Then Yahweh said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind would not turn toward this people. Cast them out of my sight, and let them go out! It will happen, when they ask you, ‘Where shall we go out?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Yahweh says:
“Such as are for death, to death;
such as are for the sword, to the sword;
such as are for the famine, to the famine;
and such as are for captivity, to captivity.” ’
“I will appoint over them four kinds,” says Yahweh: “the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, the birds of the sky, and the animals of the earth, to devour and to destroy. I will cause them to be tossed back and forth among all the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
God won’t allow His name to be trashed forever. Eventually, it’s payday. Jeremiah was seeking hope from God and I believe He was to receive it, but Judah was not. God was going to make sure that they felt the punishment. God’s decision to punish His people was so decisive, that even if Moses and Samuel were there asking for mercy on Israel, God would not change His mind.
God tells Jeremiah what to say to the people when they ask where they should go when God tells them to leave. God says that some of them will be for death, some for sword, some for famine and some for captivity. There were no good options here. God even assigns animals the task of eating them. He tells them that those who survive will be constantly being shifted between foreign countries.
God also tells us why the captives will be treated like this. He says it’s because of what Manasseh did in Jerusalem. Let’s look at that.
2 Kings 21:5-7
He built two altars to every star in the heavens in the two courts of the Lord’s Temple. He made his son into a burnt offering, practiced witchcraft, used divination, and consorted with mediums and spirit-channelers. He practiced many things that the Lord considered to be evil and provoked him.
He also erected the carved image of Asherah that he had made inside the Temple about which the Lord had spoken to David and to his son Solomon, “I will put my Name forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all of the tribes of Israel.
Manasseh was the guy who aborted his son, got spiritual and added new religious options in Israel and the temple. This was many, many years before and God didn’t forget. God remembers every sin until it is punished. That’s because He is a perfect judge. God will eventually take His place as God and make it clear to everyone that He cannot be mocked. We don’t come to Jesus just to have a better life. We come to Him to keep us from the punishment that we deserve for the sin that God will not forget.