Jeremiah: Jeremiah Declares God’s Message to Judah

False *Prophets and the Message of the True *Prophet

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Jeremiah

chapters 21 to 33

Hilda Bright

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


Chapter 21

Zedekiah's request and Jeremiah's answer 21:1-7

v1 The *LORD gave a message to Jeremiah. It came when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur, son of Malkijah, and the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah. They said, v2 'Pray to the *LORD for us. Ask the *LORD what will happen. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is attacking us. The *LORD did wonderful things for us in the past. Perhaps he will do them again. Then Nebuchadnezzar will take his armies away from us.’

v3 But Jeremiah said this to them. 'Tell Zedekiah, v4 that the *LORD, the God of Israel, says this. “You have swords and other arms. You are using them to fight the king of Babylon and his army. They are waiting outside this city. I will turn your swords and arms against you. I will bring your enemies inside the city. v5 I myself will fight against you. I will use my great power against you because I am very angry. v6 I will attack those people who live in this city. I will kill the men and the animals. They will die from a terrible disease. v7 Then the *LORD announces this. I will hand you over to your enemies who want to kill you. I will hand over Zedekiah, king of Judah. I will hand over his officials. And I will hand over the people in this city who remain alive after disease, war and hunger. I will hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar. The king of Babylon will kill them with swords. He will not be kind to those people. He will not pity them. He will not have any sympathy for them.”

Verses 1-2 Nebuchadnezzar had made Zedekiah king. That happened after Nebuchadnezzar had taken the previous king, Jehoiachin, and the important people to Babylon in 597 *BC. Zedekiah had tried to act against Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah had asked Egypt to help (Jeremiah 37:4-8). In about 588 *BC, the *Babylonian army had returned to attack Jerusalem. They waited outside the city. And Zedekiah sent men to ask whether the *LORD would free the city.

Pashhur is different from Pashhur, son of Immer, who had put Jeremiah in prison (Jeremiah 20:1-6). Zephaniah received a letter from Babylon. It accused him because he had not punished Jeremiah. The punishment was because he had written a letter. He had written to the people from Judah when they were in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:25-29). The *LORD had acted in wonderful ways in the past. If Jeremiah prayed for Jerusalem, perhaps the *LORD would cause the *Babylonian army to go away.

Verses 3-7 Although the people had swords and arms, they would be of no use. The *LORD himself would allow the king of Babylon and his army to win. The *LORD was very angry with the people in Judah. So he would act to bring the *Babylonian army inside the city. People and animals would die. They would die from hunger and disease. Or they would die in battle. The king of Babylon would show no pity to the people whom he had defeated.

The choice for the people in Jerusalem 21:8-10

v8 Tell the people that the *LORD says this. “I am giving a choice to you. You can choose the way that keeps you alive. Or you can choose the way that leads to death. v9 Those people who stay in this city will die from war, hunger or disease. But you can go out and give yourselves to the *Babylonians. They are attacking you, but you will live. If you leave the city, you will live. v10 I have decided to act against this city. I will not help it”, declares the *LORD. “I will hand it over to the king of Babylon. And he will destroy it with fire."

Verse 8 Moses gave to the people in Israel the choice between two ways. If they obeyed the *LORD, they would have a good life. If they did not obey, they would die (Deuteronomy 30:15,19). The people in Jerusalem had to make a choice.

Verses 9-10 Jeremiah's advice was practical. Those people, who gave themselves to the *Babylonians, would escape alive. If the people stayed in Jerusalem, they would starve. Or they would die because of disease. When the enemy attacked the city, they would kill the people there. The *LORD was using the *Babylonian army to punish Judah. So certainly the *Babylonians would win against Judah. Jeremiah himself did not leave the city. The officials accused him. They said that he was trying to join the *Babylonians (Jeremiah 37:11-15). But Jeremiah was loyal to his people. In 587 *BC, he had the choice to go to Babylon. But he remained with those people who remained (Jeremiah 40:1-6).

A message to the royal family of Judah 21:11-14

v11 Also say this to Judah's royal family. “Listen to the *LORD's message. v12 This is what the *LORD says to David's royal family:

          Every morning, decide what is right and fair.

          Rescue those people whom people have robbed.

          Save them from the person who has behaved badly towards them.

          If you do not, I will be very angry towards you.

          My anger will burn like fire,

          because of the evil things that you have done.

          Nobody will be able to stop it.

v13    Jerusalem, you live above the valley

          on a high rocky plain.

          And I am against you”, declares the *LORD.

          And you say, “Nobody can come against us.

          Nobody can get into our place of safety."

v14    “But I will punish you as your actions deserve”, declares the *LORD.

          “I will start a fire in your forests

          that will burn everything round you.” ’

Verses 11-12 It was the king’s responsibility to make fair decisions. If the king obeyed the *covenant (Deuteronomy 17:18-20), he would do the right deeds. 'Every morning' means every day. Some people cheated and robbed other people (Psalm 72:1-4, 12-14). But the king would defend those people who had troubles. Psalm 45: 6-7 spoke about justice (fair decisions) as the evidence of the royal power of a king. The *LORD would judge those people who failed in their duties. He would judge those people who were guilty of wrong behaviour. These words describe the *LORD's punishment as a fire that nothing can stop.

Verse 13 The city called Jerusalem was David's royal city. It stood on a high, level area above deep valleys. It was easy to defend. David had found that when he had attacked it (2 Samuel 5:6-7). People were confident that they would be safe. It was partly because of its strong position on the mountain. Also the *prophets told them lies. That gave them false confidence.

Verse 14 The *LORD would punish them in the way that they deserved. 'Fire' is a way to describe the *LORD's punishment. There were no forests near to Jerusalem. Some writers have suggested that 'your forests' refers to the royal palace. The builders had used many trees when they made the palace. The trees were called *cedar trees and they came from Lebanon. So the palace was called 'the house of the forest of Lebanon' (1 Kings 7:2).

Chapter 22

The *LORD's punishment on the kings of Judah 22:1-30

This is a collection of messages about the kings who reigned after King Josiah.

1. Information about the king's duties 22:1-9

v1 The *LORD said this to me. 'Jeremiah, go down to the palace of the king of Judah. Announce this message there. v2 "King of Judah, listen to the *LORD's message. You are sitting on David's *throne. You, your officials and your people, who come through these gates, must listen. v3 The *LORD says: Do what is fair. Do the right things. Rescue the person whom other people have robbed. Rescue him from the person who has robbed him. Do not do any wrong thing in this place. Do not use your power against strangers. Do not use your power against children whose fathers have died or against widows. Do not kill innocent people. v4 Be careful to obey these commands. If you do, then kings will sit on David's *throne. They will come through the gates of this palace. They will ride in carts for war and they will ride on horses. Their officials and their people will come with them. v5 But suppose that you do not obey these commands, declares the *LORD. Then I make a promise with my own name that this palace will become empty.” ’

v6 This is what the *LORD says about the palace of the king of Judah.

          'You are like the region of Gilead to me.

          You are like the highest mountain in Lebanon.

          But I will make you like a desert.

          I will make you like towns in which nobody lives.

v7      I will send armies against you to destroy you.

          All of them will come with their weapons (arms).

          They will cut up your wonderful *cedar wood beams

          and throw them into the fire.

v8 People from many places will travel past this city. They will ask each other, “Why has the *LORD done such a thing to this great city?” v9 And the answer will be, “The people made a *covenant with the *LORD their God. And they have turned away from it. They have *worshipped and served other gods.” ’

Verse 1 The message may be for Zedekiah. But it may be for a previous king who could have changed his behaviour.

Verses 2-5 To sit on David’s *throne meant to rule as king. The list of the duties of a king starts in Jeremiah 21:11-12 and it continues here. The *LORD ordered the king, his officials and his people to be fair. The king had to rescue people whom other people have robbed. The king had to defend the people who could not defend themselves. Widows and children, whose fathers had died, could not defend themselves. They should not have difficulties because the king used his power against them. He should behave fairly towards strangers. He should not kill people who had done no wrong deeds. That may refer to the *sacrifice of children in the valley of Ben-hinnom (2 Kings 23:10). But sometimes kings killed people who were not guilty. However, the *LORD told the rulers to kill people who did very bad things.

If the king obeyed the *LORD's commands, his family *descendants would continue. The king and his officials would continue to enter the palace. They would arrive in ways that showed their authority. If the king failed to obey the *LORD, someone would ruin his palace. Nobody would live in it. The *LORD said that was certain. He used his own name when he made that serious promise. There is nobody greater than the *LORD. So the *LORD used his own great name to show that it was a serious promise (Hebrews 6:13-16).

Verse 6 Gilead and Lebanon were regions with famous forests. The *cedar wood for the palace and other buildings came from those places. Solomon built 'the house of the forest of Lebanon' (1 Kings 7:2-5). Isaiah wrote about the 'palace of the forest' (Isaiah 22:8). But the *LORD would ruin those wonderful buildings. The place would become like a desert where nobody lived.

Verse 7 The *LORD would send the *Babylonians to destroy the royal buildings. They would arrive with equipment to chop down all the wonderful *cedar beams. They would throw them into the fire. Psalm 74:5-7 describes how the enemy used axes and hammers to destroy the *Temple.

Verses 8-9 Many foreigners would travel past Jerusalem. They would wonder why the *LORD had caused such a terrible thing to happen to a great city. But the answer was that the people in Judah had caused it. They had *worshipped false gods. They had promised to obey the *LORD. But they had not been loyal to him.

2. Shallum 22:10-12

v10    Do not weep on behalf of the dead king.

          Do not be sad because he is dead.

          Instead, weep bitterly for King Jehoahaz,

          who has had to leave his own country.

          He will never return.

          He will never see his own country again.

v11 This is what the *LORD says about Shallum, son of Josiah. ‘He became king of Judah after his father Josiah. But he has gone away from this place. He will never return. v12 He will die in the place where they have taken him as a prisoner. He will not see this place again.’

Verse 10 Shallum was Josiah's 4th son (1 Chronicles 3:15). Shallum was his personal name. Jehoahaz was his name as the king. The people in the country appointed him as the king. They did that after his father, King Josiah, died in the battle at Megiddo in 609 *BC (2 Chronicles 36:1). Perhaps they were a group who had agreed with Josiah's actions. They believed that Shallum would continue his father’s actions. But they made a mistake if they chose him because of that reason. The *LORD said that he did wrong things (2 Kings 23:32). But he was king for only three months. *Pharaoh Necho, was on his way to help the *Assyrians against Babylon. Necho took control of Judah. He removed Shallum as king and took him as a prisoner into Egypt.

Shallum was the first king of Judah to die away from his own country. Josiah had been a good king for 31 years (2 Chronicles 34:1). Shallum was only 23 years old. People were sad about him. It was a terrible fate for a person to die away from his country.

Verses 11-12 These two verses explain the poem in verse 10

3. Jehoiakim 22:13-19

v13    ‘How terrible it will be for King Jehoiakim!

          He builds his palace.

          And he behaves badly towards his people.

          He is unfair when he builds it’s upstairs rooms.

          He makes his own people work for no pay.

          He does not pay them for their work.

v14    He says, “I will build myself a great palace.

          It will have large rooms upstairs.”

          So he makes big windows in it.

          He covers its walls with *cedar boards.

          He paints it with red paint to make it attractive.

v15    Jehoiakim, you have more and more *cedar boards.

          But this does not make you a king.

          Your father, Josiah, had enough to eat and to drink.

          He did the right things. He was fair.

          So everything that he did was successful.

v16    He defended those people who were poor. He defended those people who needed help.

          So everything that he did was successful.

          That happens when people know me’, announces the *LORD.

v17    'Jehoiakim, you see and you think about only one thing.

          You cheat other people so that you can get rich.

          You are willing to kill innocent people.

          You would behave badly towards them.

          And you would take by force everything that they own.’

v18    So this is what the *LORD says about Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, the king of Judah.

          He says, 'His people will not weep on behalf of him.

          They will not say, "How awful, my brother! How awful, my sister!"

          They will not say, "How awful, my master! It is sad that his honour has gone!"

v19    People will bury him like an animal.

          They will drag away his body

          and throw it outside the gates of Jerusalem.’

Verses 13-14 *Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim, Josiah's second son, the king. He changed his name to Jehoiakim. To change his name meant that Jehoiakim was under *Pharaoh's authority. Jehoiakim ruled only because *Pharaoh allowed him to be the king. *Pharaoh made Jehoiakim pay large sums of money. That showed that Egypt was the master over Judah. Jehoiakim got that money as he made his people pay large taxes (2 Kings 23:35).

Jehoiakim was selfish and unfair. He built a wonderful palace for himself. He used *cedar wood and red paint to make it attractive. *Cedar wood smells pleasant and red was a popular colour. There were large rooms upstairs and big windows. But Jehoiakim did not pay the workmen. They had to work and they received nothing in return. That was against the law. The law said that a man must have his wages at the end of the day (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).

Verses 15-17 The *LORD spoke directly to Jehoiakim. The *LORD said that the great amount of *cedar wood in Jehoiakim’s buildings did not make him a real king. Jehoiakim's father, Josiah, had enjoyed his life. But he performed his royal duty and he provided justice. And because of that he succeeded. He did the right and fair things. He helped the people who were poor. He helped those people who could not defend themselves. To ‘know the *LORD’ meant that a person obeyed the *LORD’s laws. That person helped those people who had troubles. But Jehoiakim cheated other people so that he could get rich. Also he was cruel. He allowed to continue the *pagan customs that Manasseh had begun. Jehoiakim took other people’s possessions by force. He destroyed the record of Jeremiah's *prophecies. Also Jehoiakim ordered other people to arrest Jeremiah (36:20-26). Uriah, the *prophet, spoke in the same way as Jeremiah. So Jehoiakim ordered Uriah to return from Egypt in order to kill him (Jeremiah 26:20-23).

Verses 18-19 When Jehoiakim died, nobody would weep for him. They would not use the sad words suitable for a royal funeral. People sang sad songs about his father, Josiah, a long time after his death (2 Chronicles 35:24-25). But Jehoiakim would not have even a grave. People would drag his body outside Jerusalem. They would deal with him in the same way as they dealt with a dead animal. People would throw out his body. It would lie outside in hot and cold weather, during the days and the nights (Jeremiah 36:30).

2 Kings 24:6 says 'he rested with his fathers’. It does not mean that people buried him properly. That was the usual way to say 'he died at the end of his time as king'. Jehoiakim came under the authority of the *Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar after Egypt was no longer powerful. After three years, Jehoiakim was not loyal to Nebuchadnezzar. So Nebuchadnezzar marched into Judah and intended to take Jehoiakim to Babylon. But Jehoiakim had died. People in Jerusalem who supported Babylon may have made a plot to kill him. Josephus was a man who wrote about *Jewish history. He said that Nebuchadnezzar had ordered the people to throw out Jehoiakim's body.

4. The fate of Jerusalem 22:20-23

v20    The *LORD says this. 'People in Jerusalem,

          go up to Lebanon and shout.

          Go to the region of Bashan and cry aloud.

          Call out from the mountains of Moab (Abarim).

          The enemy has defeated all those people

          who were going to help you.

v21    I warned you when you felt safe.

          But you said, "I will not listen".

          You have done this ever since you were young.

          You have never obeyed me.

v22    The wind will force away all your *shepherds.

          And those people who were going to help you, will go away as prisoners.

          Then your city will have shame and lose its honour.

          This will happen because of all the wicked things that you have done.

v23    You live in the palace of the forest of Lebanon.

          You are comfortable in your *cedar wood buildings.

          But you will complain when pains come upon you.

          It will be like the pain of a woman who is having a baby.’

Verses 20-21 The *LORD spoke to the people in Jerusalem. Lebanon was to the north and Bashan to the north east of Israel. Moab was to the south of Israel. These three countries were round Israel. The people should have trusted the *LORD. But they did not listen to him or obey Him. They had not obeyed him from the time that the *LORD took them out of Egypt (Jeremiah 7:25-26). Instead, they had trusted other nations to help them. The people felt safe. They did not listen when the *LORD warned them. Now the *Babylonians had defeated those nations on which Israel had depended. The people in Jerusalem should cry aloud because of their troubles.

Verses 22-23 The wind is the *LORD’s judgement. He would remove the leaders and the nations that Israel asked for help. The kings of Israel lived in a wonderful palace in Jerusalem that they made from *cedar wood. *Cedar wood came from Lebanon. They thought that they would be safe. But they had been wicked. So the enemy would come and ruin proud Jerusalem. When a woman has a baby, the pain comes suddenly. Trouble would come to the people suddenly and they would cry because of their shame.

5. Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah) 22:24-30

v24 'You, Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim, are king in Judah’, declares the *LORD. ‘You might be like a ring on my right hand. The ring would show my authority. But still I will pull you off. That is as sure as I am alive. v25 I will hand you over to those people who are trying to kill you. I will hand you over to the people of whom you are afraid. I will hand you over to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and his armies. v26 I will throw out you and your mother into another country. Neither of you were born in that country. But both of you will die there. v27 You will never come back to the country to which you want to return.’

v28    This man, Jehoiachin, is like a *worthless, broken pot.

          He is like an object that nobody wants.

          The enemy will throw out him and his children.

          The enemy will send them into a country that they do not know.

v29    Country, country, country, listen to the *LORD's message.

v30    This is what the *LORD says.

          'Make a record about this man. Say that he has no children.

          He is a man who will have no success.

          None of his children will have success.

          None of them will become king like David.

          None of them will rule over Judah.’

Verse 24 Jehoiachin also was called Jeconiah (Jeremiah 24:1). The shorter form of his name was Coniah (Jeremiah 37:1). He became king after the death of his father, Jehoiakim. But he ruled for only three months before King Nebuchadnezzar took him away to Babylon.

The ring on a finger of the right hand showed that its owner had authority. *Pharaoh put Joseph in control in Egypt. Then *Pharaoh gave his ring to Joseph (Genesis 41:41-43). That ring had the king's name on it. He used it to sign his name on his official records and on his own possessions. This verse shows that Jehoiachin was king by means of the *LORD's authority. But the *LORD had decided that he would take away Jehoiachin‘s authority as ruler.

Verses 25-27 Both Jehoiachin and his mother, Nehusta, (2 Kings 24:8) would go into a country that was strange to them. They would want to return to their own country. But they would die in Babylon.

Verse 28 The *Hebrew word for 'pot' describes a pot that is of poor quality. Like the pot, Jehoiachin was not good. The pot was broken. Jehoiachin was like a broken pot because he had no use. The enemy would throw him and his children into a foreign country.

Verse 29 Jeremiah said the word 'country' three times. It shows that Jeremiah was talking about his country. He loved his country but soon the enemy would destroy it. That is like Jesus, who wept about Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).

Verse 30 They kept a record of the number of people in the nation. But they had to record that Jehoiachin had no children. In fact, he had seven sons (1Chronicles 3:17). But none of his children would become king after him. The next king, Zedekiah, was not Jehoiachin's son. Later his grandson, Zerubbabel, became ruler to govern Judah. But he was not the king (Haggai 2:23).

In 561 *BC, the king of Babylon who ruled after Nebuchadnezzar, freed Jehoiachin from prison. He allowed Jehoiachin to live in the royal palace (Jeremiah 52:31-34). People have found records in the palace in Babylon. They were flat pieces of hard mud on which people had written. Four of those record the supplies of food to 'Jehoiachin, king of Judah, and his 5 sons’.

A general comment about the *prophecies in Jeremiah

Most of the *prophecies refer to the immediate future of the *Jews. But not all of them happened when the *Jews returned after the *exile. For example, Jeremiah *prophesies that the two *kingdoms will unite. He also *prophesies about the ‘Branch’ that rules. (Those *prophecies are mainly in Jeremiah chapters 30, 31 and 33.) But neither of those happened after the *exile. Bible teachers explain that those *prophecies can refer to three different future times. Many *prophecies happened when the *Jews returned to Jerusalem and to their country after the *exile. Some *prophecies happened after Jesus was born. A few *prophecies have not happened yet. But they will happen when God creates the new heaven and the new earth.

Chapter 23

The *shepherds and the sheep 23:1-8

v1 ‘It will be terrible for the *shepherds. They are destroying and are scattering the sheep. The sheep belong to me’ announces the *LORD. v2 The *LORD, the God of Israel, says this to the *shepherds who look after my people. 'You have scattered my group of sheep. You have forced them away. And you have not taken care of them. So I will punish you because of all the evil things that you have done’, declares the *LORD. v3 'I myself will gather together those people who remain in my group. I will bring them out from all the countries where I have forced them. I will bring them back to their own country. There my sheep will have many young sheep and they will increase in number. v4 I will place *shepherds over them who will look after them. My sheep will not be afraid any longer. They will not be very frightened. And all of them will be there’, declares the *LORD.

v5      'Soon’, declares the *LORD,

          ‘I will raise up a Branch from the royal *descendants of David.

          He will rule as king.

          The Branch will do the right things.

          He will do the right and fair things in the country.

v6      In his time he will save Judah.

          And Israel will live in safety.

          This is the name that they will call him.

          "The *LORD who makes us right with himself."

v7 So then’, declares the *LORD, ' soon people will not continue to say this. "Certainly the *LORD is alive. And he brought the *Israelites out from Egypt." v8 But they will say, "Certainly the *LORD is alive. And he brought the *Israelites out from the country in the north. He brought them out from all the countries to which he had made them go." Then they will live in their own country.’

Verses 1-4 The *shepherds were the king and his officials. The sheep were the ordinary citizens in Judah. The king was probably Zedekiah, the last king against whom Jeremiah had *prophesied. Zedekiah was a weak king. He allowed his officials to plan Jeremiah's death. He told them that the king could do nothing to oppose them (Jeremiah 38:5). The *shepherds were bad officials who did not obey the *LORD. And they did not look after their people. Ezekiel wrote about the selfish and cruel ways in which they behaved badly towards the *LORD's people (Ezekiel 34:2-6). Those bad leaders had not shown the people how to live in the right way. The people had gone into *exile because of those bad leaders.

The *LORD would punish those false *shepherds (leaders). But the *LORD would bring back his sheep (his people) from the countries where he had sent them. The *LORD would appoint leaders who would look after them. Isaiah spoke about leaders who would rule in a fair way. They would be like a shelter from danger (Isaiah 32:1-2). Jesus said that he was the good *shepherd. He would die on behalf of the sheep (John 10:11). That means that Jesus is the *shepherd of all his followers. The person who wrote the letter to the *Hebrews called Jesus 'that great *shepherd of the sheep’ (Hebrews 13:20).

Verses 5-6 The *LORD promised a king who would be like a branch. It would grow from the roots of a tree that had fallen down. Isaiah used a similar description (Isaiah 11:1). That new king would be fair and he would rule wisely. Like David, he would rule over Judah. 'The Branch' became the name for that ideal king for whom the people hoped (Zechariah 3:6; 6:12). Zedekiah's name means 'the *LORD shows that I am right’. His behaviour was very different from his name. He did not do right and fair things. But the king, whom the *LORD promised, would be fair. And he would make people in a right relationship with the *LORD. By his death, Jesus Christ made it possible for people to have a right relationship with the *LORD (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Verses 7-8 These verses repeat Jeremiah 16:14-15. They are a promise. In the past, the *LORD had brought the *Israelites out from Egypt. In the future he would bring them out from the north. And also from all the countries where they were in *exile. That would unite the northern and southern *kingdoms of Israel again. Ezekiel *prophesied that future unity. (Ezekiel 37:19-22).

False *prophets 23:9-40

Jeremiah has spoken against the political rulers of Judah. Now he speaks against the *religious leaders in the nation.

1. The *sins of the false *prophets 23:9-15

v9      Here is my message about the *prophets.

          My mind is broken inside me.

          My bones tremble with worry.

          I am like a man who has drunk too much beer.

          I am like someone who has had too much wine.

          That is because the *LORD's holy words have affected me.

v10    The country is full of people who are not loyal to the *LORD.

          Because of this, the land needs water.

          In the desert, the places with grass have become very dry.

          The *prophets are living wicked lives.

          They use their power in unfair ways.

v11    '*Prophets and priests alike are wicked.

          They do wrong deeds, even in my *Temple’,

          declares the *LORD.

v12    'Their life will become difficult.

          It will be like a path where they slip.

          I will throw them out into darkness,

          and they will fall down there.

          I will bring great trouble upon them

          at the time that I punish them.’ The *LORD declares this.

v13    'Among the *prophets of Samaria

          I saw what disgusted me.

          They were speaking the name of *Baal when they were *prophesying.

          They were causing my people, Israel, to live in the wrong way.

v14    Also I have seen something terrible

          among the *prophets in Jerusalem.

          They are not loyal to me.

          They are not living in a truthful way.

          They encourage those people who do wrong deeds.

          Then those people do not turn from their wicked ways.

          To me, all of them are like the people in Sodom.

          The people in Jerusalem are like the people in Gomorrah.’

v15    So the *LORD, the most powerful God, says this about the *prophets.

          'I will make them eat bitter food.

          I will make them drink poisonous water.

          This is because the *prophets in Jerusalem have spread

          their wicked ways everywhere in the country.’

Verse 9 Jeremiah could not understand why the *prophets had refused to listen to the *LORD. He could not understand why his people were so wicked. He was so confused in his mind. His thoughts were affecting him physically. His legs trembled. He felt like someone who had drunk too much wine.

Verses 10-12 Everywhere people had left the real God. They were like those women who were not loyal to their husbands. The people *worshipped the false god, *Baal. But that had not made the land successful. Instead, the land had become dry. There used to be grass for the animals to eat. Now there was no grass. The *prophets did not use their power in the right ways. Even in the *Temple, the *prophets and the priests continued *pagan customs and wrong moral acts. People *worshipped all kinds of false gods. Ezekiel described how they *worshipped the sun there (Ezekiel chapter 8). The *prophets and priests were on their way to great trouble. They were like people who were walking on a path in the dark. The path was so smooth that they would slip on it. And they would fall over. The right time would come for the *LORD to punish them.

Verse 13-14 The *prophets in Samaria were not loyal to the *LORD. And they turned the people away from the *LORD. When the *prophets spoke, they used the name of *Baal and not the *LORD’s name. The *prophets in Jerusalem *sinned in a worse way. They too *worshipped *Baal. But also they encouraged the people to do wrong deeds. Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities that the *LORD had destroyed. The people who lived there had been very wicked (Genesis 18:20; 19:1-9). The people in Judah were like the people in those cities. So they deserved the *LORD's punishment.

Verse 15 ‘Bitter food’ and ‘poisonous water’ was the way that they used to describe difficulties for a person. The false *prophets would have bitter pain in their lives. And they would die like someone who had drunk poison.

A dangerous message from false *prophets 23:16-20

v16    This is what the most powerful *LORD says.

          'Do not listen to what the *prophets are saying to you.

          They fill you with false hopes.

          They talk about things that come from their own minds.

          What they say does not come from the *LORD.

v17    These people have no respect for the messages from the *LORD.

          So those *prophets often give different messages to those people.

          "The *LORD says that you will have peace."

          And the *prophets say this to all those people who definitely please themselves.

          "Nothing will come to hurt you."

v18    But none of them has stood in the *LORD's court.

          None of them has seen or has heard the *LORD's message.

          None has given their careful attention to the *LORD.

v19    The *LORD's great anger will burst out like a storm.

          It will be like a strong, fast wind.

          It will sweep down on all the wicked people.

v20    The *LORD's anger will not stop.

          He will complete all that he has decided to do.

          You will understand it clearly in the future.

Verses 16-17 The false *prophets do not give messages from the *LORD. They say what they think. They make the people believe that there will be peace. They tell the people that they will not have troubles. That was a popular message, but it gave the people a false sense of security. People wanted to behave in the way that they chose. They did not want to obey the *LORD. So the *prophets encouraged them. As a result, the people continued to *sin against the *LORD.

Verses 18-20 Jeremiah speaks about those people who understand the *LORD's messages. They are his close friends. Jesus used words like those in verse 18. He spoke about what he had 'seen' with his Father. And he spoke about the truth that he had 'heard' from God (John 8:38,40). If the *prophets knew the *LORD’s message, they would talk about his punishment. That is what Jeremiah did. The *LORD's punishment on wicked people would come like a fast and powerful wind.

The false *prophets would not understand until the *LORD's punishment had happened. Nebuchadnezzar defeated Judah and took the people into Babylon. Then the false *prophets should have realised what Jeremiah meant. But even in Babylon, they did not understand Jeremiah's words (Jeremiah 27:19 - 28:8).

Dreams and messages that come from someone else 23:21-32

v21    I did not speak to these *prophets,

          but they have run with their messages.

          I did not speak to them,

          but they have continued to *prophesy.

v22    If they had stood in my company

          they would have announced my message to my people.

          They would have turned my people

          away from their wicked ways.

          They would have turned them away from their *sins.’

v23    The *LORD declares this. ‘I am a God who is near.

          And I am a God who is far away also.

v24    Nobody can hide in secret places so that I cannot see him.

          I fill heaven and earth', declares the *LORD.’

v25 'I have heard what the *prophets are saying. They *prophesy lies when they use my name. They say, "I had a dream! I had a dream!" v26 I wonder how long these *prophets will continue to tell other people their own wrong ideas. v27 They tell each other their dreams. They think that it will make my people forget me. In the same way, their *ancestors forgot my name when they *worshipped *Baal. v28 Allow the *prophet who has a dream to tell his dream. But the *prophet who has heard my message should speak it truthfully. Straw is no good compared with wheat’, declares the *LORD. v29 'My message is like fire. It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces. v30 So I am against these *prophets who steal messages from each other’, announces the *LORD. 'They say that these messages come from me.’

v31 ‘Yes', declares the *LORD. 'I am against the *prophets who speak their own words. But they say this. "Here is what the *LORD says." v32 I am against these *prophets. They talk about dreams that did not come from me’, announces the *LORD. 'They tell foolish lies. They lead people away from the right way to live. I did not send these *prophets. I did not appoint them. They do not help my people in any way’, declares the *LORD.

Verses 21-22 Those *prophets did not know the *LORD. Their messages showed that the *LORD had not sent them. A true *prophet would urge the people to change their behaviour. He would turn the people away from their *sins. But those *prophets encouraged people to believe that God would never punish them for their actions.

Verses 23-24 Nobody can hide from the *LORD. Both Amos, the *prophet, (Amos 9:1-4) and Jeremiah said that nobody can escape from the *LORD's punishment. The *LORD is near to people. But also he is above everyone and everything. He can reach the furthest places in space. So he knows what people are saying. And he knows what they are doing. He knew the truth about the false *prophets.

Verses 25-27 *Pagans thought that their false gods spoke to them by means of dreams. But dreams were less important to the people in Israel. Daniel explained his own dreams and those of Nebuchadnezzar. But Saul did not receive an answer from the *LORD by means of dreams (1 Samuel 28:6). The people in Israel would know when a *prophet's dream was false. He would try to turn them away from the *LORD (Deuteronomy 13:1-4). The dreams of false *prophets gave a false sense of security to the people (Zechariah 10:20).

The 'name' of the *LORD means his character. Once people forgot the character of the *LORD, they could accept all kinds of false ideas. Their *ancestors had forgotten how powerful and holy the *LORD is. So they had accepted *pagan beliefs about *Baal.

Verses 28-32 The dreamer could tell his dream if he wished. But it was only a dream. It was not a message from the *LORD. The dream of a false *prophet was like straw. It did nothing to help anyone. But the *LORD's message was as valuable as wheat. The *LORD's message is as powerful as a fire that destroys rubbish. His message has an effect on the person who listens to it. As a result, that person will want to remove *sin from his behaviour. The *LORD's word is as powerful as a hammer that can break rocks. The *LORD’s words can break down wrong thoughts and wrong attitudes. The false *prophets could repeat only what other false *prophets had said. But they pretended that the message came from the *LORD.

The *LORD said three times 'I am against these *prophets’. They told lies that made people continue to live in the wrong way. The *LORD had not sent those *prophets. He had appointed only the true *prophets. The *LORD had sent Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah (Amos 7:14-15; Isaiah 6; 8-9 and Jeremiah 1:4-5). Also other *Old Testament *prophets knew that they had received their messages from the *LORD.

