15 Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel should stand before me, my compassions would not reach out to these people. Send them from my presence, and let them go. 2 If they ask you, ‘Where will we go?’ tell them: This is what the Lord says:
Those destined for death, to death;
those destined for the sword, to the sword.
Those destined for famine, to famine;
those destined for captivity, to captivity.
3 “I will ordain four kinds[a] of judgment for them”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the land to devour and destroy. 4 I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh son of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.
5 Who will have pity on you, Jerusalem?
Who will show sympathy toward you?
Who will turn aside
to ask about your well-being?
6 You have left me.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
“You have turned your back,
so I have stretched out my hand against you
and destroyed you.
I am tired of showing compassion.
7 I scattered them with a winnowing fork
at the city gates of the land.
I made them childless; I destroyed my people.
They would not turn from their ways.
8 I made their widows more numerous
than the sand of the seas.
I brought a destroyer at noon
against the mother of young men.
I suddenly released on her
agitation and terrors.
9 The mother of seven grew faint;
she breathed her last breath.
Her sun set while it was still day;
she was ashamed and humiliated.
The rest of them I will give over to the sword
in the presence of their enemies.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
10 Woe is me, my mother,
that you gave birth to me,
a man who incites dispute and conflict
in all the land.
I did not lend or borrow,
yet everyone curses me.
The Lord’s Response
11 The Lord said:
Haven’t I set you loose for your good?
Haven’t I punished you
in a time of trouble,
in a time of distress with the enemy?[b]
12 Can anyone smash iron,
iron from the north, or bronze?
13 I will give up your wealth
and your treasures as plunder,
without cost, for all your sins
in all your borders.
14 Then I will make you serve your enemies[c]
in a land you do not know,
for my anger will kindle a fire
that will burn against you.
Jeremiah’s Prayer for Vengeance
15 You know, Lord;
remember me and take note of me.
Avenge me against my persecutors.
In your patience,[d] don’t take me away.
Know that I suffer disgrace for your honor.
16 Your words were found, and I ate them.
Your words became a delight to me
and the joy of my heart,
for I bear your name,
Lord God of Armies.
17 I never sat with the band of revelers,
and I did not celebrate with them.
Because your hand was on me, I sat alone,
for you filled me with indignation.
18 Why has my pain become unending,
my wound incurable,
refusing to be healed?
You truly have become like a mirage to me—
water that is not reliable.
Jeremiah Told to Repent
19 Therefore, this is what the Lord says:
If you return, I will take you back;
you will stand in my presence.
And if you speak noble words,
rather than worthless ones,
you will be my spokesman.
It is they who must return to you;
you must not return to them.
20 Then I will make you a fortified wall of bronze
to this people.
They will fight against you
but will not overcome you,
for I am with you
to save you and rescue you.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
21 I will rescue you from the power of evil people
and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.
No Marriage for Jeremiah
16 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Do not marry or have sons or daughters in this place. 3 For this is what the Lord says concerning sons and daughters born in this place as well as concerning the mothers who bear them and the fathers who father them in this land: 4 They will die from deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like manure on the soil’s surface. They will be finished off by sword and famine. Their corpses will become food for the birds of the sky and for the wild animals of the land.
5 “For this is what the Lord says: Don’t enter a house where a mourning feast is taking place.[e] Don’t go to lament or sympathize with them, for I have removed my peace from these people as well as my faithful love and compassion.” This is the Lord’s declaration. 6 “Both great and small will die in this land without burial. No lament will be made for them, nor will anyone cut himself or shave his head for them.[f] 7 Food won’t be provided for the mourner to comfort him because of the dead. A consoling drink won’t be given him for the loss of his father or mother. 8 Do not enter the house where feasting is taking place to sit with them to eat and drink. 9 For this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am about to eliminate from this place, before your very eyes and in your time, the sound of joy and gladness, the voice of the groom and the bride.
Abandoning the Lord and His Law
10 “When you tell these people all these things, they will say to you, ‘Why has the Lord declared all this terrible disaster against us? What is our iniquity? What is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ 11 Then you will answer them, ‘Because your ancestors abandoned me—this is the Lord’s declaration—and followed other gods, served them, and bowed in worship to them. Indeed, they abandoned me and did not keep my instruction. 12 You did more evil than your ancestors. Look, each one of you was following the stubbornness of his evil heart, not obeying me. 13 So I will hurl you from this land into a land that you and your ancestors have not known. There you will worship other gods both day and night, for I will not grant you grace.’[g]
14 “However, look, the days are coming”—the Lord’s declaration—“when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ 15 but rather, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the Israelites from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.’ For I will return them to their land that I gave to their ancestors.
Punishment of Exile
16 “I am about to send for many fishermen”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“and they will fish for them. Then I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and out of the clefts of the rocks, 17 for my gaze takes in all their ways. They are not concealed from me, and their iniquity is not hidden from my sight. 18 I will first repay them double for their iniquity and sin because they have polluted my land. They have filled my inheritance with the carcasses of their abhorrent and detestable idols.”
19 Lord, my strength and my stronghold,
my refuge in a time of distress,
the nations will come to you
from the ends of the earth, and they will say,
“Our ancestors inherited only lies,
worthless idols of no benefit at all.”
20 Can one make gods for himself?
But they are not gods.
21 “Therefore, I am about to inform them,
and this time I will make them know
my power and my might;
then they will know that my name is the Lord.”
The Persistent Sin of Judah
17 The sin of Judah is inscribed
with an iron stylus.
With a diamond point
it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts
and on the horns of their[h] altars,
2 while their children remember their altars
and their Asherah poles, by the green trees
on the high hills—
3 my mountains in the countryside.
I will give up your wealth
and all your treasures as plunder
because of the sin of your high places[i]
in all your borders.
