Jeremiah 4

1 The Lord says this:

‘People of Israel, you should return to me.

If you want to do that,

you must throw away your idols.

Remove those disgusting things

and do not turn away from me again.

2 You must be honest and do what is right.

You must do what you promise to do.

You can show that your promise is true

when you add, “As surely as the Lord is alive.”

Then other nations will see that I have blessed you.

They will pray that I will bless them too.

and they will praise me.’

3 The Lord says this to the people of Jerusalem and all Judah:

‘Prepare yourselves, like a farmer who ploughs his fields.

Do not plant your seeds where weeds are growing.

4 Give yourselves to me, the Lord,

and agree to serve me faithfully.

Remove from your lives everything that is not right,

so that you obey my covenant.

If you do not do that,

I will be very angry with you.

I will punish you like a hot fire that destroys things.

Nobody will be able to stop my anger.

People of Judah and Jerusalem,

if you continue to do wicked things,

I will certainly punish you.’

An enemy will attack from the north

5 The Lord said:

‘Shout this message to the people in Jerusalem and in all Judah:

“Make a loud noise with trumpets in all the land!”

Shout loudly, “Come together!

We must all run to the cities with strong walls!”

6 Lift up a flag that shows the way to Zion!

Run quickly to a safe place! Do not wait!

I will soon bring great trouble from the north.

An enemy will destroy your country.

7 Yes, a strong army is coming,

like a lion that has left its cave.

4:7The Lord does not say who the enemy is. The lion may be Assyria or Babylon, which are nations to the north of Israel.

It has come out to destroy many nations.

It will attack your whole land.

Your cities will become heaps of stones,

and nobody will live in them.

8 So wear rough sackcloth!

Weep and cry aloud.

Say, “The Lord is still very angry with us.” ’

9 The Lord says:

‘When this happens, the king and his officers will be afraid.

The priests will shake with fear.

The prophets will be unable to speak.’

10 Then I said, ‘Lord God, that is terrible! You have deceived the people of Judah and Jerusalem. You told them, “You will live in peace.” But now an enemy is ready to attack us!’

11 The Lord will tell the people at that time, ‘A hot wind will blow from the hills in the desert. It will not be a little wind that blows chaff from wheat. It will be a strong storm that blows away the people that I love. 12 I will send a strong wind of punishment on my people.’

13 Look! The enemy army is coming like dark clouds!

Their chariots make the noise of a storm.

Their horses move faster than eagles in the sky.

Terrible trouble has come. We will all die!

14 People of Jerusalem, remove the evil things from your lives.

Then the Lord may save you.

Do not continue to have wicked ideas.

15 People are bringing a message from Dan

and from the hill country of Ephraim.

The message says that great trouble is coming.

4:15Dan and Ephraim are places to the north of Jerusalem.

16 They say, ‘Warn all the nations that the enemy is coming!’

Shout this message in Jerusalem:

‘An army is coming from a country that is far away.

They will attack the towns in Judah.

17 Their soldiers are all around Jerusalem's walls,

like guards around a farmer's field.’

The Lord says, ‘This will happen because the people of Judah have turned against me. 18 I will punish you very much, because that is what you deserve. You have lived in a wicked way and you have done evil things. My punishment will give you pain that goes all through you.’

Jeremiah is very upset

19 I am so upset!

My body is shaking with pain.

My heart beats hard inside me.

I cannot keep still.

I cannot keep quiet.

I have heard the noise of the enemy's trumpets

and the shouts of their soldiers.

20 They are winning one battle after another!

They are destroying the whole land.

Our homes are becoming heaps of stones.

They quickly knock down our tents.

21 How long will our enemy continue to attack us?

How long will I see their flags and hear their trumpets?

22 The Lord says,

‘My people are fools.

They do not know me.

They are like children who do not know anything.

They understand nothing.

They are very clever at doing evil things.

But they do not know how to do what is good.’

Jeremiah's vision

23 I looked at the earth.

It had no shape and it was empty.

I looked at the sky.

Its light had disappeared.

24 I looked at the mountains.

They were shaking.

All the hills were moving around.

25 When I looked, I saw no people.

All the birds had flown away.

26 The land where crops had grown was now a desert.

All the cities had become heaps of stones.

The Lord had caused this to happen

because he was very angry.

27 The Lord had said,

‘The whole land will become like a desert,

but I will not completely destroy it.

28 So the earth will be sad and weep.

The sky will become dark.

4:28It is like the earth and the sky are at a funeral.

I have said what I will do.

And I will not change my thoughts.

I will do as I have decided.’

29 When the enemy attacks a town,

the people will run away to escape.

The enemy soldiers will ride on horses,

and they will shoot arrows.

When the people hear them,

some of them will hide among trees.

Some of them will climb up among the rocks.

All the towns will become empty.

Nobody will live in them.

30 Yes, Jerusalem, an enemy has destroyed you!

You tried to make friends,

like a woman who wears a beautiful dress.

You wore your gold and your jewels.

You painted around your eyes.

But all that has not helped you.

The nations that you wanted to be your lovers have turned against you.

Now they want to kill you.

31 I can hear people who are calling out.

It sounds like a woman who is giving birth to her first baby.

She is calling out with great pain.

It is Jerusalem who is crying!

She is calling out for help.

She says, ‘Help me! I am very weak.

These murderers have come to kill me!’