The message and the heavy load 23:33-40

v33 'Suppose that these people or a *prophet or a priest ask you this. "What is the *LORD's message?” You must say this to them. "You are a heavy load to the *LORD and he will free himself from you." This is what the *LORD declares. v34 Suppose that a *prophet or a priest or anyone else says this, "This is the *LORD's message”. I will punish that man and his family. v35 Each person says this to his friend or his relative. “What is the *LORD's answer?" or, "What has the *LORD spoken?" v36 But you must not talk about the message from the *LORD again. That is because every man's own word becomes his message. And so you change the words of the God, who is alive. He is the most powerful *LORD, our God. v37 This is what you continue to say to a *prophet. “What is the *LORD's answer to you?” or, "What did the *LORD say?" v38 You say, “This is the *LORD's message”. But this is what the *LORD says. “You used the words: This is the *LORD's message. But I told you that you must not say: This is the *LORD's message. v39 So you can be sure that I will forget you. I will throw you away from me. Also I will destroy the city that I gave to you and to your *ancestors. v40 I will bring shame on you that will continue for always. It will be shame that nobody will forget.’

Verses 33-36 There are different ways to use words in these verses. The *Hebrew words for 'message' and 'heavy load' both come from a word that means 'to lift'. So it could mean to ‘lift up’ a person’s voice. That means that they speak loudly. Or it could mean to lift up (to carry) a heavy load. Also the words 'heavy load' can refer to a great responsibility. Jeremiah replied to a question about the *LORD's message and he used the two meanings of the word. The people in Judah were the *LORD's message. And they were a heavy load that he would remove.

Many times the false *prophets used the words, 'This is the *LORD's message'. But the words had no meaning, because the false *prophets were telling lies. They were using their own words. And they were changing the *LORD’s message. So the *LORD would punish anyone who used those words.

Verses 37-40 Often the people would ask a *prophet to give to them a message from the *LORD. A false *prophet would declare that he was giving to them the *LORD's message. But the *LORD had told them not to use those words. The *prophets, and the people who listened to them, were like a heavy load. The *LORD would remove them. He would throw them away from their own country. And he would destroy Jerusalem. All the people would remember that they had brought that great trouble upon themselves. It was because they had refused to obey the *LORD.

Chapter 24

The good *figs and the bad *figs 24:1-10

v1 Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon. He made King Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim, leave Jerusalem. The officials and all the skilful workers had to go to Babylon with him. After they had left the country, the *LORD showed me two baskets of *figs. They were in front of the *Temple. v2 One basket had very good *figs in it. They were like *figs that had become ripe early. The other basket had very poor *figs. They were so bad that people could not eat them. v3 Then the *LORD asked me, 'What do you see Jeremiah?' ‘I see *figs’, I answered. 'The good figs are very good. But the other *figs are so bad that nobody can eat them.’

v4 Then the *LORD gave this message to me. He said, v5 'I am the *LORD, the God of Israel. I sent away the people from Judah from this place. I sent them to the country called Babylon. I consider that they are like these good *figs. v6 I will look after the people from Judah. I will be good to them. And I will bring them back to this country. I will build them up, and I will not tear them down. I will plant them, and I will not pull them up by the roots. v7 I will change their hearts. Then they will know that I am the *LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God. They will return to me with all their heart.

v8 But there are the bad *figs. They are so bad that nobody can eat them. I consider that Zedekiah, the king of Judah, is like those bad *figs. Also his officials and the people who continue to live in Jerusalem are like those bad *figs. They may remain in this country or they may live in Egypt. But I will punish them. v9 I will make all the *kingdoms on the earth to be disgusted with them. All the *kingdoms on the earth will hate them and laugh at them. All the *kingdoms on the earth will laugh and joke about them. They will wish evil things upon the king, his officials and all the people in Jerusalem. All this will happen wherever I make them go. v10 I will send war, hunger and disease against them. I will destroy them. Then they will not remain in the country that I gave to them and to their *ancestors.’

Verses 1-3 The message came to Jeremiah after 597 *BC. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken King Jehoiachin, all the important officials and the skilful workers into Babylon (2 Kings 24:14-15). Jeremiah may have had a picture that he saw in his mind. Or perhaps he had an actual experience about which he thought. The baskets of *figs were in front of the *Temple. They may have been *offerings to the *LORD from the first fruits on the tree (Deuteronomy 26:5-11). The *figs that became ripe early were the best ones. Nobody should have given bad *figs to the *LORD. People were bringing *offerings to the *LORD that were less than perfect. Perhaps the *figs were the evidence (Malachi 1:6-9).

Verses 4-7 The good *figs refer to the people. But they were not the people who remained in Judah. The *LORD's thoughts are not the same as human thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). The good *figs were the people who had gone to Babylon. They would realise why the *LORD had sent them there. The *LORD would change their attitude. Then they would want to obey him as their *LORD. The *LORD promised that he would bring them back to their own country. The *LORD had told Jeremiah that his work was to 'tear down and pull up'. But Jeremiah’s work was to 'build up' and 'plant' as well (Jeremiah 1:10).

Verses 8-10 The bad *figs were Zedekiah, his officials and the people alive in Judah after 597 *BC. The bad *figs were also the people from Judah who were in Egypt. They may have gone there from Judah when *Pharaoh Necho took Jehoahaz (Shallum) there in 609 *BC. (2 Kings 23:34). All those people may have thought that they were safe. So they continued in their sinful ways and their foolish political plots. But the *LORD would judge them and they would become *exiles too. The *LORD would destroy the city of Jerusalem. Other nations would joke about them.

These verses remind us about the *LORD's *blessings. He does not *bless people only when they are in a particular country. He would *bless those people in Babylon who were willing to return to him. People can find the *LORD wherever they are living. But they need to look for him sincerely (Deuteronomy 4:29).

Chapter 25

70 Years in Babylon 25:1-14

v1 The *LORD gave a message to Jeremiah about all the people in Judah. He gave it in the 4th year that Jehoiakim, Josiah's son, was king of Judah. This was the first year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. v2 So Jeremiah, the *prophet, spoke to all the people in Judah. And he spoke to all those people who were living in Jerusalem. v3 He said, 'The *LORD has been giving his messages to me for 23 years. This started in the 13th year that Josiah, Amon's son, was the king of Judah. The *LORD continues to give his messages to me today. I have continued to speak to you people. But you have not listened to me.

v4 The *LORD continued to send all his servants, the *prophets, to you. But you have not listened. You have not taken any notice of them. v5 They told you this. "Each one of you must turn from your evil ways and turn from your evil customs. Then you can stay in the country that the *LORD gave to your *ancestors for always. v6 Do not follow false gods. Do not *worship and serve them. Do not make the *LORD angry because of the false gods that you have made with your own hands. Then the *LORD will not hurt you." v7 But you did not listen to me’, declares the *LORD. 'And you have made me angry because of the things that you have made. And you have brought trouble upon yourselves.’ v8 The most powerful *LORD says this. 'You have not listened to my message. v9 So I will send for all the nations in the north. And I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon’, declares the *LORD. 'I will bring all of them against this country and against the people who live in it. And I will bring them against all the nations that are round this country. I will destroy them completely. People will show their disgust towards these nations. People will joke about them. These nations will be ashamed. v10 I will stop the happy and glad sounds. I will stop the voices of the bride and the bridegroom. People will not hear the sounds of the stones that make flour. There will be no light from lamps. v11 This whole country will become an empty desert land. And these nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.

v12 But after the 70 years, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation because of their *sins. I will make their land into a desert for always. v13 I will cause everything to happen to that country that I have spoken against it. I will make everything happen that Jeremiah wrote in this book. Everything that Jeremiah *prophesied against all the nations will happen. v14 Many nations and great kings will make the king of Babylon and his nation into slaves. I will give to them that which they deserve. This will be in proportion to their deeds and to all that they have done.’

Verses 1-2 In 605 *BC, at the battle of Carchemish, Egypt lost its power. Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon. In 605 *BC, Jehoiakim had been the king of Judah for 4 years. It was the year in which Jeremiah dictated his *prophecies to Baruch (Jeremiah 36:1-26). King Jehoiakim destroyed Jeremiah's work. But Jeremiah wrote his messages again and added extra ones. Jeremiah 25:1-14 may be words to start this book. Or they may be words to end it.

Verses 3-5 Jeremiah began his work as a *prophet when Josiah had been the king for 13 years (Jeremiah 1:2). That happened in 627 *BC. Both Jeremiah and the other *prophets always urged the people to turn from their wicked ways. But the people refused to listen. Jeremiah had been urging the people for more than 20 years without success.

Verses 6-7 ‘what you have made'. That refers to the *idols that men had made. They were the *idols that they *worshipped. But also it could refer to everything that they did.

Verses 8-12 The *LORD referred to Nebuchadnezzar as his servant. That does not mean that he *worshipped the *LORD. But it means that the *LORD used him to punish Judah. Judah had refused to obey the *LORD. The *LORD had been very patient. He had warned them many times. They had had a long time in which to change their ways. Later, Cyrus, the king of Persia, defeated the king of Babylon. The *LORD called Cyrus his *shepherd (Isaiah 44:28). The *LORD used him to carry out his plans. Cyrus allowed the *LORD’s people to return to their own country.

When Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judah, there would be an end to normal activities. Happy activities like weddings would not happen. There would be no corn. So the stones would have no grain to turn into flour. There would be no oil. So they would not be able to light lamps. The whole country would become like a desert. Nobody would live there. 70 years is the normal length of a person’s life (Psalm 90:10). And 70 years is a long time, but it has a definite end. Babylon would have troubles later. The *LORD would punish Babylon because of its *sins.

Verses 13-14 The *Greek translation of the *Old Testament puts Jeremiah chapters 46-51 after the first part of verse 13. They are *prophecies against foreign nations. The 'many nations' of verse 14 refer to the Medes and Persians. They defeated Babylon in 539 *B.C when Cyrus was their king.

These verses are very important. They tell that the *LORD would bring his people back to the country of Israel. Later Daniel read about this passage. He prayed that the *LORD would carry out his promise (Daniel 9:1-3).

*Prophecies against foreign nations 25:15-38

1. A list of nations v15-29

v15 The *LORD, the God of Israel, said this to me. 'Take this cup from my hand. My great anger is like the wine that fills it. All the nations to which I send you must drink it. v16 When they drink it, they will not walk straight. It will make them mad. This is because I will send war among them.’

v17 So I took the cup from the *LORD's hand. All the nations, to which he sent me, had to drink it. v18 He sent me to the kings and officials in Jerusalem and in the towns in Judah. It would destroy them. Other people would be ashamed of them. They would joke about the kings and the officials. Other people would wish evil things upon them. This is how things are today.

v19 Here are the other kings and nations to whom he sent me. He sent me to *Pharaoh the king of Egypt, his servants, his officials and all his people. v20 All the people from other countries who lived there; all the kings of Uz; all the kings of the *Philistines. (They include the people of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and those people who still are living in Ashdod.) v21 He sent me to Edom, Moab and Ammon. v22 All the kings of Tyre and Sidon; the kings of the countries across the sea. v23 Dedan, Tema, Buz and all those people who cut their hair short. v24 All the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the people who live in the desert. v25 All the kings of Zimri, Elam and Media. v26 All the kings in the north, near and far away. He sent me to all the *kingdoms on the earth, one after another. After all of them, the king of Sheshach (Babylon) will drink this cup too.

v27 'Then tell them that the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel, says this. “Drink from this cup. Act like someone who has drunk too much wine. And be sick. Fall down and do not get up again. I will send war among you." v28 But suppose they refuse to take the cup from your hand. Suppose they refuse to drink from it. Tell them that the most powerful *LORD says this. "You must drink it!" v29 I am beginning to bring trouble on the city where my name lives. You might think that I will not punish you. But certainly I will punish you. I am sending war against everyone who lives on the earth.’ This is what the *LORD, the most powerful God, declares.

Verses 15-17 The cup with the drink in it is a description of the *LORD's punishment. The same description is in Habbakuk 2:16 and in Lamentations 4:21. Jesus used those words in the garden called Gesthemane (Luke 22:41-42). The *LORD would send war against the nations. That would make the people behave like people who had drunk too much wine. They would go mad because of their fear. Jeremiah would be a *prophet 'to the nations' (Jeremiah 1:5). He believed that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, would attack the nations one at a time.

Verse 18 The *LORD would begin with his own people in Jerusalem and in the cities in Judah. ‘This is how things are today.' That suggests that some part of the *LORD's punishment was happening already.

Verses 19-26 Egypt is the first of other nations on the list. *Pharaoh, his officials and his people had to drink the cup of the *LORD's punishment. The punishment includes the group of people from other countries who lived in Egypt. Exodus 12:38 refers to other people who came out from Egypt with the people of Israel. The full *prophecy about Egypt is in Jeremiah chapter 46.

The country called Uz was the home of Job (Job 1:1). It was probably east of the river Jordan. In Lamentations 4:21, it is associated with Edom.

The *Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and Ashdod do not include their 5th city called Gath. Amos does not mention it either (Amos 1:6-8), so Gath may have lost its importance already. There was a writer of history called Herodotus. He said that *Pharaoh Psammeticus destroyed Ashdod. He ruled until 609 *BC. That would explain the words 'those people who are left'.

The nations called Edom, Ammon and Moab (Jeremiah 48:1-49:22) and the kings of Tyre and Sidon opposed Babylon. So all of them would have troubles.

'Dedan' describes people whose family history went back to Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:3). 'Tema' refers to an Arab *tribe. 'Buz' came from the family of Nahor, Abraham's brother (Genesis 22:21).

The *LORD would judge all the other places to the north of Judah and everywhere else. Finally, the *LORD would judge Babylon itself. The word 'Sheshach' is a different way to refer to Babylon. (The *Hebrew word for Babylon has three letters BBL. Those letters are the second, second and 12th in their alphabet. Sh, Sh and Ch are the second, second and 12th from the end of their alphabet). 'Sheshach' may have been a secret word that they used during a time of political danger. But Jeremiah uses the name 'Babylon' in other verses. So there may be another reason why Jeremiah used it here. In Jeremiah chapters 50 to 51 there is a long passage to describe the *LORD's punishment for Babylon.

Verses 27-29 There was no way to avoid the *LORD's punishment. The *LORD told Jeremiah to say that clearly. No people on earth would escape punishment. The city where the *LORD’s name lives, refers to Jerusalem and the *Temple. Certainly the *LORD would punish Jerusalem. Amos said that the *LORD would punish his special people because of their *sins. And Peter wrote that punishment would begin with 'the family of God' (1 Peter 4:17).

2. The *LORD's universal punishment 25:30-38

v30 ‘Jeremiah, now *prophesy all these words against them. Tell them this.

          "The *LORD will roar from heaven like a lion.

          His voice will sound like the noise in a storm.

          He will roar loudly against his country

          from his holy place in heaven.

          He will shout like the people who are pressing *grapes.

          He will shout against everyone who lives on earth.

v31    Everyone on the earth will hear the noise.

          The *LORD will accuse the nations.

          He will bring them to court and he will judge everyone.

          He will kill those people who are wicked”, declares the *LORD.

v32    This is what the *LORD, the most powerful God, says.

          “Look! Terrible trouble is spreading

          from one nation to another nation.

          A great storm is rising.

          It is coming from a place that is far away on the earth.” ’

v33 At that time, those people whom the *LORD kills will be everywhere. They will be lying all over the earth. Nobody will weep for them. Nobody will gather them up and bury them. But their bodies will be like rubbish that is lying on the ground.

v34    *Shepherds, you must weep and cry loudly.

          Leaders, you must roll in the dust.

          It is time for someone to kill you.

          You will fall and break into pieces like delicate pots.

v35    The *shepherds will have nowhere to run.

          The leaders will not be able to escape.

v36    Listen to the cries of the *shepherds.

          Hear the loud cries of the leaders.

          The *LORD is destroying their fields of grass.

v37    He will destroy completely their peaceful fields,

          because the *LORD is fiercely angry.

v38    The *LORD is like a lion. He will leave his home.

          And he will be very angry with these people.

          His anger is like a sword. It will hurt them.

          So the land of these people will become a desert.    

Verse 30 The *prophets Amos and Hosea also describe how the *LORD is like a lion. He is like a lion that roars (Amos 1:2 and Hosea 11:10). The *LORD makes people hear him even during a noisy storm. People used to press *grapes with their feet. That is how they got juice from the *grapes to make wine. They would shout as they did that. Those all describe how people everywhere would hear the *LORD's message about punishment.

Verses 31-32 The descriptions change to a court of law. The *LORD would accuse the nations about their wrong actions. He would kill those people who are guilty. The terrible punishment would be like a great storm. It would blow up from a distant place. It would spread through every nation in the world.

Verse 33 This small verse interrupts the poem. It shows that the results of the war would be terrible. Nobody would be sad about those people. They would have no proper grave. Their bodies would be everywhere on the ground. They would be like rubbish on the ground. It is a description that Jeremiah had used before (Jeremiah 9:22; 16:6-7).

