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The Lord Will Punish Judah
The Lord said:
1People of Judah,
your sins cannot be erased.
They are written on your hearts
like words chiseled in stone
or carved on the corners
of your altars.#17.1 carved on the corners of your altars: When sacrifices were offered to the Lord to ask him to forgive sins, some of the blood was smeared on the corners of the altar (see Leviticus 4.7,18-20,25, 26,30, 31,34, 35; 16.18). But now the Lord refuses to accept these sacrifices.
* 2One generation after another
has set up pagan altars
and worshiped the goddess Asherah
everywhere in your country—
on hills and mountains,
and under large trees.
3So I'll take everything you own,
including your altars,
and give it all
to your enemies.#17.3 enemies: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 2,3.
4You will lose#17.4 You will lose: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. the land
that I gave you,
and I will make you slaves
in a foreign country,
because you have made my anger
blaze up like a fire
that won't stop burning.
Trust the Lord
5I, the Lord, have put a curse
on those who turn from me
and trust in human strength.
6They will dry up like a bush
in salty desert soil,
where nothing can grow.
7But I will bless those
who trust me, the Lord.
8 # Ps 1.3. They will be like trees
growing beside a stream—
trees with roots that reach
down to the water,
and with leaves
that are always green.
They bear fruit every year
and are never worried
by a lack of rain.
9You people of Judah
are so deceitful
that you even fool yourselves,
and you can't change.
10 # Rev 2.23; Ps 62.12. But I know your deeds
and your thoughts,
and I will make sure
you get what you deserve.
11You cheated others,
but everything you gained
will fly away, like birds
hatched from stolen eggs.
Then you will discover
what fools you are.
Jeremiah Prays to the Lord
12Our Lord, your temple
is a glorious throne
that has stood on a mountain
from the beginning.
13You are a spring of water
giving Israel life and hope.
But if the people reject
what you have told me,
they will be swept away
like words written in dust.#17.13 reject … dust: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
14You, Lord, are the one I praise.
So heal me and rescue me!
Then I will be completely well
and perfectly safe.
15The people of Judah say to me,
“Jeremiah, you claimed to tell us
what the Lord has said.
So why hasn't it come true?”
16Our Lord, you chose me
to care for your people,
and that's what I have done.
You know everything I have said,
and I have never once
asked you to punish them.#17.16 you chose … punish them: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
17I trust you for protection
in times of trouble,
so don't frighten me.
18Keep me from failure
and disgrace,
but make my enemies fail
and be disgraced.
Send destruction to make
their worst fears come true.
Resting on the Sabbath
19-20The Lord said:
Jeremiah, stand at each city gate in Jerusalem, including the one the king uses, and speak to him and everyone else. Tell them I have said:
I am the Lord, so pay attention. 21-24#Ex 20.8-10; Dt 5.12-14; Ne 13.15-22. If you value your lives, don't do any work on the Sabbath. Don't carry anything through the city gates or through the door of your house, or anywhere else. Keep the Sabbath day sacred!
I gave this command to your ancestors, but they were stubborn and refused to obey or to be corrected. But if you obey, 25then Judah and Jerusalem will always be ruled by kings from David's family. The king and his officials will ride through these gates on horses or in chariots, and the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be with them. There will always be people living in Jerusalem, 26and others will come here from the nearby villages, from the towns of Judah and Benjamin,#17.26 Judah and Benjamin: These two tribes made up the southern kingdom of Judah. from the hill country and the foothills to the west, and from the Southern Desert. They will bring sacrifices to please me and to give me thanks,#17.26 sacrifices to please me and to give me thanks: See the notes at 14.12. as well as offerings of grain and incense.
27But if you keep on carrying things through the city gates on the Sabbath and keep treating it as any other day, I will set fire to these gates and burn down the whole city, including the fortresses.
Judah’s Guilty Heart
1“The sin of the people of Judah is written with an iron tool.
Their sins were cut into stone with a hard point.
That stone is their hearts.
Their sins were cut into the corners of their altars.
