31 People of this generation, consider again the word of the Eternal.
Eternal One: Have I been a barren wasteland to Israel with nothing to offer?
Am I no more than a land cloaked in darkness to them?
Why do My own people say to Me,
“We would rather wander where we want than come to You”?
32 Does a young woman ever forget her jewelry?
Does a bride forget to bring along her wedding dress?
And yet My people forgot Me long, long ago.
33 How good you’ve become at your reckless loving!
You could teach even a loose woman a thing or two.
34 The stain of the blood of the poor and the innocent is on your clothes
Even though you didn’t find them breaking into your houses.
In spite of it all,
35 Still you dare to say, “I am innocent;
surely God could not be angry with me anymore.”
Yet watch as I condemn you
because you perjure yourself saying, “I have not sinned.”
36 How do you keep changing directions,
making a covenant with Me, then a treaty with them?
You will soon be disappointed by the alliance with Egypt
just as you were by the one with Assyria.
37 You will leave this land as captives, with your hands on your head.
Why? Because I, the Eternal One, have rejected those you relied on.
You will never prosper from their help.
3 Eternal One: If a husband divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he ever go back to her again? Such behavior would violate what is right, and the land itself would be tainted with sin. Now you, Judah, have acted like a whore and taken on many lovers. Why are you trying to return to Me now?
2 Look up to the hilltops. Take a good look.
Is there anywhere you have not committed perverse acts in the company of other gods?
You sat on the side of the road, offering yourself to lovers;
like a desert nomad you waited, patiently.
Even the land itself is tainted by your prostitution and wickedness.
From the beginning, the covenant between God and His people is clear. They are to worship and trust Him alone. They are to remain true to His teachings. So when God sees His people worshiping idols made of stone and wood, when He sees them participating in demeaning sexual practices with prostitutes as part of local fertility rites, it is too much. The people of Judah have been unfaithful in nearly every way imaginable. They have witnessed what happened to the adulterous Northern Kingdom of Israel. But somehow, these stubborn people think they are special, even immune to such disaster. They think if they say the right prayers in the right ways to the right God from time to time, then all the blatant violations of God’s covenant will be ignored. The prophet Jeremiah sees it all differently.
God will send out a message to the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom, which He still calls Israel. For decades, those people have been scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire to the north, while their land has been under enemy occupation. But despite the tribes’ faithlessness, these many years later, the God of mercy offers to restore them. In the midst of divine judgment, God utters words of hope; but this hope, this restoration, is only found in true repentance.
3 That is why I have held back the rain,
why the spring rains have not come.
But you still look and act the part of a prostitute—
4 But wait, did you just now call out to Me, saying,
“My Father, You have been my friend, my confidant since I was young”?
5 You ask, “Surely He won’t be angry forever, will He?
Surely He won’t hold this against us to the end, right?”
This is how you talk—as if all I want are your words;
meanwhile you continue in your selfish and evil ways.
6 Then the Eternal who rules over all of history reminded me of a lesson my people, Judah, should have learned from Israel a century ago. He spoke these words to Judah early in my career, during the days of Josiah the king.
Eternal One: Have you not learned anything from Israel’s unfaithful ways? How she turned away from Me, went up every high hill and under every green tree to worship another. She acted like a prostitute and broke our covenant there. 7 I thought, “After she’s done all this, she’ll return home to Me,” but it never happened. She didn’t come back. And her deceitful sister, Judah, saw all of this and learned nothing. 8 She saw that I sent unfaithful Israel away with a decree of divorce for these acts of adultery. But it didn’t matter to her deceitful sister, Judah. She wasn’t afraid or moved by any of this. She went her own way and played the prostitute as well. 9 In fact, because her own infidelity bothered her so little, she defiled the land by committing adultery, worshiping stones and trees instead of Me. 10 And while this was a lesson to be learned by deceitful Judah, it was an opportunity lost—for she never learned it; she never completely returned to Me. She only pretended to be Mine, as if empty words would satisfy Me.
11 (to Jeremiah) Despite her faithlessness, Israel has proven to be more righteous than her deceitful sister, Judah. 12 Now go and cry out these words of hope to those people in the north:
“Return to Me, faithless Israel.
I will look on you with mercy, not anger.
