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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
Babylonia Will Attack Jerusalem
1The Lord says, "People of Benjamin, run for safety!
Run away from Jerusalem!
Blow trumpets in Tekoa!
Warn everyone in Beth Hakkerem!
Horrible trouble is coming from the north.
The Babylonians will destroy everything with awful power.
2I will destroy the city of Zion,
even though it is very beautiful.
3Shepherds will come against it with their flocks.
They will set up their tents around it.
All of them will take care of their own sheep."
4The Babylonians say, "Prepare for battle against Judah!
Get up! Let's attack them at noon!
But the daylight is fading.
The shadows of evening are getting longer.
5So get up! Let's attack them at night!
Let's destroy their strongest forts!"
6The Lord who rules over all speaks to the Babylonians. He says, "Cut some trees down.
Use the wood to build ramps against Jerusalem's walls.
I must punish that city.
It is filled with people who treat others badly.
7Wells keep giving fresh water.
And Jerusalem keeps on sinning.
Its people are always fighting and causing trouble.
When I look at them,
I see nothing but sickness and wounds.
8Jerusalem , listen to my warning.
If you do not, I will turn away from you.
Your land will become a desert.
No one will be able to live there."
9The Lord rules over all. He says to me, "People gather the few grapes that are left on a vine.
So let Israel's enemies gather the few people
who are left alive in the land.
Look carefully at the branches again.
Do it like someone who gathers the last few grapes."
10Who can I speak to? Who can I warn?
Who will even listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they can't hear.
The Lord's message displeases them.
They don't take any delight in it.
11But the Lord's anger burns inside me.
I can no longer hold it in. The Lord says to me, "Pour out my anger on the children in the street.
Pour it out on the young people who are gathered together.
Husband and wife alike will be caught in it.
So will those who are very old.
12I will reach out my hand
against those who live in the land,"
announces the Lord.
"Then their houses will be turned over to others.
So will their fields and their wives.
13Everyone wants to get richer and richer,
from the least important of them to the most important.
Prophets and priests alike
try to fool everyone they can.
14They bandage the wounds of my people
as if they were not very deep.
'Peace, peace,' they say.
But there isn't any peace.
15Are they ashamed of their hateful actions?
No. They do not feel any shame at all.
They do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall like others who have already fallen.
They will be brought down when I punish them,"
says the Lord.
16The Lord tells the people of Judah, "Stand where the roads cross, and look around.
Ask where the old paths are.
Ask for the good path, and walk on it.
Then your hearts will find rest in me.
But you said, 'We won't walk on it.'
17I appointed prophets to warn you. I said,
'Listen to the sound of the trumpets!'
But you said, 'We won't listen.'
18So pay attention, you nations.
Be witnesses for me.
Watch what will happen to my people.
19Earth, pay attention.
I am going to bring trouble on them.
I will punish them because of the evil things they have done.
They have not listened to my words.
They have said no to my law.
20What do I care about incense from the land of Sheba?
Why should I bother with sweet-smelling cane from a land far away?
I do not accept your burnt offerings.
Your sacrifices do not please me."
21So the Lord says, "I will bring an army against the people of Judah.
Parents and children alike will trip and fall.
Neighbors and friends will die."
22The Lord says to Jerusalem, "Look! An army is coming
from the land of the north.
I am stirring up a great nation.
Its army is coming from a land that is very far away.
23Its soldiers are armed with bows and spears.
They are mean. They do not show any mercy at all.
They come riding in on their horses.
They sound like the roaring ocean.
They are lined up for battle.
They are marching out
to attack you, city of Zion."
24We have heard reports about them.
And our hands can't help us.
We are suffering greatly.
It's like the pain of a woman having a baby.
25Don't go out to the fields.
Don't walk on the roads.
Our enemies have swords.
And there is terror on every side.
26Put on black clothes, my people.
Roll among the ashes.
Cry with bitter sobbing
just as you would cry for an only child.
The one who is going to destroy us
will come suddenly.
27The Lord says to me, "I have made you like one who tests metals.
My people are the ore.
I want you to watch them
and test the way they live.
28All of them are used to disobeying me.
They go around telling lies about others.
They are like bronze mixed with iron.
All of them do very sinful things.
29The fire is made very hot
so the lead will burn away.
But it is impossible to make those people pure.
Those who are evil are not removed.
30They are like silver that is thrown away.
That is because I have not accepted them."