Jeremiah Chapter 17 to 19 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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Guilt Written on the Heart

17 “The sins of the people of Judah are written down in a place where they can’t be erased. Those sins were cut into stone with an iron pen. Their sins were cut into stone with a diamond tipped pen.* And that stone is their heart. Those sins were cut into the horns of their altars.* 2Their children remember the altars that were dedicated to false gods. They remember the wooden poles that were dedicated to Asherah.* They remember those things under the green trees and on the hills. 3They remember those things on the mountains in the open country. The people of Judah have many treasures. I will give those things to other people. People will destroy all the high places* in your country. You worshiped at those places. And that was a sin. 4You will lose the land I gave you. I will let your enemies take you to be their slaves. Why? Because I am very angry. My anger is like a hot fire, and you will be burned forever.”

Trusting in People, and Trusting in God

5The Lord says these things: “Bad things will happen to people that trust only other people. Bad things will happen to people that depend on other people for strength. Why? Because those people have stopped trusting the Lord. 6Those people are like a bush in a desert. That bush is in a land where no people live. That bush is in a hot and dry land. That bush is in a bad soil. That bush does not know about the good things that God can give. 7But the person that trusts in the Lord will be blessed. Why? Because the Lord will show him that the Lord can be trusted. 8That person will be strong like a tree planted near water. That tree has large roots that find the water. That tree is not afraid when the days are hot. Its leaves are always green. It does not worry in a year when no rain comes. That tree always produces fruit. 9“A person’s mind is very tricky! The mind can be very sick, and no person truly understands it. 10But I am the Lord, and I can look into a person’s heart. I can test a person’s mind. I can decide what each person should have. I can give each person the right payment for the things he does. 11Sometimes a bird will hatch an egg that it did not lay. A person that cheats to get money is like that bird. When that man’s life is half finished, he will lose the money. At the end of his life, it will be clear that he was a foolish person.” 12From the very beginning, our temple* has been a glorious throne for God. It is a very important place. 13Lord, you are the hope of Israel. Lord, you are like a spring of living water. If a person quits following the Lord, then his life will be very short.*

Jeremiah’s Third Complaint

14Lord, if you heal me, I truly will be healed. Save me, and I truly will be saved. Lord, I praise you! 15The people of Judah continue to ask me questions. They say, “Jeremiah, what about the message from the Lord? Let’s see that message come true.” 16Lord, I did not run away from you. I followed you. I became the shepherd* you wanted. I did not want the terrible day to come. Lord, you know the things I said. You see all that is happening. 17Lord, don’t ruin me. I depend on you in times of trouble. 18People are hurting me. Make those people ashamed. But don’t disappoint me. Let those people be scared. But don’t scare me. Bring the terrible day of disaster to my enemies. Break them. And break them again.

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

19The Lord said these things to me: “Jeremiah, go and stand at the People’s Gate,* where the kings of Judah go in and out. {Tell the people my message, and then} go to all the other gates of Jerusalem and do the same things.” 20Say to those people: “Listen to the message of the Lord. Listen, kings of Judah. Listen, all you people of Judah. All you people that come through these gates into Jerusalem, listen to me! 21The Lord says these things: Be careful that you don’t carry a load on the Sabbath* day. And don’t bring a load through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. 22Don’t bring a load out of your houses on the Sabbath day. Don’t do any work on that day. You must make the Sabbath day a holy day. I gave this same command to your ancestors.* 23But your ancestors did not obey me. They did not pay attention to me. Your ancestors were very stubborn. I punished them, but it did not do any good. They did not listen to me. 24But you must be careful to obey me.” This message is from the Lord. “You must not bring a load through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath. You must make the Sabbath day a holy day. You will do this by not doing any work on that day. 25“If you obey this command, then kings that sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of Jerusalem. Those kings will come riding on chariots* and on horses. The leaders of the people of Judah and Jerusalem will be with those kings. And Jerusalem will have people living in it forever! 26People will come to Jerusalem from the towns of Judah. People will come to Jerusalem from the little villages that are around it. People will come from the land where the family group of Benjamin lives.* People will come from the western foothills and from the hill country. And people will come from the Negev.* All those people will bring burnt offerings, sacrifices, grains offerings, incense,* and thank offerings. They will bring those offerings and sacrifices to the temple of the Lord. 27“But if you don’t listen to me and obey me, then bad things will happen. If you carry loads into Jerusalem on the Sabbath* day, then you are not keeping it a holy day. So I will start a fire that can’t be put out. That fire will start at the gates of Jerusalem, and it will burn until it burns even the palaces.*”

