Jeremiah’s Temple Sermon
1This is the Lord’s message to Jeremiah: 2“Jeremiah, stand at the gate of the Lord’s house. Teach this message at the gate:
“‘Hear the message from the Lord, all you people of the nation of Judah. All you who come through these gates to worship the Lord, hear this message. 3The Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: Change your lives and do good things. If you do this, I will let you live in this place.#7:3 I will … place This can also mean “I will live with you.” 4Don’t trust the lies that some people say. They say, “This is the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord!#7:4 This is … Lord Many people in Jerusalem thought the Lord would always protect the city where his Temple was, so it didn’t matter how evil they were.” 5If you change your lives and do good things, I will let you live in this place. You must be fair to each other. 6You must be fair to strangers. You must help widows and orphans. Don’t kill innocent people in this place! And don’t follow other gods, because they will only ruin your lives. 7If you obey me, I will let you live in this place. I gave this land to your ancestors for them to keep forever.
8“‘But you are trusting lies that are worthless. 9Will you steal and murder? Will you commit adultery? Will you falsely accuse other people? Will you worship the false god Baal and follow other gods that you have not known? 10If you commit these sins, do you think that you can stand before me in this house that is called by my name? Do you think you can stand before me and say, “We are safe,” just so you can do all these terrible things? 11This Temple is called by my name. Is this Temple nothing more to you than a hideout for robbers? I have been watching you.’” This message is from the Lord.
12“‘You people of Judah, go now to the town of Shiloh. Go to the place where I first made a house for my name. The people of Israel also did evil things. Go and see what I did to that place because of the evil they did.#7:12 Go … they did Shiloh was probably destroyed by the Philistines in the time of Eli and Samuel. See 1 Sam. 4. 13You people of Judah were doing all these evil things too. This message is from the Lord! I spoke to you again and again, but you refused to listen to me. I called to you, but you did not answer. 14So I will destroy the house called by my name in Jerusalem. I will destroy that Temple as I destroyed Shiloh. And that house in Jerusalem that is called by my name is the Temple you trust in. I gave that place to you and to your ancestors. 15I will throw you away from me just as I threw away all your brothers from Ephraim.’
16“As for you, Jeremiah, don’t pray for these people of Judah. Don’t beg for them or pray for them. Don’t beg me to help them. I will not listen to your prayer for them. 17I know you see what they are doing in the towns of Judah. You can see what they are doing in the streets of the city of Jerusalem. 18This is what the people of Judah are doing: The children gather wood. The fathers use the wood to make a fire. The women make the dough and then make cakes of bread to offer to the Queen of Heaven. The people of Judah pour out drink offerings to worship other gods. They do this to make me angry. 19But I am not the one they are really hurting.” This message is from the Lord. “They are only hurting themselves. They are bringing shame on themselves.”
20So this is what the Lord GOD says: “I will show my anger against this place. I will punish people and animals. I will punish the trees in the field and the crops that grow in the ground. My anger will be like a hot fire—no one will be able to stop it.”
Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice
21This is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: “Go and offer as many burnt offerings and sacrifices as you want. Eat the meat of those sacrifices yourselves. 22I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. I spoke to them, but I did not give them any commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23I only gave them this command: ‘Obey me and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do all that I command, and good things will happen to you.’
24“But your ancestors did not listen to me. They did not pay attention to me. They were stubborn and did what they wanted to do. They did not become good. They became even more evil—they went backward, not forward. 25From the day that your ancestors left Egypt to this day, I have sent my servants to you. My servants are the prophets. I sent them to you again and again. 26But your ancestors did not listen to me. They did not pay attention to me. They were very stubborn and did evil even worse than their fathers did.
27“Jeremiah, you will tell these things to the people of Judah. But they will not listen to you. You call to them, but they will not answer you. 28So you must tell them these things: ‘This is the nation that did not obey the Lord its God. These people did not listen to God’s teachings. They don’t know the true teachings.’
The Valley of Slaughter
29“Jeremiah, cut off your hair and throw it away.#7:29 cut … away This showed that Jeremiah was sad. Go up to the bare hilltop and cry, because the Lord has rejected this generation of people. He has turned his back on these people. And in anger he will punish them. 30Do this because I have seen the people of Judah doing evil things.” This message is from the Lord. “They have set up their idols, and I hate those idols. They have set up idols in the Temple that is called by my name. They have made my house ‘dirty’! 31The people of Judah built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom where they killed their own sons and daughters and burned them as sacrifices. This is something I never commanded. Something like this never even entered my mind! 32So I warn you. The days are coming,” says the Lord, “when people will not call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom anymore. No, they will call it the Valley of Slaughter. They will give it this name because they will bury the dead people in Topheth until there is no more room to bury anyone else. 33Then the bodies of the dead people will become food for the birds of the sky. Wild animals will eat the bodies of those people. There will be no one left alive to chase the birds or animals away. 34I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and happiness in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. There will be no more sounds of the bride and bridegroom in Judah or Jerusalem. The land will become an empty desert.”