August 7-8, Zephaniah, Jeremiah 1-3

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The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah.

The Great Day of the Lord

I will completely sweep away everything
from the face of the earth—
this is the Lord’s declaration.
I will sweep away people and animals;
I will sweep away the birds of the sky
and the fish of the sea,
and the ruins[a] along with the wicked.
I will cut off mankind
from the face of the earth.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

I will stretch out my hand against Judah
and against all the residents of Jerusalem.
I will cut off every vestige of Baal
from this place,
the names of the pagan priests
along with the priests;
those who bow in worship on the rooftops
to the stars in the sky;
those who bow and pledge loyalty to the Lord
but also pledge loyalty to Milcom;[b]
and those who turn back from following the Lord,
who do not seek the Lord or inquire of him.
Be silent in the presence of the Lord God,
for the day of the Lord is near.
Indeed, the Lord has prepared a sacrifice;
he has consecrated his guests.

On the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
I will punish the officials, the king’s sons,
and all who are dressed in foreign clothing.
On that day I will punish
all who skip over the threshold,[c]
who fill their master’s house
with violence and deceit.

10 On that day—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
there will be an outcry from the Fish Gate,
a wailing from the Second District,
and a loud crashing from the hills.
11 Wail, you residents of the Hollow,[d]
for all the merchants[e] will be silenced;
all those loaded with silver will be cut off.

12 And at that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps
and punish those who settle down comfortably,[f]
who say to themselves:
The Lord will do nothing—good or bad.
13 Their wealth will become plunder
and their houses a ruin.
They will build houses but never live in them,
plant vineyards but never drink their wine.

14 The great day of the Lord is near,
near and rapidly approaching.
Listen, the day of the Lord—
then the warrior’s cry is bitter.
15 That day is a day of wrath,
a day of trouble and distress,
a day of destruction and desolation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and total darkness,
16 a day of ram’s horn and battle cry
against the fortified cities,
and against the high corner towers.
17 I will bring distress on mankind,
and they will walk like the blind
because they have sinned against the Lord.
Their blood will be poured out like dust
and their flesh like dung.
18 Their silver and their gold
will be unable to rescue them
on the day of the Lord’s wrath.
The whole earth will be consumed
by the fire of his jealousy,
for he will make a complete,
yes, a horrifying end
of all the inhabitants of the earth.

A Call to Repentance

Gather yourselves together;
gather together, undesirable[g] nation,
before the decree takes effect
and the day passes like chaff,
before the burning of the Lord’s anger overtakes you,
before the day of the Lord’s anger overtakes you.
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth,
who carry out what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you will be concealed
on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Judgment against the Nations

For Gaza will be abandoned,
and Ashkelon will become a ruin.
Ashdod will be driven out at noon,
and Ekron will be uprooted.
Woe, inhabitants of the seacoast,
nation of the Cherethites![h]
The word of the Lord is against you,
Canaan, land of the Philistines:
I will destroy you until there is no one left.
The seacoast will become pasturelands
with caves for shepherds and pens for sheep.
The coastland will belong
to the remnant of the house of Judah;
they will find pasture there.
They will lie down in the evening
among the houses of Ashkelon,
for the Lord their God will return to them
and restore their fortunes.

I have heard the taunting of Moab
and the insults of the Ammonites,
who have taunted my people
and threatened their territory.
Therefore, as I live—
this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel—
Moab will be like Sodom
and the Ammonites like Gomorrah:
a place overgrown with weeds,
a salt pit, and a perpetual wasteland.
The remnant of my people will plunder them;
the remainder of my nation will dispossess them.
10 This is what they get for their pride,
because they have taunted and acted arrogantly
against the people of the Lord of Armies.
11 The Lord will be terrifying to them
when he starves all the gods of the earth.
Then all the distant coasts and islands of the nations
will bow in worship to him,
each in its own place.

