Worshiping Other Gods Is Worthless
1A message came to me from the Lord. He said, 2"Stand at the gate of my house. Announce my message to the people there. Say,
" 'Listen to the Lord's message, all of you people of Judah. You always come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3The God of Israel is speaking to you. He is the Lord who rules over all. He says, "Change the way you live and act. Then I will let you live in this place.
4" ' "Do not trust in lies. Do not say, 'This is the temple of the Lord! This is the temple of the Lord! This is the temple of the Lord!'
5" ' "You must really change the way you live and act. Treat each other fairly. 6Do not treat outsiders or widows badly in this place. Do not take advantage of children whose fathers have died. Do not kill those who are not guilty of doing anything wrong. Do not worship other gods. That will only bring harm to you.
7" ' "If you obey me, I will let you live in this place. It is the land I gave your people who lived long ago. It was promised to them for ever and ever.
8" ' "But look! You are trusting in worthless lies.
9" ' "You continue to steal and commit murder. You commit adultery and tell lies. You burn incense to Baal. You worship other gods you have not known anything about before.
10" ' "Then you come and stand in front of me. You keep coming to this house where I have put my Name. You say, 'We are safe.' You think you are safe when you do so many things I hate. 11My Name is in this house. But you have made it a den for robbers! I have been watching you!" announces the Lord.
12" ' "Go now to the town of Shiloh. Go to the place where I first made a home for my Name. See what I did to it because of the evil things my people Israel were doing.
13" ' "I spoke to you again and again," announces the Lord. "I warned you while you were doing all of those things. But you did not listen. I called out to you. But you did not answer. 14So what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house where my Name is. It is the temple you trust in. It is the place I gave to you and your people of long ago.
15" ' "But I will throw you out of my land. That is exactly what I did to the people of Ephraim. And they are your relatives." '
16"Jeremiah, do not pray for those people. Do not make any appeal or request for them. Do not beg me. I will not listen to you.
17"Don't you see what they are doing? They are worshiping other gods in the towns of Judah. They are offering sacrifices to them in the streets of Jerusalem. 18The children go out and gather wood. The fathers light the fire. The women mix the dough. They make flat cakes of bread for the goddess who is called the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods. That makes me very angry.
19"But am I the one they are hurting?" announces the Lord. "Aren't they only harming themselves? They should be ashamed of it."
20So the Lord and King says, "I will pour out my burning anger on this place. It will strike people and animals alike. It will destroy the trees and the crops in the fields. It will burn, and no one will be able to put it out."
21The Lord who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, "Go ahead! Add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices. Eat the meat yourselves! 22When I brought your people out of Egypt, I spoke to them. But I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23I also gave them another command. I said, 'Obey me. Then I will be your God. And you will be my people. Live the way I command you to live. Then things will go well with you.'
24"But they did not listen. They refused to pay any attention to me. Instead, they did what their stubborn and evil hearts wanted them to do. They went backward and not forward.
25"Again and again I sent my servants the prophets to you. They came to you day after day. They prophesied from the time your people left Egypt until now.
26"But the people did not listen. They refused to pay any attention to me. They were stubborn. They did more evil things than their people who lived before them.
27"Jeremiah, when you tell them all of that, they will not listen to you. When you call out to them, they will not answer.
28"So say to them, 'You are a nation that has not obeyed the Lord your God. You did not pay attention when you were corrected. Truth has died out. You do not tell the truth anymore.' "
29The Lord says to the people of Jerusalem, "Cut off your hair. Throw it away. Sing a song of sadness on the bare hilltops. I am very angry with you. I have turned my back on you. I have deserted you.
The Valley of Death
30"The people of Judah have done what is evil in my eyes," announces the Lord. "They have set up statues of their gods. They have worshiped them in the house where my Name is. They have made my house 'unclean.' I hate those statues. 31The people have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. There they worship other gods. And there they sacrifice their children in the fire. That is something I did not command. It did not even enter my mind.
32"So watch out!" announces the Lord. "The days are coming when people will not call it Topheth anymore. And they will not call it the Valley of Ben Hinnom either. Instead, they will call it the Valley of Death. They will bury the dead bodies of some people in Topheth. But they will run out of room. 33Then they will not be able to bury the bodies of other people there. So the bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the wild animals. And no one will scare them away.
34"I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness. The voices of brides and grooms will not be heard anymore. There will not be any sounds of joy in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. The land will become a desert.