Jeremiah 4

Blessing or Curse

1If you return, Israel —

this is the Lord’s declaration —

you will return to me,

if you remove your abhorrent idols

from my presence

and do not waver,

2then you can swear, “As the Lord lives,”

in truth, justice, and righteousness,

and then the nations will be blessed by him

and will boast in him.

3For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:

Break up the unplowed ground;

do not sow among the thorns.

4Circumcise yourselves to the Lord;

remove the foreskin of your hearts,

men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem.

Otherwise, my wrath will break out like fire

and burn with no one to extinguish it

because of your evil deeds.

Judgment from the North

5Declare in Judah, proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,

Blow the ram’s horn throughout the land.

Cry out loudly and say,

“Assemble yourselves,

and let’s flee to the fortified cities.”

6Lift up a signal flag toward Zion.

Run for cover! Don’t stand still!

For I am bringing disaster from the north —

a crushing blow.

7A lion has gone up from his thicket;

a destroyer of nations has set out.

He has left his lair

to make your land a waste.

Your cities will be reduced to uninhabited ruins.

8Because of this, put on sackcloth;

mourn and wail,

for the Lord’s burning anger

has not turned away from us.

9“On that day” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “the king and the officials will lose their courage. The priests will tremble in fear, and the prophets will be scared speechless.”

10I said, “Oh no, Lord God, you have certainly deceived this people and Jerusalem, by announcing, ‘You will have peace,’ while a sword is at our throats.”

11“At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, ‘A searing wind blows from the barren heights in the wilderness on the way to my dear people. It comes not to winnow or to sift; 12a wind too strong for this comes at my call. Now I will also pronounce judgments against them.’”

13Look, he advances like clouds;

his chariots are like a storm.

His horses are swifter than eagles.

Woe to us, for we are ruined!

14Wash the evil from your heart, Jerusalem,

so that you will be delivered.

How long will you harbor

malicious thoughts?

15For a voice announces from Dan,

proclaiming malice from Mount Ephraim.

16Warn the nations: Look!

Proclaim to Jerusalem:

Those who besiege are coming

from a distant land;

they raise their voices

against the cities of Judah.

17They have her surrounded

like those who guard a field,

because she has rebelled against me.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

18Your way and your actions

have brought this on you.

This is your punishment. It is very bitter,

because it has reached your heart!

Jeremiah’s Lament

19My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in agony!

Oh, the pain in my heart!

My heart pounds;

I cannot be silent.

For you, my soul,

have heard the sound of the ram’s horn —

the shout of battle.

20Disaster after disaster is reported

because the whole land is destroyed.

Suddenly my tents are destroyed,

my tent curtains, in a moment.

21How long must I see the signal flag

and hear the sound of the ram’s horn?

22“For my people are fools;

they do not know me.

They are foolish children,

without understanding.

They are skilled in doing what is evil,

but they do not know how to do what is good.”

23I looked at the earth,

and it was formless and empty.

I looked to the heavens,

and their light was gone.

24I looked at the mountains,

and they were quaking;

all the hills shook.

25I looked, and there was no human being,

and all the birds of the sky had fled.

26I looked, and the fertile field was a wilderness.

All its cities were torn down

because of the Lord

and his burning anger.

27For this is what the Lord says:

“The whole land will be a desolation,

but I will not finish it off.

28Because of this, the earth will mourn;

the skies above will grow dark.

I have spoken; I have planned,

and I will not relent or turn back from it.”

29Every city flees

at the sound of the horseman and the archer.

They enter the thickets

and climb among the rocks.

Every city is abandoned;

no inhabitant is left.

30And you, devastated one, what are you doing

that you dress yourself in scarlet,

that you adorn yourself with gold jewelry,

that you enhance your eyes with makeup?

You beautify yourself for nothing.

Your lovers reject you;

they intend to take your life.

31I hear a cry like a woman in labor,

a cry of anguish like one bearing her first child.

The cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath,

stretching out her hands:

“Woe is me, for my life is weary

because of the murderers!”