1 A message from the Lord that came to me, saying, 2 Don't marry or have children here.
3 This is what the Lord says about children born here, and about their mothers and fathers—their parents here in this country: 4 They will die from fatal diseases. No one will mourn for them. Their bodies won't be buried, but will lie on the ground like manure. They will be destroyed by war and famine, and their bodies will be food for birds of prey and wild animals.
5 This is what the Lord says: Don't enter a home where people are having a funeral meal. Don't visit them to mourn or to offer condolences, for I have taken away my peace, my trustworthy love, and my mercy from these people, declares the Lord.
6 Everyone, from the most important to the least, will die in this country. They will not be buried or mourned; there will be no rites for the dead such as cutting oneself or shaving of heads. 7 No funeral receptions will be held to comfort those who mourn—not even a comforting drink is to be offered at the loss of a father or mother.
8 Don't go into a house where people are celebrating and sit down with them to eat and drink. 9 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am going to put a stop right here, while you watch, to any sounds of celebration and joy, the happy voices of the groom and bride.
10 When you explain all this to them they'll ask you, “Why has the Lord ordered that such a terrible disaster should happen to us? What did we do wrong? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?”
11 Answer them: It's because your forefathers deserted me, declares the Lord. They went and followed other gods, serving them and worshiping them. They abandoned me and didn't keep my laws. 12 You however have done even more evil than your forefathers. Look at how all of you followed your own stubborn evil thinking instead of obeying me. 13 So I'm going to throw you out of this country and exile you in a country unfamiliar to you and your forefathers. There you'll serve other gods day and night, because I won't help you at all.
14 But listen! The time is coming, declares the Lord, when people won't any longer make vows, saying. “On the Lord's life, who led the Israelites out of Egypt.” 15 Instead they'll say, “On the Lord's life, who led the Israelites back from the northern country and all the other countries where he had exiled them.” I'm going to bring them back to the country I gave their forefathers.
16 But for the moment I'm going to send for many fishermen and they'll catch them, declares the Lord. Then I'm going to send for many hunters, and they'll hunt them down on every mountain and hill, even from their hiding places in the rocks.
17 I see everything they're doing. They can't hide from me, and their sins aren't hidden from me either. 18 First I'm going to pay them back double for their wickedness and sin, because they have made my land unclean with the lifeless bodies of their disgusting idols, filling my special country with their offensive pagan images.
19 Lord, you are my strength and my fortress, my safe place in the time of trouble. Nations will come to you from all over the earth, and they will say, “The religion of our forefathers was a total lie! The idols they worshiped were useless—no good at all. 20 How can people make gods for themselves? These aren't gods!”
21 Now they'll see! I'll show them, and then they'll recognize my power and strength. Then they'll know that I am the Lord!