The Return of the Remnant
23 1 "Doom to the shepherd-leaders who butcher and scatter my sheep!" God's Decree. 2 "So here is what I, God, Israel's God, say to the shepherd-leaders who misled my people: 'You've scattered my sheep. You've driven them off. You haven't kept your eye on them. Well, let me tell you, I'm keeping my eye on you, keeping track of your criminal behavior. 3 I'll take over and gather what's left of my sheep, gather them in from all the lands where I've driven them. I'll bring them back where they belong, and they'll recover and flourish. 4 I'll set shepherd-leaders over them who will take good care of them. They won't live in fear or panic anymore. All the lost sheep rounded up!' God's Decree. 5 "Time's coming" - God's Decree - "when I'll establish a truly righteous David-Branch, A ruler who knows how to rule justly. He'll make sure of justice and keep people united. 6 In his time Judah will be secure again and Israel will live in safety. This is the name they'll give him: 'God-Who-Puts-Everything-Right.' 7 "So watch for this. The time's coming" - God's Decree - "when no one will say, 'As sure as God lives, the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt,' 8 but, 'As sure as God lives, the God who brought the descendants of Israel back from the north country and from the other countries where he'd driven them, so that they can live on their own good earth.'" The "Everything Will Turn Out Fine" Sermon
Denunciation of the Lying Prophets
9 My head is reeling, my limbs are limp, I'm staggering like a drunk, seeing double from too much wine - And all because of God, because of his holy words. 10 Now for what God says regarding the lying prophets: "Can you believe it? A country teeming with adulterers! faithless, promiscuous idolater-adulterers! They're a curse on the land. The land's a wasteland. Their unfaithfulness is turning the country into a cesspool, 11 Prophets and priests devoted to desecration. They have nothing to do with me as their God. My very own Temple, mind you - mud-spattered with their crimes." God's Decree. 12 "But they won't get by with it. They'll find themselves on a slippery slope, Careening into the darkness, somersaulting into the pitch-black dark. I'll make them pay for their crimes. It will be the Year of Doom." God's Decree. 13 "Over in Samaria I saw prophets acting like silly fools - shocking! They preached using that no-god Baal for a text, messing with the minds of my people. 14 And the Jerusalem prophets are even worse - horrible! - sex-driven, living a lie, Subsidizing a culture of wickedness, and never giving it a second thought. They're as bad as those wretches in old Sodom, the degenerates of old Gomorrah. 15 So here's the Message to the prophets from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: "I'll cook them a supper of maggoty meat with after-dinner drinks of strychnine. The Jerusalem prophets are behind all this. They're the cause of the godlessness polluting this country." 16 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: "Don't listen to the sermons of the prophets. It's all hot air. Lies, lies, and more lies. They make it all up. Not a word they speak comes from me. 17 They preach their 'Everything Will Turn Out Fine' sermon to congregations with no taste for God, Their 'Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen to You' sermon to people who are set in their own ways. 18 Have any of these prophets bothered to meet with me, the true God? bothered to take in what I have to say? listened to and then lived out my Word? 19 Look out! God's hurricane will be let loose - my hurricane blast, Spinning the heads of the wicked like tops 20 God's raging anger won't let up Until I've made a clean sweep, completing the job I began. When the job's done, you'll see that it's been well done. Quit the "God Told Me This" Kind of Talk 21 "I never sent these prophets, but they ran anyway. I never spoke to them, but they preached away 22 If they'd have bothered to sit down and meet with me, they'd have preached my Message to my people. They'd have gotten them back on the right track, gotten them out of their evil ruts. 23 "Am I not a God near at hand" - God's Decree - "and not a God far off? 24 Can anyone hide out in a corner where I can't see him?" God's Decree. "Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen?" 25 "I know what they're saying, all these prophets who preach lies using me as their text, saying 'I had this dream! I had this dream!' 26 How long do I have to put up with this? Do these prophets give two cents about me as they preach their lies and spew out their grandiose delusions? 27 They swap dreams with one another, feed on each other's delusive dreams, trying to distract my people from me just as their ancestors were distracted by the no-god Baal. 28 "You prophets who do nothing but dream - go ahead and tell your silly dreams. But you prophets who have a message from me - tell it truly and faithfully. What does straw have in common with wheat? Nothing else is like God's Decree. 29 Isn't my Message like fire?" God's Decree. "Isn't it like a sledgehammer busting a rock? 30 "I've had it with the 'prophets' who get all their sermons secondhand from each other. 31 Yes, I've had it with them. They make up stuff and then pretend it's a real sermon. 32 "Oh yes, I've had it with the prophets who preach the lies they dream up, spreading them all over the country, ruining the lives of my people with their cheap and reckless lies. "I never sent these prophets, never authorized a single one of them. They do nothing for this people - nothing!" God's Decree.
