Jeremiah 4:5-5:31

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.’

Jeremiah 5

1 ‘Go along the streets of Jerusalem, and come back again.

Look all round you, carefully.

Look in all parts of the city.

Try to find one person who is honest. Try to find a person who wants to know the truth.

If you find one, I will forgive all the people in the city.

2 They may say, “As the Lord lives”.

They want people to think that they are honest.

But what they are saying is false.’

3 Lord, you want us to speak words that are true.

But the people that you have hurt do not feel any pain.

You hit them, but they would not change.

They would not do the things that you wanted.

They held on to the bad things that they were doing.

And they refused to turn away from them.

4 ‘These are poor people, and they are fools,’ I thought.

‘They do not know what the Lord asks them to do.

They have no idea what he wants.

5 So I will go to speak to the leaders.

They will certainly know what the Lord wants.

They will know what they must do to please him.’

But every one of them turned away from him.

They said that they were not his slaves.

6 A big wild animal from the forest will attack them for that.

Another animal will tear them into pieces.

Other animals will wait near their towns to hurt anyone who leaves.

That is because they have turned so far from the Lord.

It is because they have done very many bad things.

7 ‘I cannot forgive you.

Your children have gone away from me.

They have trusted gods that are not gods.

I gave to them everything that they needed.

But they left me and they went to the houses of false gods.

They are like men who have sex with other men's wives.

8 They are like wild horses.

Wild horses run after any female that they want.

9 I must punish them for that,’ the Lord says.

‘They have hurt me so much.

They are such bad people that I must punish them.’

5:9Verses 1-9 give the reasons for the Lord's punishment.

10 ‘Go through the gardens where their grapes are growing. And destroy their fruits.

But do not completely destroy them.

Pull the branches from the trees

because these people do not belong to the Lord.

11 All the families in Judah and in Israel

have gone far from me,’ says the Lord.

12 They spoke about the Lord. They said what is not true.

‘He will not do anything,’ they said.

‘He will never hurt us.

We will have enough to eat. Soldiers will not kill us.

13 The prophets speak empty words.

They do not know what the Lord says.

So they may say that something bad will happen.

If that is true, let it happen to them.’

14 ‘So the people have said this,’

says the strong and powerful Lord.

‘I will make the words in your mouth like a fire.

And the people will burn like wood in that fire.’

15 ‘People in Israel,’ the Lord says,

‘I will send soldiers to attack you.

They will come from a country far away.

They have lived there for a long time.

You do not know their language.

You cannot understand what they say.

16 They want to kill you and they want to destroy your land.

They are all powerful soldiers.

17 They will eat all the food in your fields

and the food that you have stored.

They will take your sons and daughters.

They will eat your sheep and cows.

They will take the fruit from your trees.

They will fight and break down the strong cities.

You thought that those cities would keep you safe.’

18 ‘But even at that time,’ says the Lord, ‘I will not destroy you completely. 19 And when the people ask, “Why has the Lord, our God, done this to us?” you will speak to them. Say, “You have left me, and you serve foreign gods in your own country. So now you will serve foreign people in a country that is not your own.”

20 Tell this to the families of Jacob. Shout it in the country called Judah.

21 Hear this, you people who are fools with no understanding.

You have eyes, but you do not see.

You have ears, but you do not hear.

22 You should be afraid of me,’ says the Lord.

‘Your knees should knock together when you are near to me.

I made the sand to be an edge to the sea.

It is like a wall that the sea cannot cross.

The water of the sea may attack it, but it cannot win.

It can make a loud noise, but it cannot cross the sand.

23 These people will not obey me.

They have turned and they have gone away from me.

24 They do not say to themselves,

“We must honour and obey the Lord our God.

He gives the autumn and spring rains to us.

Each year he makes sure that we have food.”

25 But you have done many wrong things.

So he has not sent rain or food to you.

He has taken away good things because you have sinned.

26 Many bad men belong to my people.

They hide like men who catch birds.

They are like people who try to catch men.

27 They have cheated people

and they have robbed them.

So their houses are full of valuable things,

like a cage that is full of beautiful birds.

That is how they have become rich and powerful.

28 They are very fat and healthy.

They will never stop doing evil things.

They do not try to help children who have no fathers.

They do not help poor people to get what is theirs.

29 I certainly must punish them for this,’

says the Lord.

‘I must show them how angry I am.

The people are very, very bad.’

30 A really bad thing has happened in this country.

31 The prophets tell people things that are not true.

The priests make their own rules.

And my people like what they do.

I will stop all this. Then they will not know what to do.