1 The Lord’s message came to Jeremiah. This message was from the Lord: 2 “Jeremiah, go and speak to the people of Jerusalem. Say to them: “'At the time you were a young nation, you were faithful to me. You followed me like a young bride. You followed me through the desert, through a land that had never been used for farm land. 3 The people of Israel were a holy gift to the Lord. They were the first fruit to be gathered by the Lord. Any people that tried to hurt them were judged guilty. Bad things happened to those wicked people.’” This message was from the Lord. 4 Family of Jacob, hear the Lord’s message. Family groups of Israel, hear the message. 5 This is what the Lord says: ”Do you think that I was not fair to your ancestors? Is that why they turned away from me? Your ancestors worshiped worthless idols, and they became worthless themselves. 6 Your ancestors did not say, 'The Lord brought us from Egypt. The Lord led us through the desert. The Lord led us through a dry and rocky land. The Lord led us through a dark and dangerous land. No people live there. People don’t even travel through that land. But the Lord led us through that land. So where is the Lord now?’ 7 ˻The Lord says,˼ “I brought you into a good land, a land filled with many good things. I did this so you could eat the fruit and crops that grow there. But you only made my land 'dirty.’ I gave that land to you, but you made it a bad place. 8 “The priests did not ask, 'Where is the Lord?’ The people that know the law did not want to know me. The leaders of the people of Israel turned against me. The prophets prophesied in the name of the false god Baal. They worshiped worthless idols.” 9 The Lord says, “So now I will accuse you again, And I will also accuse your grandchildren. 10 Go across the sea to the Islands of Kittim. Send someone to the land of Kedar. Look very carefully. See if any person has ever done something like this. 11 Has any nation ever stopped worshiping their old gods so they could worship new gods? No! And their gods are not really gods at all! But my people stopped worshiping their glorious God and started worshiping idols that are worth nothing. 12 “Skies, be shocked at the things that have happened! Shake with great fear!” This message was from the Lord. 13 “My people have done two evil things. They turned away from me (I am the spring of living water), and they dug their own water cisterns. ˻(They turned to other gods.)˼ But their cisterns are broken. Those cisterns can’t hold water. 14 “Have the people of Israel become slaves? Have they become like a person that was born a slave? Why did people take the wealth from the people of Israel? 15 Young lions’ ˻(enemies)˼ roar at Israel. The lions growl. Lions have destroyed the land of Israel. The cities of Israel have been burned. There are no people left in them. 16 People from Memphis and Tahpanhes have smashed the top of your head. 17 This trouble is your own fault! The Lord your God was leading you the right way, but you turned away from him. 18 People of Judah, think about this: Did it help to go to Egypt? Did it help to drink from the Nile River? No! Did it help to go to Assyria? Did it help to drink from the Euphrates River? No! 19 You did bad things, and those bad things will only bring punishment to you. Trouble will come to you. And that trouble will teach you a lesson. Think about it! Then you will understand how bad it is to turn away from your God. It is wrong not to fear and respect me!” This message was from my Master, the Lord All-Powerful. 20 “Judah, a long time ago you threw off your yoke. You broke the ropes ˻that I used to control you˼. You said to me, 'I will not serve you!’ You were like a prostitute on every high hill and under every green tree. 21 Judah, I planted you like a special vine. All of you were like good seed. How did you turn into a different vine that grows bad fruit? 22 Even if you wash yourself with lye, even if you use much soap, I can still see your guilt.” This message was from the Lord God. 23 “Judah, how can you say to me, 'I am not guilty; I have not worshiped the Baal idols’? Think about the things you did in the valley. Think about what you have done. You are like a fast she-camel that runs from place to place. 24 You are like a wild donkey that lives in the desert. At mating time, she sniffs ˻(smells)˼ the wind. No person can bring her back at the time she is in heat. At mating time, every male that wants her will get her. It is easy to find her. 25 Judah, stop chasing after idols! Stop being thirsty for those other gods. But you say, 'It is no use! I can’t quit! I love those other gods. I want to worship them.’ 26 “A thief is ashamed when people catch him. In the same way, the people of Israel are ashamed, the kings and leaders are ashamed, and the priests and prophets are ashamed. 27 Those people talk to pieces of wood! They say, 'You are my father.’ Those people speak to a rock. They say, 'You gave birth to me.’ All those people will be ashamed. Those people don’t look at me. They have turned their backs to me. But when the people of Judah get into trouble, they say to me, 'Come and save us!’ 28 Let those idols come and save you! Where are the idols that you have made for yourselves? Let’s see if those idols come and save you when you are in trouble. Judah, you have as many idols as cities! 29 “Why do you argue with me? All of you have turned against me.” This message was from the Lord. 30 “I punished you people of Judah, but it did not help. You did not come back when you were punished. You killed with your swords the prophets that came to you. You were like a dangerous lion and you killed the prophets.” 31 People of this generation, pay attention to the Lord’s message! “Have I been like a desert to the people of Israel? Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to them? My people say, 'We are free to go our own way. We will not come back to you, Lord!’ Why do they say those things? 32 A young woman doesn’t forget her jewelry. A bride doesn’t forget the sash for her dress. But my people have forgotten me too many times to count. 33 “Judah, you really know how to chase after lovers ˻(false gods)˼. You have really learned to do evil things. 34 You have blood on your hands! It is the blood of the poor, innocent people. You did not catch those people breaking into your house! You killed them for no reason! 35 But still, you say, 'I am innocent. God is not angry with me.’ So I will also judge you guilty ˻of lying˼. Why? Because you say, 'I have done nothing wrong.’ 36 It is so easy for you to change your mind. Assyria disappointed you, ˻so you left Assyria and went to Egypt for help.˼ But Egypt will also disappoint you. 37 So you will eventually leave Egypt, too. And you will hide your face in shame. You trusted those countries. But the Lord rejected those countries, so they can’t help you win.