Verses 34-38 The *shepherds were the rulers of the nations. The leaders were the kings. They thought that they were safe. They thought that their countries were like peaceful fields. But those proud rulers would experience the *LORD's punishment. His punishment was for every nation. They would fall like pots that break into pieces. A different translation of this verse says this. ‘They would fall like the best sheep that the people kill.’

A lion leaves its home to attack the sheep. The *LORD is like that lion. The *LORD is very angry. He will use an enemy to fight the nations. The enemy will turn the land into a desert where nobody can live.

Chapter 26

The result of Jeremiah’s speech in the *Temple 26:1-19

v1 Soon after Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, became the king of Judah, this message came from the *LORD. v2 The *LORD said, 'Stand in front of my house. Speak to all the people who come to *worship in the *LORD's house. They come from the towns in Judah. Tell them everything that I order you to say. Do not leave out a single word. v3 Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from their wicked ways. Then I will not do what I had intended. I will not bring onto them the trouble because of their evil deeds. v4 Tell them that the *LORD says this. “Listen to me. Obey my law that I gave to you. v5 And listen to what my servants, the *prophets, say. I have sent them to you many times. But you have not listened to them. v6 So I will make this house like the city called Shiloh. All the nations in the world will wish evil things upon this city (Jerusalem).” ’

v7 The priests, the *prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah give this message in the *LORD's house. v8 Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people. He told them everything that the *LORD had ordered him to say. But as soon as he finished, the priests and the *prophets and all the people seized Jeremiah. They said, 'You must die! v9 Why are you saying these things? And why are you using the *LORD's name? Why are you saying that this house will become like Shiloh? Why are you saying that this city will become empty? Why are you saying that all the people will leave it?' And all the people crowded round Jeremiah in the *LORD's house.

v10 The officials in Judah heard what had happened. So they went up from the royal palace to the *LORD's house. Then they sat in their places at the entrance of the New Gate. v11 Then the priests and the *prophets spoke to the officials and all the people. They said, 'This man should receive the punishment of death. He has *prophesied against the city. You have heard him yourselves.'

v12 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and to all the people. 'The *LORD has sent me to *prophesy against this house and against this city. He sent me to say everything that you have heard. v13 So change the way that you live. Change the way that you act. Obey the *LORD your God. Then he will not bring onto you the trouble that he has declared. v14 As for me, I am in your power. Do to me whatever is good and right in your opinion. v15 But you can be sure about this. If you kill me, you will be the guilty people. I am innocent because I have done no wrong thing. You will be guilty yourselves. And you will make this city guilty. And the people who live in it will be guilty. This is the truth. The *LORD sent me so that you could listen to all these words.’

v16 Then the officials and all the people spoke to the priests and the *prophets. 'This man should not have the punishment of death. He has spoken to us and he used the name of the *LORD our God.’

v17 Some of the older leaders of the people stepped forward. They spoke to the whole group of people who had gathered there, v18 'Micah from Moresheth *prophesied when Hezekiah was the king of Judah. He told this to all the people in Judah.

          "This is what the *LORD, the most powerful God, says.

          People will plough Zion like a field.

          Jerusalem will become a heap of rubbish.

          Bushes will cover the *Temple hill.”

v19 Neither King Hezekiah nor anyone else killed Micah. Hezekiah respected the *LORD. Hezekiah asked the *LORD to be kind. And the *LORD did not judge Jerusalem as he had said. He did not bring onto them the trouble that he had decided. But we will bring terrible trouble upon ourselves!'

Verses 1-6 This is a shorter account of the message that is in Jeremiah chapter 7. In chapter 7, there is no date. Jeremiah may have given the same message on two different occasions. Or it may be the same occasion. But the importance here is what happened to Jeremiah as a result. Soon after *Pharaoh Necho had taken Jehoiakim's brother, Jehoahaz, into Egypt, Jehoiakim became king. Jeremiah could not leave out a single word of his message. The message warned them. The *LORD would destroy the *Temple and Jerusalem unless the people changed their ways. The *Philistines had destroyed Shiloh about 1050 *BC. It had been the place where the people in Israel *worshipped the *LORD. That was before Solomon built the *Temple in Jerusalem (1 Samuel 1:3). Some people think that the *Philistines destroyed that *Temple. They may have done that after they had seized the God’s special box (1 Samuel chapter 4).

Verses 7-11 The *religious leaders and the people seized Jeremiah. They accused him. He had used the *LORD’s name when he spoke. So they said that he had insulted the *LORD. They believed that the *LORD protected Jerusalem. The LORD’s *Temple was in Jerusalem. Therefore, it would be impossible for the *LORD to destroy the city. The officials may have received a message about what was happening. Or perhaps they heard all the angry noises. It was usual to hold legal meetings at a gate of the city. At a city gate, Abraham obtained the right to buy a field (Genesis 23:10-20). At a city gate, Boaz obtained the right to have Ruth as his wife (Ruth 4:1-9). The *religious leaders accused Jeremiah. They said that he ought to die because of his *prophecy against Jerusalem.

Verses 12-16 Jeremiah spoke to defend himself. He said that he was a true *prophet. He urged the people to change their ways. Then they could avoid the trouble that the *LORD intended to send upon them. If they killed Jeremiah, they would kill an innocent person. So they might bring the *LORD's punishment upon themselves and upon the city. The officials acted as judges. They and the people there believed Jeremiah. He did not deserve to die. His message was a true message from the *LORD.

Verses 17-19 Some of the older leaders remembered the *prophecy that Micah gave (Micah 3:12). It said that Jerusalem would become like an empty field. And the *Temple hill would be a place where bushes grew. An enemy would destroy the city completely. King Hezekiah and the people in Judah had not killed Micah then. They had changed their ways. So they had escaped the *LORD's punishment. The older leaders pointed out that they would bring terrible trouble upon themselves. The officials had already declared that Jeremiah was innocent. And the leaders’ words supported their decision.

What happened to Uriah 26:20-24

v20 Uriah, Shemaiah's son from Kiriath-jearim, also used the name of the *LORD when he *prophesied. He said the same things as Jeremiah said against Jerusalem and against the country of Judah. v21 When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard Uriah's message, the king tried to kill him. But Uriah heard about it. He was afraid and he ran away to Egypt. v22 However, King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan, son of Achbor, and some other men to Egypt. v23 They brought Uriah out from Egypt. And they took him to King Jehoiakim. The king ordered someone to kill Uriah with a sword. Then they threw out Uriah's body among the graves of ordinary people.

v24 But Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, supported Jeremiah. So they did not give Jeremiah to the people that they might kill him.

Verses 20-23 These verses show that it was dangerous to speak the truth. Uriah came from a place that was quite near to Jerusalem. His message was the same as Jeremiah's. Uriah heard about the king's plan to kill him. So Uriah escaped to Egypt. But Jehoiakim was a cruel king. Probably there was some political agreement between Jehoiakim and the leaders in Egypt. So Elnathan was able to go to Egypt to return Uriah to his own country. Elnathan may have been the father of Jehoiakim's wife (2 Kings 24:8). He probably acted on Jehoiakim's orders. Later, he tried to stop Jehoiakim when he burned Jeremiah's book (Jeremiah 36:25). The graves of the ordinary people were in the Kidron valley, outside Jerusalem. Zechariah was the only other *prophet in the *Old Testament whom the people killed (2 Chronicles 24:20-22). But Jesus spoke about the death of *prophets. That means that there were other *prophets who died because of their courage (Matthew 23:31; Luke 13:34).

Verse 24 Fortunately, Ahikam and his family supported Jeremiah. Ahikam's father Shaphan may have been the secretary when Josiah was the king (2 Kings 22:3-14). Ahikam's brother Gemariah, tried to stop Jehoiakim when he burned Jeremiah's book (Jeremiah 36:11,25). Gedaliah, was also a son of Shaphan. He looked after Jeremiah after the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:14; 40:5-16).

There is a contrast between what happened to Jeremiah and to Uriah. The *LORD allows different things to happen to his servants. Uriah died. But Jeremiah *prophesied and had troubles for many more years. In the same way, Herod killed the James, who was one of Jesus’ followers (Acts 12:2). But his brother, John, lived until he was old. People find those differences hard to understand. But we must realise that the *LORD is wiser than people.

Chapters 27-28 Jeremiah and false *prophets

Chapter 27

Jeremiah warns the officials from foreign governments 27:1-11

v1 The *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah soon after Josiah's son, Zedekiah, became king of Judah. v2 The *LORD said this to me. ‘Make a *yoke out of thick strings and wooden bars. Put it on your neck. v3 Then send a message to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon. Their men, who bring messages, have come to Jerusalem to see Zedekiah, the king of Judah. v4 Give them a message for their masters and say this to them. “This is what the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel says: Tell this to your masters. v5 I reached out my great and powerful arm. I made the earth. I made its people and its animals. And I can give the earth to anyone that I want. v6 Now I will hand over all your countries to my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. I will put even the wild animals under his control. v7 All the nations will serve him, his son and his grandson. After that, I will judge his country. Then many nations and great kings will make the king of Babylon serve them.

v8 But suppose that any nation or *kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. And suppose that it will not put its neck under his *yoke. Then I will punish that nation with war, hunger and disease, declares the *LORD. I will punish that nation until he destroys it.

v9 So do not listen to your *prophets. Some people say that they have secret knowledge. Do not listen to them. Some people say that they can explain your dreams. Do not listen to them. Some people say that they can get messages from dead people. Do not listen to them. Some people use bad magic. Do not listen to them. All of them will tell you that you will not serve the king of Babylon. v10 They *prophesy lies to you. If you listen to them, I will remove you far away from your countries. I will send you away and you will die. v11 But suppose that any nation will put its neck under the *yoke of the king of Babylon. And suppose that they will serve him. Then I will let that nation stay in its own country. I will let the people plough the land. And they will live in it”, declares the *LORD.’

Verses 1-2 That event took place after 597 *BC. Already King Nebuchadnezzar had defeated Judah. He had taken the king and the important people to Babylon. He had made Zedekiah the king. Jeremiah 28:1 says that it was the 4th year of Zedekiah's rule. So it would have happened about 594 *BC.

Men put a *yoke on the neck of animals. Then they used thick string to attach the *yoke to a plough. Then the animals had to obey the farmer. So in verse 8, the *yoke meant that one country would have to obey another country.

Verses 3-7 Men with messages came from the group of small countries. They had arrived in Jerusalem. They intended to plot with Zedekiah and no longer to obey Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah told them to take the message back to their masters. The message said that the *LORD is great and powerful. He created the world and everything in it. Therefore, he can give the world to anyone that he chooses. The *LORD decided that Nebuchadnezzar and his *descendants would control the nations. Later, the *LORD would judge Babylon. He would do that by means of other nations and kings. It had seemed impossible that Babylon itself would lose its power. People listened to Jeremiah's message. They thought that he was not loyal to his country.

Verses 8-11 Any nation that refused to accept Jeremiah's message would have troubles from a military attack. The results of war were hunger and disease. It was foolish to believe all the people who were telling lies. Those people were false *prophets. And they said that they knew future events. The *LORD did not allow the *Israelites to use those wrong customs (Deuteronomy 18:9-13). To listen to those false *prophets would lead to the *LORD's punishment. They were saying that people should not obey Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar would make them go into *exile, where they would die. But they should follow Jeremiah's advice and accept Nebuchadnezzar as their master. Then they would remain in their own country. They would have to pay money to the king of Babylon. But they would live peacefully. And they would continue to cultivate the land.

The message to Zedekiah 27:12-15

v12 I gave the same message to Zedekiah, the king of Judah. I said, 'Put your neck under the *yoke of the king of Babylon. Serve him and serve his people. Then you will live. v13 You and your people need not die in war. You need not die because of hunger and disease. The *LORD said that this would happen. Any nation that would not serve the king of Babylon would have troubles. v14 Do not listen to the words of the *prophets who say this to you. “You will never serve the king of Babylon.” They are *prophesying lies to you. v15 “I have not sent them”, declares the *LORD. "They are *prophesying lies when they use my name. Therefore, I will send you away and you will die. Both you and the *prophets, who *prophesy lies to you, will die." '

Verses 12-15 Jeremiah himself appealed to the king. Zedekiah should not listen to the false *prophets. The *LORD had not sent them. He did not want his people to die in war. He did not want them to die because of hunger and disease. So Zedekiah should serve Nebuchadnezzar. Then Zedekiah and his people would remain in their own country. But if Zedekiah believed the promises of the false *prophets, he would have to leave Judah. Both Zedekiah and the false *prophets would die.

The message to the priests and the people 27:16-22

v16 Then I spoke to the priests and to all these people. 'This is what the *LORD says. "Do not listen to your *prophets who say this: Very soon now people will bring back from Babylon the objects from the *Temple. They are *prophesying lies to you. v17 Do not listen to them. Serve the king of Babylon, and you will live. This city need not become a pile of stones. v18 If they are *prophets, they have received a message from me. So let them pray to me. I am the *LORD, the most powerful God. These *prophets should pray for the things that are still in Jerusalem. These *prophets should pray that these things will stay here. There are objects in the *Temple and in the kings palace and in Jerusalem. These *prophets should pray that Nebuchadnezzar will not take these objects to Babylon. v19 I am the *LORD, the most powerful God. These objects are the two columns in front of the *Temple. Also they include the huge metal bowl called the Sea. There are also the metal stands that they can move. And there are other objects that still remain in this city. v20 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did not take away these things the first time. That was when he took Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim's son, the king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took with him all the important people in Judah and Jerusalem” v21 Yes, the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel, says this about the things that remain. “They are in the *Temple, and in the palace of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem. v22 Nebuchadnezzar will take them to Babylon. They will remain there until I come to get them. Then I will bring them back. I will return them to this place", declares the *LORD.'

Verses 16-18 Jeremiah urged the priests and the people not to listen to the false *prophets. Nebuchadnezzar took objects from the *Temple in 597 *BC. That was when he took away into Babylon king Jehoiachin and the important people (2 Kings 24:13). The false *prophets said that soon Nebuchadnezzar would return those objects. The false *prophets should pray to the *LORD. They should ask the *LORD to protect the *religious objects that remained in the *Temple. They should pray that he would protect the other valuable objects. Those objects were in the king's palace and in the city of Jerusalem. If the priests and the people did not serve the king of Babylon, he would destroy the city. And he would take away every valuable thing that remained.

Verses 19-21 The two metal columns were at the entrance to the *Temple (1 Kings 7:15-22). The 'Sea' was an enormous metal bowl, which could hold hundreds of gallons of water. The priests used the water to make themselves pure. They had to be pure before they carried out their ceremonies (Exodus 30:17-21). The ten stands held basins, which contained water. The priests washed parts of animals with that water before they gave them as *burnt offerings (1 Kings 7:27-39; 2 Chronicles 4:6).

Nebuchadnezzar took all those away when he destroyed Jerusalem in 587 *B.C (2 Kings 25:13-17).

Verse 22 Jeremiah ended with hope for the future. The *LORD would bring back those objects from Babylon.

Chapter 28

Jeremiah and Hananiah 28:1-17

v1 Hananiah spoke to me in the *Temple soon after Zedekiah became king of Judah. It was in the 5th month of that same year, his 4th year as king. Hananiah, Azzur's son, was from Gibeon. In front of the priests and all the people he said this. v2 'This is what the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel, says. "I will break the *yoke of the king of Babylon. v3 In two years I will bring back all the things that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, removed from the *Temple. He took them to Babylon. v4 Also I will bring back here Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim's son, king of Judah. And I will bring back all the other *exiles from Judah who went to Babylon. I will break off the *yoke of the king of Babylon”, declares the *LORD." ’

v5 Then the *prophet Jeremiah replied to the *prophet Hananiah. He spoke to him in front of the priests and all the people who were standing in the *Temple. v6 He said, ‘*Amen! May the *LORD do so. May he make the words of your *prophecy happen. May the *LORD bring back from Babylon all the objects that belong to the *Temple. May he bring back to this place all the *exiles. v7 But listen to what I have to say. I want you and all the people to hear it. v8 There have been *prophets for many years before you and me. They have *prophesied against many countries and against great *kingdoms. They have spoken about war, ruin and disease. v9 But a *prophet may say that peace will come. People can recognise whether the *LORD has sent him. The *prophet’s words will happen only if the *LORD has sent him.’

v10 Then the *prophet Hananiah took the *yoke from Jeremiah's neck and broke the *yoke. v11 Then Hananiah spoke in front of all the people. 'This is what the *LORD says. "In the same way, I will break the *yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. In two years I will break it from the necks of all the nations." ’ When Jeremiah the *prophet heard this, he left the *Temple.

v12 The *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. The *LORD gave it soon after the *prophet Hananiah had broken the *yoke from Jeremiah's neck. v13 The message said, 'Go. Tell Hananiah that the *LORD says this. "You have broken a wooden *yoke. But in its place you will get an iron *yoke." v14 This is what the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel says. "I will put an iron *yoke on the necks of these nations. I will make them serve Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. So they will serve him. I will give to him control of even the wild animals." ’

v15 Then the *prophet Jeremiah said to the *prophet Hananiah, 'Listen, Hananiah! The *LORD has not sent you. But you have persuaded this nation to trust lies. v16 Therefore, this is what the *LORD says. "I will remove you from this earth. This year you are going to die. You have taught the people to turn against the *LORD." ’

v17 In the 7th month of that same year, the *prophet Hananiah died.

