1 The Lord said,
“Go up and down through the streets of Jerusalem.
Look around and see for yourselves.
Search through its public squares.
See if any of you can find a single person
who deals honestly and tries to be truthful.
If you can, then I will not punish this city.
2 These people make promises in the name of the Lord.
But the fact is, what they swear to is really a lie.”
3 Lord, I know you look for faithfulness.
But even when you punish these people, they feel no remorse.
Even when you nearly destroy them, they refuse to be corrected.
They have become as hardheaded as a rock.
They refuse to change their ways.
4 I thought, “Surely it is only the ignorant poor who act this way.
They act like fools because they do not know what the Lord demands.
They do not know what their God requires of them.
5 I will go to the leaders
and speak with them.
Surely they know what the Lord demands.
Surely they know what their God requires of them.”
Yet all of them, too, have rejected his authority
and refuse to submit to him.
6 So like a lion from the thicket their enemies will kill them.
Like a wolf from the desert they will destroy them.
Like a leopard they will lie in wait outside their cities
and totally destroy anyone who ventures out.
For they have rebelled so much
and done so many unfaithful things.
7 The Lord asked,
“How can I leave you unpunished, Jerusalem?
Your people have rejected me
and have worshiped gods that are not gods at all.
Even though I supplied all their needs, they were like an unfaithful wife to me.
They went flocking to the houses of prostitutes.
8 They are like lusty, well-fed stallions.
Each of them lusts after his neighbor’s wife.
9 I will surely punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will surely bring retribution on such a nation as this!”
10 The Lord commanded the enemy,
“March through the vineyards of Israel and Judah and ruin them.
But do not destroy them completely.
Strip off their branches
for these people do not belong to the Lord.
11 For the nations of Israel and Judah
have been very unfaithful to me,”
says the Lord.
12 “These people have denied what the Lord says.
They have said, ‘That is not so!
No harm will come to us.
We will not experience war and famine.
13 The prophets will prove to be full of wind.
The Lord has not spoken through them.
So, let what they say happen to them.’ ”
14 Because of that, the Lord, the God who rules over all, said to me,
“Because these people have spoken like this,
I will make the words that I put in your mouth like fire.
And I will make this people like wood
which the fiery judgments you speak will burn up.”
15 The Lord says, “Listen, nation of Israel!
I am about to bring a nation from far away to attack you.
It will be a nation that was founded long ago
and has lasted for a long time.
It will be a nation whose language you will not know.
Its people will speak words that you will not be able to understand.
16 All of its soldiers are strong and mighty.
Their arrows will send you to your grave.
17 They will eat up your crops and your food.
They will kill off your sons and your daughters.
They will eat up your sheep and your cattle.
They will destroy your vines and your fig trees.
Their weapons will batter down
the fortified cities you trust in.
18 Yet even then I will not completely destroy you,” says the Lord. 19 “So then, Jeremiah, when your people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ tell them, ‘It is because you rejected me and served foreign gods in your own land. So you must serve foreigners in a land that does not belong to you.’
20 “Proclaim this message among the descendants of Jacob.
Make it known throughout Judah.
21 Tell them: ‘Hear this,
you foolish people who have no understanding,
who have eyes but do not discern,
who have ears but do not perceive:
22 “You should fear me!” says the Lord.
“You should tremble in awe before me!
I made the sand to be a boundary for the sea,
a permanent barrier that it can never cross.
Its waves may roll, but they can never prevail.
They may roar, but they can never cross beyond that boundary.”
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
They have turned aside and gone their own way.
24 They do not say to themselves,
“Let us revere the Lord our God.
It is he who gives us the autumn rains and the spring rains at the proper time.
It is he who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.”
25 Your misdeeds have stopped these things from coming.
Your sins have deprived you of my bounty.’
26 “Indeed, there are wicked scoundrels among my people.
They lie in wait like bird catchers hiding in ambush.
They set deadly traps to catch people.
27 Like a cage filled with the birds that have been caught,
their houses are filled with the gains of their fraud and deceit.
That is how they have gotten so rich and powerful.
28 That is how they have grown fat and sleek.
There is no limit to the evil things they do.
They do not plead the cause of the fatherless in such a way as to win it.
They do not defend the rights of the poor.
29 I will certainly punish them for doing such things!” says the Lord.
“I will certainly bring retribution on such a nation as this!
30 “Something horrible and shocking
is going on in the land of Judah:
31 The prophets prophesy lies.
The priests exercise power by their own authority.
And my people love to have it this way.
But they will not be able to help you when the time of judgment comes!