12 You will be in the right, O Yahweh, when I complain to you.
Even so, let me speak my claims with you.
Why does the way of the wicked succeed?
All those who deal treacherously with treachery are at ease.
2 Not only do you plant them, they take root.
They grow, but also they produce fruit.
You are near in their mouths,
but far from their inmost beings.
3 But you, O Yahweh, you know me,
you see me, and you test that my heart is with you.
Tear them apart like sheep for the slaughtering,
and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
4 How long will the land mourn, and the vegetation of every field dry up,
because of the wickedness of those who live in it?
The animals and the birds are swept away,
because they have said, “He does not see our future.”
The Lord’s Reply
5 “If you run with foot soldiers and they have made you weary,
then how will you compete with horses?
If you have fallen in a peaceful land,
then how will you do in the thickets of the Jordan?
6 For even your relatives, and the house of your father,
even they have dealt treacherously with you,
even they call loudly after you.
You must not trust in them, though they speak kindly to you.
7 I have forsaken my house, I have abandoned my inheritance.
I have given the beloved one of my heart into the hand of her enemies.
8 My inheritance has become to me like a lion in the forest.
She has lifted up against me her voice; therefore I hate her.
9 The lair of the hyena is my inheritance to me,
the birds of prey are all around her.
Go, gather all of the animals of the field,
bring them to come and devour.
10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard,
they have trampled down my plot of land.
They have made my pleasant field
like the desert of desolation.
11 They have made it a desolation.
Desolate, it mourns to me.
All the land is made desolate,
but there is no person taking it to heart.
12 Upon all the barren heights in the desert destroyers have come,
for the sword of Yahweh devours,
from one end of the land to the other end of the land,
there is no peace for all flesh.
13 They have sown wheat and they have reaped thorns.
They are exhausted, they do not profit.
And they will be ashamed of your produce,
because of the burning anger of Yahweh.”
14 Thus says Yahweh concerning all of the evil neighbors who touch the inheritance that I gave as an inheritance to my people Israel: “Look, I am about to drive them out from their land, and the house of Judah I will drive out from among them. 15 And then after my driving them out, I will once again have compassion on them, and I will bring them back, each one to his inheritance, and each one to his land. 16 And then, if they diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ‘as Yahweh lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they will live in the midst of my people. 17 But if they do not listen, then I will completely uproot and destroy that nation.” declares Yahweh.
The Linen Loincloth
13 Thus Yahweh said to me: “Go and buy for yourself a loincloth of linen and put it on your loins, but you must not place it in water.” 2 So I bought the loincloth according to the word of Yahweh and I put it on my loins.
3 Now the word of Yahweh came to me a second time, saying, 4 “Take the loincloth that you bought, that is on your loins, and stand up, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in the cleft of the rock.” 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates just as Yahweh had commanded me.
6 And then, after a long time, then Yahweh said to me, “Stand up, go to the Euphrates and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” 7 Then I went to the Euphrates and I dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it, and look, the loincloth was ruined; it was not good for anything.
8 And then the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 9 “Thus says Yahweh: ‘So I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, who refuse to listen to my words, who go in the stubbornness of their hearts, and have gone after other gods, to serve them, and to bow in worship to them, let them be like this loincloth which is not good for anything. 11 For as the loincloth clings to the loins of a person, so I caused to cling to me all the house of Israel and all the house of Judah,’ declares Yahweh, ‘to be for me a people, and a name, and a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.’
12 “Therefore, you shall say to them this word, ‘Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel: “Every jar must be filled with wine.” ’ And they will say to you, ‘Do we not certainly know that every jar should be filled with wine?’ 13 Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says Yahweh: “Look, I am about to fill all the inhabitants of this land, and the kings who sit on David’s throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with drunkenness. 14 And I will smash them, each one against his brother, and the fathers and the sons together,” declares Yahweh. “I will not have compassion, and I will not take pity, and I will not show compassion from destroying them.” ’ ”
15 Listen, and pay attention,
you must not be haughty, for Yahweh has spoken.
16 Give glory to Yahweh your God before he brings darkness,
and before your feet stumble on the mountains at twilight.
And you will hope for light, but he makes it as gloom,
he makes it as thick darkness.
17 But if you will not listen to it,
my inner self will weep in secret places,
because of the presence of your pride.
And my eyes will weep bitterly,
and they will melt in tears,
because the flock of Yahweh has been taken captive.
A Message for the King and the Queen Mother
18 “Say to the king and to the queen mother, ‘Take a lower seat,
for your beautiful crown has come down from your head.’
19 The towns of the Negev are shut up,
and there is no one who opens them.
All of Judah is deported;
it is deported in completeness.
20 Lift up your eyes
and see those coming from the north.
Where is the flock that was given to you,
your magnificent flock?
21 What will you say when he sets over you—
and you have taught them—allies as head over you?
Will not labor pains take hold of you,
like a woman giving birth?
22 And if you say in your heart,
‘Why have these things happened to me?’
Because of the greatness of your iniquity your skirts are uncovered;
your heels have endured violence.