I will not hold this grudge against you forever.
13 Just admit what you did—your sin against Me.
How you rebelled against the Eternal your God.
How you gave yourself away to these foreign gods in the open, under the trees!
How you disobeyed My voice.
14 Come back home, My restless, faithless ones,
for I am your master, your husband (not that other god),
And I will take you in—one from this city, two from that clan;
I will bring you home to Zion.
15 “Then I will give you shepherds who trust and know Me, wise teachers who will impart knowledge and understanding to you. 16 In those days, after your people have grown and increased in the land, they will no longer talk about the covenant chest of the Eternal. They won’t think about it, remember it, or even miss it. There will be no need for it to be made again. 17 In this coming age, Jerusalem will be known as the throne of the Eternal. All the nations of the world will be drawn there to her, to honor the name of the Eternal. The days of people insisting on their own stubborn ways dictated by their own evil hearts will be gone. 18 In that day, the split between My people will be mended. Judah and Israel will walk together again. From a land to the north, they will come to this land I gave only to your ancestors.
19 “I thought to Myself how much I wanted to welcome you home as children
and bless you with a good land and a future to be envied by all the world.
I hoped for the day when you would call Me ‘My Father,’
and no longer pull away from Me and My ways.
20 But just as an unfaithful wife betrays her husband,
so have you betrayed Me, O house of Israel.”
Jeremiah tells the people what could happen, if only they will repent. The prophet hopes for dialogue between Israel and the God who has never stopped loving her.
21 A sound now echoes from the deserted hills
where Israel betrayed her God.
It is the sound of bitter tears mixed with the prayers
of the lost and rebellious people of Israel
who have forgotten the Eternal, their True God.
22 Eternal One: Come back to Me, My faithless ones,
and I will heal your faithlessness.
Israel: Look! We come to You now,
because You are the Eternal our God.
23 The idols we worshiped on the hills,
the rituals we performed on the mountains were based on a lie.
You, the Eternal, our one True God,
are the only hope of Israel’s rescue.
24 Everything our parents worked for—their livestock and even their families—has been devoured by the worship of the shameful god. 25 Let us fall on our faces in shame, covered in our humiliation. Ours is a legacy of rebellion, for we and those before us have sinned against the Eternal our God. From the time we were young to this very day, we have refused to obey His voice.
4 Eternal One: O Israel if you turn, turn home to Me.
Just turn away from the vile worship of those things,
those idols that repulse Me.
Put them out of My sight for good.
Come home to Me and never stray.
2 If you make a promise in My name, saying, “As the Eternal lives,”
and do so in truth, justice, and righteousness,
Then the nations will discover true blessing in Me
and give Me the praise I deserve.
3 This is what the Eternal now says to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem.
Eternal One: Break up the hard, untilled soil!
It is a waste to plant seeds among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to Me;
cut away the foreskin of your hearts,
men of Judah and people of Jerusalem.
Remove all that stands between us,
and devote yourselves fully to Me,
Or the heat of My anger will burn as an unquenchable fire
against your wicked ways.
The warnings now climax with a vision of invasion and destruction that is almost more than the young prophet can bear. Still God instructs Jeremiah to speak these words of terror, and this prophet who loves the people he has been called to chastise struggles with his mission. In the midst of this painful vision, Jeremiah begins to wonder aloud to the very God for whom he speaks. As he proclaims, he prays. As he waits for answers, the words of devastation continue.
5 Eternal One (to Jeremiah): Cry out to those in Jerusalem. Proclaim to all of Judah.
Let the trumpets blare throughout the land!
Say to the people, “Gather everyone from the outlying villages,
and run toward the fortified cities.”
6 Raise a banner toward Zion, Jerusalem;
point everyone toward her refuge.
Don’t wait, for I am releasing an evil from the north that will devastate the land.
7 For a lion has stepped out of the thicket;
A destroyer of nations is on the move.
He has left his den to devour your land;
your cities will be left in ruin, empty and lifeless.”
8 The time of mourning is here.
Put on your sackcloth, and get ready to cry and scream.
Since we have not turned from our sin,
the blazing anger of the Eternal has not turned away from us.
