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.