12 You Cushites will also be slain by my sword.

13 He will also stretch out his hand against the north
and destroy Assyria;
he will make Nineveh a desolate ruin,
dry as the desert.
14 Herds will lie down in the middle of it,
every kind of wild animal.[i]
Both eagle owls[j] and herons[k]
will roost in the capitals of its pillars.
Their calls will sound[l] from the window,
but devastation[m] will be on the threshold,
for he will expose the cedar work.[n]
15 This is the jubilant city
that lives in security,
that says to herself:
I exist, and there is no one else.
What a desolation she has become,
a place for wild animals to lie down!
Everyone who passes by her
scoffs[o] and shakes his fist.

Woe to Oppressive Jerusalem

Woe to the city that is rebellious[p] and defiled,
the oppressive city!
She has not obeyed;
she has not accepted discipline.
She has not trusted in the Lord;
she has not drawn near to her God.
The[q] princes within her are roaring lions;
her judges are wolves of the night,
which leave nothing for[r] the morning.
Her prophets are reckless—
treacherous men.
Her priests profane the sanctuary;
they do violence to instruction.
The righteous Lord is in her;
he does no wrong.
He applies his justice morning by morning;
he does not fail at dawn,
yet the one who does wrong knows no shame.

I have cut off nations;
their corner towers are destroyed.
I have laid waste their streets,
with no one to pass through.
Their cities lie devastated,
without a person, without an inhabitant.
I said: You will certainly fear me
and accept correction.
Then her dwelling place[s]
would not be cut off
based on all that I had allocated to her.
However, they became more corrupt
in all their actions.
Therefore, wait for me—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
until the day I rise up for plunder.[t]
For my decision is to gather nations,
to assemble kingdoms,
in order to pour out my indignation on them,
all my burning anger;
for the whole earth will be consumed
by the fire of my jealousy.

Final Restoration Promised

For I will then restore
pure speech to the peoples
so that all of them may call
on the name of the Lord
and serve him with a single purpose.[u]
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
my supplicants, my dispersed people,
will bring an offering to me.
11 On that day you[v] will not be put to shame
because of everything you have done
in rebelling against me.
For then I will remove
from among you your jubilant, arrogant people,
and you will never again be haughty
on my holy mountain.
12 I will leave
a meek and humble people among you,
and they will take refuge in the name of the Lord.
13 The remnant of Israel will no longer
do wrong or tell lies;
a deceitful tongue will not be found
in their mouths.
They will pasture and lie down,
with nothing to make them afraid.

14 Sing for joy, Daughter Zion;
shout loudly, Israel!
Be glad and celebrate with all your heart,
Daughter Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has removed your punishment;
he has turned back your enemy.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is among you;
you need no longer fear harm.
16 On that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear;
Zion, do not let your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will be quiet[w] in his love.
He will delight in you with singing.”

18 I will gather those who have been driven
from the appointed festivals;
they will be a tribute from you[x]
and a reproach on her.[y]
19 Yes, at that time
I will deal with all who oppress you.
I will save the lame and gather the outcasts;
I will make those who were disgraced
throughout the earth
receive praise and fame.
20 At that time I will bring you[z] back,
yes, at the time I will gather you.
I will give you fame and praise
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes before your eyes.
The Lord has spoken.

Jeremiah 1-3

The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests living in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah. It also came throughout the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.

The Call of Jeremiah

The word of the Lord came to me:

I chose you before I formed you in the womb;
I set you apart before you were born.
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

But I protested, “Oh no, Lord God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.”

Then the Lord said to me:

Do not say, “I am only a youth,”
for you will go to everyone I send you to
and speak whatever I tell you.
Do not be afraid of anyone,
for I will be with you to rescue you.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

Then the Lord reached out his hand, touched my mouth, and told me:

I have now filled your mouth with my words.
10 See, I have appointed you today
over nations and kingdoms
to uproot and tear down,
to destroy and demolish,
to build and plant.

Two Visions

11 Then the word of the Lord came to me, asking, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

I replied, “I see a branch of an almond tree.”

12 The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I watch over[a] my word to accomplish it.” 13 Again the word of the Lord came to me asking, “What do you see?”

And I replied, “I see a boiling pot, its lip tilted from the north to the south.”