Eternal One: 9 On that fearsome day, even the hearts of kings and leaders will fail. Priests will recoil in horror. Prophets will be shocked into silence.
Jeremiah: 10 But Eternal Lord, You have misled this people and all of Jerusalem when you said, “You will live in peace.” Even now the cold blade of the sword is pressed against our throats.
11 The day is coming soon when Jerusalem and the people beyond will be told, “A blistering wind will blow in from the desert mountains toward My daughter, My people: a wind too strong to winnow the grain and clean the crops, 12 a wind too powerful to withstand for it comes from Me. It is My judgment that will bear down on you.”
13 Look, you can see Him coming in the distance, like a cloud on the horizon.
Like a whirlwind, His chariots of destruction will descend on you.
Swifter than eagles are His horses. At the sight of this, you will cry out, “Alas, we are doomed!”
14 Hear me, O Jerusalem, for even now there is time.
Wash these wicked ways from your hearts
So that you can be saved.
How long will you cling to those wicked thoughts?
15 From the tribe of Dan in the north comes the first cry;
news of disaster arrives from the hill country of Ephraim.
16 Eternal One (to Jeremiah): Tell the nations to beware.
Announce to Jerusalem:
“Invaders are coming from a distant land.
Their war cries will soon be heard in Judah’s villages.”
17 They will spread out and surround Jerusalem on every side like guards in a field,
all because she has acted against Me.
18 (to the people) You chose this path that led to disaster.
Your plans and actions brought it on.
It is your wickedness that tastes so bitter,
your evil that pierces your heart.
1 Paul, an emissary[a] of Jesus the Anointed serving at God’s pleasure, along with our brother Timothy 2 to you, dear holy and faithful brothers and sisters in the family of the Anointed who live in Colossae. May grace and peace from God our Father [and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One][b] envelop you.
3 As always, we’ve been praying for you, thanking God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, 4 ever since we heard of your faith in Jesus the Anointed and your love for His holy ones— 5 a faith and love that emerge from the hope you have heard about in the word of truth—the gospel—the very hope that awaits you in heaven. 6-7 The same gospel that was brought to you is growing and bearing fruit all over the world, just as it has been growing among you since the day you heard and took in the truth of God’s grace from our beloved fellow servant Epaphras. (He is a faithful minister of the Anointed on our[c] behalf.) 8 He was the one who told us how you demonstrate your love in the power of the Spirit. 9 Since the day we got this good news about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We ask:
This is a prayer for knowledge and insight that only can come from God.
Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You. 11 Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully. 12 Thank You, Father, as You have made us[d] eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the light. 13 You have rescued us from dark powers and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, whom You love 14 and in whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].[e]
15 He is the exact image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation, the eternal. 16 It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes. 17 He has always been! It is His hand that holds everything together.
For the worship leader. A song of Asaph accompanied by strings.
This song of Asaph praises Jerusalem as God’s earthly home and celebrates His victory there over enemies, where in the end “He squashes the arrogant spirit of the rulers.”
1 The One known in Judah is the True God;
in Israel, His name is great.
2 He has made Salem[a] His home;
indeed, He rests in Zion.
3 There He destroyed the instruments of war:
flaming arrows, shields, and swords.
4 You rise and shine like the dawn.
You are more majestic than the mountains where game runs wild.
5 The strong-hearted enemies were plundered;
they were buried in slumber.
Even the noble warriors
could not raise a hand to stop You.
6 O True God of Jacob, with just Your rebuke
both horse and rider fell into a deep sleep.
7 You are feared; yes, You.
And who can stand before You when Your anger flares?
8 You decreed judgment from the heavens.
The earth heard it and was petrified with fear, completely still,
9 When the True God arose for judgment
to deliver all the meek of the earth.
10 For the wrath of man will end in praise of You,
and whatever wrath is left You will wrap around Yourself like a belt.
11 Make vows to the Eternal your God,
and do all you promised;
Let all the nations around you bring gifts
to the God who arouses fear and awe.
12 He squashes the arrogant spirit of the rulers
and inspires fear in the hearts of the kings of the earth.
21 My son, fear both the Eternal and His anointed ruler.
It is not wise to associate with those rebelling against them
22 Because disaster can arise from either of them without warning,
and who knows what destruction comes down from both of them?