8 How can any of you say, “We are wise, because we have the Eternal’s law”?
How little you care about the truth!
A pen in the hand of your teachers drips nothing but lies.
9 The day is coming when these so-called wise teachers will be put to shame;
their lives will be shattered when they are captured and taken away.
Why will this happen? Because they have rejected and perverted My word.
Are these the works of wise men?
10 This is why I will give their wives away to intruders
and their property to invaders.
Greed has corrupted this culture, from the least to the greatest:
everyone is tainted with this lust for what they don’t deserve.
The prophets and priests are no better.
Their lives reek with deceit.
11 To heal the brokenness of My people, they offer superficial words.
They say, “Peace, peace” as if all is well, but there is no peace.
12 Do they feel any shame for their disgraceful deeds?
Absolutely not. My very own have forgotten how to blush.
And so it is that they will fall among the fallen and be defeated:
when the time comes, they will stumble beneath the weight of My punishment;
13 The harvest will soon be gone, a thing of the past.
There will be no grapes on the vine, no figs in the tree;
Even the leaves will wither and fall.
For what I have given so generously, I will now take away.
Some people in the land believe they know God’s ways, but they don’t. In fact, the ways they twist God’s words and perform empty rituals only make things worse. Over and over again, prophets such as Jeremiah have attempted to describe the devastation that will result from the actions of those who refuse to listen to and really know God. As the invading army comes across the borders, some realize that what God has said—what the prophet has spoken in His name—is all coming true. God may long to bring His people close, to forgive and restore them, but it will not happen. They have refused both His forgiveness and His final warning, and so the enemy from the north is on the move.
14 People: Why are we still sitting here, exposed and waiting for death to come?
Let’s get together and run to the walled cities and die there.
We are without hope because the Eternal our God has pronounced our judgment.
He has given us a cup[a] of bitter poison to drink because we have sinned against Him.
15 We were counting on peace, but none came.
We waited for a time of healing, but now all we have is terror.
16 We can hear the snorts of their warhorses as they charge into Dan;
at the thunder of their hoofs and noise of their neighs the whole land trembles.
They have come to devour us—our land and everything in it,
the city and all her citizens.
17 Eternal One: Look, I have released an army of serpents against you;
they slither like vipers across the land.
There is no hope of charming them.
There is no escape from their deadly bite.
Jeremiah: 18 There is no cure for my grief.
My heart breaks for what I see and hear.[b]
19 Listen, my Lord, don’t You hear the daughter of our people weeping, crying out to You from exile?
“Is the Eternal no longer in Zion? Does her King no longer reside there?”
Eternal One: But Jeremiah, why have they provoked Me with their dark and evil practices?
Why do they worship these handcrafted idols, these worthless gods?
Jeremiah understands that the time for Judah to repent and change her ways is past. She has had her last chance, but that doesn’t stop him from pleading with God.
20 Jeremiah: The harvest is over, summer has ended,
and we are not saved.
21 And because the daughter of my people is being ripped apart, I am ripped apart.
From within, a dark and cold hurt arises.
From without, I am strangled by the horror of it all.
22 Is there no healing medicine in Gilead, no balm that could help my people?
Is there no physician who can help?
Why is there no healing for the wounds inflicted on my people?
9 Jeremiah: O that my head were a spring of water
and my eyes a fountain of tears;
Then I could weep day and night for my poor people
who have been slaughtered.
2 O that I had a place in the desert I could run to,
a haven for travelers.
Then I could leave my people,
for they are all an adulterous and treacherous lot.
3 Eternal One: With tongues bent like bows they shoot their lies at one another.
Truth does not win out in this land; deceit always seems to triumph.
One evil leads to another because they don’t know who I am.
4 Let everyone be careful of his neighbor,
and think twice before he trusts his brothers;
For every brother is ready to cheat and deceive;
every neighbor is prepared to lie when it suits him.
5 In this land of liars, friends have no misgivings about deceiving one another;
no one even thinks to tell the truth.
