1 Lord, if I argue with you, you are always right! But I want to ask you about some things that don’t seem right. Why are wicked people successful? Why do people you can’t trust have such easy lives? 2 You have put those wicked people here. They are like plants with strong roots, they grow and produce fruit. With their mouths, they say that you are near and dear to them. But in their hearts, they are really far away from you. 3 But you know my heart, Lord. You see me and test my mind. Drag those evil people away like sheep to be butchered. Choose them for the day of slaughter. 4 How much longer will the land be dry? How long will the grass be dry and dead? The animals and birds in the land have died, And it is the fault of the wicked people. Yet those wicked people are saying, ”Jeremiah will not live long enough to see what happens to us.” 5 “Jeremiah, if you get tired running in a footrace with men, how will you race against horses? If you get tired in a safe place, what will you do in a dangerous place? What will you do in the thorn bushes that grow along the Jordan River? 6 These men are your own brothers. Members of your own family are making plans against you. People from your own family are yelling at you. Don’t trust them, even when they speak to you like friends.” 7 “I ˻(the Lord)˼ have abandoned my house. I have left my own property. I have given the one I love ˻(Judah)˼ to her enemies. 8 My own people turned against me like a wild lion. They roared at me, so I turned away from them. 9 My own people have become like a dying animal surrounded by vultures. Those birds fly around her. Come on, wild animals. Come get something to eat. 10 Many shepherds ˻(leaders)˼ have ruined my field of grapes. Those shepherds have walked on the plants in my field. Those shepherds have made my beautiful field into an empty desert. 11 They changed my field to a desert. It is dry and dead. No people live there. The whole country is an empty desert. There is no person left to care for that field. 12 Soldiers came to take things from every place in that empty land. The Lord used those armies to punish that land. People from one end of the land to the other were punished. No person was safe. 13 The people will plant wheat, but they will harvest only thorns. They will work hard until they are very tired, but they will get nothing for all their work. They will be ashamed of their crop. The Lord’s anger caused those things.” 14 This is what the Lord says: “I will tell you what I will do for all the people that live around the land of Israel. Those people are very wicked. They have destroyed the land I gave to the people of Israel. I will pull those evil people up and throw them out of their land. And I will pull the people of Judah up with them. 15 But after I pull those people out of their land, I will feel sorry for them. I will bring each family back to its own property and to its own land. 16 I want those people to learn their lessons well. In the past, those people taught my people to use Baal’s name to make promises. Now, I want those people to learn their lessons just as well. I want those people to learn to use my name. I want those people to say, 'As the Lord lives ...’ If those people do that, then I will allow them to be successful and I will let them live among my people. 17 But if any nation does not listen to my message, then I will completely destroy it. I will pull it up like a dead plant.” This message is from the Lord.