God's Loathing For Sin And Mercy On Those Who Give It Up; And The Imprisonment Of Jeremiah

This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 9 (of 10) in Section 8: "The predictions Old Testament prophets gave of total disaster at the hands of invaders as a punishment from God for their sins".

Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The purpose of the Old Testament seems to have been mainly to try to scare lawless societies into behaving decently, giving up the cruel ways the Bible says they were guilty of. Hence much of the gruesomeness, which is at least in part meant to warn people committing cruel and hurtful actions to change.

If you'd like to read passages that are mainly from the New Testament about sin and God's mercy, as well as about what Jesus said about his return at the end of the world, visit Avoiding Sin And Loving One Another; God's Mercy; And The Return Of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel prophesied:

Ezekiel chapter 33 (TEV)

1 The Lord spoke to me. 2 "Mortal man," he said, "tell your people what happens when I bring war to a land. The people of that country choose one of their number to be a lookout. 3 When he sees the enemy approaching, he sounds the alarm to warn everyone. 4 If someone hears it but pays no attention and the enemy comes and kills him, then he is to blame for his own death. 5 His death is his own fault, because he paid no attention to the warning. If he had paid attention, he could have escaped. 6 If, however, the lookout sees the enemy coming and does not sound the alarm, the enemy will come and kill those sinners, but I will hold the lookout responsible for their death.

7 "Now, mortal man, I am making you a lookout for the nation of Israel. You must pass on to them the warnings I give you. 8 If I announce that an evil person is going to die but you do not warn him to change his ways so that he can save his life, then he will die, still a sinner, and I will hold you responsible for his death. 9 If you do warn an evil person and he doesn't stop sinning, he will die, still a sinner, but your life will be spared."

10 The Lord spoke to me. "Mortal man," he said, "repeat to the Israelites what they are saying: "We are burdened with our sins and the wrongs we have done. We are wasting away. How can we live?' 11 Tell them that as surely as I, the Sovereign Lord, am the living God, I do not enjoy seeing sinners die. I would rather see them stop sinning and live. Israel, stop the evil you are doing. Why do you want to die?

12 "Now, mortal man, tell the Israelites that when someone good sins, the good he has done will not save him. If an evil person stops doing evil, he won't be punished, and if a good man starts sinning, his life will not be spared. 13 I may promise life to someone good, but if he starts thinking that his past goodness is enough and begins to sin, I will not remember any of the good he did. He will die because of his sins. 14 I may warn someone evil that he is going to die, but if he stops sinning and does what is right and good- 15 for example, if he returns the security he took for a loan or gives back what he stole-if he stops sinning and follows the laws that give life, he will not die, but live. 16 I will forgive the sins he has committed, and he will live because he has done what is right and good.

17 "And your people say that what I do isn't right! No, it's their way that isn't right. 18 When someone righteous stops doing good and starts doing evil, he will die for it. 19 When someone evil quits sinning and does what is right and good, he has saved his life. 20 But Israel, you say that what I do isn't right. I am going to judge you by what you do."

Ezekiel chapter 17 (CEV)

11 The LORD said:
12 Ezekiel, Tell them that the king of Babylonia came to Jerusalem, then he captured the king of Judah and his officials, and took them back to Babylon as prisoners. 13 He chose someone from the family of Judah's king and signed a treaty with him, then made him swear to be loyal. He also led away other important citizens, 14 so that the rest of the people of Judah would obey only him and never gain control of their own country again. 15 But this new king of Judah later rebelled against Babylonia and sent officials to Egypt to get horses and troops. Will this king be successful in breaking the treaty with Babylonia? Or will he be punished for what he's done? 16 As surely as I am the living LORD God, I swear that the king of Judah will die in Babylon, because he broke the treaty with the king of Babylonia, who appointed him king. 17 Even the king of Egypt and his powerful army will be useless to Judah when the Babylonians attack and build dirt ramps to invade the cities of Judah and kill its people. 18 The king of Judah broke his own promises and ignored the treaty with Babylonia. And so he will be punished! 19 He made a promise in my name and swore to honor the treaty. And now that he has broken that promise, my name is disgraced. He must pay for what he's done. 20 I will spread out a net to trap him. Then I will drag him to Babylon and see that he is punished for his unfaithfulness to me. 21 His best troops will be killed in battle, and the survivors will be scattered in every direction.

