Passage: Jeremiah 23, 24, 25 (RSV)

Jeremiah 23

1"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" says the LORD.
2Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: "You have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD.
3Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
4I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the LORD.
5"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
6In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: `The LORD is our righteousness.'
7"Therefore, behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when men shall no longer say, `As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,'
8but `As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.' Then they shall dwell in their own land."
9Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me, all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and because of his holy words.
10For the land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land mourns, and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right.
11"Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their wickedness, says the LORD.
12Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall; for I will bring evil upon them in the year of their punishment, says the LORD.
13In the prophets of Sama'ria I saw an unsavory thing: they prophesied by Ba'al and led my people Israel astray.
14But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomor'rah."
15Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: "Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and give them poisoned water to drink; for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone forth into all the land."
16Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
17They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, `It shall be well with you'; and to every one who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, `No evil shall come upon you.'"
18For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to perceive and to hear his word, or who has given heed to his word and listened?
19Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
20The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his mind. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
21"I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.
22But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
23"Am I a God at hand, says the LORD, and not a God afar off?
24Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD.
25I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, `I have dreamed, I have dreamed!'
26How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart,
27who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Ba'al?
28Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the LORD.
29Is not my word like fire, says the LORD, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?
30Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who steal my words from one another.
31Behold, I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who use their tongues and say, `Says the LORD.'
32Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the LORD.
33"When one of this people, or a prophet, or a priest asks you, `What is the burden of the LORD?' you shall say to them, `You are the burden, and I will cast you off, says the LORD.'
34And as for the prophet, priest, or one of the people who says, `The burden of the LORD,' I will punish that man and his household.
35Thus shall you say, every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother, `What has the LORD answered?' or `What has the LORD spoken?'
36But `the burden of the LORD' you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man's own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God.
37Thus you shall say to the prophet, `What has the LORD answered you?' or `What has the LORD spoken?'
38But if you say, `The burden of the LORD,' thus says the LORD, `Because you have said these words, "The burden of the LORD," when I sent to you, saying, "You shall not say, `The burden of the LORD,'"
39therefore, behold, I will surely lift you up and cast you away from my presence, you and the city which I gave to you and your fathers.
40And I will bring upon you everlasting reproach and perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.'"

Jeremiah 24

1After Nebuchadrez'zar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconi'ah the son of Jehoi'akim, king of Judah, together with the princes of Judah, the craftsmen, and the smiths, and had brought them to Babylon, the LORD showed me this vision: Behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the LORD.
2One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten.
3And the LORD said to me, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" I said, "Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten."
4Then the word of the LORD came to me:
5"Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chalde'ans.
6I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not uproot them.
7I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
8"But thus says the LORD: Like the bad figs which are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedeki'ah the king of Judah, his princes, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt.
9I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them.
10And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their fathers."

Jeremiah 25

1The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoi'akim the son of Josi'ah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadrez'zar king of Babylon),
2which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
3"For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josi'ah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened.
4You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the LORD persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets,
5saying, `Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and wrong doings, and dwell upon the land which the LORD has given to you and your fathers from of old and for ever;
6do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.'
7Yet you have not listened to me, says the LORD, that you might provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm.
8"Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words,
9behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, says the LORD, and for Nebuchadrez'zar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about; I will utterly destroy them, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting reproach.
10Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp.
11This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
12Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chalde'ans, for their iniquity, says the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste.
13I will bring upon that land all the words which I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations.
14For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands."
15Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.
16They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword which I am sending among them."
17So I took the cup from the LORD's hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it:
18Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and princes, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day;
19Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his princes, all his people,
20and all the foreign folk among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ash'kelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod);
21Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon;
22all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea;
23Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair;
24all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes that dwell in the desert;
25all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media;
26all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink.
27"Then you shall say to them, `Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I am sending among you.'
28"And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, `Thus says the LORD of hosts: You must drink!
29For behold, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, says the LORD of hosts.'
30"You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: `The LORD will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, says the LORD.'
32"Thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, evil is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth!
33"And those slain by the LORD on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.
34"Wail, you shepherds, and cry, and roll in ashes, you lords of the flock, for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come, and you shall fall like choice rams.
35No refuge will remain for the shepherds, nor escape for the lords of the flock.
36Hark, the cry of the shepherds, and the wail of the lords of the flock! For the LORD is despoiling their pasture,
37and the peaceful folds are devastated, because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
38Like a lion he has left his covert, for their land has become a waste because of the sword of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger."

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