When you cry out for help, let your idols 1 help you! The wind blows them all away, 2 a breeze carries them away. 3 But the one who looks to me for help 4 will inherit the land and will have access to 5 my holy mountain.”
Is this really the kind of fasting I want? 1 Do I want a day when people merely humble themselves, 2 bowing their heads like a reed and stretching out 3 on sackcloth and ashes? Is this really what you call a fast, a day that is pleasing to the Lord?
They did not ask: ‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt, who brought us through the wilderness, through a land of desert sands and rift valleys, through a land of drought and deep darkness, 1 through a land in which no one travels, and where no one lives?’ 2
“Indeed, 1 long ago you threw off my authority and refused to be subject to me. 2 You said, ‘I will not serve you.’ 3 Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill and under every green tree, like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers. 4
You are like a wild female donkey brought up in the wilderness. In her lust she sniffs the wind to get the scent of a male. 1 No one can hold her back when she is in heat. None of the males need wear themselves out chasing after her. At mating time she is easy to find. 2
And you, Zion, city doomed to destruction, 1 you accomplish nothing 2 by wearing a beautiful dress, 3 decking yourself out in jewels of gold, and putting on eye shadow! 4 You are making yourself beautiful for nothing. Your lovers spurn you. They want to kill you. 5
In fact, 1 I hear a cry like that of a woman in labor, a cry of anguish like that of a woman giving birth to her first baby. It is the cry of Daughter Zion 2 gasping for breath, reaching out for help, 3 saying, “I am done in! 4 My life is ebbing away before these murderers!”
So like a lion from the thicket their enemies will kill them. Like a wolf from the desert they will destroy them. Like a leopard they will lie in wait outside their cities and totally destroy anyone who ventures out. 1 For they have rebelled so much and done so many unfaithful things. 2
Then the Lord said, 1 “As for you, Jeremiah, 2 do not pray for these people! Do not cry out to me or petition me on their behalf! Do not plead with me to save them, 3 because I will not listen to you.
Children are gathering firewood, fathers are building fires with it, and women are mixing dough to bake cakes to offer to the goddess they call the Queen of Heaven. 1 They are also pouring out drink offerings to other gods. They seem to do all this just 2 to trouble me.
They will be spread out and exposed to the sun, the moon and the stars. 1 These are things they 2 adored and served, things to which they paid allegiance, 3 from which they sought guidance, and worshiped. The bones of these people 4 will never be regathered and reburied. They will be like manure used to fertilize the ground. 5
I hear my dear people 1 crying out 2 throughout the length and breadth of the land. 3 They are crying, ‘Is the Lord no longer in Zion? Is her divine King 4 no longer there?’” The Lord answers, 5 “Why then do they provoke me to anger with their images, with their worthless foreign idols?” 6
The Lord says, 1 “These people are like soldiers who have readied their bows. Their tongues are always ready to shoot out lies. 2 They have become powerful in the land, but they have not done so by honest means. 3 Indeed, they do one evil thing after another 4 and do not pay attention to me. 5
If people want to boast, they should boast about this: They should boast that they understand and know me. They should boast that they know and understand that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth and that I desire people to do these things,” 1 says the Lord.
Hammered-out silver is brought from Tarshish 1 and gold is brought from Uphaz 2 to cover those idols. 3 They are the handiwork of carpenters and goldsmiths. 4 They are clothed in blue and purple clothes. 5 They are all made by skillful workers. 6
When his voice thunders, 1 the heavenly ocean roars. He makes the clouds rise from the far-off horizons. 2 He makes the lightning flash out in the midst of the rain. He unleashes the wind from the places where he stores it. 3
But they did not listen to me or pay any attention to me! Each one of them followed the stubborn inclinations of his own wicked heart. So I brought on them all the punishments threatened in the covenant because they did not carry out its terms as I commanded them to do.’” 1
Then those living in the towns of Judah and in Jerusalem will 1 go and cry out for help to the gods to whom they have been sacrificing. However, those gods will by no means 2 be able to save them when disaster strikes them.
The Lord answered, 1 “If you have raced on foot against men and they have worn you out, how will you be able to compete with horses? And if you feel secure only 2 in safe and open country, 3 how will you manage in the thick undergrowth along the Jordan River? 4
If I go out into the countryside, I see those who have been killed in battle. If I go into the city, I see those who are sick because of starvation. 1 For both prophet and priest go about their own business in the land without having any real understanding.’” 2