Ezekiel chapter 20 (CEV)

1 Seven years after King Jehoiachin and the rest of us had been led away as prisoners to Babylonia, some of Israel's leaders came to me on the tenth day of the fifth month. They sat down and asked for a message from the LORD. 2 Just then, the LORD God said:
3 Ezekiel, son of man, these leaders have come to find out what I want them to do. As surely as I live, I will not give them an answer of any kind. 4 Are you willing to warn them, Ezekiel? Then remind them of the disgusting sins of their ancestors. 5 Tell them that long ago I, the LORD God, chose Israel to be my own. I appeared to their ancestors in Egypt and made a solemn promise that I would be their God and the God of their descendants. 6 I swore that I would rescue them from Egypt and lead them to a land I had already chosen. This land was rich with milk and honey and was the most splendid land of all. 7 I told them to get rid of their disgusting idols and not to sin by worshiping the gods of Egypt. I reminded them that I was the LORD their God, 8 but they still rebelled against me. They refused to listen and kept on worshiping their idols and foreign gods.

Ezekiel chapter 20 (TEV)

8 I was ready to let them feel the full force of my anger there in Egypt. 9 But I did not, since that would have brought dishonor to my name, for in the presence of the people among whom they were living I had announced to Israel that I was going to lead them out of Egypt.

10 "And so I led them out of Egypt into the desert. 11 I gave them my commands and taught them my laws, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. 12 I made the keeping of the Sabbath a sign of the agreement between us, to remind them that I, the Lord, make them holy.
13 But even in the desert they defied me. They broke my laws and rejected my commands, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. They completely profaned the Sabbath. I was ready to let them feel the force of my anger there in the desert and to destroy them. 14 But I did not, since that would have brought dishonor to my name among the nations which had seen me lead Israel out of Egypt. 15 So I made a vow in the desert that I would not take them to the land I had given them, a rich and fertile land, the finest land of all. 16 I made the vow because they had rejected my commands, broken my laws, and profaned the Sabbath-they preferred to worship their idols.

17 "But then I took pity on them. I decided not to kill them there in the desert. 18 Instead, I warned the young people among them: Do not keep the laws your ancestors made; do not follow their customs or defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God. Obey my laws and my commands. 20 Make the Sabbath a holy day, so that it will be a sign of the covenant we made, and will remind you that I am the Lord your God.

21 "But that generation also defied me. They broke my laws and did not keep my commands, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. They profaned the Sabbath. I was ready to let them feel the force of my anger there in the desert and to kill them all. 22 But I did not, since that would have brought dishonor to my name among the nations which had seen me bring Israel out of Egypt. 23 So I made another vow in the desert.

Ezekiel chapter 20 (GWT)

23 I promised to scatter them among the nations and force them into other countries. 24 They didn't follow my rules, and they rejected my laws. They dishonored the days to worship me, and they looked to their ancestors' disgusting idols for help. 25 I also allowed them to follow laws that were no good and rules by which they could not live. 26 I let them dishonor themselves when they sacrificed all their firstborn sons as gifts [to their false gods]. I terrified them so that they would know that I am the LORD.'

27 "Speak to the nation of Israel, son of man. Tell them, 'This is what the Almighty LORD says:
Your ancestors insulted me again because they were unfaithful to me. 28 I brought them to the land that I promised to give them. When they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, they made sacrifices and brought offerings there to make me angry. There they offered their sacrifices and poured out their wine offerings.

30 "Tell the nation of Israel, 'This is what the Almighty LORD says: Will you dishonor yourselves the way your ancestors did? Will you chase their detestable idols like a prostitute? 31 You offer your children as sacrifices by burning them alive. You dishonor yourselves with all your disgusting idols to this day. Should you be allowed to ask me for help, nation of Israel? "'As I live, declares the Almighty LORD, you won't be allowed to ask me for help.

Examples of the Kinds of Problems People Living Today Need to Help Resolve or Stop Causing, in Accordance With What the Bible's Trying to Teach Here

Modern Examples of Ritual Killings and Animal Sacrifice

The prophet Ezekiel prophesied:

Ezekiel chapter 20 (NLT)

39 this is what the Sovereign LORD says: If you insist, go right ahead and worship your idols, but then don't turn around and bring gifts to me. Such desecration of my holy name must stop! 40 For on my holy mountain, says the Sovereign LORD, the people of Israel will someday worship me, and I will accept them. There I will require that you bring me all your offerings and choice gifts and sacrifices. 41 When I bring you home from exile, you will be as pleasing to me as an offering of perfumed incense. And I will display my holiness in you as all the nations watch. 42 Then when I have brought you home to the land I promised your ancestors, you will know that I am the LORD. 43 You will look back at all your sins and hate yourselves because of the evil you have done. 44 You will know that I am the LORD, O people of Israel, when I have honored my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness, says the Sovereign LORD."

