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4
How Israel Can Return to the Lord
1The Lord said:
Israel, if you really want
to come back to me, get rid
of those disgusting idols.
2Make promises only in my name,
and do what you promise!
Then all nations will praise me,
and I will bless them.
3 # Ho 10.12. People of Jerusalem and Judah,
don't be so stubborn!
Your hearts have become hard,
like unplowed ground
where thornbushes grow.
4With all your hearts,
keep the agreement
I made with you.
But if you are stubborn
and keep on sinning,
my anger will burn like a fire
that cannot be put out.
Disaster Is Coming
The Lord said:
* 5“Sound the trumpets, my people.
Warn the people of Judah,#4.5 Judah: Hebrew “Judah and Jerusalem.”
‘Run for your lives!
6Head for Jerusalem
or another walled town!’
“Jeremiah, tell them I'm sending
disaster from the north.
7An army will come out,
like a lion from its den.
It will destroy nations
and leave your towns empty
and in ruins.”
8Then I told the people
of Israel,
“Put on sackcloth!#4.8 sackcloth: A rough, dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow.
Mourn and cry out,
‘The Lord is still angry
with us.’ ”
9The Lord said,
“When all this happens,
the king and his officials,
the prophets and the priests
will be shocked and terrified.”
10I said, “You are the Lord God. So why have you fooled everyone, especially the people of Jerusalem? Why did you promise peace, when a knife is at our throats?”
The Coming Disaster
11-12When disaster comes, the Lord will tell you people of Jerusalem,
“I am sending a windstorm
from the desert—
not a welcome breeze.#4.11,12 a welcome breeze: Hebrew “a wind to blow away the husks.” Farmers used a special shovel to pitch grain and husks into the air. Wind would blow away the light husks, and the grain would fall back to the ground, where it could be gathered up.
And it will sweep you away
as punishment for your sins.
13Look! The enemy army
swoops down like an eagle;
their cavalry and chariots
race faster than storm clouds
blown by the wind.”
Then you will answer,
“We are doomed!”
14But Jerusalem, there is still time
for you to be saved.
Wash the evil from your hearts
and stop making sinful plans,
15before a message of disaster
arrives from the hills of Ephraim
and the town of Dan.#4.15 Ephraim … Dan: The hills of Ephraim were to the north of Jerusalem, and Dan was even farther north. They would be reached by the invading army first.
16-17The Lord said,
“Tell the nations that my people
have rebelled against me.
And so an army will come
from far away
to surround Jerusalem
and the towns of Judah.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
18“People of Judah,
your hearts will be in pain,
but it's your own fault
that you will be punished.”
Jeremiah's Vision of the Coming Punishment
19I can't stand the pain!
My heart pounds,
as I twist and turn in agony.
I hear the signal trumpet
and the battle cry of the enemy,
and I cannot be silent.
20I see the enemy defeating us
time after time,
leaving everything in ruins.
Even my own home
is destroyed in a moment.
21How long will I see enemy flags
and hear their trumpets?
22I heard the Lord say,
“My people ignore me.
They are foolish children
who do not understand
that they will be punished.
All they know is how to sin.”
23After this, I looked around.
The earth was barren,
with no form of life.
The sun, moon, and stars
had disappeared.
24The mountains were shaking;
25no people could be seen,
and all the birds
had flown away.
26Farmland had become a desert,
and towns were in ruins.
The Lord's fierce anger
had done all of this.
The Death of Jerusalem
27-28The Lord said:
I have made my decision,
and I won't change my mind.
This land will be destroyed,
although not completely.
The sky will turn dark,
and the earth will mourn.
29Enemy cavalry and archers
shout their battle cry.
People run for their lives
and try to find safety
among trees and rocks.
Every town is empty.
30Jerusalem, your land
has been wiped out.
But you act like a prostitute
and try to win back your lovers,
who now hate you.
You can put on a red dress,
gold jewelry, and eye shadow,
but it's no use—
your lovers are out to kill you!
31I heard groaning and crying.
Was it a woman giving birth
to her first child?
No, it was Jerusalem,
gasping for breath
and begging for help.
“I'm dying!” she said.
“They have murdered me.”
4
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!' "