Jeremiah 16

The Word Made Fresh

1Then the LORD’s word came to me:

2“You shall not marry a woman or have children in this place. 3This is what the LORD says about children born in this place and the mothers and fathers who give them birth in this land: 4They will die of deadly diseases and no one will mourn their passing. They won’t even be buried but will be like dung on the ground. They will be killed by war and famine, and their dead bodies will be food for the birds and wild animals.”

5The LORD says, “Don’t go to the place of mourning and lament. Don’t moan for them, because I have taken my peace away from these people, and my love and mercy. 6Great and small will die in this land, but they will not be buried, and no one will be sorry they have died. There won’t be any grieving for them – no one will shave their heads or cut themselves for them. 7No one will feed the mourners or offer comfort for their dead. No one will offer them a cup to console them for the loss of their fathers or mothers. 8You will not enter their houses to sit and dine and drink with them, 9because the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel says, ‘I will banish them from this land while you are still living and while you are watching. I will banish them while they are laughing and happy. I will banish the voices of the bridegroom and the bride.’

10“When you tell them the words I am speaking and they ask why the LORD has spoken all these terrible things against them, and demand to know what they have done against the LORD their God, 11you shall tell them, ‘It is because your ancestors turned away from me and worshiped and served other gods. They have forsaken me and have not kept my commandments. 12And you have behaved even worse than your ancestors. Here you are, every one of you following your stubborn, wicked desires, refusing to listen to my voice. 13That is why I will toss you out of this land into a country neither you nor your ancestors know anything about, and there you will serve other gods night and day because I will show you no favor whatsoever.’

14“The days are coming,” says the LORD, “when you will no longer hear anyone say, ‘As the LORD lives who brought the people out of Egypt,’ 15but instead you shall hear, ‘As the LORD lives who brought Israel out of the north land and all the lands where the LORD had driven them,’ because I will bring them back to their land, the land I gave their ancestors.

16“I am recruiting many fishermen,” says the LORD. “And they will lure these people. Then I will send for many hunters to wound them from every hilltop and mountain, and even from the crevices in the rocks. 17For I have watched them with my own eyes. They and their sins are not hidden from me. 18But first, I will repay them double for their sins that have polluted my land with the forms of their filthy idols and abominable habits and have thus polluted my inheritance.”

19LORD, my strength and my protector
and my safe place in times of trouble,
the nations shall come to you from every corner of the world.
They will say, “Our ancestors passed down to us nothing
but their lies, nothing but worthless ideas that have no value.”
20Can mortals make gods for themselves?
They are not gods!

21“That is why I will certainly teach them, and this time I will teach them my power and might, and they will know my name is the LORD.”


1-4: Unlike Isaiah, Jeremiah is told not to marry or to beget children because of the awful punishment that is coming in which children will undergo unimaginable abuse.

5-9: More terrible descriptions of the approaching terrors are given in horrifying detail.

10-13: When the people ask why God is planning such things, Jeremiah is to tell them it is because of their longstanding rebellion against God that has lasted for generations.

14-15: But the LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away, and the LORD giveth again. Despite the awful calamities that will befall them, God will bring them back to the land and restore them.

16-19: Jeremiah imagines foreign peoples confessing that their gods are no gods. Then God will have an opportunity to teach them the true nature of things.


God’s people are charged with the responsibility to “speak the truth.” The life and teachings of Jesus compel us to add the words “in love” to that sentence.