diamond tipped pen Or, “flint-tipped pen.” horns of their altars The corners of altars were shaped like horns. This was like a place of safety for the people. If a person did something wrong, he could run to the altar. People could punish them only if they proved the person was guilty. Here Jeremiah is saying that there is no safe place for the people of Judah. Asherah An important Canaanite goddess. At this time, the people thought she was the wife of Baal. high places Special places where the people worshiped false gods. These places were often on hilltops, but not always. Some ‘high places’ were in valleys.  temple The special building in Jerusalem for Jewish worship. his life will be very short Literally, “He will be written in the dirt.” This might mean a person’s name was written on a list of people that would soon die. Or that a person’s life will soon be gone—like a name written in the sand. shepherd God’s people are sometimes called his “sheep,” and the person that takes care of them is called the “shepherd.” People’s Gate This might be one of the gates into Jerusalem or perhaps one of the southern gates the non-priests used to go up into the temple. Sabbath Saturday, a special day of rest and worship for Jews. ancestors Literally, “fathers,” meaning a person’s parents, grandparents, and all the people they are descended from. chariot(s) A small wagon used in war. the land where … Benjamin lives The land of Benjamin was just north of the land of Judah. Negev The desert area south of Judah. incense Special dried tree sap. Burned to make a sweetsmelling smoke, it was offered as a gift to God. palaces A large house for the king and his family.

The Potter and the Clay

18 This is the message that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2“Jeremiah, go down to the potter’s* house. I will give you my message at the potter’s house.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house. I saw the potter working with clay at the wheel. 4He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot. So the potter used that clay again, and he made another pot. He used his hands to shape the pot the way that he wanted it to be. 5Then the message from the Lord came to me: 6“Family of Israel, you know that I (God) can do the same thing with you. You are like the clay in the potter’s* hands. And I am like the potter! 7There may come a time that I will speak about a nation or a kingdom. I may say that I will pull that nation up. Or maybe I will say that I will pull that nation down and destroy that nation or kingdom. 8But the people of that nation might change their hearts and lives. The people in that nation might stop doing evil things. Then I would change my mind. I would not follow my plans to bring disaster to that nation. 9There might come another time when I speak about a nation. I might say that I will build up and plant that nation. 10But I might see that nation doing evil things and not obeying me. Then I would think again about the good I had planned to do for that nation. 11“So, Jeremiah, say to the people of Judah and the people that live in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am preparing troubles for you right now. I am making plans against you. So stop doing the evil things that you are doing. Each person must change and start doing good things!’ 12But the people of Judah will answer, ‘It will not do any good to try. We will continue to do what we want. Each of us is going to do the things his stubborn, evil heart wants.’” 13Listen to the things the Lord says: “Ask the other nations this question: ‘Have you ever heard of anyone doing the evil things Israel has done?’ And Israel is special to God. Israel is like God’s bride! 14You know that rocks never leave the fields by themselves.* You know that the snow on the mountains of Lebanon never melts. You know that cool, flowing streams do not become dry. 15But my people have forgotten about me. They make offerings to worthless idols. My people stumble in the things they do. They stumble about in the old paths of their ancestors.* My people would rather walk along back roads and poor highways, than to follow me on the good roads. 16So Judah’s country will become an empty desert. People will whistle and shake their heads every time they pass by. They will be shocked at how the country was destroyed. 17I will scatter the people of Judah. They will run from their enemies. I will scatter the people of Judah like an east wind that blows things away. I will destroy those people. They won’t see me coming to help them. No! They will see me leaving!”

