The Word Made Fresh
1“If my head were a spring of water
giving my eyes fountains of tears,
I would weep day and night
for my people who have been slain.
2If I had a lodge in the wilderness for travelers
I would leave my people and abandon them!
All of them are adulterers who turn away from me.
3Their tongues are like bending bows.
They have become powerful in the land,
but only through lies and not truth.
They go from one evil deed to another
and they don’t even know me,” says the LORD.
4“Beware of your neighbors and don’t trust your kin.
They are deceitful, all of them, and slanderers.
5They cheat their neighbors and never speak the truth.
They have taught their tongues to lie,
and weary themselves with falsehoods.
6They oppress and deceive and refuse to acknowledge me,” says the LORD.
7So, this is what the LORD says:
“I will correct them now, and put them to the test –
What else can I do with these, my sinful people?
8Their tongues are like poisonous arrows that speak nothing but lies.
Oh, they say friendly things to their neighbors,
but are only trying to deceive them
while they make plans against them.
9Shouldn’t I punish them for these things?” says the LORD.
“Shouldn’t I refuse to forgive a nation like this one?
10I will weep and wail for the mountains,
and mourn for the grasslands of the wilderness
because they are so wasted no one can pass through.
The lowing of cattle can’t be heard.
The birds and the animals have gone away.
11I will turn Jerusalem into a pile of ruins, a hiding place for jackals.
I will empty out the towns of Judah and they will be abandoned.”
12Who can understand this? To whom has the LORD spoken that can explain it? Why is the countryside so ruined and wasted that none can pass through? 13The LORD says, “Since they have turned away from my laws that I gave them and refused to obey me or try to live by them, 14but have been stubborn and have done whatever they pleased, even worshiping the Baals as their ancestors taught them, 15I, the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel will feed them with spoiled food and bitter water. 16I will scatter them among other peoples that neither they nor their ancestors have known, and I will send enemies against them until I have completely done away with them.”
17This is what the LORD of multitudes says: “Think about your situation, and call for women who grieve to come forth, and send for the women who sing. 18Let them sing a lamentation for us until we weep with tears running down our faces. 19The sound of mourning is heard from Zion: ‘“’We are ruined! We are completely shamed because we have gone from the land and our homes have been destroyed.’”
20Listen to the LORD’s word, you women.
Let your ears hear what comes from the LORD’s mouth;
teach your daughters a requiem
and a lament to your neighbors.
21Death has looked through our windows and entered our homes
to stop our children from going into the streets
and prevent our young men from gathering in the squares.
22This is what the LORD says:
“Dead bodies will fall like dung upon the fields,
And like sheaves of grain behind the reaper,
with no one to gather them.”
23The LORD says, “Don’t allow those who are wise to brag about their wisdom. Don’t let the strong boast about their strength. Don’t allow the rich to brag about their wealth. 24But if they want to brag, let them brag about how they know and understand me, for I am the LORD. My actions on earth are based on my steadfast love, justice and righteousness. These are the things in which I take delight,” says the LORD.
25Surely, the days will come when I will judge those who are circumcised only in the flesh – Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and all those who shave their heads and dwell in the desert. Truly they are uncircumcised along with the house of Israel, whose heart is uncircumcised.
1-3: God mourns over the spiritual poverty of the people, for they do not know the LORD.
4-6: The primary sins alluded to in this section are deceitfulness and dishonesty.
7-9: Again, God asks rhetorical questions — the obvious answer is “yes,” their punishment is deserved.
10-11: Tens of thousands of Assyrian soldiers sweeping through the land will strip everything of value and leave what remains in ruins, says God.
12-16: Again, the charge is made that the people have gone after the Baals, the pagan gods worshiped by the indigenous groups within and around Canaan.
17-19: God is calling for a funeral procession complete with professional mourners to sing a dirge for Zion.
20-22: The summoning of mourners continues, and a picture is painted of wholesale slaughter.
23-24: The wise, the mighty, and the wealthy count for nothing with God; only those who love justice and righteousness.
25-26: God announces that circumcision no longer assures participation in the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:10-14).
We are reading about Jeremiah unloading God’s anger on the people. But the message is just as appropriate for today. There are those who ignore God’s word, and those who try to interpret it in such a way as to place blame on others, and those who take it to heart and try to turn the course of their lives toward the loving God who made us. We each must choose the path our lives will follow. May we choose wisely.