23 Can a Cushite change his skin,
or a leopard his spots?
Then you also will be able to do good,
who are accustomed to doing evil.
24 And I will scatter them
like stubble scattered by the wind of the desert.
25 This is your lot,
the portion of your measure from me,” declares Yahweh,
“because you have forgotten me,
and you have trusted in the lie.
26 So in turn I will bare your skirts over your face,
and your shame will become visible.
27 Your adulteries, and your neighings,
the shameful behavior of your fornications
on the hills in the countryside,
I have seen your abominations.
Woe to you, O Jerusalem!
How long will you continue to be unclean?”
Paul’s Appeal for Onesimus
8 Therefore, although I have great confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, 9 instead I appeal to you because of love, since I am such a one as Paul, now an old man and also a prisoner of Christ Jesus. 10 I am appealing to you concerning my child whom I became the father of during my imprisonment, Onesimus. 11 Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful to you and to me, 12 whom I have sent back to you himself, that is, my heart, 13 whom I wanted to keep with me, in order that he might serve me on behalf of you during my imprisonment for the gospel. 14 But apart from your consent, I wanted to do nothing, in order that your good deed might be not as according to necessity, but according to your own free will. 15 For perhaps because of this, he was separated from you for a time, in order that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
Paul’s Request to Philemon
17 If therefore you consider me a partner, receive him as you would me. 18 But if in anything he has caused you loss or owes you anything, charge this to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will pay it back, lest I mention to you that you owe me even your very self besides. 20 Yes, brother, I ought to have some benefit of you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you because I know that you will do even beyond what I say. 22 At the same time also, prepare a guest room for me, for I hope that through your prayers I will be restored to you.
Final Greetings and Benediction
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
15 The simple will believe every word,
but the clever will consider his step.
16 The wise is cautious and turns from evil,
but the fool throws off restraint and is confident.
17 He who is short of temper will act foolishly,
and the man who schemes will be hated.
18 The simple are adorned with folly,
but the clever are crowned with knowledge.
19 The evil bow down before the good,
and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20 The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the lovers of the rich are many.
21 He who despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but he who has mercy on the poor blesses him.
22 Have they not erred, those who plan evil?
But loyalty and faithfulness belong to those who plan good.
23 In all toil, there is profit,
but the talk of lips leads only to poverty.
24 The crown of the wise is their wealth;
the folly of fools is folly.
25 He who saves lives is a witness of truth,
but he who utters lies is a betrayer.
26 In the fear of Yahweh, there is confidence of strength,
and for his children, there will be refuge.
27 The fear of Yahweh is a fountain of life,
in order to turn from the snares of death.
28 In the multitude of people is the glory of the king,
but without a population, a prince is ruined.
29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
but the hasty of spirit exalts folly.
30 A heart of tranquility is life to the flesh,
but causes bones of passion to rot.
31 He who oppresses the poor insults him who made him,
but he who has mercy on the poor honors him.
32 By his evildoing, the wicked will be overthrown,
and the righteous will find refuge in his death.
33 In the heart of him who has understanding, wisdom rests,
but even in the midst of fools it becomes known.
34 Righteousness will exalt a nation,
but sin is a reproach to a people.
35 The favor of a king is for the servant who deals wisely,
but his wrath will be on him who acts shamefully.
Although God has granted us complete access to Him through Christ, we struggle at times to live this reality (John 17:15–17). The stale or frightening depictions of God in stained glass and Renaissance paintings have convinced us that He is distant, quick to anger, or disinterested. Nothing could be further from the truth; the Psalms remind us that He is caring, close, and listening (e.g., Pss 22; 23; 26), and He yearns for a relationship with us.
Sometimes it helps to hear the words of others who have struggled with the same thing. Jeremiah provides us with such an example. He remarks, “You will be in the right, O Yahweh, when I complain to you. Even so, let me speak my claims with you. Why does the way of the wicked succeed? All those who deal treacherously with treachery are at ease” (Jer 12:1). Jeremiah knows that Yahweh is right in all He does, but this does not prevent him from freely expressing his concerns.
If we really look into our hearts, we may find that fear is preventing us from entering into an intimate relationship with Him. We’re afraid of what He will say; we’re concerned that He may rebuke us. Indeed, this is what He does when Jeremiah speaks to Him: “If you run with foot soldiers and they have made you weary, then how will you compete with horses? If you have fallen in a peaceful land, then how will you do in the thickets of the Jordan? For even your relatives, and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you, even they call loudly after you. You must not trust in them, though they speak kindly to you” (Jer 12:5–6). Yet within this rebuke, we also find advice—and the advice is comforting. By openly communicating his concerns to God, Jeremiah now knows what he must do. He knows how he must act.
There is joy to be found in knowing that we have a God who listens—a God who is not offended when we speak to Him but is eager for our company. What are we afraid of? After all, He already knows what’s on our minds. We need to grasp the idea that God is all about relationship.
What would change about your life if you went deeper into your relationship with Christ? What should you be asking God right now?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.