Verse1 Hananiah came from Gibeon. It was a place north of Jerusalem where the chief officer of David's army had killed Amasa (2 Samuel 20: 8-10).

Verses 2-4 Jeremiah had spoken about 70 years of *exile. Hananiah said that in two years the *yoke of Babylon would break. The holy objects from the *Temple would return to Jerusalem. Also the king and the other people that Nebuchadnezzar had taken into Babylon, would come back. The reference to Jehoiachin suggests that still some people thought of him as their legal king.

Verses 5-6 Jeremiah's reply may have shown that he had serious doubts about Hananiah's message. But Jeremiah loved his own country. He may have wished that Hananiah's words would happen.

Verses 7-9 Jeremiah said that all the previous *prophets had *prophesied punishment. Their main message was about war, hunger and disease. Hananiah's message about peace might happen. That would prove that he was a real *prophet. But it was a very different message from that of previous *prophets. So it was less likely to be true. They would have to wait and see who had the right message.

Verse 10-11 Hananiah became angry. He broke the *yoke that was on Jeremiah's neck. Hananiah repeated what he believed. In less than two years the *LORD would remove Nebuchadnezzar's power as he had removed the *yoke. Jeremiah did nothing. He just walked away. He did not reply in an angry way. But he waited for the *LORD to speak to him

Verses 12-14 The *LORD said that Nebuchadnezzar's power over the nations was as strong as an iron *yoke. To oppose him would make matters worse for them. The phrase ‘over even the wild animals' means that the *LORD had given complete authority to the king of Babylon.

Verses 15-17 Finally, Jeremiah gave a message to Hananiah himself. Hananiah was a false *prophet. Hananiah taught lies. He was speaking against the *LORD's authority. He was also making the people believe lies. In Deuteronomy 18:20, the law states that the rulers should punish a false *prophet by death. Jeremiah *prophesied that Hananiah would die that year. In less than two months, Hananiah died. The record does not say how he died. His death would show that Jeremiah was a true *prophet.

Chapter 29

A letter to the *exiles in Babylon 29:1-32

1. Accept the situation 29:1-9

v1 Jeremiah sent a letter from Jerusalem to Babylon. He sent the letter to the older leaders who were alive in Babylon. And he sent it to the priests and to the *prophets. Also he sent it to all the other people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem to Babylon. v2 [This was after King Jehoiachin, his mother and the court officials had gone into *exile. Also Nebuchadnezzar had made the leaders in Judah and Jerusalem and all the capable workers, go into Babylon.]

v3 Jeremiah gave the letter to Elasah, the son of Shaphan, and to Gemariah, the son of Hilkiah. Zedekiah, the king of Judah, had sent them to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. This is what the letter said. v4 ‘The most powerful *LORD is the God of Israel. He says this to all the people that he sent into *exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. v5 "Build houses and remain there. Plant the gardens. And eat what they produce. v6 Marry and have children. Find wives for your sons and let your daughters marry. Then they can have sons and daughters too. Increase in number there. Do not let the number of your people grow fewer. v7 Also work for the benefit of the city to which I have sent you. Work so that it is peaceful and successful. Pray to the *LORD for that city. If it succeeds, you will succeed also.” v8 This is what the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel says. "Do not let the *prophets make you believe wrong things. Some people say that they have secret knowledge. Do not believe them. Do not listen to people who try to explain their dreams to you. v9 All of them are *prophesying lies when they speak my name. I have not sent them”, declares the *LORD.’

Verses 1-3 There was communication between King Zedekiah in Judah and King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Perhaps Zedekiah was sending the money that Nebuchadnezzar demanded. Or perhaps he wanted to persuade king Nebuchadnezzar that Judah remained loyal to its political ruler. Elisah may have been the brother of Shaphan's son Ahikam (Jeremiah 26:24). Gemariah was the son of Hilkiah. Hilkiah was chief priest when Josiah was the king (2 Kings 22:4-14). They were both friendly towards Jeremiah. They took his letter with them on their official business. The letter was to the whole group in *exile. 'The older leaders who were alive.’ That suggests that some elders had died already. Or perhaps someone had killed them.

Verses 4-6 Jeremiah reminded the *exiles that the *LORD had sent them to Babylon. Therefore, he advised the *exiles to accept their situation. They should live in a normal way. They should not waste time or pity themselves. Instead, they should make permanent houses for themselves. They should expect success with the crops that they had planted. They should have children and grandchildren. The book of Ezekiel shows that they had freedom to do that. They had their own organisation and they had leaders (Ezekiel 8:1; 14:1).

Verses 7-9 The people from Judah should work and pray for Babylon. They should desire its peace and success. That was the best way to make sure of their own security and success. They should not listen to the false *prophets. The people from Judah should take no notice of other people who told lies. Those men were trying to persuade the people from Judah that soon they would return to Judah. The *LORD had sent none of those men. They were disturbing the people with their false promises.

2. A future and a hope 29:10-14

v10 This is what the *LORD says. 'You must stay in Babylon for 70 years. At the end of that time, I will come to you. I made a kind promise to bring you back to Judah. And this will happen. v11 I know the plans that I have made for you. My plans are that you will have success. My plans are not to hurt you. They are plans that will give you hope for the future. v12 Then you will call out to me. You will come and pray to me. And I will listen to you. v13 When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me. v14 I will let you find me’, declares the *LORD. ‘I will bring you back from your *exile. I will gather you from all the nations and from the places to which I have sent you. And I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you away’, declares the *LORD.

Verses 10-14 These verses repeat the promise in Jeremiah 25:12. The *LORD had plans for the future of his people after their 70 years in Babylon. The *LORD’s people had to be completely sincere when they returned to the *LORD. Then he would answer their prayers. He would take them back to their own country from wherever he had sent them. Paul described God's promise for the future of those people who love him. It is far beyond anyone's knowledge or imagination (Ephesians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 2:9). There are no limits to the way that God loves us.

3. What will happen to those people who are still in Judah 29:15-19

v15 You might say, 'The *LORD has given *prophets to us here in Babylon.’ v16 But the *LORD says this about the king who now rules on David's *throne. Also he says it about all the people who remain in this city. They are all those people who did not go with you to Babylon. v17 This is what the *LORD, the most powerful God, says. 'I will send war, hunger and disease against them. I will make them like bad *figs. They are so bad that nobody can eat them. v18 I will pursue them with war, hunger and disease. I will make all the *kingdoms of the world turn away from them in disgust. People will wish evil things upon them. They will astonish all the nations where I have sent them. People will joke about them and blame them. v19 That is because they have not listened to my words. I sent messages to them many times. My servants, the *prophets, gave my messages. And the *exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylon, have not listened either’, declares the *LORD.

Verses 15-16 In Babylon there were *prophets. They made the people think that everything would be good. The king was a *descendant of David’s family. He continued to rule in Jerusalem. There were people who remained in Judah.

Verses 17-19 Jeremiah had to remind them about his picture of the *figs (Jeremiah chapter 24). Nebuchadnezzar had taken their king and leaders into Babylon in 597 *BC. Those people who remained in Judah were like the bad *figs. They had not learned to change their ways. The *LORD would judge them too. They would have troubles in war. They would die because of hunger and disease. Other nations would think about them with disgust. Those nations would joke about the fate of those people who had remained in Judah. The *LORD had sent his servants, the *prophets, to warn them many times. But they had not listened. The *exiles in Babylon had not listened either.

4. The fate of false *prophets 29:20-23

v20 Therefore listen to the message from the *LORD. Listen, all of you *exiles, whom God has sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. v21 The most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel, says this about Ahab, son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, son of Maaseiah. 'They speak my name but they are *prophesying lies. I will give them to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He will kill them. And you will see it yourselves. v22 Because of them, all the *exiles from Judah in Babylon will say this when they make an evil wish. "May the *LORD act towards you like he acted towards Zedekiah and Ahab. The king of Babylon burned them in the fire." v23 This will happen because they have done terrible things in Israel. They have had sex with their neighbours’ wives. They have spoken lies. But they said that the message came from me. I did not tell them to do that. I know what they have done. And I am a witness to it’, declares the *LORD.

Verses 20-21 Ahab and Zedekiah were two *prophets among the *exiles in Babylon. They said that their words were messages from the *LORD. But they were guilty because they told lies. Probably they told the *exiles that soon they would return to Judah. The two *prophets may have been involved in some political crime too. To kill people in a fire was a form of punishment in Babylon. The account in Daniel chapter 3 is an example of this. Nebuchadnezzar ordered his officials to throw three *Jews into the fire. He did that because they would not *worship his gold image.

Verse 22 Sometimes some of the *exiles in Babylon wanted to wish evil things upon someone. So they used the names of those *prophets. They would ask the *LORD to punish people in the same way that Nebuchadnezzar had punished Zedekiah and Ahab.

Verse 23 Those two *prophets had lived wicked lives. They had told lies. They had not obeyed the *LORD's law. They made their neighbours' wives not loyal to their husbands. That was also the evidence that they were not true *prophets. The *LORD knew all about their bad behaviour and their false *prophecies.

The message to Shemaiah 29:24-32

v24 Speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite. v25 This is what the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel says. 'You used your own name when you sent letters to all the people in Jerusalem. You sent letters also to the priest Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah. And you sent letters to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah, v26 "The *LORD has appointed you a priest, in place of Jehoiada. You will have authority in the *Temple. You are supposed to arrest any mad person who acts like a *prophet. You should put him in prison. And put iron bands round his neck. v27 You have not punished Jeremiah from Anathoth. He is pretending to be a *prophet among you. v28 He has sent a message to us in Babylon. It said: You will be here a long time. So build houses and remain there. Plant gardens. And eat what they produce." ’

v29 But the priest, Zephaniah, read the letter to Jeremiah. v30 Then the *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. v31 'Send this message to all the *exiles. This is what the *LORD says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite. "Shemaiah has *prophesied to you, but I did not send him. He has made you believe a lie." v32 This is what the *LORD says. "Certainly I will punish Shemaiah and his *descendants. He will have no *descendants left among these people. He will not see the good things that I will do for my people”, declares the *LORD. "That is because he has taught people to turn against me." ’

Verses 24-25 Shemaiah was a *prophet in Babylon. 'Nehelamite' may mean that he came from a place called Nahlam. He decided to send several letters to Judah. In his letters, he complained about Jeremiah's letter to the *exiles. Among his letters to the priests, he sent one to Zephaniah. Zephaniah had replaced Jehoiada as the priest. He was the head of discipline in the *Temple.

Verses 26-28 One of the priest's duties was to lock up mad men. Also he had to lock up anyone who behaved like a *prophet. Shemaiah wrote that Zephaniah should have locked up Jeremiah because of his advice to the *exiles. Jeremiah had told them that they would be in Babylon for a long time. He had said that they should build houses. Then they should remain there. They should plant gardens. They should eat what they produced (Jeremiah 29:5). There is no record of the rest of Shemaiah's letter. The other *prophets did not like Jeremiah. He was telling the people that they would be in Babylon for a long time. But they wanted to get back to their own country quickly.

Verse 29 Zephaniah read the letter to Jeremiah. He may have sympathised with Jeremiah or wanted to warn him. But he did not act against Jeremiah.

Verses 30-32 Jeremiah wrote to the *exiles. His answer was similar to his answer to Hananiah (Jeremiah 28:15-16). Shemaiah had told a lie. And he made the people believe it. The *LORD had not sent him. So the *LORD would punish him and his *descendants. None of them would live to see the good things that the *LORD would do for his people. He had *sinned. They had taught people to turn away from the *LORD.

The message about hope Chapters 30-31

Chapter 30

The *LORD’s message to Jeremiah 30:1-3

v1 The *LORD gave a message to me. v2 'This is what the *LORD, the God of Israel, says. "Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. v3 The time is coming when I will bring back my people Israel and Judah. I will bring them back from the countries to which they went as prisoners. And I will bring them back to the country that I gave to their *ancestors. I gave them this country to have as their own country”, says the *LORD.’

Verses 1-3 are like a title to the promises in Jeremiah chapters 30-31. 'All the words that I have spoken to you' refer to these chapters. It does not refer to all of Jeremiah's *prophecies. The *LORD had promised hope for his people in Jeremiah 3:12 -18. Now a series of poems will remind people about that hope. The people from the northern *kingdom of Israel went into Assyria as prisoners in 722 *BC. The people in Judah went into *exile in Babylon in 597 *B.C and 587 *BC. The *LORD said that they would return from *exile to their own country. The *LORD had given that country to their *ancestors.

A time of trouble 30:4-7

v4 This is the message that the *LORD gave about Israel and Judah. v5 This is what the *LORD says.

          'There are cries of fear.

          There is terror. There is no peace.

v6      Ask and see.

          A man cannot give birth to children.

          But I see every strong man

          with his hands on his stomach.

          He is acting like a woman who is having a baby.

          I see every face become as pale as a dead person.

v7      How awful that time will be!

          There will be no time like it.

          It will be a time of trouble for the people of Jacob.

          But I will save them out of this trouble.

Verses 4-7 These verses describe the great trouble and pain that people would experience. The *LORD’s people would have troubles in *exile. They would suffer pain like a woman who was having a baby. People's faces grew pale because they were so afraid. They could do nothing against their powerful enemy. ‘I will save them out of this' could be a question. 'Can I save them out of this?' The situation seemed without hope. It was difficult to believe that the *LORD could rescue his people. But that is a message about hope. Even out of a terrible situation like that, the *LORD can rescue his people. 'Jacob' means 'Israel'. And it refers to both the *kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

The promise of freedom and a king 30:8-11

v8      At that time I will break the *yoke off their necks’,

          declares the *LORD, the most powerful God.

          'I will tear off the thick strings that hold them.

          People from other countries will not make them slaves any longer.

v9      Instead they will serve the *LORD their God.

          I will raise up David, their king, for them.

          And they will serve him.

v10    So, people of Jacob, my servant, do not be afraid.

          Israel, do not be desperately afraid’,

          declares the *LORD.

          'You can be sure that I will save you.

          I will bring you out from that place, which is far away.

          I will bring back your *descendants

          from the country where enemies took them.

          Jacob will return and will have peace.

          No-one will make him afraid.

v11    I am with you. And I will save you’, declares the *LORD.

          'I will destroy completely all the nations

          among which I scatter you.

          But I will not destroy you completely.

          I will correct you. But I will be fair.

          You will not go completely without punishment.’

Verse 8 The *LORD promised that he would free his people. They would not have to obey people from other countries any longer. The *LORD would be like a farmer. Thick strings tied the *yoke to the plough. A farmer sets free the animal from the *yoke across its neck. The *LORD would set free his people completely.

Verse 9 The people who had been in *exile would obey the *LORD. This *prophecy looks forward to that time. The *LORD would send an ideal king to them. That does not refer to king David himself. It means one of David's royal *descendants. That king would be the *LORD's servant, who would come to look after his people. Ezekiel spoke about the servant as the *shepherd of the nation (Ezekiel 37:24-25). Luke spoke about how that servant would rescue the *LORD’s people (Luke 1:69). Those *prophecies happened when Jesus came to earth. He did not come as a political ruler. He came to give freedom from the '*yoke' of *sin (Acts 2:30, 38). Jesus told Pilate that he would not be the king in any one country (John 18:36). Jesus is king of everyone who follows him.

