The Words of In Jin Moon from 2011
Good morning, brothers and sisters. How is everyone this morning? I just got back very late last night after spending some time with our True Parents in Las Vegas. Of course, they send their greetings and love to all of you. Whenever I spend time with our True Parents, I'm amazed at how much they love the American movement and the brothers and sisters. Even as our True Parents continue to pray for the quick recovery of Japan, they are always thinking about how we can revitalize the American movement and how we can inspire the American people to understand what a providential country this is.
God blessed America so that it can play a very crucial role in providence for the sake of the world. Father and Mother are always thinking about how America can exercise its ability to influence the world in a good way, to bring about an understanding of peace and love and unity. Whenever I spend some time with them, I am also reminded once again how important America is to our True Parents.
Father is always thinking about his vision for what is known as Sin City, Las Vegas. There's an ongoing ad about Las Vegas: "What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas." But Father is there because he wants to change that campaign around. He wants the whole world to hear about what happens in Las Vegas. He has put himself down in the center of what is known as Sin City and is injecting both the spirit of our Heavenly Parent and an understanding of living for the sake of others, practicing true love in our lives. Father and Mother want to inject a bit of heaven and transform Sin City into a Shining City.
Last time in Las Vegas Father went a step further. He not going to be satisfied with transforming Las Vegas into a Shining City, he wants Las Vegas to be almost like a city of the sun, giving out its warmth and light to the rest of the world.
When I see the transition taking place in Las Vegas as our Father works to shift the understanding of Las Vegas from Sin City to Shining City on a hill, and now to Sun City, I am fascinated by the way Father thinks and the way he plays around with the letters in words. When I thought about Las Vegas being Sin City, I thought that in between S and N, there sits an I.
I've often thought that people who live in sin and breathe a sinful lifestyle are actually living a life of insanity. But with the injection of a bit of heaven and turning Sin City into Shining City now Father wants to go further and turn it into Sun City. Instead of the insanity of living a sinful life, Father wants to take us to a place where the letter U sits in the middle, between the letters S and N.
We become the sun. We become a brilliant light when we live our lives not in the insanity of a sinful existence, but in total and absolute unity with our Heavenly Parent and our True Parents. When Father and Mother are asking all of us to tap into our divinity, to be that sun unto the world, our Heavenly Parent is asking us to be absolutely united with our God in heaven and with our True Parents, God's physical representatives, so we can inspire the world and bathe it in the beautiful, loving light of true love.
When I think about our True Parents and their desire for Las Vegas to become Sun City, I remember that Father said to me: Las Vegas is a city where everybody comes to make money. How wonderful it would be, in light of what just took place in Japan -- this tragedy in the aftermath of the tsunami that is still unfolding incessantly day by day with all the news networks following it -- if Las Vegas, instead of being the sinful city, could inherit God's heart by uniting with our Heavenly Parent and start to shine brilliance unto the world! How wonderful would it be if Las Vegas became known not as a city where people go to grab money for themselves, but as a city that, with the nudging of our True Parents, is a place where a lot of finance could be harvested for great works, such as helping Japan in the aftermath of the tsunami. This is the way our True Parents think all the time.
Flying back late last night I was remembering all the things that Father shared with me and the other members of my family. Last night was an interesting flight in that it started out like any other, with the stewardess saying the door was closing, please buckle your seat belts. You know the routine of it all, right, when you've been traveling for quite some time. The plane runs down the runway, you feel it lifting, and you feel your weight dragging to the floor because of gravity. Then you soar up into the heavens and see the city you left behind. The stewardess said, "Four hours and 30 minutes, and before we know it, we'll be back in New York City."
But there was a bit of turbulence, and parts of the flight were pretty bad. One burly man to my right looked too big for the seat, the kind of person that nothing can deter how he's feeling at the moment. He was like a rock, a big physical presence. But when the plane started trembling and creaking a bit, there was some nervous laughter, and people looked around to see if others were just as scared. The first time people laughed it off, but when it happened again, people started looking around a bit quicker, then looking at the ceiling, and then out the windows, even though it was pitch black.