14 Then the Lord said to me, “Disaster will be poured out[b] from the north on all who live in the land. 15 Indeed, I am about to summon all the clans and kingdoms of the north.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

They will come, and each king will set up his throne
at the entrance to Jerusalem’s gates.
They will attack all her surrounding walls
and all the other cities of Judah.

16 “I will pronounce my judgments against them for all the evil they did when they abandoned me to burn incense to other gods and to worship the works of their own hands.

17 “Now, get ready. Stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not be intimidated by them or I will cause you to cower before them. 18 Today, I am the one who has made you a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the population. 19 They will fight against you but never prevail over you, since I am with you to rescue you.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

Israel Accused of Apostasy

The word of the Lord came to me: “Go and announce directly to Jerusalem that this is what the Lord says:

I remember the loyalty of your youth,
your love as a bride—
how you followed me in the wilderness,
in a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord,
the firstfruits of his harvest.
All who ate of it found themselves guilty;
disaster came on them.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.

Hear the word of the Lord, house of Jacob
and all families of the house of Israel.
This is what the Lord says:
What fault did your ancestors find in me
that they went so far from me,
followed worthless idols,
and became worthless themselves?
They stopped asking, “Where is the Lord
who brought us from the land of Egypt,
who led us through the wilderness,
through a land of deserts and ravines,
through a land of drought and darkness,[c]
a land no one traveled through
and where no one lived?”
I brought you to a fertile land
to eat its fruit and bounty,
but after you entered, you defiled my land;
you made my inheritance detestable.
The priests quit asking, “Where is the Lord?”
The experts in the law no longer knew me,
and the rulers rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by[d] Baal
and followed useless idols.

Therefore, I will bring a case against you again.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will bring a case against your children’s children.
10 Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus[e] and take a look.
Send someone to Kedar and consider carefully;
see if there has ever been anything like this:
11 Has a nation ever exchanged its gods?
(But they were not gods!)
Yet my people have exchanged their[f] Glory
for useless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, heavens;
be shocked and utterly desolated!
This is the Lord’s declaration.

13 For my people have committed a double evil:
They have abandoned me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug cisterns for themselves—
cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.

Consequences of Apostasy

14 Is Israel a slave?
Was he born into slavery?[g]
Why else has he become a prey?
15 The young lions have roared at him;
they have roared loudly.
They have laid waste his land.
His cities are in ruins, without inhabitants.
16 The men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have also broken your skull.
17 Have you not brought this on yourself
by abandoning the Lord your God
while he was leading you along the way?
18 Now what will you gain
by traveling along the way to Egypt
to drink the water of the Nile?[h]
What will you gain
by traveling along the way to Assyria
to drink the water of the Euphrates?
19 Your own evil will discipline you;
your own apostasies will reprimand you.
Recognize[i] how evil and bitter it is
for you to abandon the Lord your God
and to have no fear of me.
This is the declaration of the Lord God of Armies.

20 For long ago I[j] broke your yoke;
I[k] tore off your chains.
You insisted, “I will not serve!”
On every high hill
and under every green tree
you lay down like a prostitute.

21 I planted you, a choice vine
from the very best seed.
How then could you turn into
a degenerate, foreign vine?

22 Even if you wash with lye
and use a great amount of bleach,[l]
the stain of your iniquity is still in front of me.
This is the Lord God’s declaration.
23 How can you protest, “I am not defiled;
I have not followed the Baals”?
Look at your behavior in the valley;
acknowledge what you have done.
You are a swift young camel
twisting and turning on her way,
24 a wild donkey at home[m] in the wilderness.
She sniffs the wind in the heat of her desire.
Who can control her passion?
All who look for her will not become weary;
they will find her in her mating season.[n]
25 Keep your feet from going bare
and your throat from thirst.
But you say, “It’s hopeless;
I love strangers,
and I will continue to follow them.”

26 Like the shame of a thief when he is caught,
so the house of Israel has been put to shame.
They, their kings, their officials,
their priests, and their prophets
27 say to a tree, “You are my father,”
and to a stone, “You gave birth to me.”
For they have turned their back to me
and not their face,
yet in their time of disaster they beg,
“Rise up and save us!”
28 But where are your gods you made for yourself?
Let them rise up and save you
in your time of disaster if they can,
for your gods are as numerous as your cities, Judah.

