Jeremiah 6:1-30

Jeremiah warns the people of Jerusalem

1 You descendants of Benjamin,

you must run away to be safe!

Escape from Jerusalem!

Make a noise with a trumpet in Tekoa!

Light a fire to warn people in Beth-Hakkerem!

A great army is coming from the north.

It will come to destroy everything!

2 Jerusalem is a beautiful city,

like a daughter that I love.

She cannot protect herself,

and I will destroy her.

3 Kings will come to attack the city.

They will bring their armies,

like shepherds with their sheep.

They will make their camps all around the city.

Each of them will take their own piece of land.

4 They will say to their soldiers,

‘Get ready to attack the city!

We will attack at noon!’

But if the day is almost finished, they will say,

‘It is already evening and it will soon be dark.

5 So we should attack them in the night.

We will destroy all their strong buildings!’

6 This will happen because Lord Almighty has said,

‘Cut down the trees around Jerusalem.

Use them to build towers to the top of the city's walls.

I must punish Jerusalem.

It is full of cruel people.

7 They never stop doing wicked things,

like water that pours out from a spring.

It is full of the noise of violence and fights.

Everywhere I see people who have disease and wounds.

8 Listen to me as I warn you, Jerusalem.

If not, I will turn away from you.

I will destroy you completely.

Nobody will live on your land any more.’

9 The Lord Almighty said this:

‘I will let the enemy take all the people from Israel,

like a farmer who picks all the grapes from his vine.

So check the vines carefully,

to see if there are some grapes that you can save.’

10 I replied,

‘If I speak to people and I warn them,

nobody will listen to me.

They have shut their ears so that they cannot hear.

They hate the Lord's message.

They do not want to hear it.

11 I am as angry with them as you are, Lord.

I can no longer control my anger.’

The Lord replied,

‘Tell everyone how angry you are!

Tell the children who play in the streets,

Tell the young men who meet together.

Include all the men and their wives,

as well as the old people, and those who are near to death.

12 I will give their houses to other people to live in.

Other people will take their fields and their wives.

Yes, I will punish the people who live in this land.’

That is what the Lord says.

13 ‘They all cheat other people to get what they want.

Important people and ordinary people do that.

Prophets and priests do that.

They love to deceive people.

14 They tell my people that their wounds are not bad.

They say to them,

“No problem! You will have peace!”

But there will be no peace for my people.

15 They are not ashamed of the disgusting things that they do.

They do not even know what shame is.

They have forgotten how to be ashamed.

So they will fall to the ground,

as other people have fallen.

When I decide to punish them,

that will be the end of them.’

That is what the Lord says.

16 The Lord said to his people,

‘Stand at the place where the roads cross,

and look carefully.

Ask where the ways of your ancestors are.

6:16The ‘old ways’ were the laws that Moses had given to God's people. See Deuteronomy 32:7.

Find the good way, and go along that way.

Then you will live in peace.’

But the people said, ‘No, we will not go that way. ’

17 The Lord said,

‘I sent my prophets to warn you of danger.

They said, “Listen for the noise of the trumpet!

That will tell you when danger is near.”

But you said, “We do not want to listen.”

18 So listen to me, all you nations.

Look carefully!

See what will happen to my people.

19 Hear me, all people on the earth.

I will cause great trouble for my people.

I will punish them as a result of their wrong thoughts.

They have not listened to my messages.

They have turned against my law.

20 They may offer to me sweet incense that comes from Sheba.

But that does not please me.

The spices that they bring from lands far away

do not please me either.

I will not accept the burnt offerings or other sacrifices

that they offer to me.’

21 So this is what the Lord says:

‘I will send troubles to make these people fall down.

Fathers and their children will all fall to the ground.

Their friends and their neighbours will die.’

22 This is what the Lord says:

‘Look! An army is coming from the north.

A great nation is preparing to attack you

from a place that is far away.

23 Its soldiers carry bows and spears as their weapons.

They are always cruel and they are never kind.

They ride into the battle on their horses,

and it sounds like the noise of the sea.

They are ready to attack you,

people of Jerusalem.’

24 The people say,

‘We have heard news about them,

and we are very frightened.

We feel too weak to fight.

We are afraid and in pain,

like a woman who is giving birth.

25 Do not go out into the fields.

Do not travel on the roads.

Our enemies are everywhere.

They have their swords ready to attack us.

Danger is all around us.’

26 So I say, ‘My dear people, show that you are sorry.

Wear sackcloth and sit in ashes.

Weep and cry aloud,

as if your only child had died.

Realize that the enemy's army will soon be here

and they are ready to destroy us.’

27 The Lord said to me,

‘I have sent you to test my people.

Test them like someone tests metal.

Watch them carefully,

to see how they live.

28 They have completely turned against God.

They refuse to change their minds.

They tell lies against people,

and they cheat them.

29 A very hot fire can remove the dirt from silver

and make it pure.

I punish my people to make them pure,

but it is useless.

There are too many wicked people,

so I cannot make them pure.

30 I, the Lord, cannot accept them,

so they are like useless silver.’