Verses 10-11 These verses are very similar to Jeremiah 46:27-28. They repeat the promise. The *LORD would bring back the people of Israel from the countries where their enemies had taken them. The *LORD’s people would be able to live in peace and safety. The *LORD himself would destroy their enemies. But the *LORD warned his people that they would not escape punishment for their *sins. Amos had said that. The *LORD had chosen Israel out of all the families on the earth. So he would punish Israel for all its *sins (Amos 3:2). But the *LORD would not destroy his people completely. His punishment would be right and fair.

The *LORD will heal Zion's wounds 30:12-17

v12    This what the *LORD says.

          'Nobody can cure your injury.

          It is impossible to heal your injury.

v13    There is nobody to speak on your behalf.

          There is no medicine for your injury.

          There is nothing to heal you.

v14    All those people who have promised to help you, have forgotten you.

          They do not care about you at all.

          I have hurt you as an enemy would.

          I have punished you as if I were cruel.

          That is because you are very guilty.

          That is because you have *sinned so much.

v15    You should not complain about your injury.

          You should not complain about your pain that nobody can cure.

          You are very guilty, and you have *sinned so much.

          That is why I have done these things to you.

v16    But I will destroy everyone who destroys you.

          All your enemies will have to leave their own countries.

          I will take away the goods of the people who steal from you.

          I will take the things from the people who take things from you.

v17    But I will make you healthy again.

          And I will heal your injuries because people call you *exiles’, declares the *LORD.

          ‘People say, “Nobody cares about Zion”. ’

Verses 12-14 The people had described their troubles as an injury that nothing could heal (Jeremiah 10:19). Jeremiah had used the same language when he had troubles (Jeremiah 15:18). It describes terrible damage that an enemy had caused. It may refer to the situation after 587 *BC, when the king of Babylon had destroyed Judah and Jerusalem. Judah had trusted other nations to help them against Assyria and Babylon. But Egypt was not a loyal friend (2 Kings 18:21). Edom failed to help when Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem. Edom even prevented the people so that they could not escape to safety (Obadiah v9-14). Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon were other political friends whose help was of no use (Jeremiah 27:3).

Verse 15 The people complained but it was no use. They should not feel sorry for themselves. They had only themselves to blame. The *LORD had punished them because of their very many *sins.

Verses 16-17 There is a sudden change from the situation without hope in verses 12-15. The *LORD would destroy Judah's enemies. He would heal the country’s injury. People were calling Zion an ’*exile’. Zion was like someone whom people threw away. It was like someone for whom nobody cared. But the *LORD would act. He would show that this insult was an insult to himself (Ezekiel 36:22-23).

A new city and a new ruler 30:18-22

v18    This is what the *LORD says.

          'I will give back success to Judah's people again.

          I will show Israel that I love her.

          People will rebuild Jerusalem, where once people had destroyed the city.

          And the palace will stand in its proper place.

v19    From those places people will sing songs to thank God.

          People will sound very happy again.

          There will be more people.

          There will not be fewer people.

          I will bring them honour.

          People will respect them.

v20    Jacob's sons will be as powerful as once they were.

          I will establish their society.

          I will punish everyone who acts badly towards them.

v21    Their leader will be one of their own people.

          Their ruler will rise up from among them.

          I will bring him near, and he will come close to me.

          Nobody could approach me unless I invite him’,

          declares the *LORD.

v22    'So you will be my people,

          and I will be your God.’

Verses 18-20 People would rebuild the city. The enemy had destroyed the buildings. But people would build on the broken buildings. The palace would remind the people about the ruler who would come in the future. There would be a change in how the people lived. They would sing. They would praise and thank the *LORD. And people would laugh as they enjoyed themselves. The number of people would increase. In the past, the number of people had decreased because of the *exile. And many people had died because of disease. Other nations would respect them and not insult them again. ‘Society’ refers to a group of people who come together for a *religious or political purpose. So that suggests that people were beginning to organise their politics again. The *LORD would deal with anyone who tried to prevent their normal way to live.

Verse 21 Instead of the word 'king', the writer uses the word 'leader' and 'ruler'. Perhaps he was keeping the word 'king' for the future ideal ruler. The ruler would not come from the powerful countries of Assyria, Egypt or Babylon. Instead, he would come from among the *LORD’s own people. The *LORD would bring that ruler. Therefore he would be able to approach the *LORD. In the *Old Testament, a person could not approach the *LORD unless the *LORD asked him. Otherwise, the person would risk death. So the ruler would be someone who was loyal to the *LORD. He would be someone of whom the *LORD approved. The ruler would act as a priest as well as a political leader.

Verse 22 The purpose of all those promises was that the people in Israel should obey the *LORD. Then he would consider them as his own people. You can find that those two promises are in other places in the *Old Testament. For example, Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 36:28.

The *LORD’s punishment 30:23-24

v23    Look! The *LORD's great anger

          will be like a storm that is bursting out.

          It will be a very strong wind that sweeps down.

          It will sweep round the heads of wicked people.

v24    The *LORD will remain angry.

          He will do everything that he intended.

          Then his anger will end.

          You will understand this in the future.

Verse 23 The *LORD’s anger is like a sudden storm. In the storm, strong winds rush round and round. They destroy everything that is in their way. In a similar way, wicked people will feel the effects of the *LORD’s powerful anger. It will be like the power of a great wind.

Verses 23-24 are also in Jeremiah 23:19-20. There, they warned the false *prophets that there would be punishment in the future. There would not be peace. The verses here emphasise that the *LORD promised to judge Israel's enemies. The *LORD has decided his plans already. He will carry them out until they are complete. People will understand them only when they happen in the future.

Chapter 31

The return from *exile 31:1-9

v1 'At that time’, declares the *LORD, 'I will be the God of all the *tribes of Israel. And they will be my people.’

v2      This is what the *LORD says.            

          'Some people will remain alive after the war.

          They will find help in the desert.        

          I will come to give rest to Israel.’

v3      The *LORD appeared to us in the past and he said this:

          “I have loved you with a love that continues for always.

          I have continued to love and to be kind towards you.

v4      I will build you up again.

          I will rebuild you again.

          Once again, you will use your musical instruments.

          You will go out to dance with other happy people.

v5      Once again you will plant *vineyards on the hills in Samaria.

          And you will enjoy their fruit.

v6      One day, those people who are watching will shout.

          They will stand on the hills in Ephraim.

          And they will cry out: Come, let us go up to Zion.

          Let us go to the place where the *LORD our God is." ’

v7      This is what the *LORD says.

          'Sing with joy about Jacob.

          Shout about the greatest nation.

          Sing your song when you praise.

          Say, "*LORD, save your people.

          Save the people who remain alive in Israel.”

v8      I will bring them from the country in the north.

          I will gather them from the furthest points in all the world.

          Among them will be blind people and those people who cannot walk well.

          There will be women who are expecting babies.

          There will be women who will give birth very soon.

          A great crowd of people will return.

v9      My people will weep as they come.

          They will pray as I bring them back.

          I will lead them near to streams of water.

          They will walk on a level path. And they will not trip.

          They will not fall because I am Israel's father.

          Ephraim is my oldest son.

Verse 1 refers to the promise in Jeremiah 30:22. The close relationship between the *LORD and Israel would begin again. 'Israel' here means all the people in both the northern and southern *kingdoms.

Verses 2-6 refer especially to the northern *kingdom of Israel. The people had gone into *exile in 722 *BC. Samaria was its capital city. Ephraim is another name for the northern *kingdom, because it was the largest of the 10 *tribes. Now Israel was like a woman who would be loyal to her future husband. Maybe the nation was prepared to be loyal to the *LORD.

Verse 2 When Israel escaped from Egypt, the *LORD took care of them in the *desert. The people who had been in *exile would come out from Babylon. The *LORD would look after them. The *LORD would give them peace.

Verse 3 'in the past' may refer to the *covenant that the *LORD made between himself and all Israel at Sinai. The *LORD would love and be loyal to his people always. However, the *Hebrew words for ‘in the past’ may mean 'from a long way away'. The *LORD acted while his people were still in a distant country. That reminds us about Jesus' story about the son who had left home. When the son returned, the father saw him a long way in the distance. The father ran to welcome him home (Luke 15:20). So when the people in Israel began to return to the *LORD, he would welcome them back to their own country.

Verses 4-5 The *LORD would rebuild the nation in safety. People would be able to have a happy time. They would play music and dance. Farmers would be able to plant *vineyards. There, they could grow the fruit to make wine. Their work would not be a waste of time. There would be no enemy to steal or destroy the fruit. The *LORD’s people would be able to enjoy the fruit themselves.

Verse 6 Men used to watch from high places. They could warn the people if an enemy was coming. Now they would call the people to *worship the *LORD in Zion (Jerusalem). Dan and Bethel were places in the northern *kingdom where they *worshipped the *LORD (1 Kings 12:25-30). So Jeremiah saw the two *kingdoms of Israel joining. They were uniting because all of them were *worshipping at the *Temple in Jerusalem.

Verse 7 People would be very happy as the people of Jacob (Israel) returned. They called Jacob 'the greatest nation'. Probably that showed that the people were proud of their nation. The *LORD had rescued those people who remained alive in Israel. They were the people who remained alive after 722 *BC.

Verses 8-9 These verses are similar to verses in Isaiah 35. They describe how the *LORD leads his people to their home again. Some people would find the journey especially difficult. There would be blind people and those people who could not walk well. Some women, who were returning, would be expecting babies. Some women would be nearly ready to give birth. But the *LORD would look after them all. There would be plenty to drink. The streams would flow all the time. That was different from the time when the people had escaped from Egypt in the past. Often they had been without water. But in the future, the journey would be easy. It would be in contrast to the journeys that they had made as prisoners to Assyria and Babylon.

The journey from Egypt in the past had been difficult. But for those people who return, the *LORD would make their way like a smooth path. They had wept because they were away from their own country. That had made them very sad (Psalm 137:1-4). Now they would be weeping because they were so happy. They would be praying because of several reasons. They would ask the *LORD to forgive them because of their past *sins. They would praise him because they were on the way home. They would ask him to look after them in the future.

The *LORD calls Israel his 'eldest son'. The *LORD wanted the people of Israel to know that he loved them. Ephraim is like the oldest son because the oldest son was the most important son. ‘Ephraim’ refers to all the people who lived in the north of the country. Assyria took those people away. Later, the *LORD talks about ‘Judah’. Those are the people in the south, where Jeremiah was speaking (Jeremiah 31:23, 27). So the *LORD was speaking to all the *Jews.

The *LORD’s gifts 31:10-14

v10    Listen to my message, you nations.

          Announce it on shores that are far away.

          “He who scattered Israel will gather them.

          He will be like a *shepherd who protects his sheep.

v11    The *LORD will free Jacob.

          The *LORD will rescue his people from the

          people who are stronger than them.

v12    They will come to the hill called Zion.

          They shout because they are so happy.

          They will feel happy because of the *LORD's gifts.

          I gave to them the corn, the new wine and the oil.

          I gave baby animals to their sheep and their cows.

          My people will be like a garden that has plenty of water.

          They will not be sad any longer.

v13    The young women will dance and be happy.

          Young men and old people will be happy too.

          They will not continue to be sad because I will make them happy.

          I will comfort them.

          They will be happy because I will give to them joy instead of sad feelings.

v14    I will satisfy the priests. I will give to them more than enough.

          And I will fill my people with good things”, announces the *LORD.’

Verse 10 The nations will be a witness to what the *LORD will do. He will bring back his people from all the places where he had scattered them. He will look after them in the way that a *shepherd looks after all his sheep. Isaiah used the same kind of language. He described how the *LORD would love his people. And also how he would look after them (Isaiah 40:11).

Verse 11 'Rescue' often meant to pay a price to free someone. The person who paid was a relative. When a member of the family died, that relative had the responsibility for the property. The family had to continue to own the property. That happened in the book of Ruth. Boaz bought land from Naomi that was her dead husband's property. Also it gave to Boaz the right to marry Ruth (Ruth 4:1-11). Jeremiah bought his cousin Hanamel's field (Jeremiah 32:1-15). The *LORD acted in a similar way because he brought back the people of Israel from Babylon.

Verses 12-13 The *LORD would give to them a plentiful supply of all the food that they needed. Corn, wine and oil would provide their normal food. Their animals would have many young animals. The people themselves would be successful. They would be like a garden that had a plentiful supply of water. The young and the old people, both men and women, would dance because they were happy. People would not be sad any longer.

Verse 14 The priests did not own any land. So they obtained their food from the gifts that people brought to them. Also the priests could eat their part of the *sacrifices (Numbers chapter 18). In that way, they would enjoy plenty of good things that the people had.

The end of Rachel's tears 31:15-22

v15    The *LORD says this.

          'People can hear someone who is crying in Ramah.

          They can hear very sad sounds.

          Rachel is weeping because of her children.

          She will not let anybody comfort her,

          because all her children have gone.’

v16    This is what the *LORD says.

          'Do not cry.

          Do not let tears drop from your eyes.

          I will reward you because of your work’, declares the *LORD.

          'Your children will return

          from the country of the enemy.

v17    So there is hope for your future’, declares the *LORD.

          'Your children will return to their own country.

v18    I have heard Ephraim. They were so sad as they complained.

          They say, “You corrected me. I was like a young animal

          that did not want to obey its owner.

          And you have corrected me.

          Bring me back. I will return,

          because you are the *LORD my God.

v19    After I wandered away from you,

          I turned away from my *sins.

          After I had learnt my lesson, I hit the front of my body.

          I was ashamed.

          What I did in my youth

          brought shame upon me.”

v20    Ephraim is my dear son.

          He is the child in whom I delight.

          Often I speak against him,

          but still I remember him.

          So I have great feelings for him.

          I love him very much’, declares the *LORD.

v21    'Put up road signs.

          Set up stones to show the way.

          Look carefully for the main road.

          Watch the road that you will take.

          Return, people of Israel.

          Return to your towns.

v22    How long will you wander?

          You are like a daughter who is not loyal.

          The *LORD will create a new thing on earth.

          A woman will protect a man.’

Verse 15 Ramah was about 5 miles (about 8 kilometres) from Bethlehem. Rachel's grave was there. Rachel was Jacob's wife. And she was the mother of Joseph. Joseph's two children were Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 41:50-51). So the *tribe of Ephraim was one of her *descendants. Ephraim was another name for the northern *kingdom of Israel. Rachel's spirit was weeping because her *descendants were going into *exile in 722 *BC, after her death. The writer of Matthew's gospel thought about this verse in Jeremiah when Herod killed all the babies in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:18).

Verses 16-17 Rachel should not continue to cry. Her children will return from *exile to their own country.

Verses 18-20 Ephraim had begun to feel sorry because of his *sins. Hosea had spoken about Israel who had refused to obey the *LORD. Israel was like a young cow who refused to obey its master (Hosea 4:16). Ephraim had understood why the *LORD had punished him. He would turn back to the *LORD. Ephraim would ask the *LORD to forgive him. He was ashamed about his behaviour in the past. The enemy had taken Ephraim’s people into *exile. That had caused Ephraim to be ashamed. When a person hit his body, it expressed his inner pain. It was evidence that they felt sorry about their *sins. The man who collected tax in Jesus' story did that. And he asked the *LORD to forgive him (Luke 18:13). The *LORD speaks about Ephraim as a dear son. The *LORD wanted Ephraim to return to him. Often the *LORD had to tell the people of Ephraim that they had *sinned. But still the *LORD loved them.

Verse 21 People had to be ready to return home. They would follow a road that they knew well. Little heaps of stones and signs would show them the way. Israel had been like a daughter who was not loyal. Israel had wandered everywhere. Now the *Israelites would return to their own towns.

Verse 22 'A woman would protect a man' was probably a familiar phrase. There are several explanations about its meaning:

It may refer to something that people did not expect. Israel was the woman. The *LORD was the man. Israel had not been loyal. But now she would return to the *LORD and be loyal to him. That was something new in Israel's history.

It may look forward to the time when Israel would love the *LORD sincerely. In the same way, the *LORD’s love protects the person who trusts him (Psalm 32:10).