33 "And anyone, including prophets and priests, who asks, 'What's God got to say about all this, what's troubling him?' tell him, 'You, you're the trouble, and I'm getting rid of you.'" God's Decree. 34 "And if anyone, including prophets and priests, goes around saying glibly 'God's Message! God's Message!' I'll punish him and his family. 35 "Instead of claiming to know what God says, ask questions of one another, such as 'How do we understand God in this?' 36 But don't go around pretending to know it all, saying 'God told me this . . . God told me that....'I don't want to hear it anymore. Only the person I authorize speaks for me. Otherwise, my Message gets twisted, the Message of the living God-of-the-Angel-Armies 37 "You can ask the prophets, 'How did God answer you? What did he tell you?' 38 But don't pretend that you know all the answers yourselves and talk like you know it all. I'm telling you: Quit the 'God told me this . . . God told me that...' kind of talk 39 "Are you paying attention? You'd better, because I'm about to take you in hand and throw you to the ground, you and this entire city that I gave to your ancestors. I've had it with the lot of you. 40 You're never going to live this down. You're going down in history as a disgrace."
The Lesson from the Good and Bad Figs
24 1 God showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the Temple of God. This was after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem into exile in Babylon, along with the leaders of Judah, the craftsmen, and the skilled laborers. 2 In one basket the figs were of the finest quality, ripe and ready to eat. In the other basket the figs were rotten, so rotten they couldn't be eaten. 3 God said to me, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" "Figs," I said. "Excellent figs of the finest quality, and also rotten figs, so rotten they can't be eaten." 4 Then God told me, 5 "This is the Message from the God of Israel: The exiles from here that I've sent off to the land of the Babylonians are like the good figs, and I'll make sure they get good treatment. 6 I'll keep my eye on them so that their lives are good, and I'll bring them back to this land. I'll build them up, not tear them down; I'll plant them, not uproot them. 7 "And I'll give them a heart to know me, God. They'll be my people and I'll be their God, for they'll have returned to me with all their hearts. 8 "But like the rotten figs, so rotten they can't be eaten, is Zedekiah king of Judah. Rotten figs - that's how I'll treat him and his leaders, along with the survivors here and those down in Egypt. 9 I'll make them something that the whole world will look on as disgusting - repugnant outcasts, their names used as curse words wherever in the world I drive them. 10 And I'll make sure they die like flies - from war, starvation, disease, whatever - until the land I once gave to them and their ancestors is completely rid of them."
Seventy Years of Desolation
25 1 This is the Message given to Jeremiah for all the people of Judah. It came in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah. It was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. 2 Jeremiah the prophet delivered the Message to all the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem: 3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah right up to the present day - twenty-three years it's been! - God's Word has come to me, and from early each morning to late every night I've passed it on to you. And you haven't listened to a word of it! 4 Not only that, but God also sent a steady stream of prophets to you who were just as persistent as me, and you never listened. 5 They told you, "Turn back - right now, each one of you! - from your evil way of life and bad behavior, and live in the land God gave you and your ancestors, the land he intended to give you forever. 6 Don't follow the god-fads of the day, taking up and worshiping these no-gods. Don't make me angry with your god-businesses, making and selling gods - a dangerous business! 7 "You refused to listen to any of this, and now I am really angry. These god-making businesses of yours are your doom."