They’ve trained their tongues to utter lies;
they wear themselves out with all their sinning.
6 Jeremiah, you live in a place where deception is assumed;
as their lies pile up, they refuse to acknowledge Me.
7 Here is what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has to say:
Eternal One: Watch, I will refine this nation and put them to the test.
What else can I do with My people?
8 Their tongues are like deadly arrows;
they speak such lies;
Each one leads his neighbor with kind words
into a trap that was already set.
9 Should I not punish them for what they do?
Should I not repay a nation that acts this way?
10 Jeremiah: I will weep bitterly for the mountains of my homeland
and grieve for the death of her wild meadows.
For they have become a silent wasteland
where no one dares to travel.
Pastures once filled with the lowing of cattle, now are empty and lifeless.
All the animals have fled; even the birds have left the sky.
11 Eternal One: I will leave Jerusalem in ruins;
her rubble will be the haunt of jackals.
I will wreak the same havoc on the cities of Judah;
no person will be found there.
Jeremiah: 12 Who is wise enough to take all this in? Who has heard the Eternal speak and can explain His ways to others? Can anyone say why this land has been ruined and left a wasteland, a desert where no one dares to travel?
Eternal One: 13 I will answer you Myself. Because they have ignored the law I gave them generations ago. They haven’t listened to My voice, and they refuse to walk in My ways. 14 Instead, they have stubbornly followed after their own hearts. They have chosen to worship images of Baal just as their ancestors taught them. 15 This is why I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, must now take action. Look, I will now give them bitter food to eat and poisoned water to drink. 16 I Myself will scatter them among the nations—nations neither they nor their ancestors ever knew existed—and I will hunt them down with the sword and destroy them completely.
These images are too real, too vivid. Jeremiah tells of the people’s judgment. He can’t help but grieve for them and the land that was once a place of promise.
17 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has this to say:
Eternal One: Think this over, and summon the mourners.
Send for the women who will chant the dirge, that they may come.
18 Let them be quick about it: weep and wail,
that our eyes may fill with tears that streak down our faces.
19 Listen to the voice of sorrow weeping from Zion herself:
“We are ruined. All that remains for us is great shame.
Now we must leave this land that was ours;
they have torn down our houses.”
20 Jeremiah: So listen now, women of Judah, to the word of the Eternal.
Mark His words well.
It is time to teach your daughters how to mourn,
time to teach your neighbors the song of lament.
21 For death has found us all.
It has crept in through our windows and slipped past our defenses.
It has cut down our children in the streets,
and our young men in the public squares. Death has found us all.
22 Tell everyone what the Eternal has said:
“The dead bodies of men will fall like dung on the open field.
Corpses will lie on the ground like grain cut in the harvest;
but on this day, there will be no one to gather and bury the dead.”
Eternal One: 23 Let not the wise boast in their wisdom, nor the mighty in their strength, nor the rich in their wealth. 24 Whoever boasts must boast in this: that he understands and knows Me.[c] Indeed, I am the Eternal One who acts faithfully and exercises justice and righteousness on earth. These are the things that delight Me.
25 Look, the day is coming when I will set things right with all people. I will punish all those who are circumcised in their bodies but not in their hearts— 26 the people of Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, and all who live in the desert and clip the corners of their hair. All these nations are really uncircumcised, and all of Israel is uncircumcised where it counts, in the heart.
Paul knows the people in Colossae are facing many religious and philosophical options, none of which are neutral. Notice Paul doesn’t say, “Just add Jesus to what you already believe,” or, “Factor Jesus into your philosophy,” or, “Include Jesus in this or that ritual.” The claim that “Jesus is Lord” does not allow that. If Jesus is Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of all creation, then all other teachings must give way. All people must bow before Him and only Him.
