The Promise of God
1Now Jeremiah was still locked up in the courtyard of the guards. And the Lord spoke his word to him a second time: 2“The Lord made the earth. He made it, and he keeps it safe. The Lord is his name. This is what the Lord says: 3‘Judah, pray to me, and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets. You have never heard these things before.’ 4The Lord is the God of Israel. He says these things about the houses in Jerusalem and the royal palaces of Judah. They have been torn down to be used against the attack by the Babylonian army. 5The Lord says, ‘Some people will come to fight against the Babylonians. They will fill these houses with dead bodies. I killed those people in my hot anger. I have turned away from this city because of all the evil its people have done.
6“‘But then I will bring health and heal the people there. I will let them enjoy peace and safety. 7I will make good things happen to Judah and Israel again. I will make them strong as in the past. 8They sinned against me. But I will wash away that sin. They did evil and turned away from me, but I will forgive them. 9Then Jerusalem will be a wonderful place! People who live there will be happy. And people from all nations will praise it. This will happen because they will hear about the good things I am doing there. They will be surprised and shocked at the good things and peace I will bring to Jerusalem.’
10“You are saying, ‘Our country is an empty desert. There are no people or animals living there.’ It is now quiet in the streets of Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah. There are no people or animals there either. But it will be noisy there soon! 11There will be sounds of joy and gladness. There will be the happy sounds of brides and bridegrooms. There will be the sounds of people bringing their offerings to the Temple of the Lord. Their offerings will be to show thanks to the Lord. They will say,
‘Praise the Lord of heaven’s armies!
The Lord is good!
His love continues forever!’
They will say this because I will again do good things for Judah. It will be as in the beginning,” says the Lord.
12This is what the Lord of heaven’s armies says: “This place is empty now. There are no people or animals living here. But there will be shepherds in all the towns of Judah. And there will be pastures where they let their flocks of sheep rest. 13Shepherds will again count their sheep as the sheep walk in front of them. People will be counting their sheep all around the country. They will count them in the mountains and in the western mountain slopes. They will count them in southern Judah and the land of Benjamin. They will count them around Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah!”
The Good Branch
14The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will do the things I promised. I made a special promise to the people of Israel and Judah.
15In those days and at that time,
I will make a righteous branch sprout from David’s family.
He will do what is fair and right in the land.
16At this time Judah will be saved.
The people of Jerusalem will live in safety.
The branch will be named:
The Lord Does What Is Right.”
17This is what the Lord says: “Someone from David’s family will always sit on the throne. And he will rule the family of Israel. 18And there will always be priests from the family of Levi. Those priests will always stand before me. And they will offer burnt offerings and grain offerings. And they will offer sacrifices to me.”
19The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah. 20“This is what the Lord says: I have an agreement with day and night. I agreed that they will continue forever. Day and night will always come at the right times. If you could change that agreement, 21you could also change my agreement with David and Levi. Only then would descendants from my servant David not be the kings on their thrones. And only then would the family of Levi not be priests serving me in the Temple. 22But I will give many descendants to my servant David. And I will give them to the family group of Levi who serve me in the Temple. They will be as many as the stars in the sky that no one can count. And they will be as many as the grains of sand on the seashore that no one can count.”
23The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah: 24“Jeremiah, have you heard what the people are saying? They are saying: ‘The Lord turned away from the two families of Israel and Judah. He chose those people. But now he doesn’t think of them as a nation anymore!’”
25This is what the Lord says: “If I had not made my agreement with day and night, and if I had not made the laws for the sky and earth, 26only then might I turn away from Jacob’s descendants. And only then I might not let the descendants of David my servant rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And I will be kind to those people. I will cause good things to happen to them again.”