8 The verdict of God-of-the-Angel-Armies on all this: "Because you have refused to listen to what I've said, 9 I'm stepping in. I'm sending for the armies out of the north headed by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, my servant in this, and I'm setting them on this land and people and even the surrounding countries. I'm devoting the whole works to total destruction - a horror to top all the horrors in history. 10 And I'll banish every sound of joy - singing, laughter, marriage festivities, genial workmen, candlelit suppers. 11 The whole landscape will be one vast wasteland. These countries will be in subjection to the king of Babylon for seventy years. 12 "Once the seventy years is up, I'll punish the king of Babylon and the whole nation of Babylon for their sin. Then they'll be the wasteland. 13 Everything that I said I'd do to that country, I'll do - everything that's written in this book, everything Jeremiah preached against all the godless nations. 14 Many nations and great kings will make slaves of the Babylonians, paying them back for everything they've done to others. They won't get by with anything." God's Decree. God Puts the Human Race on Trial
The Cup of Wrath for the Nations
15 This is a Message that the God of Israel gave me: "Take this cup filled with the wine of my wrath that I'm handing to you. Make all the nations where I send you drink it down. 16 They'll drink it and get drunk, staggering in delirium because of the killing that I'm going to unleash among them." 17 I took the cup from God's hand and made them drink it, all the nations to which he sent me: 18 Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, along with their kings and leaders, turning them into a vast wasteland, a horror to look at, a cussword - which, in fact, they now are; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt with his attendants and leaders, 20 plus all his people and the melting pot of foreigners collected there; All the kings of Uz; All the kings of the Philistines from Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what's left of Ashdod; 21 Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites; 22 All the kings of Tyre, Sidon, and the coastlands across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and the nomads on the fringe of the desert; 24 All the kings of Arabia and the various Bedouin sheiks and chieftains wandering about in the desert; 25 All the kings of Zimri, Elam, and the Medes; 26 All the kings from the north countries near and far, one by one; All the kingdoms on planet Earth... And the king of Sheshak (that is, Babylon) will be the last to drink. 27 "Tell them, 'These are orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: Drink and get drunk and vomit. Fall on your faces and don't get up again. You're slated for a massacre.' 28 "If any of them refuse to take the cup from you and drink it, say to them, 'God-of-the-Angel-Armies has ordered you to drink. So drink! 29 "'Prepare for the worst! I'm starting off the catastrophe in the city that I claim as my own, so don't think you are going to get out of it. No, you're not getting out of anything. It's the sword and nothing but the sword against everyone everywhere!'" The God-of-the-Angel-Armies' Decree.
30 "Preach it all, Jeremiah. Preach the entire Message to them. Say: "'God roars like a lion from high heaven; thunder rolls out from his holy dwelling - Ear-splitting bellows against his people, shouting hurrahs like workers in harvest. 31 The noise reverberates all over the earth; everyone everywhere hears it. God makes his case against the godless nations. He's about to put the human race on trial. For the wicked the verdict is clear-cut: death by the sword.'" God's Decree. 32 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: "Prepare for the worst! Doomsday! Disaster is spreading from nation to nation. A huge storm is about to rage all across planet Earth." 33 Laid end to end, those killed in God's judgment that day will stretch from one end of the earth to the other. No tears will be shed and no burials conducted. The bodies will be left where they fall, like so much horse dung fertilizing the fields. 34 Wail, shepherds! Cry out for help! Grovel in the dirt, you masters of flocks! Time's up - you're slated for the slaughterhouse, like a choice ram with its throat cut. 35 There's no way out for the rulers, no escape for those shepherds. 36 Hear that? Rulers crying for help, shepherds of the flock wailing! God is about to ravage their fine pastures. 37 The peaceful sheepfolds will be silent with death, silenced by God's deadly anger. 38 God will come out into the open like a lion leaping from its cover, And the country will be torn to pieces, ripped and ravaged by his anger.