Judah Was Not Faithful
1 The LORD’S message came to me:
2 “Jeremiah, go and speak to the people of Jerusalem. Tell them that this is what the LORD says:
“ ‘At the time you were a young nation, you were faithful to me.
You followed me like a young bride.
You followed me through the desert,
through a land that had never been used for farmland.
3 The people of Israel were a holy gift to the LORD.
They were the first fruit he gathered.
Any people who tried to hurt them were judged guilty.
Bad things happened to those wicked people.’ ”
This message is from the LORD.
4 Family of Jacob, hear the LORD’S message.
Tribes of Israel, listen.
5 This is what the LORD says:
“Do you think that I was not fair to your ancestors?
Is that why they turned away from me?
Your ancestors worshiped worthless idols,
and they became worthless themselves.
6 Your ancestors did not say,
‘The LORD brought us out of Egypt.
He led us through the desert,
through a dry and rocky land.
He led us through a dark and dangerous land.
No one lives there;
people don’t even travel through that land.
But the Lord led us through that land.
So where is he now?’
7 “I brought you into a good land,
a land filled with many good things.
I did this so that you could eat the fruit and crops that grow there.
But you only made my land ‘dirty.’
I gave that land to you,
but you made it a bad place.
8 “The priests did not ask,
‘Where is the LORD?’
The people who know the law did not want to know me.
The leaders of the people of Israel turned against me.
The prophets spoke in the name of the false god Baal.
They worshiped worthless idols.”
9 The LORD says, “So now I will accuse you again,
and I will also accuse your grandchildren.
10 Go across the sea to the Islands of Kittim.
Send someone to the land of Kedar.
Look very carefully.
See if anyone has ever done anything like this.
11 Has any nation ever stopped worshiping their old gods
so that they could worship new gods?
No! And their gods are not really gods at all!
But my people stopped worshiping their glorious God
and started worshiping idols that are worth nothing.
12 “Skies, be shocked at what happened!
Shake with great fear!”
This message is from the LORD.
13 “My people have done two evil things.
They turned away from me,
and they dug their own water cisterns.
I am the source of living water;
those cisterns are broken and cannot hold water.
14 “Israel is not a slave, is he?
He was not born a slave, was he?
Then why did the enemy carry him away as a captive?
15 Like a lion the enemy has roared at Israel.
They have destroyed your land.
Your cities have been burned,
and no one is left in them.
16 People from Memphis and Tahpanhes
have smashed the top of your head.
17 This trouble is your own fault.
The LORD your God was leading you the right way,
but you turned away from him.
18 People of Judah, think about this:
How did it help you to go to Egypt and drink from the Nile River?
How did it help you to go to Assyria and drink from the Euphrates River?
19 You have done wrong,
and that will only bring punishment to you.
Trouble will come to you,
and it will teach you a lesson.
Think about it and understand how bad it is to turn away from the LORD your God.
It is wrong not to fear and respect me.”
This message is from Lord GOD All-Powerful.
20 “Judah, long ago you broke free from me,
like an ox that breaks its yoke and the ropes that held it.
You said to me, ‘I will not serve you!’
On every high hill and under every green tree,
you acted like a prostitute.
21 Judah, I planted you like a special vine.
You were all from good seed.
How did you turn into a different vine
that grows bad fruit?
22 Even if you wash yourself with lye,
even if you use much soap,
I can still see your guilt.”
This message is from the Lord GOD.
23 “Judah, how can you say to me,
‘I am not guilty because I have not worshiped the Baal idols’?
Think about what you did in the valley.
Think about what you have done.
You are like a fast she-camel
that runs from place to place.
24 You are like a wild donkey that lives in the desert.
At mating time, she sniffs the wind.
No one can control her when she is in heat.
At mating time, every male that wants her will get her.
She is easy to find.
25 Judah, stop chasing after idols!
Stop wanting those other gods.
But you say, ‘It is no use! I cannot stop!
I love those other gods.
I can’t stop chasing them.’
26 “A thief is ashamed
when people catch him stealing.
The people of Israel should be ashamed too
and so should their kings and leaders, priests and prophets.
27 They say to pieces of wood,
‘You are my father.’
They say to a rock,
‘You gave birth to me.’
All these people will be ashamed.
They don’t look to me for help.
They have turned their backs to me.
But when the people of Judah get into trouble, they say to me,
‘Come and save us!’
28 But where are the idols you made for yourselves?
Let’s see if they come and save you when you are in trouble!
People of Judah, you have as many idols
as you have cities!
29 “Why do you argue with me?
You have all turned against me.”
This message was from the LORD.
30 “I punished you people of Judah,
but it did not help.
You did not come back
when you were punished.
With your swords you killed the prophets who came to you.
Like a dangerous lion, you killed the prophets.”
31 People of this generation,
pay attention to the LORD’S message!
“Have I been like a desert to the people of Israel?
Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to them?
My people say, ‘We are free to go our own way.
We will not come back to you!’
Why do they say these things?
32 A young woman does not forget her jewelry.
A bride does not forget to wear her wedding dress.
But my people have forgotten me
too many times to count.
33 “Judah, you have become so good at finding lovers.
Even the worst women could learn some evil ways from you.
34 You have blood on your hands!
It is the blood of poor, innocent people.
You did not catch them breaking into your house.
You killed them for no reason!
35 But still, you say, ‘I am innocent.
God is not angry with me.’
So I will also judge you guilty of lying, because you say,
‘I have done nothing wrong.’
36 You go from one place to another looking for help,
always changing your mind.
But Egypt will also disappoint you,
just as Assyria did.
37 So you will eventually leave Egypt too,
and you will hide your face in shame.
You trusted these countries,
but the LORD rejected them,
so they cannot help you win.