6 Run for your lives, people of Benjamin. Get out of Jerusalem. Sound a trumpet in Tekoa and light a signal fire in Beth-Haccherem. Soon you will be struck by disaster from the north. 2 Jerusalem is a lovely pasture, but shepherds will surround it and divide it up, 3 then let their flocks eat all the grass.[a] 4 Kings will tell their troops, “If we reach Jerusalem in the morning, we’ll attack at noon. But if we arrive later, 5 we’ll attack after dark and destroy its fortresses.”
6 I am the Lord All-Powerful, and I will command these armies to chop down trees and build a ramp up to the walls of Jerusalem.
People of Jerusalem, I must punish you for your injustice. 7 Evil pours from your city like water from a spring. Sounds of violent crimes echo within your walls; victims are everywhere, wounded and dying.
8 Listen to me, you people of Jerusalem and Judah. I will abandon you, and your land will become an empty desert. 9 I will tell your enemies to leave your nation bare like a vine stripped of grapes. I, the Lord All-Powerful, have spoken.
10 I have told the people that you, Lord, will punish them, but they just laugh and refuse to listen. 11 Your anger against Judah flames up inside me, and I can’t hold it in much longer.
The Lord’s Anger Will Sweep Everyone Away
The Lord answered:
Don’t hold back my anger! Let it sweep away everyone— the children at play and all adults, young and old alike. 12 I’ll punish the people of Judah and give to others their houses and fields, as well as their wives. I, the Lord, have spoken.
13 Everyone is greedy and dishonest, whether poor or rich. Even the prophets and priests cannot be trusted. 14 All they ever offer to my deeply wounded people are empty hopes for peace. 15 They should be ashamed of their disgusting sins, but they don’t even blush. And so, when I punish Judah, they will end up on the ground, dead like everyone else. I, the Lord, have spoken.
The People of Judah Rejected God’s Way of Life
16 The Lord said:
My people, when you stood at the crossroads, I told you, “Follow the road your ancestors took, and you will find peace.” But you refused. 17 I also sent prophets to warn you of danger, but when they sounded the alarm, you paid no attention. 18 So I tell all nations on earth, “Watch what I will do! 19 My people ignored me and rejected my laws. They planned to do evil, and now the evil they planned will happen to them.”
20 People of Judah, you bring me incense from Sheba and spices from distant lands. You offer sacrifices of all kinds. But why bother? I hate these gifts of yours! 21 So I will put stumbling blocks in your path, and everyone will die, including parents and children, neighbors and friends.
An Army from the North
22 The Lord said,
“Look toward the north, where a powerful nation has prepared for war. 23 Its well-armed troops are cruel and never show mercy. Their galloping horses sound like ocean waves pounding on the shore. This army will attack you, lovely Jerusalem.”
24 Then the people said,
“Just hearing about them makes us tremble with fear, and we twist and turn in pain like a woman giving birth.”
25 The Lord said,
“Don’t work in your fields or walk along the roads. It’s too dangerous. The enemy is well armed 26 and attacks without warning. So mourn, my people, as though your only child had died. Wear clothes made of sackcloth[b] and roll in the ash pile.”
The Lord’s People Must Be Tested
The Lord said:
27 Jeremiah, test my people as though they were metal. 28 And you’ll find they are hard like bronze and iron. They are stubborn rebels, always spreading lies. 29 Silver can be purified in a fiery furnace, 30 but my people are too wicked to be made pure, and so I have rejected them.
6.2, 3Jerusalem. . . grass: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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