In times like this you see people's character start to come out because you're facing the possibility, "What if this is the end? What if the people seated next to me are the ones who will go with me to the other world?" You can see the fear and uncertainty creep up. This man who looked like a brawny ex-Marine who would be scared by nothing started to look nervous. As the plane kept rattling on, he started doing this [making the sign of the cross], so that was a clear gesture he was afraid. Then a little bit later on he was moving back and forth in his seat, looking around, his face becoming more and more intense. After a while the turbulence calmed, down and this man did his last hand movement before he settled down and fell asleep.
Watching this take place in the cabin made me think about a lot of things. I experienced a near life-and-death experience at sea when I was 12 years old. I was certain I was going to die because I couldn't make out the waves from the sky, and everything looked like it was definitely headed toward the end. But at that time my father said, "I am here." He held my hand, and there was an incredible feeling of serenity and peace in the midst of all this chaos.
Obviously the gentleman seated next to me thought he might be near his end, but I thought to myself, how would I feel if this was my last flight? I realized then that if God were to take me today, at this moment, I would be so grateful for having the opportunity to have lived thus far. I was overcome with an incredible sense of gratitude, which became more acute when I thought about the good people here at Lovin' Life Ministries and the good brothers and sisters of America whom I have gotten to know a little bit better and come to love. I thought, if this is my last day, then I can go knowing that I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to have loved and to have been loved by so many people.
I've often joked how gratitude sounds like it's made of two words, great attitude. Being grateful is really having the right kind of attitude, or right kind of perspective on life. One of the things I have realized in the winners, in and out of the movement, I have seen in my lifetime is that the majority of them -- including our True Parents -- have the characteristic of practicing the great attitude of gratitude. When you're trying to live life as an ideal person -- and I've often joked that life is great in that it really puts us to the test if we say we want to be ideal -- life is going to make us deal with a lot of different things. Wise men and women through the centuries have often said that you cannot have triumph without struggles. You cannot have victories without obstacles. Many times victories are made that much sweeter by having been defeated.
We know that when we are trying to live an ideal life there will be difficulties and struggles. Implicit in the word ideal are the words to deal with. We have to deal with a lot of these things. But because we know and believe that we are the eternal sons and daughters of our Heavenly Parent, we know that as long as we keep on going and growing, as long as we keep on learning, sooner or later we will become a beautiful, brilliant light unto the world. And in the process we will leave something beautiful behind in the form of our children and our future generations.
When I think about gratitude, I remind myself, "Yes, we have to maintain a great attitude, but that also means there's going to be a lot of great grating in the process." We are going to have to grate, meaning "rub up against." Like we grate cheese, we're going to have to do a lot of grating to prepare ourselves to be the kind of people who can maintain a great attitude throughout our lives.
The word gratitude is also a reminder to all of us not to be crate-ful. The word crate can be understood as a box that holds different things, but the secondary meaning of the word is an old decrepit airplane or car, something that is rotting away. So when we want to maintain a grateful attitude, it is a reminder to us not to be crate-ful in our attitude. We must take ourselves out of the position of being just a box that holds a lot of baggage and negativity, or a lot of reasons not to believe, and that therefore weighs us down into an existence in which we turn into crates, like old, decrepit planes or cars that can no longer function the way they did in their prime. Maybe we were once like a Concorde jet, or a great Honda Civic, or a Mazda, or maybe even a Ferrari. But because we forgot to maintain this great attitude of gratitude, we've allowed ourselves to live a crate-like existence, not remembering to be grateful even for the grating that takes place along our road of self-discovery.
If you think deeply about it, a great attitude comes in understanding that we have been tremendously blessed. A great attitude comes from an understanding of who we are, that we are the eternal children of our Heavenly Parent, and thus we are divine; our lives have been touched by God. We were meant to love and to be loved. We were meant to do great things. We were meant to inspire our generation, our children, and the world.