Judgment Deserved

29 Why do you bring a case against me?
All of you have rebelled against me.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
30 I have struck down your children in vain;
they would not accept discipline.
Your own sword has devoured your prophets
like a ravaging lion.
31 Evil generation,
pay attention to the word of the Lord!
Have I been a wilderness to Israel
or a land of dense darkness?
Why do my people claim,
“We will go where we want;[o]
we will no longer come to you”?
32 Can a young woman forget her jewelry
or a bride her wedding sash?
Yet my people have forgotten me
for countless days.
33 How skillfully you pursue love;
you also teach evil women your ways.
34 Moreover, your skirts are stained
with the blood of the innocent poor.
You did not catch them breaking and entering.
But in spite of all these things
35 you claim, “I am innocent.
His anger is sure to turn away from me.”
But I will certainly judge you
because you have said, “I have not sinned.”
36 How unstable you are,
constantly changing your ways!
You will be put to shame by Egypt
just as you were put to shame by Assyria.
37 Moreover, you will be led out from here
with your hands on your head
since the Lord has rejected those you trust;
you will not succeed even with their help.[p]

Wages of Apostasy

If[q] a man divorces his wife
and she leaves him to marry another,
can he ever return to her?
Wouldn’t such a land[r] become totally defiled?
But you!
You have prostituted yourself with many partners—
can you return to me?
This is the Lord’s declaration.
Look to the barren heights and see.
Where have you not been immoral?
You sat waiting for them beside the highways
like a nomad in the desert.
You have defiled the land
with your prostitution and wickedness.
This is why the showers haven’t come—
why there has been no spring rain.
You have the brazen look of a prostitute[s]
and refuse to be ashamed.
Haven’t you recently called to me, “My Father!
You were my friend in my youth.
Will he bear a grudge forever?
Will he be endlessly infuriated?”
This is what you have said,
but you have done the evil things
you are capable of.

Unfaithful Israel, Treacherous Judah

In the days of King Josiah the Lord asked me, “Have you seen what unfaithful Israel has done? She has ascended every high hill and gone under every green tree to prostitute herself there. I thought, ‘After she has done all these things, she will return to me.’ But she didn’t return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. I[t] observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself. Indifferent to[u] her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to me with all her heart—only in pretense.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

11 The Lord announced to me, “Unfaithful Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, proclaim these words to the north, and say,

‘Return, unfaithful Israel.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will not look on you with anger,[v]
for I am unfailing in my love.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You have scattered your favors to strangers
under every green tree
and have not obeyed me.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

14 “‘Return, you faithless children—this is the Lord’s declaration—for I am your master,[w] and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 I will give you shepherds who are loyal to me,[x] and they will shepherd you with knowledge and skill. 16 When you multiply and increase in the land, in those days—this is the Lord’s declaration—no one will say again, “The ark of the Lord’s covenant.” It will never come to mind, and no one will remember or miss it. Another one will not be made.[y] 17 At that time Jerusalem will be called The Lord’s Throne, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord in Jerusalem. They will cease to follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah will join with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land I have given your ancestors to inherit.’”

True Repentance

19 I thought, “How I long to make you my sons
and give you a desirable land,
the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations.”
I thought, “You will call me ‘My Father’
and never turn away from me.”
20 However, as a woman may betray her lover,[z]
so you have betrayed me, house of Israel.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

21 A sound is heard on the barren heights:
the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy,
for they have perverted their way;
they have forgotten the Lord their God.

22 Return, you faithless children.
I will heal your unfaithfulness.
“Here we are, coming to you,
for you are the Lord our God.

23 Surely, falsehood comes from the hills,
commotion from the mountains,
but the salvation of Israel
is only in the Lord our God.
24 From the time of our youth
the shameful one[aa] has consumed
what our ancestors have worked for—
their flocks and their herds,
their sons and their daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame;
let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors,
from the time of our youth even to this day.
We have not obeyed the Lord our God.”

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