Jeremiah 4
Contemporary English Version

How Israel Can Return to the Lord

1The Lord said:

Israel, if you really want

to come back to me, get rid

of those disgusting idols.

2Make promises only in my name,

and do what you promise!

Then all nations will praise me,

and I will bless them.

3 People of Jerusalem and Judah,

don't be so stubborn!

Your hearts have become hard,

like unplowed ground

where thornbushes grow.

4With all your hearts,

keep the agreement

I made with you.

But if you are stubborn

and keep on sinning,

my anger will burn like a fire

that cannot be put out.

Disaster Is Coming

The Lord said:

* 5“Sound the trumpets, my people.

Warn the people of Judah,+

‘Run for your lives!

6Head for Jerusalem

or another walled town!’

“Jeremiah, tell them I'm sending

disaster from the north.

7An army will come out,

like a lion from its den.

It will destroy nations

and leave your towns empty

and in ruins.”

8Then I told the people

of Israel,

“Put on sackcloth!+

Mourn and cry out,

‘The Lord is still angry

with us.’ ”

9The Lord said,

“When all this happens,

the king and his officials,

the prophets and the priests

will be shocked and terrified.”

10I said, “You are the Lord God. So why have you fooled everyone, especially the people of Jerusalem? Why did you promise peace, when a knife is at our throats?”

The Coming Disaster

11-12When disaster comes, the Lord will tell you people of Jerusalem,

“I am sending a windstorm

from the desert—

not a welcome breeze.+

And it will sweep you away

as punishment for your sins.

13Look! The enemy army

swoops down like an eagle;

their cavalry and chariots

race faster than storm clouds

blown by the wind.”

Then you will answer,

“We are doomed!”

14But Jerusalem, there is still time

for you to be saved.

Wash the evil from your hearts

and stop making sinful plans,

15before a message of disaster

arrives from the hills of Ephraim

and the town of Dan.+

16-17The Lord said,

“Tell the nations that my people

have rebelled against me.

And so an army will come

from far away

to surround Jerusalem

and the towns of Judah.

I, the Lord, have spoken.

18“People of Judah,

your hearts will be in pain,

but it's your own fault

that you will be punished.”

Jeremiah's Vision of the Coming Punishment

19I can't stand the pain!

My heart pounds,

as I twist and turn in agony.

I hear the signal trumpet

and the battle cry of the enemy,

and I cannot be silent.

20I see the enemy defeating us

time after time,

leaving everything in ruins.

Even my own home

is destroyed in a moment.

21How long will I see enemy flags

and hear their trumpets?

22I heard the Lord say,

“My people ignore me.

They are foolish children

who do not understand

that they will be punished.

All they know is how to sin.”

23After this, I looked around.

The earth was barren,

with no form of life.

The sun, moon, and stars

had disappeared.

24The mountains were shaking;

25no people could be seen,

and all the birds

had flown away.

26Farmland had become a desert,

and towns were in ruins.

The Lord's fierce anger

had done all of this.

The Death of Jerusalem

27-28The Lord said:

I have made my decision,

and I won't change my mind.

This land will be destroyed,

although not completely.

The sky will turn dark,

and the earth will mourn.

29Enemy cavalry and archers

shout their battle cry.

People run for their lives

and try to find safety

among trees and rocks.

Every town is empty.

30Jerusalem, your land

has been wiped out.

But you act like a prostitute

and try to win back your lovers,

who now hate you.

You can put on a red dress,

gold jewelry, and eye shadow,

but it's no use—

your lovers are out to kill you!

31I heard groaning and crying.

Was it a woman giving birth

to her first child?

No, it was Jerusalem,

gasping for breath

and begging for help.

“I'm dying!” she said.

“They have murdered me.”


4.5 Judah: Hebrew “Judah and Jerusalem.”
4.8 sackcloth: A rough, dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow.
4.11,12 a welcome breeze: Hebrew “a wind to blow away the husks.” Farmers used a special shovel to pitch grain and husks into the air. Wind would blow away the light husks, and the grain would fall back to the ground, where it could be gathered up.
4.15 Ephraim … Dan: The hills of Ephraim were to the north of Jerusalem, and Dan was even farther north. They would be reached by the invading army first.

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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