When I think about this gratitude attitude, one of the biggest challenges we have in our life of faith as we are trying to be a great mom, a great friend, a great sister and daughter, or a son, a father, and so on, is that many times life has a way of introducing more than we planned for. We cannot plan everything. There are things that I never planned for. I certainly never planned to be married to a guy that we all used to call Fish-Eye. I had a great plan before I got married at 18. I wanted to be a medical doctor, and I thought that until 30 it would be clear sailing: "World of academia, here I come. I don't have to worry about marriage." I thought my medical career was a guarantee, that I did not have to put up with marriage until I became a doctor.
But God and our True Parents had a different plan for me. One of the things about life is that regardless of how much planning we do and how brilliant we think we are in outlining our life exactly the way we would like it, God and our True Parents may have a different plan for us. Many times I come across blessed children who have each decade, even each half-decade, all mapped out, almost to a T, but there's no room for anything else. I say to these Second Generation, "Your plan looks great, but what if in Year Two of your great plan God intervenes and asks you to go to Africa as a missionary? What would you do with your plan?" Regardless of how great our planning abilities might be, life has a way of introducing things that we never planned for or expected.
How do we maintain the heart of gratitude in spite of the fact that life will continually challenge, provoke, and nudge us to grow, expand, and deepen, whether we planned for it or not?
One of the quotes that I like to remind myself of when I'm confronted with things I did not plan for is Jeremiah 29:11, which says, "For surely I know my plans for you, says the Lord. For your welfare and not for your harm, but for the future of hope that I see in you." This is a beautiful quote because here God is telling us that regardless of how great our plans might be in life, regardless of how many things we might want to do ourselves -- perhaps we want to go right but God tells us to go left; perhaps we want to go down but God tells us to go up -- God doesn't always call us at our convenience. God calls us sometimes when we least expect to be called.
Many times God asks things of us that do not factor into our plans. This quote is a reminder for all of us to do our part, our 5-percent responsibility of preparing our lives to receive, but also to leave a space for God, our Parent in heaven, to work his and her mysterious magic, and not to be so locked into our plans that we have no space for God. When we lock ourselves into plans in a petrified manner, God will test and push us, and encourage us to grow. When that happens, that's our time to step up to the plate and heed God's calling, listen to the voice that's in our heart.
Despite our plans, our goodwill, and our thinking we know better, we need to listen to that inner voice. We need to listen to the voice of God.
I have realized a couple of things. When I struggle with trying to maintain this great attitude toward my life, many times I think that in order to maintain a great attitude I must do one, two, and three. But sometimes a great way to think about it is not by thinking what the great attitude is defined as, but by turning it around and looking at it from another perspective, thinking about the word and what it is not.
We know what a great attitude is -- the heart of devotion, love, and being thankful for everything we have. But sometimes it's good to think about what gratitude is not. Three things come to mind when I think about what gratitude is not.
When I don't have gratitude in my life, when I catch myself being ungrateful, I find myself craving things. Instead of thinking I have been given so much, God has taken care of everything for me, I start thinking, "I desire that. I'm in need of that. I crave that. I want that."
In the English language, right underneath the word crave is the word craven. When you study etymology you realize that the word craven comes from the French, cravanter, which means "to break," or crepare in Latin, which means "to creak and rattle." So when you're craven, when you're feeling not that good about your life, craven's definition means cowardly, somebody who's always afraid.
When you're constantly craving something, it's because you feel like everything you have will disappear, or everything you have has no value. Therefore, you're always wanting something else. You are lost in the constant sea of insecurity because you cannot find a firm footing.
Instead of craving more and more and more because we're so dissatisfied with our lives, what we need to be doing, if we would have the attitude of gratitude, is to be knowing clearly that we are God's eternal sons and daughters, and that we don't have to be craven. We don't have to be afraid. We don't have to be cowards. We can be brave in knowing that God, our Heavenly Parent, walks along with us.
Recently I had a very moving experience. You may have noticed that on stage at Lovin' Life this Sunday we have a member from the Los Angeles community. I'd like to thank that community for letting your guitar player, Matt, come and play with Lovin' Life. I was on my way back from Las Vegas and Matt sent me an e-mail that really moved me. Of course when I had asked him to come play with Sonic Cult, he was extremely inspired and excited. Friday was rehearsal so he came, even though I wasn't here, and I heard they had a typical great rehearsal session.
