21 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah 1 when King Zedekiah 2 sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. 3 Zedekiah sent them to Jeremiah to ask, 4 2 “Please ask the Lord to come and help us, 5 because King Nebuchadnezzar 6 of Babylon is attacking us. Maybe the Lord will perform one of his miracles as in times past and make him stop attacking us and leave.” 7 3 Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah 4 that the Lord, the God of Israel, says, 8 ‘The forces at your disposal 9 are now outside the walls fighting against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the Babylonians 10 who have you under siege. I will gather those forces back inside the city. 11 5 In anger, in fury, and in wrath I myself will fight against you with my mighty power and great strength! 12 6 I will kill everything living in Jerusalem, 13 people and animals alike! They will die from terrible diseases. 7 Then 14 I, the Lord, promise that 15 I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, and any of the people who survive the war, starvation, and disease. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will slaughter them with the sword. He will not show them any mercy, compassion, or pity.’
8 “But 16 tell the people of Jerusalem 17 that the Lord says, ‘I will give you a choice between two courses of action. One will result in life; the other will result in death. 18 9 Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians who are besieging it will live. They will escape with their lives. 19 10 For I, the Lord, say that 20 I am determined not to deliver this city but to bring disaster on it. 21 It will be handed over to the king of Babylon and he will destroy it with fire.’” 22
11 The Lord told me to say 23 to the royal court 24 of Judah,
“Listen to what the Lord says,
12 O royal family descended from David. 25
The Lord says:
‘See to it that people each day 26 are judged fairly. 27
Deliver those who have been robbed from those 28 who oppress them.
Otherwise, my wrath will blaze out against you.
It will burn like a fire that cannot be put out
because of the evil that you have done. 29
13 Listen, you 30 who sit enthroned above the valley on a rocky plateau.
I am opposed to you,’ 31 says the Lord. 32
‘You boast, “No one can swoop down on us.
No one can penetrate into our places of refuge.” 33
14 But I will punish you as your deeds deserve,’
says the Lord. 34
‘I will set fire to your palace;
it will burn up everything around it.’” 35
22 The Lord told me, 1 “Go down 2 to the palace of the king of Judah. Give him a message from me there. 3 2 Say: ‘Listen, O king of Judah who follows in David’s succession. 4 You, your officials, and your subjects who pass through the gates of this palace must listen to what the Lord says. 5 3 The Lord says, “Do what is just and right. Deliver those who have been robbed from those 6 who oppress them. Do not exploit or mistreat foreigners who live in your land, children who have no fathers, or widows. 7 Do not kill innocent people 8 in this land. 4 If you are careful to 9 obey these commands, then the kings who follow in David’s succession and ride in chariots or on horses will continue to come through the gates of this palace, as will their officials and their subjects. 10 5 But, if you do not obey these commands, I solemnly swear 11 that this palace will become a pile of rubble. I, the Lord, affirm it!” 12
6 “‘For the Lord says concerning the palace of the king of Judah,
“This place looks like a veritable forest of Gilead to me.
It is like the wooded heights of Lebanon in my eyes.
But I swear that I will make it like a wilderness
whose towns have all been deserted. 13
7 I will send men against it to destroy it 14
with their axes and hatchets.
They will hack up its fine cedar panels and columns
and throw them into the fire.
8 “‘People from other nations will pass by this city. They will ask one another, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?” 9 The answer will come back, “It is because they broke their covenant with the Lord their God and worshiped and served other gods.”
10 “‘Do not weep for the king who was killed.
Do not grieve for him.
But weep mournfully for the king who has gone into exile.
For he will never return to see his native land again. 15
11 “‘For the Lord has spoken about Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but was carried off into exile. He has said, “He will never return to this land. 16 12 For he will die in the country where they took him as a captive. He will never see this land again.” 17
13 “‘Sure to be judged 18 is the king who builds his palace using injustice
and treats people unfairly while adding its upper rooms. 19
He makes his countrymen work for him for nothing.
He does not pay them for their labor.
14 He says, “I will build myself a large palace
with spacious upper rooms.”
He cuts windows in its walls,
panels it 20 with cedar, and paints its rooms red. 21
15 Does it make you any more of a king
that you outstrip everyone else in 22 building with cedar?
Just think about your father.
He was content that he had food and drink. 23
He did what was just and right. 24
So things went well with him.
16 He upheld the cause of the poor and needy.
So things went well for Judah.’ 25
The Lord says,
‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.’ 26
17 But you are always thinking and looking
for ways to increase your wealth by dishonest means.
