Jeremiah 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.”

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