Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet, and as you read through his prophecy, it's easy to see why. When Jeremiah sees how the people of Israel have consistently turned their backs on God, his heart breaks. He recalls the promise that was made to the Israelites as they were brought out of Egypt. He reminds the people that they made a covenant with God: they would be His people, and He would be their God. But as we are well aware, we have a tendency to turn our backs on God because of our sin nature.
Understand that the feelings that Jeremiah deals with as he cries out to the people of Israel are the same feelings that many pastors deal with as they pray for their churches. We see so many people that commit their lives to the Lord only to put him lower on the list of priorities. For us, it's sports for our kids, or weekends at the beach, or ______________, but it's the same result for so many. Instead of giving God our leftovers, let's honor the commitment we made to Him when we placed our faith in Him. "Here's my life, Lord. Take everything that I am, and lead my life. Don't let temporary things (idols) take your place."
1 If my head were a flowing spring,
my eyes a fountain of tears,
I would weep day and night
over the slain of my dear people.
2 If only I had a traveler’s lodging place
in the wilderness,
I would abandon my people
and depart from them,
for they are all adulterers,
a solemn assembly of treacherous people.
3 They bent their tongues like their bows;
lies and not faithfulness prevail in the land,
for they proceed from one evil to another,
and they do not take me into account.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
IMMINENT RUIN AND EXILE
4 Everyone has to be on guard against his friend.
Don’t trust any brother,
for every brother will certainly deceive,
and every friend spread slander.
5 Each one betrays his friend;
no one tells the truth.
They have taught their tongues to speak lies;
they wear themselves out doing wrong.
6 You live in a world of deception.
In their deception they refuse to know me.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
7 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Armies says:
I am about to refine them and test them,
for what else can I do
because of my dear people?
8 Their tongues are deadly arrows—
they speak deception.
With his mouth
one speaks peaceably with his friend,
but inwardly he sets up an ambush.
9 Should I not punish them for these things?
This is the Lord’s declaration.
Should I not avenge myself
on such a nation as this?
10 I will raise weeping and a lament
over the mountains,
a dirge over the wilderness grazing land,
for they have been so scorched
that no one passes through.
The sound of cattle is no longer heard.
From the birds of the sky to the animals,
everything has fled—they have gone away.
11 I will make Jerusalem a heap of rubble,
a jackals’ den.
I will make the cities of Judah a desolation,
an uninhabited place.
12 Who is the person wise enough to understand this? Who has the Lord spoken to, that he may explain it? Why is the land destroyed and scorched like a wilderness, so no one can pass through?
13 The Lord said, “It is because they abandoned my instruction, which I set before them, and did not obey my voice or walk according to it. 14 Instead, they followed the stubbornness of their hearts and followed the Baals as their fathers taught them.” 15 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “I am about to feed this people wormwood and give them poisonous water to drink. 16 I will scatter them among the nations that they and their fathers have not known. I will send a sword after them until I have finished them off.”
MOURNING OVER JUDAH
17 This is what the Lord of Armies says:
Consider, and summon the women who mourn;
send for the skillful women.
18 Let them come quickly to raise a lament over us
so that our eyes may overflow with tears,
our eyelids be soaked with weeping.
19 For a sound of lamentation is heard from Zion:
How devastated we are.
We are greatly ashamed,
for we have abandoned the land;
our dwellings have been torn down.
20 Now hear the word of the Lord, you women.
Pay attention to the words from his mouth.
Teach your daughters a lament
and one another a dirge,
21 for Death has climbed through our windows;
it has entered our fortresses,
cutting off children from the streets,
young men from the squares.
22 “Speak as follows: ‘This is what the Lord declares: Human corpses will fall like manure on the surface of the field, like newly cut grain after the reaper with no one to gather it.
BOAST IN THE LORD
23 “ ‘This is what the Lord says:
The wise person should not boast in his wisdom;
the strong should not boast in his strength;
the wealthy should not boast in his wealth.
24 But the one who boasts should boast in this:
that he understands and knows me—
that I am the Lord, showing faithful love,
justice, and righteousness on the earth,
for I delight in these things.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
25 “ ‘Look, the days are coming—this is the Lord’s declaration—when I will punish all the circumcised yet uncircumcised: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all the inhabitants of the desert who clip the hair on their temples. All these nations are uncircumcised, and the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.’ ”
FALSE GODS CONTRASTED WITH THE CREATOR
1 Hear the word that the Lord has spoken to you, house of Israel. 2 This is what the Lord says:
Do not learn the way of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
although the nations are terrified by them,
3 for the customs of the peoples are worthless.
Someone cuts down a tree from the forest;
it is worked by the hands of a craftsman with a chisel.
4 He decorates it with silver and gold.
It is fastened with hammer and nails,
so it won’t totter.