3 So it comes down to this: since you have been raised with the Anointed One, the Liberating King, set your mind on heaven above. The Anointed is there, seated at God’s right hand. 2 Stay focused on what’s above, not on earthly things, 3 because your old life is dead and gone. Your new life is now hidden, enmeshed with the Anointed who is in God. 4 On that day when the Anointed One—who is our[a] very life—is revealed, you will be revealed with Him in glory! 5 So kill your earthly impulses: loose sex, impure actions, unbridled sensuality, wicked thoughts, and greed (which is essentially idolatry). 6 It’s because of these that God’s wrath is coming [upon the sons and daughters of disobedience],[b] so avoid them at all costs. 7 These are the same things you once pursued, and together you spawned a life of evil. 8 But now make sure you shed such things: anger, rage, spite, slander, and abusive language. 9 And don’t go on lying to each other since you have sloughed away your old skin along with its evil practices 10 for a fresh new you, which is continually renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One who created you. 11 In this re-creation there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian and conqueror,[c] or slave and free because the Anointed is the whole and dwells in us all.
Paul tells them the key to remain unified is to show compassion and forgiveness toward one another.
12 Since you are all set apart by God, made holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a holy way of life: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kind. 14 But above all these, put on love! Love is the perfect tie to bind these together. 15 Let your hearts fall under the rule of the Anointed’s peace (the peace you were called to as one body), and be thankful.
16 Let the word of the Anointed One richly inhabit your lives. With all wisdom teach, counsel, and instruct one another. Sing the psalms, compose hymns and songs inspired by the Spirit, and keep on singing—sing to God from hearts full and spilling over with thankfulness. 17 Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.
32 Even after all this, they continued to sin
and still did not trust in Him
or in the incredible things He did.
33 So He abruptly ended their time; they vanished like a breath;
He ended their years suddenly, with terror.
34 After He took some of their lives,
those left turned back and sought God wholeheartedly.
35 After all they had endured, they remembered that God, the Most High,
was their Rock, their Redeemer,
36 But even then they tried to deceive Him with their words
and fool Him with a web of lies.
37 They were not consistently faithful to Him,
and they were untrue to their covenant with Him.
38 Yet by His great compassion,
He forgave them
and decided not to put an end to them.
Most of the time, He held back His anger
and did not unleash His wrath against them.
39 He was mindful that they were human, frail and fleeting,
like a wind that touches one’s skin for a moment, then vanishes.
40 Oh, how often they disobeyed Him in the wilderness
and frustrated Him during their time in the desert!
41 Over and over again, they tested God’s patience
and caused great pain for Israel’s Holy One.
42 They failed to be mindful of His great strength.
They forgot all about the day He saved them from the enemy,
43 When He displayed all sorts of signs and wonders in Egypt,
and all the amazing things He did in the region of Zoan[a]
44 When He transformed their rivers into blood
so that they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent armies of flies to bite and torment them
and hordes of frogs to ruin and devastate them;
46 He handed over all of their crops to grasshoppers
and the fruit of all their labor to locusts;
47 He sent violent hailstorms, which smashed all their vines,
and ruined their sycamore-fig trees with biting frost.
48 He handed over all of their cattle to the hailstorms as well
and struck all their herds with lightning.
49 He poured His burning wrath upon them—
anger, resentment, and trouble—
sending a company of heavenly warriors to destroy them.
50 He carved out a road for His wrath;
He did not spare any from the sting of death
but handed them over to the fangs of the plague.
51 He killed all the firstborn of Egypt,
the first products of their manhood in the tents of Ham, the Egyptians’ ancestor.
52 But then He guided His people like sheep to safety
and led them like a flock into the desert to freedom;
53 He took them on a safe route so that they would not be afraid,
and He allowed the hungry sea to swallow all of their enemies.
54 He led them to His sacred land—
to this holy hill, which He had won by the power of His right hand.
55 He forced out the other nations which were living there before them,
and He redistributed the lands as an inheritance to His people;
He settled the tribes and families of Israel peaceably in their tents.
- 78:43 Hebrew, Avaris
27 Complete your work outside,
and get your fields ready for next season;
after that’s done, build your house.