Jeremiah 4

1 ‘If you want to return, then return to me,’ the Lord says.

‘Throw away your gods that I hate.

You must not go away from me again.

2 And if you make a true, good and fair promise to me,

then you can say, “It is sure that the Lord is alive.”

He will bless all the nations in the world.

And they will be very happy to give honour and praise to him.’

3 This is what the Lord says to the people in Judah, and in Jerusalem.

‘Break up your hard ground.

Do not put seed among weeds.

4 Give all of yourselves to the Lord.

Cut off everything that is not his.

Men in Judah and people in Jerusalem, you must do that.

If you do not do it, I will be angry.

My anger will burn you like a fire.

I will hurt you because of the bad things that you have done.

Nobody will save you.’

An enemy will attack from the north.

5 ‘Shout to the people in Judah. Say this to the people in Jerusalem:

“Blow the trumpets in all the country!”

Shout to them and say,

“Come together!

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

6 Tell everyone to go to Zion!

Do not wait to run to a safe place

because I will bring trouble from the north.

4:6Jeremiah does not say who the enemy from the north was.

I will destroy your country.

7 A lion was hiding in the hills.

4:7The lion may be the country called Assyria or Babylon.

It has come out to destroy the nations.

It has left its home to destroy your country.

It will break down your towns.

They will be empty.

8 So put on special clothes to show that you are sad.

Cry and be very sad.

Say, “The Lord is still angry with us.

He has not forgotten his anger.” 

9 The king and his officers will not be happy on that day,

says the Lord.

The priests will be very afraid.

The prophets will be very upset, so that they cannot speak.’

10 Then I said, ‘Oh, great and powerful Lord. You have not spoken what is true to this people and to Jerusalem. You said, “You will have peace.” But now our enemies will attack us!’

11 The Lord will tell them at that time, ‘A hot wind from the empty mountains will blow towards my people. But it will not make them clean. It will not blow away the wrong things that they have done. 12 I will send a wind that is too strong for that. Yes, I myself will punish them.’

13 Look! He is coming like the clouds.

He is like a strong, fast wind.

He flies faster than a great bird.

It will be very bad for us! We are really in trouble.

14 Jerusalem, wash away your bad thoughts.

Then the Lord will save you.

You must not hold on to your bad thoughts.

15 A voice is calling out from Dan.

It says that trouble is coming from the hills of Ephraim.

4:15Dan was a city in the north of Israel. The hills of Ephraim are to the north of Jerusalem.

16 ‘Tell this to all the nations,

shout it to Jerusalem.

“An army is coming from a far country.

It will attack Jerusalem.

17 Their soldiers are round its walls.

This is because Jerusalem's people have not obeyed me” ’,

says the Lord.

18 ‘I have done this to you

because of the wrong things that you have done.

You have caused this trouble.

I am punishing you.

Yes, it is painful.

The pain goes all through you.’

19 I am in such great pain!

All my body hurts. I have to go on moving.

My thoughts are full of pain.

My heart keeps hitting hard inside me.

I feel that I have to shout.

I have heard the noise of the trumpet.

I have heard the enemy when they were shouting.

20 It is bad, but it is getting worse!

Our enemies have destroyed everything in the country.

They have quickly broken down my tents.

They did not wait to destroy my home.

21 I do not know how long the battle will last.

I can still hear the sound of people who are fighting.

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 know how to do bad things.

But they have no idea how to do good things.’

23 I looked at the earth,

and it had no shape.

I looked at the sky,

and its light was gone.

24 I looked at the mountains,

and they kept moving about.

All the hills were moving.

25 I looked, and I did not see any people.

All the birds had flown away.

26 I looked at the good country, but no plants grew there.

Our enemies had knocked down all its towns.

The Lord was very angry. He caused them to do all this.

27 ‘I will cause bad things to happen in the whole country,’

the Lord says.

‘But I will not completely destroy it.

28 So the whole earth will be sad.

The sky will become dark.

This will happen as I have said.

And I will not change my plan.

I have spoken and I will not turn back.’

29 The people in every town will run away

when they hear the sound of soldiers and horses.

Some of them hide in bushes.

Some of them climb up among the rocks.

All the towns are empty.

Nobody lives in them.

30 You are like a woman who wears bright red clothes.

You are like a woman who wears things of gold.

You paint your eyes,

but that does not help you.

The men that you loved do not give honour to you.

They want to kill you.

31 I can hear that people are shouting. It is like the noise of a woman while her baby is being born.

It is like the noise of a woman while her first child is being born.

It is the people in Jerusalem, who are shouting for help.

They shout and they say,

‘I am very weak, and I am getting weaker.

I am afraid that they will kill me.’