5 Like scarecrows in a cucumber patch,
their idols cannot speak.
They must be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them for they can do no harm—
and they cannot do any good.
6 Lord, there is no one like you.
You are great;
your name is great in power.
7 Who should not fear you,
King of the nations?
It is what you deserve.
For among all the wise people of the nations
and among all their kingdoms,
there is no one like you.
8 They are both stupid and foolish,
instructed by worthless idols
made of wood!
9 Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish
and gold from Uphaz.
The work of a craftsman
and of a goldsmith’s hands
is clothed in blue and purple,
all the work of skilled artisans.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God and eternal King.
The earth quakes at his wrath,
and the nations cannot endure his rage.
11 You are to say this to them: “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under these heavens.”
12 He made the earth by his power,
established the world by his wisdom,
and spread out the heavens by his understanding.
13 When he thunders,
the waters in the heavens are in turmoil,
and he causes the clouds to rise
from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain
and brings the wind from his storehouses.
14 Everyone is stupid and ignorant.
Every goldsmith is put to shame
by his carved image,
for his cast images are a lie;
there is no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, a work to be mocked.
At the time of their punishment
they will be destroyed.
16 Jacob’s Portion is not like these
because he is the one who formed all things.
Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the Lord of Armies is his name.
EXILE AFTER THE SIEGE
17 Gather up your belongings from the ground,
you who live under siege.
18 For this is what the Lord says:
Look, I am flinging away
the land’s residents at this time
and bringing them such distress
that they will feel it.
19 Woe to me because of my brokenness—
I am severely wounded!
I exclaimed, “This is my intense suffering,
but I must bear it.”
20 My tent is destroyed;
all my tent cords are snapped.
My sons have departed from me and are no more.
I have no one to pitch my tent again
or to hang up my curtains.
21 For the shepherds are stupid:
They don’t seek the Lord.
Therefore they have not prospered,
and their whole flock is scattered.
22 Listen! A noise—it is coming—
a great commotion from the land to the north.
The cities of Judah will be made desolate,
a jackals’ den.
23 I know, Lord,
that a person’s way of life is not his own;
no one who walks determines his own steps.
24 Discipline me, Lord, but with justice—
not in your anger,
or you will reduce me to nothing.
25 Pour out your wrath on the nations
that don’t recognize you
and on the families
that don’t call on your name,
for they have consumed Jacob;
they have consumed him and finished him off
and made his homeland desolate.
REMINDER OF THE COVENANT
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Listen to the words of this covenant and tell them to the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem. 3 Tell them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Let a curse be on the man who does not obey the words of this covenant, 4 which I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron furnace.” I declared, “Obey me, and do everything that I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God,” 5 in order to establish the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is today.’ ”
I answered, “Amen, Lord.”
6 The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Obey the words of this covenant and carry them out.’ 7 For I strongly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt until today, warning them time and time again, ‘Obey me.’ 8 Yet they would not obey or pay attention; each one followed the stubbornness of his evil heart. So I brought on them all the curses of this covenant, because they had not done what I commanded them to do.”
9 The Lord said to me, “A conspiracy has been discovered among the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the iniquities of their fathers who refused to obey my words and have followed other gods to worship them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah broke my covenant I made with their ancestors.
11 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I am about to bring on them disaster that they cannot escape. They will cry out to me, but I will not hear them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods they have been burning incense to, but they certainly will not save them in their time of disaster. 13 Your gods are indeed as numerous as your cities, Judah, and the altars you have set up to Shame—altars to burn incense to Baal—as numerous as the streets of Jerusalem.
14 “As for you, do not pray for these people. Do not raise up a cry or a prayer on their behalf, for I will not be listening when they call out to me at the time of their disaster.
15 What right does my beloved have
to be in my house,
having carried out so many evil schemes?
Can holy meat prevent your disaster
so you can celebrate?
16 The Lord named you
a flourishing olive tree,
beautiful with well-formed fruit.
He has set fire to it,
and its branches are consumed
with the sound of a mighty tumult.
17 “The Lord of Armies who planted you has decreed disaster against you, because of the disaster the house of Israel and the house of Judah brought on themselves when they angered me by burning incense to Baal.”
18 The Lord informed me, so I knew.
Then you helped me to see their deeds,
19 for I was like a docile lamb led to slaughter.
I didn’t know that they had devised plots against me:
“Let’s destroy the tree with its fruit;
let’s cut him off from the land of the living
so that his name will no longer be remembered.”
20 But, Lord of Armies, who judges righteously,
who tests heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for I have presented my case to you.
21 Therefore, here is what the Lord says concerning the people of Anathoth who intend to take your life. They warn, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will certainly die at our hand.” 22 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Armies says: “I am about to punish them. The young men will die by the sword; their sons and daughters will die by famine. 23 They will have no remnant, for I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.”