The *LORD will rebuild Judah 31:23-28

v23 This is what the most powerful *LORD, the God of Israel, says. 'I will bring them back from the place where the enemy took them. Then the people in the country of Judah and its towns will use these words once again. "Holy *Temple in Jerusalem, may the *LORD *bless you. Sacred mountain, may the *LORD *bless you." v24 People will live together in Judah and in all its towns. Farmers and people who move about with their sheep will live there. v25 I will give rest to those people who are tired. I will satisfy those people who are weak.’

v26 When I heard this, I woke up. I looked all round. My sleep had been pleasant.

v27 The *LORD declares this. 'The days are coming when I will plant again the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah. I will plant the country with children and with young animals. v28 I have watched Israel and Judah. I have pulled them up by the roots. I tore them down and I destroyed them. I defeated them. I brought great trouble upon them. But now I will look after them. I will build. And I will plant’, declares the *LORD.

Verses 23-25 The *Temple in Jerusalem stood on a hill. The *Temple and the hill were both holy. People would refer to those places. They would show that the *LORD would *bless his people there. People would live in the towns in Judah again. Farmers and *shepherds, who looked after sheep, would do their daily work. The *LORD would welcome his people home after their long journey.

Verse 26 Jeremiah woke up after his dream about the future for Judah. It was a pleasant dream, because it gave hope to him. It was in contrast to the immediate situation. Nebuchadnezzar was preparing to destroy Judah and Jerusalem.

Verses 27-28 The people in Israel and the people in Judah would unite again. The *LORD would increase the number of people and animals. Verse 28 repeats the words of Jeremiah 1:10, when the *LORD had called Jeremiah to *prophesy punishment. Now the *LORD repeats his promise to rebuild the nation.

Personal responsibility 31:29-30

v29    At that time, the people will not say,

          'The fathers have eaten sour *grapes.

          And the children have received the sour taste.’

v30    Instead, everyone will die because of his own *sin.

          Whoever eats sour *grapes will receive the sour taste.

Verse 29 Those words were a popular phrase. It meant that people would receive punishment because of the *sins of their *ancestors. People knew the words in Exodus 20:5. But they did not understand what it meant. They thought that the *LORD was not fair. He would punish people because of *sins that were not theirs. That is not what the words meant. It means that a person's *sins can have a bad effect on his *descendants. For example, a child may imitate its parents' *sins. A mother, who takes bad drugs, will affect her unborn child. In Jeremiah's time, the phrase was an excuse for the behaviour that led to the *LORD’s punishment.

Verse 30 The idea of personal responsibility was not new. Joshua declared that he and his family would serve the *LORD. And they would serve the *LORD whatever anyone else chose to do (Joshua 24:15). Elijah was alone when he opposed the false *prophets (1 Kings 19:10). Both Jeremiah here and Ezekiel in Ezekiel18:3 said that each person would die because of his own *sin. Deuteronomy 24:16 says, 'Fathers shall not die because of their children. Nor will children die because of their fathers. Each shall die because of his own *sin'. Jesus' followers talked to Jesus about a man who was blind from birth. They believed that he might be blind because of his parents' *sin. Jesus denied that (John 9:1-3).

The new *covenant 31:31-34

v31    'The time is coming’, declares the *LORD,

          'when I will make a new *covenant.

          I will make it with the house of Israel

          and with the house of Judah.

v32    It will not be like the *covenant

          that I made with their *ancestors.

          I held their hand

          to lead them out of Egypt.

          I was like a husband to them.

          But they failed to obey my *covenant',

          declares the *LORD.

v33    'This is the *covenant that I will make with Israel

          after that time’, declares the *LORD.

          'I will put my law into their minds.

          And I will write my law onto their hearts.

          I will be their God,

          and they will be my people.

v34    A man will not need to teach his neighbour any longer.

          A man will not need to teach his friend any longer.

          A man will not say, "Know the *LORD”.

          Instead, everyone will know me,

          from the least important person to the most important person’,

          declares the *LORD

          'I will forgive their wicked ways

          I will not remember their *sins any longer.’

Verses 31-32 At *Mount Sinai, the *LORD made a *covenant with the people in Israel. He told them that they were his special people. Then the people agreed that they would obey him. They said that they would obey his laws (Exodus 19:6, 8). That *covenant between the *LORD and Israel happened after the *LORD had rescued his people from Egypt. The *LORD was like a husband to Israel. But the people in Israel had not obeyed that *covenant. They had *worshipped false gods and they did not obey the *LORD. They behaved badly towards other people.

Verses 33-34 The new *covenant that the *LORD would make would be different. The *LORD wrote the old *covenant on two stones. The new *covenant would be in people's hearts. That means that the *LORD’s laws would be deep in their minds. They would not obey the *LORD’s commands just because they were afraid of his punishment. Instead, the people would desire to obey the *LORD. There would be no need for priests and *prophets to teach people. They would not have to say, 'Know the *LORD'. The word 'know' means a deep personal knowledge. Everyone would obey the *LORD. That would include young people and old people. It would include the least important people to the most important people. That relationship with the *LORD would affect people’s desires and their emotions. The *LORD would forgive their past behaviour. The *LORD would forget about all their *sins. Jesus spoke about that new *covenant before he died. He spoke during the last meal that he had with his followers (Luke 22:20).

A *sacrifice had introduced the old *covenant. Jesus' death on the cross was the *sacrifice that made the new *covenant possible. God loves people. And people would be able to have a new relationship with him. They had to accept that he would forgive them. The new *covenant emphasises personal responsibility and a personal relationship with God.

The *LORD’s love never changes 31:35-37

v35    This is what the *LORD, the most powerful God, says.

          He makes the sun shine during the day.

          He orders the moon and the stars

          to shine at night.

          He stirs up the sea,

          so that its waves roar.

          He is the most powerful *LORD.

v36    ‘For as long as these natural laws continue’,

          declares the *LORD,

          'the people of Israel

          will continue to be a nation.’

v37    This what the *LORD says.

          ‘People cannot measure the sky above.

          They cannot discover completely

          the foundations of the earth below.

          So I will not turn away the people of Israel

          because of all their many *sins.’

Verse 35 Genesis 1:16 says that God created the sun, moon and stars. Isaiah 17:12 describes the waves of the sea roaring.

Verse 36 It would be impossible for God's natural laws to stop. So it would be just as impossible for the nation of Israel to come to an end.

Verse 37 This means the same as verse 36. At that time, people did not think that anybody could measure the sky above or the earth below. So that meant that the *LORD would never turn away from the people in Israel.

The new Jerusalem 31:38-40

v38 'The time is coming’, declares the *LORD, 'when people will rebuild this city for me. They will rebuild it from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. v39 The line to measure the city will go straight from there to the hill of Gareb. Then it will go round to reach Goah.

v40 There is a valley where people throw out dead bodies and ashes. That whole valley will be holy to the *LORD. All the fields above the Kidron valley, on the east side of the city, will be holy. It will be holy as far as the corner of the Horse Gate. Nobody ever again will pull up the city by the roots and destroy it.’

Verses 38-39 The Tower of Hanamel was at the north-east corner of the city. Nehemiah 3:1 describes how they began to rebuild the walls near to here. The hills of Gareb and Goah were probably places on the west side of the city.

Verse 40 The valley of Hinnom was the place where the people threw dead bodies. And they threw ashes there from the fires on the *altar in the *Temple. All that made the valley *unclean. But when they came to rebuild the city, that valley would be a special place for the *LORD. The valley of the Kidron stream, as far as the Horse Gate, would become holy. The Horse Gate was at the south-east corner. Jeremiah said that never again would an enemy destroy the city completely.

Probably that *prophecy looks beyond the time when Nehemiah and the people rebuilt Jerusalem . Zechariah 14:9-11 speaks about the security of Jerusalem. That will happen when the *LORD comes to rule the whole earth.

Chapter 32

A practical evidence of hope for the nation 32:1-44

1. Jeremiah buys a field 1-15

v1 The *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. It came in the 10th year that Zedekiah was king of Judah. It was the 18th year that Nebuchadnezzar was king. v2 The army of the king of Babylon was attacking Jerusalem. The *prophet, Jeremiah, was a prisoner. He was in the yard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.

v3 Zedekiah, the king of Judah, had put him in prison there. He had said this. 'Why do you *prophesy and say these things?’ You say that the *LORD says this. “I will hand over this city to the king of Babylon. He will control it. v4 Zedekiah, king of Judah, will not escape from the *Babylonian armies. Certainly, they will hand him over to the king of Babylon. Zedekiah will speak directly with the king of Babylon. Zedekiah actually will see the king. v5 Nebuchadnezzar will take Zedekiah to Babylon. Zedekiah will stay there until I deal with him, declares the *LORD. If you fight against the *Babylonians, you will not succeed." ’v6 Jeremiah said, 'The *LORD gave this message to me. v7 He said, "Your uncle's son, Hanamel, will come to you. Hanamel will say: Buy my field at Anathoth. You are my nearest relative. So it is your right and your duty to buy it.” ’

v8 Then it happened just as the *LORD had said. My cousin, Hanamel, came to me in the yard of the guard. He said, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. It is your right to buy it and to own it. So buy it for yourself.’

I knew that this was the *LORD's message. v9 So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin, Hanamel. I weighed out for him 17 pieces of silver. v10 I signed and closed the legal record. It said that I had purchased the field. I got some people to witness what I had done. I weighed out the silver on the instrument that weighs things. v11 There were two copies of my purchase. They closed one copy and they left open the other copy. They contained the rules and agreements about the sale. v12 I took these copies and gave them to Baruch. Baruch was Neriah's son. Neriah was Mahseiah's son. My cousin, Hanamel, saw me do it. The witnesses, who had signed the record, were there. So were all the *Jews who were sitting in the yard of the guard.

v13 I gave Baruch these instructions in front of all of them. v14 And I said this. ‘The most powerful *LORD, who is the God of Israel, says this. “Take these records, both the closed copy and the open copy. Put them in a *clay jar. Then they will last for a long time.” v15 The most powerful *LORD, who is the God of Israel, says this. "People will buy houses, fields and *vineyards again in this country." ’

Verses 1-2 That incident happened when the *Babylonian army was preparing to destroy Jerusalem. When Zedekiah had been king for 9 years, the *Babylonian army had begun to wait outside the city (Jeremiah 39:1). The *Babylonians went away for a short time when an *Egyptian army approached (Jeremiah 37:5). But soon they returned when the *Egyptians decided not to fight them. The officials in Jerusalem had arrested Jeremiah. He was going to Anathoth to arrange to buy some family property. They said that he was trying to join the enemy (Jeremiah 37:11-14). They kept him in a small room below the ground in the secretary's house. But later, Zedekiah moved him into an area inside the palace grounds. Jeremiah had greater freedom there (Jeremiah 37:21).

Verses 3-5 explain why Jeremiah remained in prison. Zedekiah and his officials considered that his *prophecy was dangerous. Jeremiah had *prophesied that the *Babylonians would defeat the city and its king. They thought that Jeremiah was an enemy of his own country. So he should remain where he could not *prophesy. Then he could not affect the courage of the people in Jerusalem.

Verses 6-8 The law said that, in certain circumstances, a close relative could buy land. That meant that the family would continue to own the land (Leviticus 25:25). Hanamel decided to sell his field. Perhaps he wanted money rather than land that the enemy would take. So he persuaded Jeremiah that he should buy the land. Hanamel used the words 'your right' as Jeremiah was his nearest relative. Hanamel may have tried to sell it to other relatives. But probably they were not willing to buy it in those dangerous times. The *LORD had warned Jeremiah that Hanamel would arrive with that demand.

Verses 9-12 The field belonged to Jeremiah after the usual legal custom at that time. People did not use coins as money. Instead, people weighed silver or gold to pay for things. Abraham weighed out 400 silver pieces for land in which to bury his family (Genesis 23:16). Jeremiah weighed out 17 pieces of silver to pay for his cousin's field. With witnesses, he signed the legal record of his purchase. He gave the two copies to his secretary Baruch. They closed one copy and they left open the other copy.

Verses 13-15 Jeremiah told Baruch to put the two copies into a *clay jar. It was a usual custom to put records in jars. That meant that the records would last a long time. After the *exile, the records would prove who was the owner. Jeremiah believed that the *LORD would renew the nation one day. Then normal business would begin again. People would be able to buy houses, fields and land on which to grow *grapes. Jeremiah’s purchase of the field showed that he believed the *LORD.

Jeremiah's prayer 32:16-25

v16 Jeremiah gave Baruch the record of his purchase. Then Jeremiah prayed to the *LORD.

v17 ‘*LORD God and king, by your great and powerful arm you have made the heavens and the earth. Nothing is too hard for you. v18 You show love to thousands of people. But you bring punishment upon the children because of their fathers' *sins. Great and powerful God, your name is the most powerful *LORD. v19 Your purposes are great. Your deeds are powerful. You see everything that people do. You reward everyone in proportion to his behaviour. You reward him in the way that his deeds deserve. v20 You performed *miracles and wonderful acts in Egypt. And you have continued them to this day. You have done them in Israel and among people everywhere. Everyone knows what you have done. v21 You brought your people out from Egypt with *miracles and wonderful events. You reached out your powerful hand and arm. You caused great terror. v22 You gave this country to the people of Israel. You had promised this to their *ancestors. This country has plenty of milk and honey. v23 The people of Israel came in and lived in the country. But they did not obey you. And they did not obey your law. They did not do what you ordered them to do. So you brought all this trouble upon them.

v24 See how the enemy have built up the slopes against the walls of Jerusalem. Now they can control the city. The people will hand it over to the enemy who are attacking it. It will fail because of war, hunger and disease. You said that this would happen. Now you can see that it is happening. v25 *LORD and King, soon the *Babylonian armies will possess the city. But you have told me to buy a field. You have told me to pay for it with silver. You told me to have a witness for the sale.’

Verses 16-19 Jeremiah had given to Baruch the record of his purchase. Then Jeremiah began to wonder whether he had done the right thing. So he prayed to the *LORD. He began to praise the *LORD. He knew that nothing was too difficult for the *LORD. Jeremiah imagined that the *LORD was like a very strong man. The *LORD had created the world. The *LORD loved thousands of people. He had punished the fathers' *sins. Those *sins had affected their children. The *LORD's deeds are powerful and his plans are great. He notices everything that people do. He judges everyone. And he gives to them what their actions deserve.

Verses 20-21 The *LORD had performed great and wonderful acts when he rescued the people of Israel from Egypt. The *Egyptians and other people became afraid because of what the *LORD did. Everywhere people knew what the *LORD had done.

Verses 22-23 God had carried out his promise to their *ancestors. He had given a good country to them. There was plenty to eat and to drink. But the people in Israel had not obeyed the *LORD's laws. They did not *worship the *LORD alone. They followed the religion of the people in the country. Sometimes they *worshipped the *LORD but mixed in *pagan customs. So they had brought great trouble onto themselves.

Verses 24-25 The *LORD sent a message to warn his people. Now that had happened. Already the enemy had built up slopes of mud and stones against the city walls. Then they would break down the walls and climb easily into the city. The *Babylonian army would take control of Jerusalem. People would die because they would be fighting outside the city. Inside the city, they would starve or die from disease. In such circumstances, Jeremiah thought that the *LORD’s instructions were a puzzle. Jeremiah had to buy a field. But it was difficult for him to believe that he would be able to enjoy his field.

3. The *LORD’s reply to Jeremiah 32:26-35

v26 Then the *LORD gave his message to Jeremiah. v27 'I am the *LORD. I am the God of all people. Nothing is too hard for me.’ v28 So this is what the *LORD says. 'I will hand over this city to the *Babylonian army and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He will control it. v29 The *Babylonians, who are attacking this city, will come in. They will burn it. They will burn the houses where the people made me very angry. The people burned *incense on their roofs to *worship the false god *Baal. And they poured out *offerings for false gods to drink.

v30 I have seen that the people in Israel and Judah have done evil deeds. They have been wicked ever since they were a young nation. In fact, they have done everything that has made me angry. They have *worshipped false gods that their own hands have made’, declares the *LORD. v31 'From the day that people built the city until now, this city has made me very angry. So I must remove it and no longer see it. v32 The people in Israel and in Judah have made me very angry. I am angry because of all the evil things that they have done. They, their kings and officials, their priests and *prophets have *sinned. And the people in Judah and the people in Jerusalem have *sinned too. v33 They turned their backs towards me. And they would not look towards me. I continued to teach them. But they would not listen. They took no notice when I corrected them. v34 They put up the images of their false gods that I hate. They did this in the house where my name lives. So they made my house *unclean. v35 They built high places in the valley of Ben Hinnom where they *worshipped *Baal. It was there that they *sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire to the false god Molech. That is something that I did not order. I did not think that they would do such a terrible thing. It made Judah *sin.’