Ezekiel chapter 21 (NLT)

18 Then this message came to me from the LORD: 19 "Son of man, make a map and trace two routes on it for the sword of Babylon's king to follow. Put a signpost on the road that comes out of Babylon where the road forks into two - 20 one road going to Ammon and its capital, Rabbah, and the other to Judah and fortified Jerusalem. 21 The king of Babylon now stands at the fork, uncertain whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbah. He will call his magicians to use divination. They will cast lots by shaking arrows from the quiver. They will inspect the livers of their animal sacrifices. 22 Then they will decide to turn toward Jerusalem! With battering rams they will go against the gates, shouting for the kill. They will put up siege towers and build ramps against the walls to reach the top. 23 The people of Jerusalem will think it is a mistake, because of their treaty with the Babylonians. But the king of Babylon will remind the people of their rebellion. Then he will attack and capture them.

24 "Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Again and again your guilt cries out against you, for you are not ashamed of your sin. You don't even try to hide it! Wherever you go, whatever you do, all your actions are filled with sin. So now the time of your punishment has come!

25 "O you corrupt and wicked prince of Israel, your final day of reckoning is here! 26 Take off your jeweled crown, says the Sovereign LORD. The old order changes - now the lowly are exalted, and the mighty are brought low.

Ezekiel chapter 15 (TEV)

1 The Lord spoke to me. 2 "Mortal man," he said, "how does a vine compare with a tree? What good is a branch of a grapevine compared with the trees of the forest? 3 Can you use it to make anything? Can you even make a peg out of it to hang things on? 4 It is only good for building a fire. And when the ends are burned up and the middle is charred, can you make anything out of it? 5 It was useless even before it was burned. Now that the fire has burned it and charred it, it is even more useless."

6 Now this is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: "Just as a vine is taken from the forest and burned, so I will take the people who live in Jerusalem 7 and will punish them. They have escaped one fire, but now fire will burn them up. When I punish them, you will know that I am the Lord. 8 They have been unfaithful to me, and so I will make the country a wilderness." The Sovereign Lord has spoken.

Ezekiel chapter 23 (NLT)

37 They have committed both adultery and murder - adultery by worshiping idols and murder by burning their children as sacrifices on their altars. 38 Then after doing these terrible things, they defiled my Temple and violated my Sabbath day! 39 On the very day that they murdered their children in front of their idols, they boldly came into my Temple to worship! They came in and defiled my house!

46 "Now this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Bring an army against them and hand them over to be terrorized and plundered. 47 For their enemies will stone them and kill them with swords. They will butcher their sons and daughters and burn their homes. 48 In this way, I will put an end to lewdness and idolatry in the land, and my judgment will be a warning to others not to follow their wicked example.

Ezekiel chapter 11 (CEV)

1 The LORD's Spirit lifted me up and took me to the east gate of the temple, where I saw twenty-five men, including the two leaders, Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah. 2 The LORD said, "Ezekiel, son of man, these men are making evil plans and giving dangerous advice to the people of Jerusalem. 3 They say things like, 'Let's build more houses. This city is like a cooking pot over a fire, and we are the meat, but at least the pot keeps us from being burned in the fire.' 4 So, Ezekiel, condemn them!"
5 The LORD's Spirit took control of me and told me to tell these leaders: I, the LORD God, know what you leaders are saying. 6 You have murdered so many people that the city is filled with dead bodies! 7 This city is indeed a cooking pot, but the bodies of those you killed are the meat. And so I will force you to leave Jerusalem, 8 and I'll send armies to attack you, just as you fear. 9 Then you will be captured and punished by foreign enemies. 10 You will be killed in your own country, but not before you realize that I, the LORD, have done these things. 11 You leaders claim to be meat in a cooking pot, but you won't be protected by this city. No, you will die at the border of Israel. 12 You will realize that while you were following the laws of nearby nations, you were disobeying my laws and teachings. And I am the LORD!

13 Before I finished speaking, Pelatiah dropped dead. I bowed down and cried out, "Please, LORD God, don't kill everyone left in Israel."