In his e-mail he first thanked me and the Lovin' Life team for welcoming him to New York. Of course as any aspiring musician when you think of Sonic Cult and Lovin' Life Ministries, you want to be part of that band. You want to play for our brothers and sisters all across the United States who join with us on Sunday morning. There's a great craving to stand on stage with the band.
As I go through the digestive process of firming up who the band members are going to be, there will be a lot of people who don't make it, and there will be a lot of people who think they're good enough, but perhaps they're not. As the person responsible for the band, I want to put the best thing out there -- I want the best players for our movement. The band becomes the face of our movement to the world, in a way.
But trying to juggle different players is almost like fitting a jigsaw puzzle. You have to find the right pieces to fit, to make the band work, to make it an incredibly rockin' band. To do that takes time, and trials and tribulations. You have to try out a lot of people. Some people will just click; some will not.
A lot of bad and good feelings can be interwoven in making the Sonic Cult, but this brother's e-mail really touched me. He played for my brother's band for four years, so every time my brother traveled to Japan, Matt was the top player for him. That's one of the reasons I wanted to test him out. But he came with the heart that, whatever happens, it's an extreme privilege for him to be here.
What moved me the most about this man is that he wrote me, saying, "My dream is to do exactly what I'm getting a chance to do, to perform for Lovin' Life Ministries. As a musician I can't wish for anything else, to be part of Hyo Jin oppa's legacy at the Manhattan Center. To continue working on that legacy with another member of the family is something that calls to my heart.
He said that having gone through the rehearsal, he realized that, "Yes, he's a good guitar player, but the other players' level was so high that he felt he was dragging the band down." Instead of craving it so much that he clings to it like a dead weight sinker, what he said was -- and I didn't hear him at rehearsal so I really had no opinion -- that we needed something better. "Having just had this one opportunity -- and I think it will be my last," he wrote, "is more than I can wish for." You know, playing guitar is not just picking notes. It's creating that unique sound that will add something to the band. With the experience and help that he got from the other players in the band to fine-tune his sound, Matt was saying, "What I've learned during this trip is what I will take back to Los Angeles, and I will do my utmost to make LA a great satellite church of Lovin' Life."
He is an example of somebody who is experiencing and practicing a heart of gratitude, instead of being a person who is not practicing gratitude, and therefore falls into the pitfall of feeling a constant craving. He was saying, "Our movement deserves better. I am good, but perhaps not good enough."
Frankly, he is much better than some of the other guitar players that we had on the stage, so for me to get that kind of an honest assessment of one's performance, and an honest assessment and understanding of what he wants for our movement was absolutely extraordinary. LA is surely blessed to have a brother like that, who lives and practices a heart of gratitude. Can we give Matt a great round of applause?
When I think about what gratitude is not, the second point I think of is a phrase that my mom used to tell us little ones, "Don't grab and brag." When we are children, all we're thinking about is ourselves, right? So what Mother used to say was, "Don't grab and brag." Meaning, "Don't grab the things to your mouth and then brag about how great you are." This is something that has been inculcated into all of our brains.
As I've lived throughout my years and seen different phases of people's lives -- First Generation, Second Generation, Third Generation, and now onto the Fourth Generation -- I've seen how it is that many times if we don't maintain the heart of gratitude and of living a blessed, sanctified, and sacred life, we may feel that life is tough and hard, and nobody is going to do it for me. God is not there for me, so I need to grab and brag.
I've seen this in the best of people. I've seen a lot of Second Generation who have come to the Manhattan Center and looked at Lovin' Life and all the things that are taking place. Through this I am reminded that the incredible thing about a camera is that it does not lie. All of you in the audience need to know you are on camera, and all the Second Generation need to know that too. After every service we have to edit and make sure it sounds right to be duplicated and sent to different places, so we're always reviewing the different camera shots. You can tell a lot just by the way people stand, the way they look, the way they hold their head.
