Jeremiah 18

Jeremiah at the potter's house

18:1A potter is someone who uses clay to make pots and bowls.

1 The Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 2 ‘Go down to the potter's house. I will tell you my message there.’ 3 So I went down to the potter's house. He was working at his wheel. 4 He was using clay to make pots with his hands. But, as he worked, sometimes a pot had the wrong shape. So he used the clay to make it into another pot. He made it in the shape that he wanted.

5 Then the Lord told me his message. 6 He said, ‘I tell you this: I can do to you, nation of Israel, the same thing that this potter does with his clay. I hold you in my hands, as the potter holds the clay in his hands. 7 Sometimes I may warn a nation or a kingdom that I will knock it down and destroy it. 8 But when I warn them, those people might stop doing wicked things. Then I would not punish them as I had promised to do. 9 Sometimes I may promise to build up a nation or a kingdom and make it strong. 10 But those people might start to do evil things. They might stop obeying me. Then I would not help them as I had promised to do.

11 So now you must speak to the people who live in Jerusalem and in all of Judah. Tell them that the Lord says this: “Listen to me! I will cause great trouble for you. I have decided to punish you. So you must all stop doing the evil things that you have been doing. Change the way that you live and do things that are right.” 12 But they will say, “Do not try to stop us! We will do whatever we want to do. We will continue to do wicked things.” ’

13 So the Lord says this:

‘Go and ask the people of other nations!

Have they ever heard about anything as terrible as this?

My people, Israel, should have been pure.

But they have done a disgusting thing!

14 There is always snow on Lebanon's mountains.

Cold streams of water always pour down from those high rocks.

15 Those things never change,

but my people have forgotten me.

They offer sacrifices to useless idols.

Because of that, they live in a wrong way.

They have left the good paths that their ancestors knew.

Instead, they walk along narrow paths

that nobody takes care of.

16 So I will cause their land to become a terrible place.

People will always see how disgusting my people are.

Everybody who goes near there

will be very surprised.

They will shake their heads and they will insult my people.

17 I will send enemies to attack them.

They will chase my people away,

like an east wind that blows away dust.

I will turn away from them

when that day of great trouble arrives.

I will refuse to help them.’

The people turn against Jeremiah

18:18Jeremiah had made the people angry. So they wanted to attack him.

18 Then some people said, ‘We must find a way to stop Jeremiah. We do not need him. The priests will still be here to teach us. Wise men will still be here to give us advice. The prophets will still be here to give us God's messages. We should speak bad things against Jeremiah. Then we will not have to listen to him any more.’

19 ‘Please listen to me, Lord!

Hear what my enemies are saying against me.

20 I have done good things for them,

but they are paying me back with evil things.

They have already dug a grave for me!

Remember that I stood in front of you

and I asked you to forgive them.

I asked you not to be angry with them.

21 So now I ask you to punish them!

Yes, may famine kill their children.

May they die in war.

May wives no longer have husbands or children.

May disease kill the old men.

May the young men die in battle.

22 Send people to attack them suddenly

and rob them in their homes.

Then they will shout aloud in great fear.

They have dug a hole for me to fall into.

They have prepared traps to catch me.

23 But Lord, you know how they want to kill me.

They are guilty, so do not forgive them.

Do not forget to punish them for their sins.

Put them under your power!

Punish them while you are still angry!’