Guilt Written on the Heart
The sins of Judah are written where they cannot be erased—
cut into stone with an iron pen,
cut deep with a hard tip into the stone that is the hearts of the people.
Their sins are carved into the horns of their altars.*
Their children remember the altars
that were dedicated to false gods.
They remember the wooden poles
that were dedicated to Asherah.
They remember those things
under the green trees and on the hills.
They remember those things
on the mountains in the open country.
The people of Judah have many treasures.
I will give those things to other people.
People will destroy all the high places in your country.
You worshiped there, and that was a sin.
You will lose the land I gave you.
I will let your enemies take you to be their slaves.
That is because I am very angry.
My anger is like a hot fire, and you will be burned forever.”
Trusting in People and Trusting in God
This is what the LORD says:
“Bad things will happen to those who put their trust in people.
Bad things will happen to those who depend on human strength.
That is because they have stopped trusting the LORD.
They are like a bush in a desert where no one lives.
It is in a hot and dry land.
It is in bad soil.
That bush does not know about the good things that God can give.
But those who trust in the LORD will be blessed.
They know that the LORD will do what he says.
They will be strong like trees planted near a stream
that send out roots to the water.
They have nothing to fear when the days get hot.
Their leaves are always green.
They never worry, even in a year that has no rain.
They always produce fruit.
Nothing can hide its evil as well as the human mind.
It can be very sick,
and no one really understands it.
10 But I am the LORD,
and I can look into a person’s heart.
I can test a person’s mind and decide what each one should have.
I can give each person the right payment for what they do.
11 Sometimes a bird will hatch an egg that it did not lay.
Those who cheat to get money are like that bird.
But when their lives are half finished, they will lose the money.
At the end of their lives, it will be clear that they were fools.”
12 From the very beginning, our Temple
has been a glorious throne for God.
It is a very important place.
13 LORD, you are the hope of Israel.
You are like a spring of living water.
Those who stop following the LORD
will have a very short life.
Jeremiah’s Third Complaint
14 LORD, if you heal me, I surely will be healed.
Save me, and I surely will be saved.
Lord, I praise you!
15 The people of Judah continue to ask me questions.
They say, “Jeremiah, what about the message from the LORD?
Let’s see that message come true.”
16 Lord, I did not run away from you.
I followed you.
I became the shepherd you wanted.
I did not want the terrible day to come.
You know what I said.
You see all that is happening.
17 Please don’t make me afraid of you.
I depend on you in times of trouble.
18 People are hurting me.
Make them ashamed,
but don’t disappoint me.
Let them be filled with fear,
but don’t give me any reason to fear.
Bring the terrible day of disaster to my enemies.
Break them, and break them again.
Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy
19 This is what the LORD said to me: “Jeremiah, go and stand at the People’s Gate,§ where the kings of Judah go in and out. Tell the people my message, and then go to all the other gates of Jerusalem and do the same.”
20 Say to the people, “Listen to this message from the LORD. Listen, kings of Judah. Listen, all you people of Judah. All you who come through these gates into Jerusalem, listen to me! 21 This is what the LORD says: ‘Be careful that you don’t carry a load on the Sabbath day. And don’t bring a load through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. 22 Don’t bring a load out of your houses on the Sabbath day. Don’t do any work on that day. You must make the Sabbath day a holy day. I gave this same command to your ancestors, 23 but they did not obey me. They did not pay attention to me. Your ancestors were very stubborn. I punished them, but it did not do any good. They did not listen to me. 24 But you must be careful to obey me, says the LORD. You must not bring a load through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath. You must make the Sabbath day a holy day. You will do this by not doing any work on that day.
25 “ ‘If you obey this command, the kings and leaders will be from David’s family. It will be the kings who sit on David’s throne and the leaders from Judah and Jerusalem who come through the gates of Jerusalem riding on chariots and on horses. And Jerusalem will have people living in it forever. 26 People will come to Jerusalem from the towns and villages of Judah, from the land where the tribe of Benjamin lives,* from the western foothills, from the hill country, and from the Negev. All these people will bring burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings, incense, and thank offerings to the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem.
27 “ ‘But if you don’t listen to me and obey me, bad things will happen. If you carry loads into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, you are not keeping it as a holy day. So I will start a fire that cannot be put out. That fire will start at the gates of Jerusalem, and it will burn until it burns even the palaces.’ ”
* 17:1 horns of their altars The corners of altars were shaped like horns, and the blood of sacrifices was smeared on them. So Jeremiah may mean that the people’s sins have made their altars unfit for sacrifices. 17:13 will have a very short life Literally, “he will be written in the dirt.” This might mean that a person’s name was written on a list of people who would soon die, or that a person’s life will soon be gone—like a name written in the sand. 17:16 shepherd God’s people are sometimes called his “sheep,” and the person who takes care of them is called the “shepherd.” § 17:19 People’s Gate This might be one of the gates into Jerusalem or perhaps one of the southern gates into the Temple area used by those who were not priests. * 17:26 the land where … Benjamin lives The land of Benjamin was just north of the land of Judah.