Jeremiah's Complaint and God's Answer
121 Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? 2 You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart. 3 But you, O Lord, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and set them apart for the day of slaughter. 4 How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? For the evil of those who dwell in it the beasts and the birds are swept away, because they said, "He will not see our latter end." 5 "If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? 6 For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you."
7 "I have forsaken my house; I have abandoned my heritage; I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies. 8 My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest; she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her. 9 Is my heritage to me like a hyena's lair? Are the birds of prey against her all around? Go, assemble all the wild beasts; bring them to devour. 10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. 11 They have made it a desolation; desolate, it mourns to me. The whole land is made desolate, but no man lays it to heart. 12 Upon all the bare heights in the desert destroyers have come, for the sword of the Lord devours from one end of the land to the other; no flesh has peace. 13 They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns; they have tired themselves out but profit nothing. They shall be ashamed of their harvests because of the fierce anger of the Lord."
14 Thus says the Lord concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage that I have given my people Israel to inherit: "Behold, I will pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. 15 And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land. 16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, 'As the Lord lives,' even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people. 17 But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the Lord."
The Lesson from the Marred Girdle
131 Thus says the Lord to me, "Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water." 2 So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist. 3 And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, 4 "Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock." 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. 6 And after many days the Lord said to me, "Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there." 7 Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 "Thus says the Lord: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. 11 For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.
The Lesson from the Filled Bottles
12 "You shall speak to them this word: 'Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "Every jar shall be filled with wine."' And they will say to you, 'Do we not indeed know that every jar will be filled with wine?' 13 Then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 14 And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, declares the Lord. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.'"
Captivity Threatened for Judah's Impenitence
15 Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord has spoken. 16 Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, and while you look for light he turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness. 17 But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock has been taken captive. 18 Say to the king and the queen mother: "Take a lowly seat, for your beautiful crown has come down from your head." 19 The cities of the Negeb are shut up, with none to open them; all Judah is taken into exile, wholly taken into exile. 20 "Lift up your eyes and see those who come from the north. Where is the flock that was given you, your beautiful flock? 21 What will you say when they set as head over you those whom you yourself have taught to be friends to you? Will not pangs take hold of you like those of a woman in labor?
22 And if you say in your heart, 'Why have these things come upon me?' it is for the greatness of your iniquity that your skirts are lifted up and you suffer violence. 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil. 24 I will scatter you like chaff driven by the wind from the desert. 25 This is your lot, the portion I have measured out to you, declares the Lord, because you have forgotten me and trusted in lies. 26 I myself will lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen. 27 I have seen your abominations, your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings, on the hills in the field. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will it be before you are made clean?"
The Message about the Drought
141 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought: 2 "Judah mourns, and her gates languish; her people lament on the ground, and the cry of Jerusalem goes up. 3 Her nobles send their servants for water; they come to the cisterns; they find no water; they return with their vessels empty; they are ashamed and confounded and cover their heads. 4 Because of the ground that is dismayed, since there is no rain on the land, the farmers are ashamed; they cover their heads. 5 Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn because there is no grass. 6 The wild donkeys stand on the bare heights; they pant for air like jackals; their eyes fail because there is no vegetation. 7 "Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name's sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you. 8 O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? 9 Why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save? Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not leave us."
10 Thus says the Lord concerning this people: "They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore the Lord does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins." 11 The Lord said to me: "Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence." 13 Then I said: "Ah, Lord GOD, behold, the prophets say to them, 'You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.'" 14 And the Lord said to me: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, 'Sword and famine shall not come upon this land': By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them--them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them.
17 "You shall say to them this word: 'Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter of my people is shattered with a great wound, with a very grievous blow. 18 If I go out into the field, behold, those pierced by the sword! And if I enter the city, behold, the diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land and have no knowledge.'" 19 Have you utterly rejected Judah? Does your soul loathe Zion? Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us? We looked for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror. 20 We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against you. 21 Do not spurn us, for your name's sake; do not dishonor your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us. 22 Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.