The promise that God will bring the people back
1 Jeremiah was still in the prison in the yard where the king's soldiers were. God spoke to Jeremiah a second time while he was there. He said, 2 ‘I am the LORD who made the earth. I gave a shape to it and I put it in its place. The LORD is my name. And I say, 3 “Call to me and I will answer you. I will tell you great, strange things that you do not know.” 4 The LORD is the God of Israel. And he says this about the houses in this city and about the houses of the kings of Judah: “The people had broken them down. They used the stones to make the city's walls stronger against the enemy. 5 That was during their battle with the army from Babylon.” 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. That is because of all the bad things that the people have done. 6 But I will make the people in this city well again. I will make my people well. They will enjoy peace. 7 I will bring back Judah's people and Israel's people and I will make them safe and comfortable. I will build them up again. Then they will be as they were before. 8 I will make them clean from all their sin. They refused to obey me. But I will forgive all the wrong things that they did. 9 Then this city will cause the people in all the countries on the earth to praise me. They will hear about all the good things that I am doing for Jerusalem. So they will give honour to me. I will make the city rich and I will give peace to it. They will be afraid when they see that.” ’
10 The LORD says, ‘You say that this place is empty, without men or animals. But people will return to the empty streets in Jerusalem. People will make a happy noise where now there are no men and no animals. 11 You will hear the voices of men and women who are just married. People will bring gifts to the house of the LORD to thank him. You will hear their voices as they say,
“Give thanks to the great, powerful LORD,
because the LORD is good.
His love lasts for all time.”
I will make the country as rich as it was before’, says the LORD.
12 The great and powerful LORD says, ‘This place is empty now, without people or animals. But I will put grass round its towns where sheep can rest with their shepherds. 13 Shepherds will count their sheep again in the towns among the hills. And they will do that in the towns in the west and in the south. And they will count them in the land of Benjamin. They will do it again in the villages round Jerusalem. And they will count them in the towns in Judah’, says the LORD.
14 ‘At a future time’, says the LORD, ‘I will do the kind things that I have promised to do. I promised those things to the people of both Judah and Israel.
15 David and his descendants are like a tree. In that day, when the time is right, I will cause a good branch to grow from that tree. He will do things that are good and fair in my country. 16 At that time, the people from Judah and Jerusalem will come back and they will be safe. People will call the city, “The LORD makes us right and good.” ’
33:16‘A branch to grow from that tree’ means a ‘son that will be born from David's descendants’.
17 The LORD says, ‘A man from David's descendants will always be a king of Israel. 18 And there will always be a priest from Levi's descendants to offer meat and food to me. They will burn their gifts on the altar to show honour to me.’
19 Jeremiah heard the LORD who was saying to him, 20 ‘The LORD says, “You can never change my rules about the day and the night. They will always come at their proper times. 21 My promise to David my servant, and to the Levites is like that. They will always be priests who will serve me. And David will always have a descendant to sit on his throne. 22 I will cause David my servant and the Levites to have many descendants. There are many stars in the sky. And there are many pieces of sand by the sea. The number of their descendants will be like the number of those stars and like the number of those pieces.” ’
23 The LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 24 And he said, ‘The people are saying that the LORD has left his people. But they are the people that he chose. They say that he is not still the God of Israel and Judah. They think that Israel and Judah are not still a nation. They do not think that they are important.’ 25 But the LORD says, ‘Nobody can change my rules about the day and the night. And I have made the laws about earth and sky. 26 I will never turn away from the descendants of Jacob and of David my servant. I will always choose one from among their descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will bring them back to the place that is theirs. I will be kind to them.’