Jeremiah 16

The Lord tells Jeremiah how he must live

1 The Lord said to me, 2 ‘You must not marry in this place. You must not have sons or daughters here. 3 I will tell you what will happen to children who are born here and what will happen to their parents. 4 Terrible disease will kill them. Nobody will weep for them. Nobody will bury them. Their bodies will lie on the ground like dung. Either war or famine will kill them. Birds and wild animals will come to eat their dead bodies.’

5 The Lord also said to me, ‘Do not go into a house where they are eating a funeral meal. Do not join with them to weep because someone in the family has died. I have removed my blessing and my faithful love from these people. I will no longer be kind to them. That is what I say. 6 When people die, nobody will bury them, whether they are rich people or poor people. Nobody will weep for them. People will not cut their bodies because they are upset. They will not cut the hair from their heads. 7 Nobody will take food to comfort families when someone has died. Even if their mother or their father has died, nobody will bring any wine to comfort them.

8 Do not join with people who are eating a feast because they are happy. Do not go into their house to eat and drink with them. 9 I, the Lord Almighty, Israel's God, tell you what I will do. I will stop their happy songs and their marriage parties in this place. You will see this happen while you are still alive.

10 Tell the people everything that I have said. Then they will ask you, “Why has the Lord told us that he will punish us so much? What wrong things have we done? What sin have we done against the Lord, our God?” 11 Then you must tell them what I say: “It is because your ancestors turned against me. They went to other gods. They worshipped and they served those gods. They turned against me and they did not obey my law. 12 And you have done even more wicked things than your ancestors! You do any wicked thing that you want to do. You refuse to change. You do not obey me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land. I will send you away to a land that you and your ancestors never knew. There you will worship other gods, as much as you like. I will no longer help you.” ’

Hope for the future

14 The Lord also said, ‘Listen! A better time will come. When people make a promise, they will not say, “I promise to do this as surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites safely out of Egypt.” 15 Instead they will say, “I promise to do this as surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites safely back from the land in the north. He brought them back from all the places that he had sent them to as prisoners.” Yes, at that time I will bring them back to this land that I gave to their ancestors.

16 But now I will send enemies to catch these people. They will catch them like fishermen catch fish. They will chase after them like hunters who catch wild animals. They will find them everywhere in the mountains, in the hills and in holes in the rocks. 17 I am watching them carefully all the time. They cannot hide from me. I can see all their sins. 18 I will punish them for their sins. I will make them pay twice for the wrong things that they have done. That is because they have spoiled my land. They have made it unclean with their disgusting idols that have no life. They have filled my special land with the evil things that they have done.’

16:16‘fishermen’ are people who catch fish.

19 Lord, you give me strength.

You are the safe place where I can hide.

When I am in trouble,

I can run to you and be safe.

People will come from nations all over the earth,

to give you honour.

They will say, ‘Our ancestors worshipped false gods.

Those gods were useless and they could not help us.

20 Can people make gods for themselves?

If they make them, they are not really gods.’

21 ‘So I, the Lord, will teach these people about my great power.

Then they will understand that I am the Lord,

the true God.’

16:21In this verse, the Lord says how he will teach his people the truth about himself. His words continue in chapter 17.