up on the ground,
dead like everyone else.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
The People of Judah Rejected God's Way of Life
16The Lord said:
My people, when you stood
at the crossroads,
I told you, “Follow the road
your ancestors took,
and you will find peace.”
But you refused.
17I also sent prophets
to warn you of danger,
but when they sounded the alarm,
you paid no attention.
18So I tell all nations on earth,
“Watch what I will do!
19My people ignored me
and rejected my laws.
They planned to do evil,
and now the evil they planned
will happen to them.”
20People of Judah,
you bring me incense from Sheba
and spices from distant lands.
You offer sacrifices of all kinds.
But why bother?
I hate these gifts of yours!
21So I will put stumbling blocks
in your path,
and everyone will die,
including parents and children,
neighbors and friends.
An Army from the North
22The Lord said,
“Look toward the north,
where a powerful nation
has prepared for war.
23Its well-armed troops are cruel
and never show mercy.
Their galloping horses sound
like ocean waves
pounding on the shore.
This army will attack you,
lovely Jerusalem.”
24Then the people said,
“Just hearing about them
makes us tremble with fear,
and we twist and turn in pain
like a woman giving birth.”
25The Lord said,
“Don't work in your fields
or walk along the roads.
It's too dangerous.
The enemy is well armed
26and attacks without warning.
So mourn, my people, as though
your only child had died.
Wear clothes made of sackcloth#6.26 sackcloth: See the note at 4.8.
and roll in the ash pile.”
The Lord's People Must Be Tested
The Lord said:
27Jeremiah, test my people
as though they were metal.
28And you'll find they are hard
like bronze and iron.
They are stubborn rebels,
always spreading lies.
* 29-30Silver can be purified
in a fiery furnace,
but my people are too wicked
to be made pure,
and so I have rejected them.