Drought, famine, sword
1This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:
her cities languish;
they wail for the land,
and a cry goes up from Jerusalem.
3The nobles send their servants for water;
they go to the cisterns
but find no water.
They return with their jars unfilled;
dismayed and despairing,
they cover their heads.
4The ground is cracked
because there is no rain in the land;
the farmers are dismayed
and cover their heads.
5Even the doe in the field
deserts her newborn fawn
because there is no grass.
6Wild donkeys stand on the barren heights
and pant like jackals;
their eyes fail
for lack of food.’
7Although our sins testify against us,
do something, Lord, for the sake of your name.
For we have often rebelled;
we have sinned against you.
8You who are the hope of Israel,
its Saviour in times of distress,
why are you like a stranger in the land,
like a traveller who stays only a night?
9Why are you like a man taken by surprise,
like a warrior powerless to save?
You are among us, Lord,
and we bear your name;
do not forsake us!
10This is what the Lord says about this people:
‘They greatly love to wander;
they do not restrain their feet.
So the Lord does not accept them;
he will now remember their wickedness
and punish them for their sins.’
11Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not pray for the well-being of this people. 12Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.’
13But I said, ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, “You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.” ’
14Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. 15Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, “No sword or famine will touch this land.” Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. 16And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no-one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.
17‘Speak this word to them:
‘ “Let my eyes overflow with tears
night and day without ceasing;
for the Virgin Daughter, my people,
has suffered a grievous wound,
a crushing blow.
18If I go into the country,
I see those slain by the sword;
if I go into the city,
I see the ravages of famine.
Both prophet and priest
have gone to a land they know not.” ’
19Have you rejected Judah completely?
Do you despise Zion?
Why have you afflicted us
so that we cannot be healed?
We hoped for peace
but no good has come,
for a time of healing
but there is only terror.
20We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord,
and the guilt of our ancestors;
we have indeed sinned against you.
21For the sake of your name do not despise us;
do not dishonour your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us
and do not break it.
22Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain?
Do the skies themselves send down showers?
No, it is you, Lord our God.
Therefore our hope is in you,
for you are the one who does all this.