Ezekiel chapter 9 (NLT)

9 Then he said to me, "The sins of the people of Israel and Judah are very great. The entire land is full of murder; the city is filled with injustice. They are saying, 'The LORD doesn't see it! The LORD has forsaken the land!' 10 So I will not spare them or have any pity on them. I will fully repay them for all they have done."

Ezekiel chapter 14 (CEV)

6 Now, Ezekiel, tell everyone in Israel:
I am the LORD God. Stop worshiping your disgusting idols and come back to me. 7 Suppose one of you Israelites or a foreigner living in Israel rejects me and starts worshiping idols. If you then go to a prophet to find out what I say, I will answer 8 by turning against you. I will make you a warning to anyone who might think of doing the same thing, and you will no longer belong to my people. Then you will know that I am the LORD and that you have sinned against me. 9 If a prophet gives a false message, I am the one who caused that prophet to lie. But I will still reject him and cut him off from my people, 10 and anyone who goes to that prophet for a message will be punished in the same way. 11 I will do this, so that you will come back to me and stop destroying yourselves with these disgusting sins. So turn back to me! Then I will be your God, and you will be my people. I, the LORD God, make this promise.

Ezekiel chapter 6 (TEV)

4 The altars will be torn down and the incense altars broken. All the people there will be killed in front of their idols. 5 I will scatter the corpses of the people of Israel; I will scatter their bones all around the altars. 6 All the cities of Israel will be destroyed, so that all their altars and their idols will be smashed to pieces, their incense altars will be shattered, and everything they made will disappear. 7 People will be killed everywhere, and those who survive will acknowledge that I am the Lord.

8 "I will let some escape the slaughter and be scattered among the nations, 9 where they will live in exile. There they will remember me and know that I have punished them and disgraced them, because their faithless hearts deserted me and they preferred idols to me. And they will be disgusted with themselves because of the evil and degrading things they have done. 10 They will know that I am the Lord and that my warnings were not empty threats."

11 The Sovereign Lord said, "Wring your hands! Stamp your feet! Cry in sorrow because of all the evil, disgusting things the Israelites have done. They are going to die in war or of starvation or disease. 12 Those far away will get sick and die; those nearby will be killed in war; those who survive will starve to death. They will feel all the force of my anger. 13 Corpses will be scattered among the idols and around the altars, scattered on every high hill, on the top of every mountain, under every green tree and every large oak, in every place where they burned sacrifices to their idols. Then everyone will know that I am the Lord. 14 Yes, I will reach out and destroy their country. I will make it a wasteland from the southern desert to the city of Riblah in the north, not sparing any place where the Israelites live. Then everyone will know that I am the Lord."

Examples of the Kinds of Problems People Living Today Need to Help Resolve or Stop Causing, in Accordance With What the Bible's Trying to Teach Here

Allegations of Human Sacrifice in India and Nigeria in Modern Times

The prophet Ezekiel prophesied:

Ezekiel chapter 16 (NLT)

1 Then another message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her loathsome sins. 3 Give her this message from the Sovereign LORD:

46 "Your older sister was Samaria, who lived with her daughters in the north. Your younger sister was Sodom, who lived with her daughters in the south. 47 But you have not merely sinned as they did - no, that was nothing to you. In a very short time you far surpassed them! 48 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, Sodom and her daughters were never as wicked as you and your daughters. 49 Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. 50 She was proud and did loathsome things, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.

51 "Even Samaria did not commit half your sins. You have done far more loathsome things than your sisters ever did. They seem righteous compared to you! 52 You should be deeply ashamed because your sins are so terrible. In comparison, you make your sisters seem innocent!

53 "But someday I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and Samaria, and I will restore you, too. 54 Then you will be truly ashamed of everything you have done, for your sins make them feel good in comparison.

Ezekiel chapter 24 (NLT)

1 On January 15, during the ninth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, this message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of man, write down today's date, because on this very day the king of Babylon is beginning his attack against Jerusalem. 3 Then show these rebels an illustration; give them a message from the Sovereign LORD. Put a pot of water on the fire to boil. 4 Fill it with choice meat - the rump and the shoulder and all the most tender cuts. 5 Use only the best sheep from the flock and heap fuel on the fire beneath the pot. Bring the pot to a boil, and cook the bones along with the meat.