Verses 26-30 The *LORD agreed with Jeremiah. Nothing was impossible for the *LORD to do. But his power would be with the *Babylonians who were attacking the city. They would enter the city of Jerusalem and burn the buildings. That would include the houses where *pagan *worship had taken place. The people were guilty. For many years, they had made the *LORD angry. So the *LORD would let those bad things happen. That is how he would punish the people.

Verses 31-32 Jerusalem had been the place where people did so many wrong things. So the *LORD had decided to destroy it. That involved everyone. The king and his officials, the *religious leaders, and the ordinary people in Judah, were all guilty.

Verses 33-35 The *LORD had taught the people carefully how to live in the right way. But they refused to listen. They refused to obey him. They had put *idols in the *LORD’s *Temple so that they could *worship the sun, the moon and the stars (2 Kings 21:4-5; 23:4). So the *Temple became *unclean. It was no longer right to *worship the *LORD there. Often people *sacrificed their children in the fire when they *worshipped their false god, Molech (2 Kings 23:10). That happened in the valley of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem. The *LORD had not ordered anything like that. It led the people in Judah to *sin.

4. The promise for the future 32:36-44

v36 You are saying this about the city. 'By war, hunger and disease the king of Babylon will control it.’ But this is what the *LORD, the God of Israel, says. v37 'You can be sure that I will gather my people again. I sent the people away to other countries because I was very angry. But I will bring them back from all those countries. I will bring them back to this place. And I will let them live in safety. v38 They will be my people and I will be their God. v39 I will give to them a single purpose. Then they will respect me always so that they have a good life. Then their children will have a good life also. v40 I will make a *covenant with them that will continue for always. I promise that I will look after them always. I will cause them to respect me. Then they will never turn away from me. v41 I will be happy when I do good things for them. Certainly I will plant them in this country. I will do fully all these things.’

v42 This is what the *LORD says. 'I have brought all this terrible trouble upon these people. Now I will give to them the good things that I have promised to them. v43 People will buy fields in this country again. You say that this land is a dry and lonely desert. You say that it has no people or animals in it. This is because I have handed it over to the *Babylonians. v44 People will buy fields with silver. They will sign and close the legal records in the territory of Benjamin. And people will be a witness to this. They will do it in the villages round Jerusalem and in the towns in Judah. They will do it in the towns in the hill country. They will do it in the towns in the western hills. They will do it in the Negev in the south. I will give to them success again’, declares the *LORD.

Verses 36-37 'You' is plural. So the people in Judah were repeating what the *LORD had said. War, hunger and disease would cause the *Babylonians to take control of Jerusalem. But now the *LORD makes a promise. He would gather all the *exiles from the countries to which he had sent them. He would bring them back home. And he would let them live there safely.

Verses 38-40 The people would change their attitude. They would respect the *LORD as their God. That would benefit both them and their children. The *LORD would make a new *covenant with them. It was the same as the new *covenant that he promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34. He made it clear that this *covenant will continue for always. God's people would respect him. He would never turn away from them. And Israel would not turn away from the *LORD.

Verse 41 The *LORD would bring back his people to stay in their own country. And the *LORD would enjoy giving his *blessings to them. Isaiah spoke about the *LORD’s delight with a new Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:4-5). Deuteronomy 30:9 described the *blessings that the *LORD would give. The *blessings were for the people who obeyed him.

Verses 42-44 The *LORD answered Jeremiah's question about the purchase of a field (Jeremiah 33:25). The *LORD promised that people would be able to buy fields again in every part of the country. Again people would live in the country that was like a desert. They would buy and sell fields again. Verse 44 describes the normal commercial activity that could happen in a peaceful country.

Chapter 33

Another promise of hope for Judah and Jerusalem 33:1-13

v1 Jeremiah was still a prisoner in the yard of the guard. Then the *LORD gave a second message to him. v2 'The *LORD made the earth. He shaped it and he made it firm. The *LORD is his name. This is what he says. v3 "Call to me, and I will answer you. I will tell you great things and secrets that you do not know." v4 The *LORD, the God of Israel, says this about the houses and the royal palaces in Judah. “The people had broken them down. They used the stones to make the city walls stronger against attack. v5 This was during their battle with the *Babylonian army.” The *LORD says, "The houses will be full of dead bodies. I will kill the people when I am very angry with them. I will not be kind to this city. This is because of all the wicked things that the people have done.

v6 However, I will bring health to Jerusalem. And I will heal my people. I will let them enjoy great peace and security. v7 I will bring back Judah and Israel from the places to which their enemies have taken them. I will build up the nation again, just as it was before. v8 I will make them *clean from all the *sins that they have done against me. I will forgive them from all their *sins when they turned against me. v9 Then this city will bring me fame, joy, praise and honour from all the nations on the earth. The nations will hear about all the good things that I do for this city. They will tremble and be surprised. And they will see the great success and peace that I give to it." ’

v10 This is what the *LORD says. 'You say about this place, "It is a lonely desert with no people or animals in it." No people or animals are living in the towns in Judah and the streets in Jerusalem. v11 But once more people will hear happy sounds of joy. There will be the happy sounds of brides and bridegrooms. You will hear the voices of those people who come to the *Temple. They will bring *offerings to thank the *LORD. They will say this.

          “Thank the *LORD, the most powerful God,

          because the *LORD is good.

          His love continues for always.”

I will make the country successful as it was before’, says the *LORD.

v12 This is what the most powerful *LORD says. ‘This place is a desert with no people or animals in it. But again there will be places in all its towns where *shepherds can rest their sheep. v13 Again many sheep will pass under the hands of the *shepherd who is counting them. This will happen in the towns of the hill country, the western hill country and the Negev. It will happen in the territory of Benjamin. It will happen in the villages round Jerusalem and in the towns in Judah’, says the *LORD.

Verses 1-2 While Jeremiah was still a prisoner, the *LORD spoke to him again. He reminded Jeremiah about the *LORD’s power. The *LORD had created the world. He is the *LORD. His name means 'I am’. So for always he can be with those people who trust him. He invited Jeremiah to call to him. The *LORD will answer anyone who asks. But that person must listen. The *LORD will show him what normal human knowledge can never know. The *LORD was comforting Jeremiah while he was in prison.

Verses 3-5 describe the results of the attack by the *Babylonian army. People in Jerusalem had tried to make their city strong. They used stones from their houses and even from their palaces. However, the verse may refer to how the *Babylonian army destroyed the buildings. Houses would contain dead bodies. The *Babylonians killed some of the people. Other people died because of hunger or disease. That happened because the *LORD was very angry. He would not protect the city because the people had been so wicked.

Verses 6-8 Later, the *LORD would heal the nation and he would bring peace. These verses contain different words for *sin. One word means 'to wander away from the right path’. Another word means that people fail to obey completely a holy God. A third word refers to people who were refusing to obey the *LORD. Instead they were deciding to do what they wanted to do. The *LORD would forgive his people in whatever way they had *sinned. They would not continue to be guilty.

Verse 9 In the past, the people in Jerusalem had brought shame upon the city. Now the people from every nation would hear about the good things that the *LORD was doing for the city. They would wonder. And they would tremble because of what they heard. They would give honour to the *LORD. That reminds us that the *LORD is God of the whole world.

Verses 10-11 Jeremiah had said that the *LORD’s punishment would make the land into a desert. He would take away all the sounds that people made. He would take away the happy sounds of a wedding (Jeremiah 25:10). In the future, the situation would be different. People could be happy at a wedding. They could sing for joy when they go to the *Temple. They would take their *offerings to thank the *LORD. They would praise the *LORD in words like those words in the Psalms (for example, Psalm 106:1).

Verses 12-13 Everywhere in the country it would be peaceful. That would include the dry land in the south called the Negev. Again the *shepherds would be able to find grass for their sheep near to towns. They would count their sheep each night. They would make sure that every sheep was present. Probably the *shepherd would stand in the entrance of the sheep’s shelter. He would touch each sheep as it went into the safe shelter.

Jesus is the good '*shepherd'. He knows when just one of his 'sheep' is not present (John 10:7-11; Luke 15:4-6).

The family *descendants of David and of the priests 33:14-26

v14 This message is from the *LORD. ‘I made a promise to the people of Israel and Judah. At a future time I will do the things that I promised.

v15    In those days and at that time

          I will make a good branch

          grow from David's royal *descendants.

          He will do what is right and fair in the country.

v16    In those days I will rescue Judah.

          And Jerusalem will live in safety.

          This is the name by which people will call it.

          “The *LORD who makes us right with himself.” ’

v17 The *LORD says, 'Always David will have a son to be king of the nation of Israel. v18 The priests, who are Levites, always will have a man to serve me. He will burn *offerings of grain. And he will give *sacrifices.’

v19 The *LORD spoke to Jeremiah. v20 This is what the *LORD says. 'Suppose that you could stop my *covenant with the day and with the night. And that you could stop the day and the night so that they do not come at their usual times. v21 Only then could I stop my *covenant with David, my servant. Only then could I stop my *covenant with the Levites who serve me as priests. Only then will David no longer have a *descendant to rule as king. v22 This is what I will do for the *descendants of my servant David. And I will do it for the Levites who serve me. I will make them as many as the stars in the sky. I will make them as many as the grains of sand on the sea shore. It will be impossible to count them all.’

v23 The *LORD gave this message to Jeremiah. v24 'Have you noticed what these people are saying? They say, "Once the *LORD chose the two *kingdoms of Israel and Judah. But now he does not care about them." So they think that my people are *worthless. They do not consider that my people are a nation any longer.’ v25 This is what the *LORD says. 'Suppose that I had not made my *covenant with day and night. Suppose that I had not fixed the laws of heaven and of earth. v26 Only then would I turn away from the *descendants of Jacob and from David, my servant. Only then would I not choose one of David's sons to rule over the *descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Instead, I will *bless my people and I will give them success again. I will pity them and I will love them.’

Verses 14-16 The *LORD would carry out his promise. One day he would rebuild the nation. The *LORD repeats the promise about a king who would come from David’s royal family (Jeremiah 23:5-7). He would be an ideal king who would rule fairly. He would do what was right. The *LORD would rescue Judah. Jerusalem would not be the city for which nobody cared (Jeremiah 30:17). Instead, Jerusalem would receive the same name as the ideal king. The city would have peace with the *LORD. The city would be an example of the right way to live.

Verse 17 The *prophecy said that always there would be a *descendant from David. He would rule as king. That happened in Jesus Christ. He is called 'the Root and Son of David' (Revelation 22:16). He will rule the *kingdoms of the world for always (Revelation 11:15).

Verse 18 The priests belonged to the family of Levi. Jeremiah had blamed some of the priests because of their false promises about peace (Jeremiah 6:13). But always there would be a priest through whom the people could approach the *LORD. Jesus Christ is that priest. His perfect *sacrifice allows us to approach the *LORD (Hebrews 7:24-25). He is a priest for always (Hebrews 10:19-22). In the *New Testament, some of the priests believed and trusted Christ (Acts 6:7). But everyone who trusts Christ becomes a priest. They give to the *LORD the *sacrifice of praise (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Verses 19-22 When the *LORD created the world he created things in order (Genesis 1:5). It was stupid to think that the *LORD would stop that order. Always the *LORD would do what he promised to Noah. While the earth remains, 'day and night will not end' (Genesis 8:22). So it was just as impossible for the *LORD to end his *covenant with David and with the priests. The *LORD repeated the promise that he made to Abraham. He promised to give him so many *descendants that nobody would be able to count them. They would be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand by the sea (Genesis 22:17).

Verses 23-26 People were thinking that the *LORD did not care about the *kingdoms of Israel and Judah. They were *worthless. But the *LORD promised to pity his people. But the *LORD would not end his own laws. He had made laws for heaven and earth, and for day and night. So it was impossible that he would not continue to look after Israel. He would not fail to choose a son from David’s family as king. He would rule over the *descendants of those people who began their nation. Again, they would become a successful nation.


AD ~ refers to the years after Christ was born.

altar ~ a block of wood or stone with a flat top. People gave gifts or *sacrifices on it to God or to a false god.

ancestors ~ members of your family who lived in the past.

Assyrian ~ people who live in, or come from, the country called Assyria; anything connected with Assyria.

Baal ~ a local false god. People thought that these false gods made crops grow.

Babylonian ~ people who live in, or come from, the country called Babylon; anything connected with Babylon.

BC ~ refers to the years before Christ was born.

bless ~ to say or to do good things to a person.

blessings ~ the good things that God gives to us or that he does for us.

burnt offerings ~ see ‘offerings’

cedar ~ a type of large tree.

clay ~ a type of earth from which people made pots.          

clean ~ suitable for God or for God’s people; pure in thought and action. A clean person could go to *worship God. In the Old Testament many things could make a person *unclean. The *Israelites could not eat animals that God called *unclean.

covenant ~ the special promise that the *LORD made to his people, the *Israelites. The *LORD’s covenant with the *Israelites established a special relationship between him and them. But they had to obey him.

descendants ~ members of your family who live after you live.

desert ~ a wild place where there are small bushes and not much water. It has poor soil and people cannot produce crops there.

Egyptian ~ a person who comes from the country called Egypt; something that has a connection with Egypt.

exile ~ absence from the country where usually you live. Usually somebody forces a person to go into exile.

fig ~ a small fruit with many seeds inside it; the tree that produces these fruits.

grapes ~ the fruit of a plant called a *vine. People eat grapes. Also they use grapes to make wine.

Greek ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *New Testament.

Hebrew ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *Old Testament. The language that the *Israelites spoke. Another name for a *Jew or for an *Israelite.

idol ~ an image of a false god that people *worship instead of the *LORD.

incense ~ a substance that gives a sweet smell when people burn it.

Israelites ~ people from the nation called Israel; another name for the *Jews.

Jew ~ a *descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jewish ~ something that has a connection with the *Jews; something that belongs to the *Jews

kingdom ~ a country where a king rules.

LORD ~ a special name for God. In the *Hebrew Bible it translates the word YHWH. Probably YHWH (Yahweh) means ‘he is always alive’.            

miracle ~ a wonderful work that God does by means of his power.

mount ~ another name for mountain.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible that the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.

offering ~ a gift to please the *LORD or a false god.
            burnt offering ~ the *Israelite priest burnt the whole animal on the *altar

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible that the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.

pagan ~ a person who loves a false god or false gods; something that has a connection with a false god.

Pharaoh ~ the title of the king in Egypt.

Philistines ~ a nation that fought against the people in Israel and in Judah.

prophecy/prophecies ~ the words that a *prophet speaks or writes.

prophesy ~ to speak or write about things that will happen in the future; to speak on behalf of God or on behalf of a false god.

prophet ~ a person who declares God's message.

religious ~ something that has a connection with religion.

sacrifice ~ an *offering to God or to false gods. The *Israelites had to give sacrifices to the *LORD when they asked him to forgive their *sins. Usually the priest had to kill a special animal and burn it on the *altar. Sometimes *pagans killed a child as a sacrifice.

shepherds ~ men who look after sheep. Sometimes leaders in Israel were called shepherds.

sin ~ when a person does or says bad things against God or against other people; the bad things that a person does or says when they do not obey God.

Temple ~ the most important building in Jerusalem where the *Jews *worshipped God.

throne ~ a magnificent royal seat on which a king or ruler sits

tribe ~ group of people that have the same *ancestor.

unclean ~ not *clean; unsuitable for God or for God’s people. When somebody was unclean that person was unable to go and to *worship God.

vineyard ~ the place where *vines grow.

worship ~ to show honour to God or to a false god. People may sing or pray when they worship. Or they may kneel or give a gift to God.

worthless ~ of no value.

yoke ~ a piece of wood that goes across the neck of an animal when it pulls a plough or a cart; a way to describe how a king has control over a nation.


R.K. Harrison ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Jeremiah and Lamentations ~ Tyndale Press 1973

Derek Kidner ~ The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Jeremiah ~ IVP 2003 reprint

Alan Millard ~ Discoveries from Bible Times ~ Lion Publishing 1997

J A Thompson ~ New International Commentary on the *Old Testament: The Book of Jeremiah ~ Eerdmans 1980


Concise Oxford Chambers 21st Century

Thesaurus ~ Geddes and Grosset ~ 1999


New International Version ~1st published 1979

New International Readers Version ~ 1998

New International Version Study Bible ~ 1987

New English Bible ~ 1970

Jerusalem Bible ~ 1974

Today's English Version ~ 1976


© 2014, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

February 2015

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