1“Roam back and forth through the streets of Jerusalem,
And look now and take note.
And look in her open squares
To see if you can find a man [as Abraham sought in Sodom],
One who is just, who [has integrity and moral courage and] seeks truth (faithfulness);
Then I will pardon Jerusalem—[for the sake of one uncompromisingly righteous person].
2And though they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’
Surely they swear [their oaths] falsely.”
3O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth?
You [have seen their faithless heart and] have stricken them,
But they did not weaken;
You have consumed them,
But they refused to take correction or instruction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
They have refused to repent and return to You.
4Then I said, “[Surely] these are only the poor (uneducated);
They are [sinfully] foolish and have no [spiritual] understanding,
For they do not know the way of the Lord
Or the ordinance of their God [and the requirements of His just and righteous law].
5I will go to the great [men]
And speak to them,
For they [must] know the way of the Lord,
The ordinance of their God.”
But [I found the reverse to be true, that] they too had all alike broken the yoke [of God’s law]
And had burst the bonds [of obedience to Him].
6Therefore a lion from the forest will kill them,
A wolf of the deserts will destroy them,
A leopard is watching their cities.
Everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces,
Because their transgressions are many,
Their desertions of faith are countless.
7“Why should I [overlook these offenses and] forgive you?
Your children have abandoned (rejected) Me
And sworn [their oaths] by those who are not gods.
When I had fed them until they were full [and bound them to Me by a promise],
They committed [spiritual] adultery,
Assembling in troops at the houses of prostitutes (idols).
8They were like well-fed, lusty stallions,
Each one neighing after his neighbor’s wife.
9Shall I not punish them [for these things]?” says the Lord;
“Shall I not avenge Myself
On a nation such as this?”
10“Go up through the rows of Jerusalem’s vineyards and destroy [them],
But do not completely destroy everything.
Strip away her branches and the tendrils [of her vines],
For they are not the Lord’s.
11For the house of Israel and the house of Judah
Have dealt very treacherously (faithlessly) with Me,” declares the Lord.
12They have lied about and denied the Lord
By saying, “It is not He [who speaks through His prophets];
Misfortune and evil shall not come on us,
Nor will we see war or famine.
13The prophets are like the wind [their prophecy will not come to pass],
And the word [of God] is not in them.
In this manner it will be done to them [as they prophesied, not to us].”
14Therefore, thus says the Lord God of hosts,
“Because you [people] have spoken this word,
Behold, I am making My words a fire in your mouth [Jeremiah]
And this people wood, and My words will consume them.
15Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from far away, O house of Israel,” says the Lord.
“It is a mighty and enduring nation,
It is an ancient nation,
A nation whose language you do not know,
Whose words you do not comprehend.
16Their quiver is [filled with the dead] like an open grave;
They are all mighty men [heroes of their nation].
17They will consume your harvest and [eat up] your bread;
They will consume your sons and your daughters;
They will consume your flocks and your herds;
They will consume your vines and your fig trees.
With the sword they will break down and demolish your fortified cities in which you trust.
18“But even in those days,” says the Lord, “I will not totally destroy you. 19It will come about when your people say, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?’ then you shall answer them, ‘As you have abandoned (rejected) Me,’ [says the Lord,] ‘and have served strange and foreign gods in your land, so you will serve strangers in a land that is not yours.’
20“Declare this in the house of Jacob
And proclaim it in Judah, saying:
21‘Now hear this, O foolish people without heart,
Who have eyes but do not see,
Who have ears but do not hear.
22Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord.
‘Do you not tremble [in awe] in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
An eternal decree and a perpetual barrier beyond which it cannot pass.
Though the waves [of the sea] toss and break, yet they cannot prevail [against the sand ordained to hold them back];
Though the waves and the billows roar, yet they cannot cross over [the barrier].
[Is not such a God to be feared?]
23But this people has a stubborn heart and a rebellious will [that draws them away from Me];
They have turned away and have gone [into idolatry].
24They do not say in their heart,
“Let us now fear and worship the Lord our God [with profound awe and reverence],
Who gives rain in its season,
Both the autumn and the spring rain,
Who keeps for us
The appointed weeks of the harvest.”
25Your wickedness has turned these [blessings] away,
And your sins have withheld good [harvests] from you.
26For wicked men are found among My people,
They watch like fowlers who lie in wait;
They set a trap,
They catch men.
27As a cage is full of birds,
So are their houses full of deceit and treachery;
Therefore they have become influential and rich.
28They are fat and they are sleek (prosperous),
They excel in acts of wickedness;
They do not plead the cause,
The cause of the orphan, so that they [the wicked] may prosper,
And they do not defend the rights of the poor.
29Shall I not punish them [for these things]?’ says the Lord.
‘Shall I not avenge Myself
On such a nation as this?’
30“An appalling and horrible thing [bringing desolation and destruction]
Has come to pass in the land:
31The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love [to have] it so!
But what will you do when the end comes?