The Sin of Jerusalem
1People of Jerusalem, run through your streets!
Look around! See for yourselves!
Search the marketplaces!
Can you find one person
who does what is right
and tries to be faithful to God?
If you can, the Lord will forgive Jerusalem.
2Even though you claim to worship the Lord,
you do not mean what you say.
3Surely the Lord looks for faithfulness.
He struck you, but you paid no attention;
he crushed you, but you refused to learn.
You were stubborn and would not turn from your sins.
4Then I thought, “These are only the poor and ignorant.
They behave foolishly;
they don't know what their God requires,
what the Lord wants them to do.
5I will go to the people in power
and talk with them.
Surely they know what their God requires,
what the Lord wants them to do.”
But all of them have rejected the Lord's authority
and refuse to obey him.
6That is why lions from the forest will kill them;
wolves from the desert will tear them to pieces,
and leopards will prowl through their towns.
If those people go out, they will be torn apart
because their sins are numerous
and time after time they have turned from God.
7The Lord asked, “Why should I forgive the sins of my people?
They have abandoned me
and have worshiped gods that are not real.
I fed my people until they were full,
but they committed adultery
and spent their time with prostitutes.
8They were like well-fed stallions wild with desire,
each lusting for his neighbor's wife.
9Shouldn't I punish them for these things
and take revenge on a nation such as this?
10I will send enemies to cut down my people's vineyards,
but not to destroy them completely.
I will tell them to strip away the branches,
because those branches are not mine.
11The people of Israel and Judah
have betrayed me completely.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
The Lord Rejects Israel
12The Lord's people have denied him and have said, “He won't really do anything. We won't have hard times; we won't have war or famine.” 13-14They have said that the prophets are nothing but windbags and that they have no message from the Lord. The Lord God Almighty said to me, “Jeremiah, because these people have said such things, I will make my words like a fire in your mouth. The people will be like wood, and the fire will burn them up.”
15People of Israel, the Lord is bringing a nation from far away to attack you. It is a strong and ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know. 16Their archers are mighty soldiers who kill without mercy. 17They will devour your crops and your food; they will kill your sons and your daughters. They will slaughter your flocks and your herds and destroy your vines and fig trees. The fortified cities in which you trust will be destroyed by their army.
18The Lord says, “Yet even in those days I will not completely destroy my people. 19When they ask why I did all these things, tell them, Jeremiah, that just as they turned away from me and served foreign gods in their own land, so they will serve strangers in a land that is not theirs.”
God Warns His People
20The Lord says, “Tell the descendants of Jacob, tell the people of Judah: 21 Pay attention, you foolish and stupid people, who have eyes, but cannot see, and have ears, but cannot hear. 22 I am the Lord; why don't you fear me? Why don't you tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary of the sea, a permanent boundary that it cannot cross. The sea may toss, but it cannot go beyond it; the waves may roar, but they cannot break through. 23But you people! You are stubborn and rebellious; you have turned aside and left me. 24You never thought to honor me, even though I send the autumn rains and the spring rains and give you the harvest season each year. 25Instead, your sins have kept these good things from you.
26“Evildoers live among my people; they lie in wait like those who lay nets to catch birds, but they have set their traps to catch people. 27Just as a hunter fills a cage with birds, they have filled their houses with loot. That is why they are powerful and rich, 28why they are fat and well fed. There is no limit to their evil deeds. They do not give orphans their rights or show justice to the oppressed.
29“But I, the Lord, will punish them for these things; I will take revenge on this nation. 30A terrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31prophets speak nothing but lies; priests rule as the prophets command, and my people offer no objections. But what will they do when it all comes to an end?”