Jeremiah speaks in the Temple
1 The Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 2 ‘Stand at the gate of the Lord's temple and speak this message. Say, “Listen to the Lord's message, all you people of Judah. You come through this gate to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord Almighty, Israel's God, says: Change the way that you live. Do things that are right. If you change, I will let you continue to live here. 4 People may say, ‘We are safe here! This is the temple of the Lord. It is the temple of the Lord!’ But the people who say that are deceiving you. Do not trust them. 5 You must change the way that you have been living. You must do what is right. Be fair to each other. 6 Do not be cruel to foreigners who are living among you. Do not be cruel to widows, or to children who have no family. You must stop murdering people. You must stop worshipping other gods. If you live like that, it will destroy you. 7 If you change how you live, I will let you live in this place. It is the land that I gave to your ancestors, to be their home for ever.
8 But look at how you live now! You believe in lies that cannot save you. 9 You rob people. You murder people. You have sex with someone else's wife or husband. You tell lies in court when you have promised to tell the truth. You offer sacrifices to the false god, Baal. You serve other gods that you never knew before. 10 You do that and then you come to meet me here, in my own house! You say, ‘We are safe!’ 11 This is my temple! It is not a place where robbers can hide and be safe. Listen to me! I have seen the things that you have done.” That is what the Lord says.
12 “Go to Shiloh, and see what I did there. It was the first place that I chose where people would worship me. But I destroyed it because of the wicked things that my people, the Israelites, did. 13 You have done the same wicked things. I have warned you many times, but you have not listened to me. I called out to you, but you refused to answer.” That is what the Lord says.
14 “So now I will destroy this temple that I chose to be my home. I gave this temple to you and to your ancestors. You think that it will keep you safe. But I will destroy it, as I destroyed Shiloh. 15 I will send you far away from me. I already did that to the other Israelites, the people of Ephraim's tribe.”
7:15Ephraim was a name for the kingdom of Israel in the north. God had already sent them into exile, far away.
16 Jeremiah, you must not pray for this people. Do not ask me to help them. If you ask me to save them, I will not listen to you. 17 You can see what they are doing in Jerusalem and in all the towns of Judah. 18 The children fetch wood and their fathers use it to light a fire. The women prepare flour to cook cakes. Then they offer them to the “Queen of Heaven”. And they offer gifts of drink to other false gods. They do that to make me angry. 19 But they are not hurting me. They are hurting themselves, and they will be ashamed.’ That is what the Lord says.
20 The Lord God says, ‘Because I am so angry, I will punish this land very much. It will be like a fire that nobody can stop. My punishment will destroy people, animals, trees and crops.’
21 The Lord Almighty, Israel's God, says this to Judah's people: ‘You should eat the meat from your burnt offerings, as well as your other sacrifices. You are not offering them to me! 22 Remember this: I brought your ancestors safely out of Egypt. Then I gave them my commands. Those commands were not only about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 I also told them, “Obey me. Then I will be your God, and you will be my people. You must live in the way that I have commanded you. If you do that, you will enjoy your lives.” 24 But your ancestors refused to obey me. They did anything that their wicked thoughts made them want to do. They refused to return to me. Instead, they went further away. 25 Since the time that your ancestors left Egypt, I have sent my servants, the prophets to speak to you. I have continued to do that many times, even until now. 26 But my people did not listen to me. They have refused to obey me. They have continued to do evil things, even worse than their ancestors did.’
7:21The people should not eat meat from burnt offerings. See Leviticus 1:6-9. God is telling them that they are not obeying his laws at all. So their sacrifices were not important to him any more. The rules about sacrifices were no longer important.
27 The Lord said to me, ‘Jeremiah, you must speak my message to them. But they will not listen to you. When you call out to them, they will not answer. 28 So you must tell them, “The people of this nation have not obeyed the Lord their God. When I warned them, they have not agreed to change. Nobody does what is right. Nobody even speaks about what is true. 29 Now show that you are upset. Cut off your hair and throw it away. Go to the tops of the hills and sing sad songs about death. Realize that today's people have made the Lord very angry. So he has decided to turn away from them and leave them.” ’
The valley of death
30 The Lord says, ‘The people of Judah have done things that I see are evil. They have put their disgusting idols in my temple. That is the place that I chose to be my special home, and they have made it unclean. 31 They have built altars in Topheth, in Ben-Hinnom Valley. On those altars, they light fires to burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices. I never commanded them to do that. I never even thought about it. 32 So listen to me! The time will soon come when people no longer call those places Topheth or Ben-Hinnom Valley. Instead, they will call it Death Valley. They will bury lots of dead people there. There will be no space left to bury any more people! 33 Then the bodies of dead people will lie on the ground. Birds and animals will come and eat them. There will be nobody to chase them away. 34 Jerusalem and all of Judah will become like a desert where nobody lives. There will be no noise of happy people. There will be no happy songs or marriage parties. The whole land will be quiet.’