The Terrible Drought
1The Lord said to me concerning the drought,
2“Judah is in mourning;
its cities are dying,
its people lie on the ground in sorrow,
and Jerusalem cries out for help.
3The rich people send their servants for water;
they go to the cisterns,
but find no water;
they come back with their jars empty.
Discouraged and confused,
they hide their faces.
4Because there is no rain
and the ground is dried up,
the farmers are sick at heart;
they hide their faces.
5In the field the mother deer
abandons her newborn fawn
because there is no grass.
6The wild donkeys stand on the hilltops
and pant for breath like jackals;
their eyesight fails them
because they have no food.
7My people cry out to me,
‘Even though our sins accuse us,
help us, Lord, as you have promised.
We have turned away from you many times;
we have sinned against you.
8You are Israel's only hope;
you are the one who saves us from disaster.
Why are you like a stranger in our land,
like a traveler who stays for only one night?
9Why are you like someone taken by surprise,
like a soldier powerless to help?
Surely, Lord, you are with us!
We are your people;
do not abandon us.’”
10The Lord says about these people, “They love to run away from me, and they will not control themselves. So I am not pleased with them. I will remember the wrongs they have done and punish them because of their sins.”
11The Lord said to me, “Do not ask me to help these people. 12Even if they fast, I will not listen to their cry for help; and even if they offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not be pleased with them. Instead, I will kill them in war and by starvation and disease.”
13Then I said, “Sovereign Lord, you know that the prophets are telling the people that there will be no war or starvation, because you have promised, they say, that there will be only peace in our land.”
14But the Lord replied, “The prophets are telling lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I give them any orders or speak one word to them. The visions they talk about have not come from me; their predictions are worthless things that they have imagined. 15I, the Lord, tell you what I am going to do to those prophets whom I did not send but who speak in my name and say war and starvation will not strike this land—I will kill them in war and by starvation. 16The people to whom they have said these things will be killed in the same way. Their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, and there will be no one to bury them. This will happen to all of them—including their wives, their sons, and their daughters. I will make them pay for their wickedness.”
17The Lord commanded me to tell the people about my sorrow and to say:
“May my eyes flow with tears day and night,
may I never stop weeping,
for my people are deeply wounded
and are badly hurt.
18When I go out in the fields,
I see the bodies of men killed in war;
when I go into the towns,
I see people starving to death.
Prophets and priests carry on their work,
but they don't know what they are doing.”
The People Plead with the Lord
19Lord, have you completely rejected Judah?
Do you hate the people of Zion?
Why have you hurt us so badly
that we cannot be healed?
We looked for peace, but nothing good happened;
we hoped for healing, but terror came instead.
20We have sinned against you, Lord;
we confess our own sins
and the sins of our ancestors.
21Remember your promises and do not despise us;
do not bring disgrace on Jerusalem,
the place of your glorious throne.
Do not break the covenant you made with us.
22None of the idols of the nations can send rain;
the sky by itself cannot make showers fall.
We have put our hope in you, O Lord our God,
because you are the one who does these things.