6 "Now this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Destruction is certain for Jerusalem, the city of murderers! She is a pot filled with corruption. So take the meat out chunk by chunk in whatever order it comes, 7 for her wickedness is evident to all. She murders boldly, leaving blood on the rocks for all to see. She doesn't even try to cover it! 8 So I will splash her blood on a rock as an open expression of my anger and vengeance against her.

9 "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Destruction is certain for Jerusalem, the city of murderers! I myself will pile up the fuel beneath her. 10 Yes, heap on the wood! Let the fire roar to make the pot boil. Cook the meat well with many spices. Then empty the pot and burn the bones. 11 Now set the empty pot on the coals to scorch away the filth and corruption. 12 But it's hopeless; the corruption remains. So throw it into the fire! 13 It is the filth and corruption of your lewdness and idolatry. And now, because I tried to cleanse you but you refused, you will remain filthy until my fury against you has been satisfied. 14 I, the LORD, have spoken! The time has come and I won't hold back; I will not change my mind. You will be judged on the basis of all your wicked actions, says the Sovereign LORD."

Ezekiel chapter 14 (NIV)

12 The word of the LORD came to me: 13 "Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, 14 even if these three men-Noah, Daniel and Job-were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD .

15 "Or if I send wild beasts through that country and they leave it childless and it becomes desolate so that no one can pass through it because of the beasts, 16 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD , even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate.

17 "Or if I bring a sword against that country and say, 'Let the sword pass throughout the land,' and I kill its men and their animals, 18 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD , even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.

19 "Or if I send a plague into that land and pour out my wrath upon it through bloodshed, killing its men and their animals, 20 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD , even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness.

21 "For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments-sword and famine and wild beasts and plague-to kill its men and their animals! 22 Yet there will be some survivors-sons and daughters who will be brought out of it. They will come to you, and when you see their conduct and their actions, you will be consoled regarding the disaster I have brought upon Jerusalem-every disaster I have brought upon it. 23 You will be consoled when you see their conduct and their actions, for you will know that I have done nothing in it without cause, declares the Sovereign LORD ."

In the Book of Jeremiah, the Bible says:

Jeremiah chapter 37 (TEV)

1 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia made Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah in the place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim. 2 But neither Zedekiah nor his officials nor the people obeyed the message which the Lord had given me. 3 King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to ask me to pray to the Lord our God on behalf of our nation. 4 I had not yet been put in prison and was still moving about freely among the people. 5 The Babylonian army had been besieging Jerusalem, but when they heard that the Egyptian army had crossed the Egyptian border, they retreated. 6 Then the Lord, the God of Israel, told me 7 to say to Zedekiah, "The Egyptian army is on its way to help you, but it will return home. 8 Then the Babylonians will come back, attack the city, capture it, and burn it down. 9 I, the Lord, warn you not to deceive yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians will not come back, because they will. 10 Even if you defeat the whole Babylonian army, so that only wounded men are left, lying in their tents, they would still get up and burn this city to the ground."

11 The Babylonian army retreated from Jerusalem because the Egyptian army was approaching. 12 So I started to leave Jerusalem and go to the territory of Benjamin to take possession of my share of the family property. 13 But when I reached the Benjamin Gate, the officer in charge of the soldiers on duty there, a man by the name of Irijah, the son of Shelemiah and grandson of Hananiah, stopped me and said, "You are deserting to the Babylonians!" 14 I answered, "That's not so! I'm not deserting."

But Irijah would not listen to me. Instead, he arrested me and took me to the officials. 15 They were furious with me and had me beaten and locked up in the house of Jonathan, the court secretary, whose house had been made into a prison. 16 I was put in an underground cell and kept there a long time. 17 Later on King Zedekiah sent for me, and there in the palace he asked me privately, "Is there any message from the Lord?"

"There is," I answered, and added, "You will be handed over to the king of Babylonia."

18 Then I asked, "What crime have I committed against you or your officials or this people, to make you put me in prison? 19 What happened to your prophets who told you that the king of Babylonia would not attack you or the country?
20 And now, Your Majesty, I beg you to listen to me and do what I ask. Please do not send me back to the prison in Jonathan's house. If you do, I will surely die there."

21 So King Zedekiah ordered me to be locked up in the palace courtyard. I stayed there, and each day I was given a loaf of bread from the bakeries until all the bread in the city was gone.

The next file in this section (Part 10), is entitled: "The Capture Of Jerusalem; Advice For The Captives; And More Prophecies, Including Predictions Of The Destruction Of Babylon And The Rise Of A New Emperor".

If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials: