April 29, 2022
Oracles against the kings
The Lord proclaims: Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and declare this message: 2 Listen to the Lord’s word, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you and your attendants, and all those who go through these gates. 3 The Lord proclaims: Do what is just and right; rescue the oppressed from the power of the oppressor. Don’t exploit or mistreat the refugee, the orphan, and the widow. Don’t spill the blood of the innocent in this place. 4 If you obey this command, then through the gates of this palace will come kings who occupy the throne of David, riding on chariots and horses along with their entourage and subjects. 5 But if you ignore these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this palace will become a ruin. 6 The Lord proclaims concerning the palace of the king of Judah:
Though you are like Gilead to me,
like the summit of Lebanon,
I will turn you into a desert—uninhabited cities.
7 I will summon destroyers against you,
who will use their weapons
to cut down your finest cedars
and hurl them into the fire.
10 Don’t weep or lament for the dead king.
Weep instead for the one who has gone away,
for he will never return to see his native soil.
11 This is what the Lord says about Shallum son of Judah’s King Josiah, who succeeded his father Josiah as king but who is now gone from this place: He will never return! 12 He will die where he’s been exiled and never see this land again.
13 How terrible for Jehoiakim, who builds his house with corruption
and his upper chambers with injustice,
working his countrymen for nothing,
refusing to give them their wages.
14 He says, “I’ll build myself a grand palace,
with huge upper chambers,
and rich red decor.”
15 Is this what makes you a king,
having more cedar than anyone else?
Didn’t your father eat and drink
and still do what was just and right?
Then it went well for him!
16 He defended the rights of the poor and needy;
then it went well.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?
declares the Lord.
17 But you set your eyes and heart
on nothing but unjust gain;
you spill the blood of the innocent;
you practice cruelty;
you oppress your subjects.
18 Therefore, this is what the Lord says to Jehoiakim son of Judah’s King Josiah:
They won’t grieve for him, saying, “My brother, my sister!”
They won’t grieve for him, saying, “My master, my majesty!”
19 They will give him a donkey’s burial,
dragging him outside the gates of Jerusalem
and dumping him there.
20 Go up to Lebanon and cry out,
lift up your voice in Bashan,
cry out from Abarim,
because all your lovers have been ravished.
21 I spoke to you when you felt safe and secure,
but you said, “I won’t listen.”
You have been that way since your youth:
not listening to a word I say.
22 Your shepherds will be tossed to the wind,
your lovers taken off to exile.
Then you will be embarrassed and humiliated
by all your wickedness.
23 You who live in Lebanon,
nestled in cedar,
who will pity you
when you are overcome in pain,
like that of childbirth?
24 As surely as I live, declares the Lord, even if Coniah, King Jehoiakim’s son from Judah were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still remove you from there. 25 I would hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you dread, even Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar and his army. 26 I will banish you and your mother who bore you to a land far from your native soil, and there the two of you will die. 27 You will never return to the land you long to go back to.
28 Is this man Coniah
merely a defiled and broken pottery jar
that no one wants?
Why then have he and his children been hurled out
and cast into an unfamiliar land?
29 Land, land, land,
hear the Lord’s word:
30 The Lord proclaims:
Mark this man as childless;
he will not prosper during his lifetime.
None of his children
will sit on David’s throne
and rule again in Judah.
Promise of restoration
Watch out, you shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, declares the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, proclaims about the shepherds who “tend to” my people: You are the ones who have scattered my flock and driven them away. You haven’t attended to their needs, so I will take revenge on you for the terrible things you have done to them, declares the Lord. 3 I myself will gather the few remaining sheep from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will place over them shepherds who care for them. Then they will no longer be afraid or dread harm, nor will any be missing, declares the Lord.
Promise of a righteous and just king
5 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous descendant from David’s line, and he will rule as a wise king. He will do what is just and right in the land. 6 During his lifetime, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And his name will be The Lord Is Our Righteousness.
7 So the time is coming, declares the Lord, when no one will say, “As the Lord lives who brought up the Israelites from the land of Egypt.” 8 Instead, they will say, “As the Lord lives who brought up the descendants of the people of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where he has banished them so that they can live in their own land.”
Oracles against the prophets
9 As for the prophets:
My heart inside me is broken;
my body aches.
I stagger like a drunk
who has had too much wine to drink,
because of the Lord
and because of God’s holy words.
10 Because the country teems
because of them,
yes, because their might isn’t right
and their way is evil,
the land dries up,
and the grazing areas in the wilderness wither.
11 Both prophet and priest are godless;
I even find their evil in my temple,
declares the Lord.
12 Therefore, they will find themselves on slippery ground
and will be thrust into darkness,
where they will collapse.
I will bring disaster upon them,
when their time comes, declares the Lord.
13 In the prophets of Samaria
I saw something shocking:
They prophesied by Baal
and led astray my people Israel.
14 In the prophets of Jerusalem
I saw something horrible:
They commit adultery and tell lies.
They encourage evildoers
so that no one turns from their wickedness.
In my eyes, they are no better than Sodom;
its people are like Gomorrah.
15 Therefore, this is what the Lord of heavenly forces proclaims concerning the prophets:
I’m going to feed them bitter food
and give them poison to drink.
Wickedness has spread from the prophets of Jerusalem
throughout the land.
16 The Lord proclaims:
Don’t listen to the prophets
who are speaking to you;
they are deceiving you.
Their visions come from their own hearts,
not from the Lord’s mouth.
17 They keep saying to those who scorn God’s message,
“All will go well for you,”
and to those who follow their own willful hearts,
“Nothing bad will happen to you.”
18 But who has stood in the Lord’s council
to listen to God’s word?
Who has paid attention to his word and announced it?
19 Look! The Lord’s angry storm breaks out;
it whirls around the heads of the wicked.
20 The Lord’s fierce anger
won’t turn back
until it accomplishes all that he has planned.
In the days to come,
you will understand what this means.
21 I didn’t send the prophets,
yet they ran anyway.
I didn’t speak to them,
yet they prophesied anyway.
22 If they had stood in my council,
they would have proclaimed
my words to my people;
they would have turned them
from their evil ways and deeds.
23 The Lord declares, Am I a God
who is only nearby and not far off?
24 Can people hide themselves in secret places
so I might not see them?
Don’t I fill heaven and earth?
25 I have heard the prophets prophesying lies in my name. They claim, “I’ve had a dream; I’ve had a dream!” 26 How long will deceitful prophecies dominate the minds of the prophets? Those prophets are treacherous. 27 They scheme to make my people forget me by their dreams that people tell each other, just as their ancestors forgot me because of Baal. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream declare it, but let the one who has my word proclaim it faithfully.
What a difference between straw and wheat!
declares the Lord.
29 Isn’t my word like fire
and like a hammer that shatters rock?
declares the Lord.
30 Therefore, I’m against the prophets
who steal my words from each other,
declares the Lord.
31 I’m against the prophets
who carelessly deliver oracles,
declares the Lord.
32 I’m against the prophets who dream up lies
and then proclaim them,
declares the Lord.
With their reckless lies,
they lead my people astray.
I didn’t send them;
I didn’t commission them.
They are completely useless to these people,
declares the Lord.
33 When these people or a prophet or a priest asks you, “What is the Lord’s message?” say to them, “What message? I will cast you off, declares the Lord.” 34 I will punish anyone, including prophet or priest, who says, “This is the Lord’s message.” 35 This is what you should ask each other: “What has the Lord said?” “What has the Lord declared?” 36 But you are no longer to mention the Lord’s message, because everyone thinks they have received a message from the Lord. You destroy the very word of the living God, the Lord of heavenly forces, our God. 37 So this is what you should say to the prophet: “What has the Lord said to you?” “What has the Lord declared?” 38 But if you insist on saying, “This is the Lord’s message,” the Lord says to you: Because you have made this claim—this is the Lord’s message—when I told you not to proclaim the Lord’s message, 39 I will lift you up and cast you out of my presence, together with the city that I gave to your ancestors. 40 I will make you an object of disgrace and enduring shame that no one will ever forget.
Good and bad figs
After Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar had deported Judah’s King Jeconiah, King Jehoiakim’s son, and the Judean officials, as well as the craftsmen and metalworkers from Jerusalem to Babylon, the Lord showed me two baskets of figs set in front of the Lord’s temple. 2 One basket was filled with fresh and ripe figs; the other basket was filled with rotten figs—too rotten to eat. 3 And the Lord asked me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
I replied: “Figs! Some good ones and others very bad—so bad that they can’t be eaten.”
4 Then the Lord said to me: 5 The Lord, the God of Israel, proclaims: Just as with these good figs, I will treat kindly the Judean exiles that I have sent from this place to Babylon. 6 I regard them as good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not pull them down; I will plant them and not dig them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know me, for I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. 8 And just like the rotten figs that are so bad that they can’t be eaten, the Lord says, I will do to Judah’s King Zedekiah and his officials, as well as the remaining few in Jerusalem and those who are living in Egypt. 9 I will make them an object of horror and evil to all the kingdoms of the earth. Wherever I scatter them, they will be disgraced and insulted, mocked and cursed. 10 I will send the sword, famine, and disease against them until they vanish from the fertile land that I gave to their ancestors.
A summary of Jeremiah’s message
Jeremiah received the Lord’s word concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son. This was the first year of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar. 2 The prophet Jeremiah addressed all the people of Judah and all those living in Jerusalem. 3 From the thirteenth year of Judah’s King Josiah, Amon’s son, to this very day—twenty-three years—the Lord’s word has come to me. I have delivered it to you repeatedly, although you wouldn’t listen. 4 In fact, the Lord has tirelessly sent you all his servants, the prophets, but you wouldn’t listen or pay attention. 5 They said, “Each one of you, turn from your evil ways and deeds and live in the fertile land that the Lord gave you and your ancestors for all time. 6 Don’t follow or worship other gods and don’t anger me by what you make with your hands. Then I won’t bring disaster upon you.” 7 But you wouldn’t listen to me, making me angry by what you do and bringing disaster upon yourselves, declares the Lord.
8 Therefore, this is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: Because you haven’t listened to my words, 9 I am going to muster all the tribes of the north and my servant King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, declares the Lord, and I will bring them against this country and its residents as well as against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and will make them an object of horror, shock, and ruins for all time. 10 I will silence the sounds of joy and laughter and the voices of the bride and the bridegroom. Yes, I will silence the millstones and snuff out the lamplight. 11 This whole country will be reduced to a wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years. 12 When the seventy years are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation for their wrongdoing, declares the Lord. I will reduce the land of the Babylonians to a wasteland for all time. 13 I will unleash upon that land everything I decreed, all that is written in this scroll, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14 Yes, many great nations and powerful kings will enslave them, and I will pay them back in full for what they have done and made with their hands.
15 This is what the Lord, God of Israel, said to me: Take this seething cup of wine from my hand and make all the nations gulp it down where I’m sending you. 16 They will drink and stagger about half-crazed because of the sword that I am sending against them.
17 So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and I made all the nations drink from it where the Lord had sent me: 18 Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, its kings and officials. This was to make them a wasteland, an object of horror, shock, and cursing, as it is today; 19 Pharaoh, Egypt’s king, his attendants and officials, and all his people, 20 including the foreigners living there; all the kings of the land of Uz; all the kings of the land of the Philistines—Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what’s left of Ashdod; 21 Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites; 22 all the kings of Tyre and Sidon, and the kings of the coastlands across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all those who cut the hair of their foreheads; 24 all the kings of Arabia and the nomadic tribes, 25 all the kings of Zimri, Elam, and Media; 26 all the kings of the north, those nearby and those faraway, one after another, all the empires on the earth will drink from this cup. And after them the king of Sheshach will drink from it.
27 Then say to them: The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: Drink this seething cup of wine and get drunk. Vomit and collapse and don’t get up again because of the sword that I’m thrusting into you. 28 If they refuse to take the cup in your hand and drink from it, tell them: This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: You must drink! 29 Look! I’m bringing disaster upon the city that bears my name; how then will you escape unpunished? You will not! I’m summoning the sword against everyone on earth, declares the Lord of heavenly forces.
30 Now prophesy all these things and say to them:
The Lord roars on high;
from his holy place he thunders.
He roars fiercely against his flock,
like the shouting of those who tread on grapes,
against everyone on earth.
31 The uproar is heard far and wide,
because the Lord is bringing a lawsuit against the nations.
He’s entering into judgment with all people,
sentencing the guilty to death,
declares the Lord.
32 The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims:
Look! Disaster travels from nation to nation.
A terrible storm comes from the far ends of the earth.
33 At that time, those struck down by the Lord will fill the earth. And no one will mourn for them or prepare their bodies for burial. They will become like refuse lying on the ground.
34 Wail, you shepherds, cry out.
Roll in the dust, you masters of the flock!
The day of your slaughter has arrived.
You will fall and shatter like a fragile vase.
35 The shepherds have no place to hide;
the masters of the flock can’t escape.
36 Hear the cry of the shepherds
and the sobbing of the masters of the flock,
because the Lord is ravaging their pasture.
37 There’s an eerie silence in the peaceful meadows,
because of the Lord’s fierce anger.
38 The lion is on the prowl,
and the land is reduced to nothing,
because of the fierce sword,
because of his fierce anger.
Jeremiah arrested and sentenced to death
Early in the rule of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, this word came from the Lord: 2 The Lord proclaims: Stand in the temple courtyard and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who have come to the temple to worship. Tell them everything I command you; leave nothing out. 3 Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from their evil ways. If they do, I will relent and not carry out the harm I have in mind for them because of the wrong they have done. 4 So tell them, The Lord proclaims: If you don’t listen to me or follow the Instruction I have set before you— 5 if you don’t listen to the words of the prophets that I have sent to you time and again, though you haven’t listened, 6 then I will make this temple a ruin like Shiloh, and this city I will make a curse before all nations on earth.
7 The priests, the prophets, and all the people heard Jeremiah declare these words in the Lord’s temple. 8 And when Jeremiah finished saying everything the Lord told him to say, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him and said, “You must die! 9 Why do you prophesy in the Lord’s name that ‘this temple will become a ruin like Shiloh, and this city will be destroyed and left without inhabitant’?” Then all the people joined ranks against Jeremiah in the Lord’s temple.
10 When the officials of Judah heard these things, they went up from the royal palace to the Lord’s temple and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the Lord’s temple. 11 The priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people: “This man deserves to die for prophesying against this city as you have all heard firsthand.”
12 Jeremiah said to all the officials and to all the people, “The Lord sent me to prophesy to this temple and this city everything you have heard. 13 So now transform your ways and actions. Obey the Lord your God, and the Lord may relent and not carry out the harm that he’s pronounced against you. 14 But me? I’m in your hands. Do whatever you would like to me. 15 Only know for certain that if you sentence me to death, you and the people of this city will be guilty of killing an innocent man. The Lord has in fact sent me to speak everything I have said to you.”
16 Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man doesn’t deserve to die, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.”
17 A few of the community elders got up and addressed the whole crowd: 18 “Micah of Moresheth, who prophesied during the rule of Judah’s Hezekiah, said to all the people of Judah, ‘The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims:
Zion will be plowed down like a field,
Jerusalem will become piles of rubble,
and the temple mount will become an overgrown mound.’
19 “Did King Hezekiah or anyone else in Judah execute him? Didn’t he instead fear the Lord and plead for his mercy? Then the Lord relented of the harm that he had pronounced against them. We are about to commit a huge mistake that will cost us our lives.”
20 There was another man who prophesied in the Lord’s name: Uriah, Shemaiah’s son from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied the same things that Jeremiah did about this city and against this land. 21 When King Jehoiakim and all his warriors and officials heard his words, the king sought to kill him. Uriah heard of this and fled in fear to Egypt. 22 But King Jehoiakim dispatched Elnathan, Achbor’s son, and others to Egypt. 23 They brought Uriah back from Egypt to the king who had him killed, and his body was thrown into the common burial ground.
24 But Ahikam, Shaphan’s son, protected Jeremiah and wouldn’t let the people execute him.
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