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Jeremiah Complains to the Lord

12 Whenever I complain
to you, Lord,
    you are always fair.
But now I have questions
    about your justice.
Why is life easy for sinners?
    Why are they successful?
You plant them like trees;
you let them prosper
    and produce fruit.
Yet even when they praise you,
    they don’t mean it.

But you know, Lord,
how faithful I’ve always been,
    even in my thoughts.
So drag my enemies away
    and butcher them like sheep!

How long will the ground be dry
    and the pasturelands parched?
The birds and animals
    are dead and gone.
And all of this happened because
    the people are so sinful.
They even brag, “God can’t see
    the sins we commit.”[a]

The Lord Answers Jeremiah

Jeremiah, if you get tired
    in a race against people,
how can you possibly run
    against horses?
If you fall in open fields,
what will happen in the forest
    along the Jordan River?
Even your own family
    has turned against you.
They act friendly,
    but don’t trust them.
They’re out to get you,
    and so is everyone else.

The Lord Is Furious with His People

I loved my people and chose them
    as my very own.
But now I will reject them
and hand them over
    to their enemies.
My people have turned against me
and roar at me like lions.
    That’s why I hate them.

My people are like a hawk
surrounded and attacked
    by other hawks.[b]
Tell the wild animals
    to come and eat their fill.
10 My beautiful land is ruined
    like a field or a vineyard
trampled by shepherds
and stripped bare
    by their flocks.
11 Every field I see lies barren,
    and no one cares.

12 A destroying army
marches along desert roads
    and attacks everywhere.
They are my deadly sword;
    no one is safe from them.

13 My people, you planted wheat,
but because I was furious,
    I let only weeds grow.
You wore yourselves out
    for nothing!

The Lord Will Have Pity on Other Nations

14 The Lord said:

I gave this land to my people Israel, but enemies around it have attacked and robbed it. So I will uproot them from their own countries just as I will uproot Judah from its land. 15 But later, I will have pity on these nations and bring them back to their own lands. 16 They once taught my people to worship Baal. But if they admit I am the only true God, and if they let my people teach them how to worship me, these nations will also become my people. 17 However, if they don’t listen to me, I will uproot them from their lands and completely destroy them. I, the Lord, have spoken.


  1. 12.4 God can’t see the sins we commit: Or “Jeremiah won’t live to see what happens to us.”
  2. 12.9 My people. . . other hawks: Or “My land has become a hyena’s den with vultures circling above.”

Jeremiah’s Complaint

12 You are always righteous,(A) Lord,
    when I bring a case(B) before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:(C)
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?(D)
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted(E) them, and they have taken root;
    they grow and bear fruit.(F)
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.(G)
Yet you know me, Lord;
    you see me and test(H) my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep(I) to be butchered!
    Set them apart for the day of slaughter!(J)
How long will the land lie parched(K)
    and the grass in every field be withered?(L)
Because those who live in it are wicked,
    the animals and birds have perished.(M)
Moreover, the people are saying,
    “He will not see what happens to us.”

God’s Answer

“If you have raced with men on foot
    and they have worn you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble[a] in safe country,
    how will you manage in the thickets(N) by[b] the Jordan?
Your relatives, members of your own family—
    even they have betrayed you;
    they have raised a loud cry against you.(O)
Do not trust them,
    though they speak well of you.(P)

“I will forsake(Q) my house,
    abandon(R) my inheritance;
I will give the one I love(S)
    into the hands of her enemies.(T)
My inheritance has become to me
    like a lion(U) in the forest.
She roars at me;
    therefore I hate her.(V)
Has not my inheritance become to me
    like a speckled bird of prey
    that other birds of prey surround and attack?
Go and gather all the wild beasts;
    bring them to devour.(W)
10 Many shepherds(X) will ruin my vineyard
    and trample down my field;
they will turn my pleasant field
    into a desolate wasteland.(Y)
11 It will be made a wasteland,(Z)
    parched and desolate before me;(AA)
the whole land will be laid waste
    because there is no one who cares.
12 Over all the barren heights in the desert
    destroyers will swarm,
for the sword(AB) of the Lord(AC) will devour(AD)
    from one end of the land to the other;(AE)
    no one will be safe.(AF)
13 They will sow wheat but reap thorns;
    they will wear themselves out but gain nothing.(AG)
They will bear the shame of their harvest
    because of the Lord’s fierce anger.”(AH)

14 This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance(AI) I gave my people Israel, I will uproot(AJ) them from their lands and I will uproot(AK) the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion(AL) and will bring(AM) each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn(AN) well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’(AO)—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal(AP)—then they will be established among my people.(AQ) 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy(AR) it,” declares the Lord.


  1. Jeremiah 12:5 Or you feel secure only
  2. Jeremiah 12:5 Or the flooding of

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