6 Run, people of Benjamin, run for your lives! Flee from Jerusalem! Sound the alarm in Tekoa; send up a smoke signal at Beth-haccherem; warn everyone that a powerful army is on the way from the north, coming to destroy this nation! 2 Helpless as a girl, you are beautiful and delicate—and doomed. 3 Evil shepherds shall surround you. They shall set up camp around the city and divide your pastures for their flocks. 4 See them prepare for battle. At noon it has begun. All afternoon it rages until the evening shadows fall. 5 “Come,” they say. “Let us attack by night and destroy her palaces!”
6 For the Lord Almighty has said to them, Cut down her trees for battering rams; smash down the walls of Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished, for she is vile through and through. 7 She spouts evil like a fountain! Her streets echo with the sounds of violence; her sickness and wounds are ever before me.
8 This is your last warning, O Jerusalem. If you don’t listen, I will empty the land. 9 Disaster on disaster shall befall you. Even the few who remain in Israel shall be gleaned again, the Lord Almighty has said; for as a grape-gatherer checks each vine to pick what he has missed, so the remnant of my people shall be destroyed again.
10 But who will listen when I warn them? Their ears are closed, and they refuse to hear. The word of God has angered them; they don’t want it at all.
11 For all this I am full of the wrath of God against them. I am weary of holding it in. I will pour it out over Jerusalem, even upon the children playing in the streets, upon the gatherings of young men, and on husbands and wives and grandparents. 12 Their enemies shall live in their homes and take their fields and wives. For I will punish the people of this land, the Lord has said. 13 They are swindlers and liars, from the least of them right to the top! Yes, even my prophets and priests! 14 You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there! Yet the priests and prophets give assurances of peace when all is war. 15 Were my people ashamed when they worshiped idols? No, not at all—they didn’t even blush. Therefore they shall lie among the slain. They shall die beneath my anger.
16 Yet the Lord pleads with you still: Ask where the good road is, the godly paths you used to walk in, in the days of long ago. Travel there, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, “No, that is not the road we want!” 17 I set watchmen over you who warned you: “Listen for the sound of the trumpet! It will let you know when trouble comes.” But you said, “No! We won’t pay any attention!”
18-19 This, then, is my decree against my people: (Listen to it, distant lands; listen to it, O my people in Jerusalem; listen to it, all the earth!) I will bring evil upon this people; it will be the fruit of their own sin because they will not listen to me. They reject my law. 20 There is no use now in burning sweet incense from Sheba before me! Keep your expensive perfumes! I cannot accept your offerings; they have no sweet fragrance for me. 21 I will make an obstacle course of the pathway of my people; fathers and sons shall be frustrated; neighbors and friends shall collapse together. 22 The Lord God says: See the armies marching from the north—a great nation is rising against you. 23 They are a cruel, merciless people, fully armed, mounted for war. The noise of their army is like a roaring sea.
24 We have heard the fame of their armies, and we are weak with fright. Fright and pain have gripped us like that of women in travail. 25 Don’t go out to the fields! Don’t travel the roads! For the enemy is everywhere, ready to kill; we are terrorized at every turn.
26 O Jerusalem, pride of my people, put on mourning clothes and sit in ashes; weep bitterly as for an only son. For suddenly the destroying armies will be upon you.
27 Jeremiah, I have made you an assayer of metals that you may test this my people and determine their value. Listen to what they are saying and watch what they are doing. 28 Are they not the worst of rebels, full of evil talk against the Lord? They are insolent as brass, hard and cruel as iron. 29 The bellows blow fiercely; the refining fire grows hotter, but it can never cleanse them, for there is no pureness in them to bring out. Why continue the process longer? All is dross. No matter how hot the fire, they continue in their wicked ways. 30 I must label them “Impure, Rejected Silver,” and I have discarded them.