2Even their children remember
their altars to idols and their Asherah idols.
They remember the altars under the green trees
and on the high hills.
3They remember the altars on my mountain and in the open country.
I will give your wealth and treasures
to other people.
And they will destroy the places of worship in your country.
You sinned by worshiping at those places.
4You will lose the land I gave you.
And it is your own fault.
I will let your enemies take you as their slaves.
You will be slaves in a land you have never known.
This is because you have made my anger burn like a hot fire.
And it will burn forever.”
Trusting in Man or God
5This is what the Lord says:
“A curse will be placed on those who trust other people.
It will happen to those who depend on people for strength.
Those are the ones who have stopped trusting the Lord.
6They are like a bush in a desert.
It grows in a land where no one lives.
It is in a hot and dry land with bad soil.
They don’t know about the good things that God can give.
7“But the person who trusts in the Lord will be blessed.
The Lord will show him that he can be trusted.
8He will be strong, like a tree planted near water.
That tree has large roots that find the water.
It is not afraid when the days are hot.
Its leaves are always green.
It does not worry in a year when no rain comes.
That tree always produces fruit.”
9“More than anything else, a person’s mind is evil.
It cannot be healed.
Who can understand it?
10But I am the Lord, and I can look into a person’s heart.
I can test a person’s mind.
So I can decide what each one deserves.
I can give each one the right payment for what he does.”
11Sometimes a bird will hatch an egg that it did not lay.
That bird is like the man who gets rich by cheating.
When that man’s life is half finished, he will lose his riches.
At the end of his life, it will be clear he was a fool.
12From the beginning, our Temple has been honored
as a glorious throne for God.
13Lord, you are the hope of Israel.
Those who leave you will be shamed.
A person who quits following the Lord will be like a name written in the dust.
That is because he has left the Lord.
The Lord is the spring of living water.
Jeremiah’s Third Complaint
14Lord, heal me, and I will truly be healed.
Save me, and I will truly be saved.
Lord, you are the one I praise.
15The people of Judah keep asking me,
“Where is the word from the Lord?
Let’s see that message come true!”
16Lord, I didn’t run away from being the shepherd you wanted.
I didn’t want the terrible day to come.
You know everything I have said.
You see all that is happening.
17Lord, don’t bring terror to me.
I run to you for safety in times of trouble.
18Make those who are hurting me be ashamed.
But don’t bring shame to me.
Let them be terrified,
but keep me from terror.
Bring the day of disaster on my enemies.
Destroy them, and destroy them again.
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
19This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and stand at the People’s Gate of Jerusalem. This is where the kings of Judah go in and out. And then go to all the other gates of Jerusalem. 20Say to them there: ‘Hear the word of the Lord. Listen, kings of Judah. Listen, all you people of Judah and all who come through these gates into Jerusalem! 21This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day. And don’t bring it through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath. 22Don’t take a load out of your houses on the Sabbath. Don’t do any work on that day. Keep the Sabbath as a holy day. I gave this same command to your ancestors. 23But your ancestors did not listen. They did not pay attention to me. They were very stubborn. I punished them, but it didn’t do any good. They did not listen to me. 24But you must be careful to obey me, says the Lord. You must not bring a load through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath. You must keep the Sabbath as a holy day. You must not do any work on that day.
25“‘If you obey this command, this is what will happen: Kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of Jerusalem with their officers. They will come riding in chariots and on horses. The people of Judah and Jerusalem will be with them. And the city of Jerusalem will have people living in it forever! 26People will come to Jerusalem from the villages around it and from the towns of Judah. They will come from the land of Benjamin. They will come from the western mountain slopes and from the mountains. And they will come from southern Judah. They will all bring burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings, incense and offerings to show thanks to God. They will bring these to the Temple of the Lord. 27But you must obey me and keep the Sabbath day as a holy day. You must not carry any loads into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. If you do, I will start a fire that cannot be put out. It will start at the gates of Jerusalem. And it will burn until it burns even the strong towers!’”