221-2The LORD told me to go to the palace of the king of Judah, the descendant of David, and there tell the king, his officials, and the people of Jerusalem to listen to what the LORD had said: 3“I, the LORD, command you to do what is just and right. Protect the person who is being cheated from the one who is cheating him. Do not ill-treat or oppress foreigners, orphans, or widows; and do not kill innocent people in this holy place. 4If you really do as I have commanded, then David's descendants will continue to be kings. And they, together with their officials and their people, will continue to pass through the gates of this palace in chariots and on horses. 5
But if you do not obey my commands, then I swear to you that this palace will fall into ruins. I, the LORD, have spoken.
6“To me, Judah's royal palace is as beautiful as the land of Gilead and as the Lebanon Mountains; but I will make it a desolate place where no one lives. 7I am sending men to destroy it. They will all bring their axes, cut down its beautiful cedar pillars, and throw them into the fire.
8“Afterwards many foreigners will pass by and ask one another why I, the LORD, have done such a thing to this great city. 9Then they will answer that it is because you have abandoned your covenant with me, your God, and have worshipped and served other gods.”
10People of Judah, do not weep for King Josiah;
do not mourn his death.
But weep bitterly for Joahaz, his son;
they are taking him away, never to return,
never again to see the land where he was born.
The LORD says concerning Josiah's son Joahaz, who succeeded his father as king of Judah, “He has gone away from here, never to return. 12He will die in the country where they have taken him, and he will never again see this land.”
13Doomed is the man who builds his house by injustice
and enlarges it by dishonesty;
who makes his countrymen work for nothing
and does not pay their wages.
14Doomed is the one who says,
“I will build myself a mansion
with spacious rooms upstairs.”
So he puts windows in his house,
panels it with cedar,
and paints it red.
15Does it make you a better king
if you build houses of cedar,
finer than those of others?
Your father enjoyed a full life.
He was always just and fair,
and he prospered in everything he did.
16He gave the poor a fair trial,
and all went well with him.
That is what it means to know the LORD.
17But you can only see your selfish interests;
you kill the innocent
and violently oppress your people.
The LORD has spoken.
So then, the LORD says about Josiah's son Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
“No one will mourn his death or say,
‘How terrible, my friend, how terrible!’
No one will weep for him or cry,
‘My lord! My king!’
19With the funeral honours of a donkey,
he will be dragged away
and thrown outside Jerusalem's gates.”
20People of Jerusalem, go to Lebanon and shout,
go to the land of Bashan and cry;
call out from the mountains of Moab,
because all your allies have been defeated.
21The LORD spoke to you when you were prosperous,
but you refused to listen.
That is what you've done all your life;
you never would obey the LORD.
22Your leaders will be blown away by the wind,
your allies taken as prisoners of war,
your city disgraced and put to shame
because of all the evil you have done.
23You rest secure among the cedars brought from Lebanon;
but how pitiful you'll be when pains strike you,
pains like those of a woman in labour.
The LORD said to King Jehoiachin, son of King Jehoiakim of Judah, “As surely as I am the living God, even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off 25and give you to people you are afraid of, people who want to kill you. I will give you to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and his soldiers. 26I am going to force you and your mother into exile. You will go to a country where neither of you was born, and both of you will die there. 27You will long to see this country again, but you will never return.”
28I said, “Has King Jehoiachin become like a broken jar that is thrown away and that no one wants? Is that why he and his children have been taken into exile to a land they know nothing about?”
29O land, land, land!
Listen to what the LORD has said:
30“This man is condemned to lose his children,
to be a man who will never succeed.
He will have no descendants
who will rule in Judah
as David's successors.
I, the LORD, have spoken.”
231How terrible will be the LORD's judgement on those rulers who destroy and scatter his people! 2This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the rulers who were supposed to take care of his people: “You have not taken care of my people; you have scattered them and driven them away. Now I am going to punish you for the evil you have done. 3I will gather the rest of my people from the countries where I have scattered them, and I will bring them back to their homeland. They will have many children and increase in number. 4I will appoint rulers to take care of them. My people will no longer be afraid or terrified, and I will not punish them again.23.4 I will not punish them again; or not one of them will be missing. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
The LORD says, “The time is coming when I will choose as king a righteous descendant of David. That king will rule wisely and do what is right and just throughout the land. 6When he is king, the people of Judah will be safe, and the people of Israel will live in peace. He will be called ‘The LORD Our Salvation’.
7“The time is coming,” says the LORD, “when people will no longer swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. 8Instead, they will swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of a northern land and out of all the other countries where I had scattered them. Then they will live in their own land.”
9My heart is crushed,
and I am trembling.
Because of the LORD,
because of his holy words,
I am like a man who is drunk,
a man who has had too much wine.
