1That's why the Lord did everything he threatened. He punished our judges, our kings, and our leaders, as well as the people of Israel and Judah.#2.1 Israel and Judah: Israel here stands for the northern kingdom that was destroyed in 722 b.c., and Judah stands for the southern kingdom that was destroyed in 586 b.c. 2The Lord severely punished the city of Jerusalem, just as he had warned in the Law of Moses. Nothing on earth has ever been as horrible as that destruction. 3There was so little food that some of us ate our own children. 4The Lord scattered our people all over the world, where foreign nations ruled over us and insulted and made fun of us. 5Our country was defeated and humiliated in every way, because we had disobeyed the Lord our God and sinned against him.
A Prayer To Ask the Lord's Forgiveness
The people wrote this prayer:
6Our Lord God, we are filled with shame, just as our ancestors were in the past. You were right 7to punish us terribly, just as you had warned us. 8Even then we refused to stop our evil ways and turn back to you. 9-10All your commands are completely fair, yet we were unfaithful and rejected the Law you had given us. That's why you punished us in all these painful ways that you had kept ready for us.
11Lord God of Israel, you brought your people out of Egypt and worked miracles to show your mighty power. You made a great name for yourself, and you are still famous.
12But we have sinned against you, our Lord God. We have been unfaithful and have disobeyed all your commands. 13There are only a few of us left here in the nations where you scattered us. Please stop being angry! 14Listen to our sincere prayer and rescue us, so that you will bring honor to your name. Let those who led us away as captives have pity on us. 15Then everyone in the world will know that you, the Lord God, have chosen the people of Israel to be your very own.
16Look down from your home in heaven, Lord, and think about us. Listen when we call out to you. 17Open your eyes and see how we are suffering. Those who are in the world of the dead have no life and cannot praise you or tell others how fair and just you are. 18But even though we are in terrible pain, and we can hardly see or walk, we are alive. And so we can praise you and tell others how good you are.
19Our Lord God, we pray for your mercy, even though our ancestors and our kings refused to do what was right. 20You have punished us in your anger, just as your servants the prophets warned. 21#Jr 7.3427.10-12 Long ago, your prophets gave us your message and told us that if we would obey the king of Babylonia and serve him, we would not be carried away from our homeland. 22They told us that if we refused to obey you and serve the king, 23#3 Macc 1.19 you would make Judah and Jerusalem places of sadness where no joyful sounds are heard, even at wedding feasts. You threatened to make our country an empty wasteland.
24 # Jr 8.12 We did not obey your command to serve the king of Babylonia. So you have done everything you threatened to do, just as your prophets warned. The bones of our kings and our ancestors were dug up 25and now lie scattered all over, scorched by the sun during the day and covered with frost at night. Our ancestors died horrible deaths from starvation, war, and disease. 26And because the people of Israel and Judah did evil, you destroyed the temple that was built in your honor, and it lies in ruins even today.
27But you, Lord God, have shown us mercy. You are always patient and kind, 28#Dt 28.5862 just as you told your servant Moses on the day you commanded him to write down your Law while our ancestors watched. Then you said:
29If you refuse to obey me, I will scatter you among the nations, and this mighty nation of yours will be nothing but a handful of people. 30Yet I know you will disobey me, because you people are stubborn! Someday, after you have been taken captive and forced to live in foreign nations, you will realize what you have done. 31Then you will know I am the Lord your God. I will give you a new heart, and you will be faithful and will listen to what I say. 32There in the nation where you are living, you will praise me and turn back to me. 33You will remember what happened to your ancestors when they sinned against me, and you will stop being stubborn and wicked. 34Then I will let you return to the land that I promised to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You will once again rule there and increase in numbers. Never again will you be a small, powerless country. 35#Jr 32.38-41 I will make a solemn agreement with you, and it will last forever—I will be your God, and you will be my people. I will promise never again to take you out of the land that I have given you as your own.