Jeremiah’s Fourth Complaint

18Then the enemies of Jeremiah said, “Come, let us make plans against Jeremiah. Surely the teaching of the law by the priest will not be lost. And the advice from the wise men will still be with us. We will still have the words of the prophets. So let us tell lies about him. That will ruin him. We will not pay attention to anything he says.” 19Lord, listen to me! Listen to my arguments and decide who is right. 20I have been good to the people of Judah. But now they are paying me back with evil. They are trying to trap me and kill me. 21So make their children starve in a famine.* Let their enemies defeat them with swords. Let their wives be without children. Let the men from Judah be put to death. Make their wives into widows. Let the men from Judah be put to death. Let the young men be killed in battle. 22Let there be crying in their houses. Make them cry when you suddenly bring an enemy against them. Let all this happen because my enemies tried to trap me. They hid traps for me to step in. 23Lord, you know about their plans to kill me. Don’t forgive their crimes. Don’t erase their sins. Destroy my enemies! Punish those people while you are angry!

potter’s Someone that makes pottery (jars, bowls, etc.) from clay. The Hebrew word also means, “Creator, or “a person that makes new things.” You know … themselves This is probably a word play. In Hebrew this sounds like, “Would anyone leave the Rock, Shaddai?” These are two names for God. But this could also be translated, “Does Lebanon’s snow ever melt from Shaddai’s mountain?” This would probably mean Mount Hermon. ancestors Literally, “fathers,” meaning a person’s parents, grandparents, and all the people they are descended from. famine A time when there is not enough rain for crops to grow. People and animals die without enough food or water.

The Broken Jar

19 The Lord said to me: “Jeremiah, go and buy a clay jar from a potter.* 2Go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the front of the Potsherd Gate.* Take some of the elders (leaders) of the people and some priests with you. At that place, tell them the things that I tell you. 3Say to those people with you, ‘King of Judah and people of Jerusalem, listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of the people of Israel, says: I will soon make a terrible thing happen to this place! Every person that hears about it will be amazed and full of fear. 4I will do these things because the people of Judah quit following me. They have made this a place for foreign gods. The people of Judah have burned sacrifices in this place to other gods. The people did not worship those gods long ago. Their ancestors* did not worship those gods. These are new gods from other countries. The kings of Judah filled this place with the blood of the innocent children. 5The kings of Judah built high places* for the god Baal.* They use those places to burn their sons in the fire. They burned their sons as burnt offerings to the god Baal. I did not tell them to do that. I did not ask you to offer your sons as sacrifices. I never even thought of such a thing. 6Now people call this place Topheth and the Valley of Hinnom. But, I give you this warning. This message is from the Lord: The days are coming, when people will call this place the Valley of Slaughter.* 7At this place, I will ruin the plans of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The enemy will chase these people. And I will let the people of Judah be killed with swords in this place. And I will make their dead bodies food for the birds and wild animals. 8I will completely destroy this city. People will whistle and shake their heads when they pass by Jerusalem. They will be shocked when they see how the city was destroyed. 9The enemy will bring its army around the city. That army will not let people go out to get food. So the people in the city will begin to starve. They will become so hungry that they will eat the bodies of their own sons and daughters. And then they will begin to eat each other.’ 10“Jeremiah, you will tell those things to the people. And while they are watching, you will break that jar. 11At that time, say these things: ‘The Lord All-Powerful says, I will break the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem just like someone breaking a clay jar! This jar can’t be put back together again. It will be the same for the nation of Judah. The dead people will be buried here in Topheth until there is no more room. 12I will do this to these people and to this place. I will make this city like Topheth.’ This message is from the Lord. 13‘The houses in Jerusalem will become as “dirty” as this place, Topheth. The kings’ palaces* will be ruined like this place, Topheth. Why? Because the people worshiped false gods on the roofs of those houses.* They worshiped the stars and burned sacrifices to honor them. They gave drink offerings to false gods.’” 14Then Jeremiah left Topheth where the Lord had told him to preach. Jeremiah went to the Lord’s temple* and stood in the courtyard* of the temple. Jeremiah said to all the people: 15“This is what the Lord All- Powerful, the God of Israel says: ‘I said I would bring many disasters to Jerusalem and the villages around it. I will soon make those things happen. Why? Because the people are very stubborn—they refused to listen and obey me.’”

potter A worker that makes things from clay. The Hebrew word also means “creator.” Potsherd Gate The exact location of this gate is not known, though it was probably at the southwestern part of the city. high places Special places where the people worshiped false gods. These places were often on hilltops, but not always. Some ‘high places’ were in valleys.  Baal The Canaanite people believed that this false god brought the rain and storms. They also thought that he made the land produce good crops. Slaughter Usually, this word means to kill an animal and cut it into pieces of meat. But it often means to kill people like they are animals. palace(s) A large house for the king and his family. roofs of those houses People built their house with a flat roof, and they used the roof like an extra room. temple The special building in Jerusalem for Jewish worship. courtyard The large area around the temple sanctuary.

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