Jeremiah 5

Punishment for Judah's people

1 The Lord said,

‘Run along all the streets of Jerusalem.

Look carefully all around you.

Look in all the public places of the city.

Try to find one person who is honest.

Try to find one person who wants to know the truth.

If you find one person like that,

I will forgive all the people in the city.

2 They make promises and they say,

“I will do it, as surely as the Lord lives.”

But what they say is all lies.’

3 Lord, you want people to be honest and true.

You have punished your people,

but they did not feel any pain.

You nearly destroyed them,

but they still refuse to change.

Their minds have become as hard as rock.

They refuse to turn back to you.

4 I thought, ‘These are poor, foolish people.

They do not understand what the Lord wants them to do.

They do not know his commands.

5 So I will go to speak to the leaders.

They will surely understand what the Lord wants.

They will know his commands.’

But all of them have turned against the Lord too.

They refuse to obey his authority.

6 So lions will come out of the forest to attack them.

Wolves will come from the desert to destroy them.

Leopards will wait outside their cities.

They will kill anyone who goes outside.

5:6The wild animals (lions, wolves and leopards) are probably pictures of Judah's enemies.

That will happen because the people have turned against the Lord.

They have done many bad things.

7 The Lord said,

‘Jerusalem, I have to punish you.

Your people have turned away from me.

They have served gods that are not true gods.

I gave them everything that they needed.

But they left me, like a wife who leaves her husband.

The men hurry to the houses of prostitutes.

8 They are like strong male horses.

They cannot wait to have sex with another man's wife.’

9 The Lord says this:

‘I must punish them for what they have done.

I will pay back this wicked nation for their sins.’

10 The Lord says this to Judah's enemies:

‘March through the vineyards of Israel and Judah,

and destroy the vines.

But do not destroy them completely.

Pull the branches from the trees.

Do this, because these people do not belong to the Lord.

5:10The vineyards and the vines are probably a picture of the nations of Israel and Judah, and their people.

11 The people of Israel and Judah have turned against me.

12 They have told lies about the Lord.

They have said, “He will not punish us!

No trouble will come to us.

There will be no war. There will be no famine.

13 The prophets speak empty words.

They do not speak the Lord's messages.

The troubles that they talk about should happen to them, not us!” ’

14 Because of that, the Lord God Almighty said to me,

‘That is what the people are saying.

So I will give you a strong message to speak to them.

It will be like fire that comes out of your mouth.

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

15 The Lord says this:

‘Listen to me, you people of Israel.

I will bring an army to attack you.

They will come from a nation that is far away.

It is a strong nation that started long ago.

You do not know their language.

You cannot understand what they say.

16 They are all brave soldiers.

They shoot arrows that will kill you.

17 They will eat all the crops in your fields

and the food that you have stored.

They will take your sons and your daughters for themselves.

They will kill your sheep and your cows for food.

They will eat all your grapes and your figs.

They will attack your strong cities

where you thought you would be safe.

Their soldiers will knock down the walls.’

18 But the Lord says this: ‘Even at that time, I will not destroy you completely. 19 So, Jeremiah, the people may ask you, “Why has the Lord our God done this to us?” Then tell them, “It is because you have turned away from me. You have chosen to serve foreign gods in your own land. So now you will have to serve foreign people and their gods in a land that is not your own land.”

20 Tell this message to the descendants of Jacob.

Shout it everywhere in Judah.

21 Tell them, “Hear this message,

you foolish and stupid people.

You have eyes, but you do not see properly.

You have ears, but you do not hear properly.” ’

22 The Lord says, ‘You should respect me and obey me.

You should shake with fear when you come to me.

I made the sand as an edge for the sea.

It is like a wall that the sea cannot cross.

The sea's waves may attack the shore,

but it cannot go further than that edge.

23 But these people do not obey me, as the waves do.

They have turned away from me.

They have chosen to go their own way.

24 They do not say to themselves,

“We should respect the Lord our God.

He sends rain for us in the autumn and in the spring.

He makes sure that we have a harvest from our crops.”

25 But instead, your sins have stopped these good things.

You have not received God's blessing.

26 There are wicked men among my people.

They like to catch people and rob them.

They hide like someone who wants to catch a bird.

They put out their traps to kill what they want.

27 Their houses are full of valuable things,

like a trap that is full of beautiful birds.

They have cheated people

and they have robbed them.

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 help poor people or children who have no family.

They do not try to get justice for them.’

29 The Lord says,

‘I will certainly punish them for what they have done.

I will pay back this wicked nation for their sins.

30 A terrible thing is happening in the land of Judah.

31 The prophets speak messages that are not true.

The priests make their own rules for people to obey.

And my people love to live like this!

But when all this comes to an end,

my people will be helpless!’