4 You will, on your own, relinquish your inheritance
that I gave you.
I will make you serve your enemies
in a land you do not know,
for you have set my anger on fire;
it will burn forever.
Curse and Blessing
5 This is what the Lord says:
Cursed is the person who trusts in mankind.
He makes human flesh his strength,
and his heart turns from the Lord.
6 He will be like a juniper in the Arabah;
he cannot see when good comes
but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 The person who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed.
8 He will be like a tree planted by water:
it sends its roots out toward a stream,
it doesn’t fear when heat comes,
and its foliage remains green.
It will not worry in a year of drought
or cease producing fruit.
The Deceitful Heart
9 The heart is more deceitful than anything else,
and incurable—who can understand it?
10 I, the Lord, examine the mind,
I test the heart[j]
to give to each according to his way,
according to what his actions deserve.
11 He who makes a fortune unjustly
is like a partridge that hatches eggs it didn’t lay.
In the middle of his life
his riches will abandon him,
so in the end he will be a fool.
12 A glorious throne
on high from the beginning
is the place of our sanctuary.
13 Lord, the hope of Israel,
all who abandon you
will be put to shame.
All who turn away from me
will be written in the dirt,
for they have abandoned
the Lord, the fountain of living water.
14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
save me, and I will be saved,
for you are my praise.
15 Hear how they keep challenging me,
“Where is the word of the Lord?
Let it come!”
16 But I have not run away from being your shepherd,
and I have not longed for the fatal day.
You know my words were spoken in your presence.
17 Don’t become a terror to me.
You are my refuge in the day of disaster.
18 Let my persecutors be put to shame,
but don’t let me be put to shame.
Let them be terrified, but don’t let me be terrified.
Bring on them the day of disaster;
shatter them with total[k] destruction.
Observing the Sabbath
19 This is what the Lord said to me, “Go and stand at the People’s Gate, through which the kings of Judah enter and leave, as well as at all the gates of Jerusalem. 20 Announce to them, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, kings of Judah, all Judah, and all the residents of Jerusalem who enter through these gates. 21 This is what the Lord says: Watch yourselves; do not pick up a load and bring it in through Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day. 22 Do not carry a load out of your houses on the Sabbath day or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, just as I commanded your ancestors. 23 They wouldn’t listen or pay attention but became obstinate, not listening or accepting discipline.
24 “‘However, if you listen to me—this is the Lord’s declaration—and do not bring loads through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it, 25 kings and princes will enter through the gates of this city. They will sit on the throne of David; they will ride in chariots and on horses with their officials, the men of Judah, and the residents of Jerusalem. This city will be inhabited forever. 26 Then people will come from the cities of Judah and from the area around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the Judean foothills, from the hill country and from the Negev bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and thanksgiving sacrifices to the house of the Lord. 27 But if you do not listen to me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying a load while entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, I will set fire to its gates, and it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem and not be extinguished.’”
Parable of the Potter
18 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down at once to the potter’s house; there I will reveal my words to you.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, working away at the wheel.[l] 4 But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.
5 The word of the Lord came to me: 6 “House of Israel, can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay?”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. 7 At one moment I might announce concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will uproot, tear down, and destroy it. 8 However, if that nation about which I have made the announcement turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the disaster I had planned to do to it. 9 At another time I might announce concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it. 10 However, if it does what is evil in my sight by not listening to me, I will relent concerning the good I had said I would do to it. 11 So now, say to the men of Judah and to the residents of Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am about to bring harm to you and make plans against you. Turn now, each from your evil way, and correct your ways and your deeds.’ 12 But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless. We will continue to follow our plans, and each of us will continue to act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’”
13 Therefore, this is what the Lord says:
Ask among the nations,
who has heard things like these?
Virgin Israel has done a most horrible thing.
14 Does the snow of Lebanon ever leave the highland crags?
Or does cold water flowing from a distance ever fail?
15 Yet my people have forgotten me.
They burn incense to worthless idols
that make them stumble in their ways
on the ancient roads,
and make them walk on new paths, not the highway.
16 They have made their land a horror,
a perpetual object of scorn;[m]
all who pass by it will be appalled
and shake their heads.
17 I will scatter them before the enemy like the east wind.
I will show them[n] my back and not my face
on the day of their calamity.
Plot against Jeremiah
18 Then certain ones said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah, for instruction will never be lost from the priest, or counsel from the wise, or a word from the prophet. Come, let’s denounce him[o] and pay no attention to all his words.”
19 Pay attention to me, Lord.
Hear what my opponents are saying!
20 Should good be repaid with evil?
Yet they have dug a pit for me.
Remember how I stood before you
to speak good on their behalf,
to turn your anger from them.
21 Therefore, hand their children over to famine,
and give them over to the power of the sword.
Let their wives become childless and widowed,
their husbands slain by deadly disease,[p]
their young men struck down by the sword in battle.
22 Let a cry be heard from their houses
when you suddenly bring raiders against them,
for they have dug a pit to capture me
and have hidden snares for my feet.
23 But you, Lord, know
all their deadly plots against me.
Do not wipe out their iniquity;
do not blot out their sin before you.
Let them be forced to stumble before you;
deal with them in the time of your anger.
Have you ever had a heart to heart with God? I am not talking about when you took things to God and told Him how it was going to be. I am talking about an earnest conversation when things are not going well. I am talking about a real heart to heart where you get to see the heart of God. It seems Jeremiah is having one of those in today’s reading. In it, God reminds Him of how big He is. What if God tells you, “I will make you serve your enemies.” Wow. Sometimes we get too big for our britches and God has to humble us and bring us back to earth. When you come to those times, allow God to do his refining work in your life. It is for your good and His glory!