A great majority of Second Generation have a good heartistic approach to Lovin' Life and our movement. But the camera also catches some who you realize are here for the wrong reason. Maybe they're here to take something back so they can criticize on their blog. Maybe they're thinking, "There are many opportunities now in our church; how can I grab it? How can I get myself on that stage? How do I act the part, to get into In Jin Nim's good graces, to get what I want?"
The thing is, if we really understand that our life is sacred and blessed, it is not like a toy store where we grab things for ourselves. God determines who, how, and when he wants to use somebody. We can do the best we can, but many times God works through whom he and she choose to work through.
If we have the attitude of grabbing things from God and from the community, such as, "I want to be a great singer so how do I use this platform of Lovin' Life to my advantage?" your heart will never be able to touch as many people as it was meant to touch. The more you start grabbing, the more you realize you're just adding sinkers onto yourself. So regardless of how talented you are, or what a succulent worm you are at the end of the line on a fishing pole that could catch a great fish making a fantastic feast for your family, your movement, and your nation, if you don't maintain a humble heart that allows space for God to work in your life so that wonderful things can take place, then you will never catch the big fish you were meant to catch.
You will never prepare the fantastic feast you were meant to prepare for your family. We can easily become weighted down by all these sinkers we put onto ourselves. Sometimes when I see good men and women doing that, I'm thinking, "What are they grabbing for? Our lives could end tomorrow. What's all this grabbing for? Why make ourselves rich and fat when really what we need to be thinking is, 'How do we make others happy? How do we make others inspired? How do we give to others so they can reach their potential?'" If we maintain gratitude, a sense that we have so much to be thankful for, there is no room to grab and brag.
One of the things I have noticed, having met with a lot of good singers and entertainers, is that the really good ones don't have to brag. When you're good, everybody knows it. There's no need to brag. But when you see the young upstarts first coming into the entertainment world, there's a whole lot of bragging, a whole lot of me, myself, and I, because they're trying to deal with all the insecurities plaguing them. They are so sure that if they don't articulate how superior they are, nobody else will. That's why they're bragging.
But if we truly understand that all of us sitting in this room are eternal sons and daughters of God, that we're all divinely touched and blessed, there is no room to brag. The only thing we need to do is share the love and uplift each other.
Another point that many times we can fall into when we don't maintain the heart of gratitude is the constant tendency to rate or even rank each other. I'm skinnier that you. You are fatter than me. I'm smarter than you. You are better at sports than me. We see this constant ranking of position. I remember when I first took on one of the assistants a while back, he said to me, "What is my official title?" I said, "What official position title do you need? You're my assistant." He said, "Am I your personal assistant, your executive assistant, your first assistant who directs the whole office?" I said to this young gentleman, "If you spent less time thinking about your position and instead used that energy for thinking more about how you can help people on the sixth floor, then, just imagine how valuable your input could be in terms of helping HSA run better."
I have been thinking about Richard Branson because I came back on Virgin Airlines. One of the things that intrigues me about this man is he does everything that you're not supposed to do in corporate America. In a lot of corporations, the CEO has to have a huge office. The size of your office is the measure of your importance. That's kind of like the unwritten understanding in corporate America.
Well, Richard Branson doesn't have his own office. Many times he meets people outside at different places. He says, "Why would I need to have a great big office when I already know I'm the CEO? I already own my own company. The only thing a big office does is to show everybody how insecure I really am."
When I heard Richard say this, it reminded me a lot of my father. Father still wears his 1970s polyester shirt that my mom has been trying to burn throughout the years. He is given magnificent offices, but he never wants to go in them. He's very happy sitting in a hut somewhere in the Amazon jungle with the mosquitoes and other bugs. Whether you put the man next to a king or a pauper, he is the same. The space he occupies is not the measure of how important or how profound a leader our True Father is.