10The land is full of people unfaithful to the LORD;
they live wicked lives and misuse their power.
Because of the LORD's curse the land mourns
and the pastures are dry.
11The LORD says,
“The prophets and the priests are godless;
I have caught them doing evil in the Temple itself.
12The paths they follow will be slippery and dark;
I will make them stumble and fall.
I am going to bring disaster on them;
the time of their punishment is coming.
I, the LORD, have spoken.
13I have seen the sin of Samaria's prophets:
they have spoken in the name of Baal
and have led my people astray.
But I have seen the prophets in Jerusalem do even worse:
they commit adultery and tell lies;
they help people to do wrong,
so that no one stops doing what is evil.
To me, they are all as bad
as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
15“So then, this is what I, the LORD Almighty, say about the prophets of Jerusalem:
I will give them bitter plants to eat
and poison to drink,
because they have spread ungodliness throughout the land.”
16The LORD Almighty said to the people of Jerusalem, “Do not listen to what the prophets say; they are filling you with false hopes. They tell you what they have imagined and not what I have said. 17To the people who refuse to listen to what I have said, they keep saying that all will go well with them. And they tell everyone who is stubborn that disaster will never touch him.”
18I said, “None of these prophets has ever known the LORD's secret thoughts. None of them has ever heard or understood his message, or ever listened or paid attention to what he said. 19His anger is a storm, a furious wind that will rage over the heads of the wicked, 20and it will not end until he has done everything he intends to do. In days to come his people will understand this clearly.”
21The LORD said, “I did not send these prophets, but even so they went. I did not give them any message, but still they spoke in my name. 22If they had known my secret thoughts, then they could have proclaimed my message to my people and could have made them give up the evil lives they live and the wicked things they do.
23“I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. 24No one can hide where I cannot see him. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth? 25I know what those prophets have said who speak lies in my name and claim that I have given them my messages in their dreams. 26How much longer will those prophets mislead my people with the lies they have invented? 27They think that the dreams they tell will make my people forget me, just as their ancestors forgot me and turned to Baal. 28The prophet who has had a dream should say it is only a dream, but the prophet who has heard my message should proclaim that message faithfully. What good is straw compared with wheat? 29My message is like a fire, and like a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces. 30I am against those prophets who take each other's words and proclaim them as my message. 31I am also against those prophets who speak their own words and claim they came from me. 32Listen to what I, the LORD, say! I am against the prophets who tell their dreams that are full of lies. They tell these dreams and lead my people astray with their lies and their boasting. I did not send them or order them to go, and they are of no help at all to the people. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
33The LORD said to me, “Jeremiah, when one of my people or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the LORD's message?’ you are to tell him, ‘You are a burden23.33 The Hebrew word for message and burden is the same. to the LORD, and he is going to get rid of you.’ 34If any of my people or a prophet or a priest even uses the words ‘the LORD's burden’, I will punish them and their families. 35Instead, they should each ask their friends and relatives, ‘What answer has the LORD given? What has the LORD said?’ 36So they must no longer use the words ‘the LORD's burden’, because if anyone does, I will make my message a real burden to him. The people have perverted the words of their God, the living God, the LORD Almighty. 37Jeremiah, ask the prophets, ‘What answer did the LORD give you? What did the LORD say?’ 38And if they disobey my command and use the words ‘the LORD's burden’, then tell them that 39I will certainly pick them up23.39 The Hebrew verb for pick up comes from the same root as the Hebrew word for message and burden. and throw them far away from me, both them and the city that I gave to them and their ancestors. 40I will bring on them everlasting shame and disgrace that will never be forgotten.”
The LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the Temple. (This was after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had taken away Jehoiakim's son, King Jehoiachin of Judah, as a prisoner from Jerusalem to Babylonia, together with the leaders of Judah, the craftsmen, and the skilled workers.) 2The first basket contained good figs, those that ripen early; the other one contained bad figs, too bad to eat. 3Then the LORD said to me, “Jeremiah, what do you see?”
I answered, “Figs. The good ones are very good, and the bad ones are very bad, too bad to eat.”
4So the LORD said to me, 5“I, the LORD, the God of Israel, consider that the people who were taken away to Babylonia are like these good figs, and I will treat them with kindness. 6I will watch over them and bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not pull them up. 7I will give them the desire to know that I am the LORD. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God, because they will return to me with all their heart.
8“As for King Zedekiah of Judah, the politicians round him, and the rest of the people of Jerusalem who have stayed in this land or moved to Egypt — I, the LORD, will treat them all like these figs that are too bad to be eaten. 9I will bring such a disaster on them that all the nations of the world will be terrified. People will mock them, make jokes about them, ridicule them, and use their name as a curse everywhere I scatter them. 10I will bring war, starvation, and disease on them until there is not one of them left in the land that I gave to them and their ancestors.”