Your eyes and your heart are set
on killing some innocent person
and committing fraud and oppression. 27
18 So 28 the Lord has this to say about Josiah’s son, King Jehoiakim of Judah:
People will not mourn for him, saying,
“This makes me sad, my brother!
This makes me sad, my sister!”
They will not mourn for him, saying,
“Poor, poor lord! Poor, poor majesty!” 29
19 He will be left unburied just like a dead donkey.
His body will be dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.’” 30
20 People of Jerusalem, 31 go up to Lebanon and cry out in mourning.
Go to the land of Bashan and cry out loudly.
Cry out in mourning from the mountains of Moab. 32
For your allies 33 have all been defeated.
21 While you were feeling secure I gave you warning. 34
But you said, “I refuse to listen to you.”
That is the way you have acted from your earliest history onward. 35
Indeed, you have never paid attention to me.
22 My judgment will carry off all your leaders like a storm wind! 36
Your allies will go into captivity.
Then you will certainly 37 be disgraced and put to shame
because of all the wickedness you have done.
23 You may feel as secure as a bird
nesting in the cedars of Lebanon.
But oh how you 38 will groan 39 when the pains of judgment come on you.
They will be like those of a woman giving birth to a baby. 40
24 The Lord says, 41
“As surely as I am the living God, you, Jeconiah, 42 king of Judah, son of Jehoiakim, will not be the earthly representative of my authority. Indeed, I will take that right away from you. 43 25 I will hand you over to those who want to take your life and of whom you are afraid. I will hand you over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his Babylonian 44 soldiers. 26 I will force you and your mother who gave you birth into exile. You will be exiled to 45 a country where neither of you were born, and you will both die there. 27 You will never come back to this land to which you will long to return!” 46
28 This man, Jeconiah, will be like a broken pot someone threw away.
He will be like a clay vessel 47 that no one wants. 48
Why will he and his children be forced into exile?
Why will they be thrown out into a country they know nothing about? 49
29 O land of Judah, land of Judah, land of Judah! 50
Listen to what the Lord has to say!
30 The Lord says,
“Enroll this man in the register as though he were childless. 51
Enroll him as a man who will not enjoy success during his lifetime.
For none of his sons will succeed in occupying the throne of David
or ever succeed in ruling over Judah.”
23 The Lord says, 1 “The leaders of my people are sure to be judged. 2 They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered. 3 2 So the Lord God of Israel has this to say about the leaders who are ruling over his people: “You have caused my people 4 to be dispersed and driven into exile. You have not taken care of them. So I will punish you for the evil that you have done. 5 I, the Lord, affirm it! 6 3 Then I myself will regather those of my people 7 who are still alive from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their homeland. 8 They will greatly increase in number. 4 I will install rulers 9 over them who will care for them. Then they will no longer need to fear or be terrified. None of them will turn up missing. 10 I, the Lord, promise it! 11
5 “I, the Lord, promise 12 that a new time will certainly come 13
when I will raise up for them a righteous branch, 14 a descendant of David.
He will rule over them with wisdom and understanding 15
and will do what is just and right in the land. 16
6 Under his rule 17 Judah will enjoy safety 18
and Israel will live in security. 19
This is the name he will go by:
‘The Lord has provided us with justice.’ 20
7 “So I, the Lord, say: 21 ‘A new time will certainly come. 22 People now affirm their oaths with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.” 8 But at that time they will affirm them with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the descendants of the former nation of Israel 23 from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished 24 them.” 25 At that time they will live in their own land.’”
9 Here is what the Lord says concerning the false prophets: 26
My heart and my mind are deeply disturbed.
I tremble all over. 27
I am like a drunk person,
like a person who has had too much wine, 28
because of the way the Lord
and his holy word are being mistreated. 29
10 For the land is full of people unfaithful to him. 30
They live wicked lives and they misuse their power. 31
So the land is dried up 32 because it is under his curse. 33
The pastures in the wilderness are withered.
11 Moreover, 34 the Lord says, 35
“Both the prophets and priests are godless.
I have even found them doing evil in my temple!
12 So the paths they follow will be dark and slippery.
They will stumble and fall headlong.
For I will bring disaster on them.
A day of reckoning is coming for them.” 36
The Lord affirms it! 37
13 The Lord says, 38 “I saw the prophets of Samaria 39
doing something that was disgusting. 40
They prophesied in the name of the god Baal
and led my people Israel astray. 41
14 But I see the prophets of Jerusalem 42
doing something just as shocking.
They are unfaithful to me
and continually prophesy lies. 43
So they give encouragement to people who are doing evil,
with the result that they do not stop their evildoing. 44
I consider all of them as bad as the people of Sodom,
and the citizens of Jerusalem as bad as the people of Gomorrah. 45
15 So then I, the Lord who rules over all, 46
have something to say concerning the prophets of Jerusalem: 47
‘I will make these prophets eat the bitter food of suffering
and drink the poison water of judgment. 48
For the prophets of Jerusalem are the reason 49
that ungodliness 50 has spread throughout the land.’”
16 The Lord who rules over all 51 says to the people of Jerusalem: 52
“Do not listen to what
those prophets are saying to you.
They are filling you with false hopes.
They are reporting visions of their own imaginations,
not something the Lord has given them to say. 53
17 They continually say 54 to those who reject what the Lord has said, 55
‘Things will go well for you!’ 56
They say to all those who follow the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts,
‘Nothing bad will happen to you!’
18 Yet which of them has ever stood in the Lord’s inner circle 57
so they 58 could see and hear what he has to say? 59
Which of them have ever paid attention or listened to what he has said?
19 But just watch! 60 The wrath of the Lord
will come like a storm! 61
Like a raging storm it will rage down 62
on the heads of those who are wicked.
20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has fully carried out his intended purposes. 63
In days to come 64
you people will come to understand this clearly. 65
21 I did not send those prophets.
Yet they were in a hurry to give their message. 66
I did not tell them anything.
Yet they prophesied anyway.
22 But if they had stood in my inner circle, 67
they would have proclaimed my message to my people.
They would have caused my people to turn from their wicked ways
and stop doing the evil things they are doing.
23 Do you people think 68 that I am some local deity
and not the transcendent God?” 69 the Lord asks. 70
24 “Do you really think anyone can hide himself
where I cannot see him?” the Lord asks. 71
“Do you not know that I am everywhere?” 72
the Lord asks. 73
25 The Lord says, 74 “I have heard what those prophets who are prophesying lies in my name are saying. They are saying, ‘I have had a dream! I have had a dream!’ 75 26 Those prophets are just prophesying lies. They are prophesying the delusions of their own minds. 76 27 How long will they go on plotting 77 to make my people forget who I am 78 through the dreams they tell one another? That is just as bad as what their ancestors 79 did when they forgot who I am by worshiping the god Baal. 80 28 Let the prophet who has had a dream go ahead and tell his dream. Let the person who has received my message report that message faithfully. What is like straw cannot compare to what is like grain! 81 I, the Lord, affirm it! 82 29 My message is like a fire that purges dross! 83 It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces! 84 I, the Lord, so affirm it! 85 30 So I, the Lord, affirm 86 that I am opposed to those prophets who steal messages from one another that they claim are from me. 87 31 I, the Lord, affirm 88 that I am opposed to those prophets who are using their own tongues to declare, ‘The Lord declares….’ 89 32 I, the Lord, affirm 90 that I am opposed to those prophets who dream up lies and report them. They are misleading my people with their reckless lies. 91 I did not send them. I did not commission them. They are not helping these people at all. 92 I, the Lord, affirm it!” 93
33 The Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, 94 when one of these people, or a prophet, or a priest asks you, ‘What burdensome message 95 do you have from the Lord?’ Tell them, ‘You are the burden, 96 and I will cast you away. 97 I, the Lord, affirm it! 98 34 I will punish any prophet, priest, or other person who says “The Lord’s message is burdensome.” 99 I will punish both that person and his whole family.’” 100
35 So I, Jeremiah, tell you, 101 “Each of you people should say to his friend or his relative, ‘How did the Lord answer? Or what did the Lord say?’ 102 36 You must no longer say that the Lord’s message is burdensome. 103 For what is ‘burdensome’ 104 really pertains to what a person himself says. 105 You are misrepresenting 106 the words of our God, the living God, the Lord who rules over all. 107 37 Each of you should merely ask the prophet, ‘What answer did the Lord give you? Or what did the Lord say?’ 108 38 But just suppose you continue to say, ‘The message of the Lord is burdensome.’ Here is what the Lord says will happen: ‘I sent word to you that you must not say, “The Lord’s message is burdensome.” But you used the words “The Lord’s message is burdensome” anyway. 39 So 109 I will carry you far off 110 and throw you away. I will send both you and the city I gave to you and to your ancestors out of my sight. 111 40 I will bring on you lasting shame and lasting disgrace which will never be forgotten!’”