Even me, when I came to HSA, many different people said, "In Jin Nim, you need the biggest office." I said, "Why?" I said, "Ten other desks can fit in here. I don't need a huge office to show to the world how important I am, because compared to God I'm nothing. Compared to our Heavenly Parent and our True Parents, what am I? What right do I have to brag and to grab? This is an opportunity to serve, meaning, "If you have to operate out of a tiny closet, well, at least you've got a closet to work out of. And don't let that space define who you are." The great men and women in the world who know who they are do not need great spaces to show their measure.
Even in our modern day when we look at bodybuilders what do we say? "Over-compensating for what they do not have," right? That's the common understanding. When you talk to many of these bodybuilders, you realize they've had a tough childhood, they were ridiculed a lot. They were taunted and called names. So they have a powerful desire to build up the physical so, "Nobody can mess with me anymore. Nobody can call me names because I will tower over them. My physical mass will threaten their existence." It's because inside they're not secure in understanding who they are.
When I was thinking about our constant need to rate ourselves, I was reminded of an e-mail that Jaga sent. Last Sunday I talked about how sometimes I feel like I'm full of holes, as if a machine gun took its rounds on me. Jaga wrote me a beautiful e-mail, basically saying, "Please know that we are here. We love you and we're here for you. We're happy to be working with you." He was also telling his own story of dealing with this big overarching question, "Why me?" I guess he was having one of those days. All the responsibility and all the things you have to do at Headquarters were crowding in on him, weighing him down.
He went out for a walk, listening to something on the iPod and a song came on, "You're Beautiful." So he was listening to this, asking himself, "Why me? Why is my life so difficult? Why do I have to do everything? Where are the other people who should be doing things with me?" He was calling out to God, "Why me? Why me?" while listening to this song, "You're Beautiful."
He said while he was looking around at all the people he passed by while listening to this music, the words somehow shifted and changed in his ears from "you're beautiful" to "they're beautiful." He saw this sea of people in New York City that he was passing by, and he realized he was given a taste of what God experiences when God looks at all of us. God looks at all his and her children and says, "They are beautiful. My children are beautiful."
It was one of these moments when, "Ding," the light bulb went off in his head. It was an epiphany of sorts, and he realized, "Why me?" I've often asked myself that question. Many times God answered back, "Why not you? Why not you? Why should it be somebody else?" Perhaps it's you who's going to be the agent of change who is going to inspire multitudes. Maybe by you going through what you're going through, people can come to understand that you're trying to do something good and that you are making a difference. So, "Why not you?" That's exactly what God was saying to Jaga. "Why not you, Jaga? Why not you?"
These are the questions that plague us many times when we are not grateful, when we're not exercising the great attitude of being thankful to our Heavenly Parent. If we really think about it, we realize that for everything we go through in our lives, as God says in Jeremiah 29:11, "Surely I know my plans for you": "My" plans, not "our" plans. God knows his and her plan for each and every one of us.
So when God calls, please respond. When God says, "This is the time, people, get ready, get on board," he and she are not calling everyone to get on board the gravy train of HSA. Don't think about what you're going to get at HSA or headquarters. God is asking all of us to get on board, not the gravy train, brothers and sisters, but the grateful train.
Even as we are saying our prayers for our Japanese brothers and sisters and the country of Japan, even as we say our prayers to God for our children, loved ones, and True Parents, we must know that we are blessed, that we have been touched by God, each and every one of us. As long as we maintain this great attitude of being thankful for everything we have been given in our own being of who we are, then the world becomes a very, very different place. The world changes colors right before our eyes when we choose to see it in a different way.
We are here to experience true love. We are here to inspire each other and to encourage each other to be great men and women of God. If we start exercising gratitude each day then we can overcome the feelings of constantly craving something. We can overcome the temptation to grab and brag all the time. The effects of bragging are like dragging yourself down by your crag, which is your neck or your throat. That's the only thing we're doing to ourselves.
So instead of bringing ourselves down, we need to think about how we can uplift each other. Instead of judging and categorizing, ranking and thinking what position we are all the time, what we really should be doing is concentrating on the fact that we are immeasurable because we're eternal. We are eternal human beings. We cannot be measured by rank, position, status, or estimation. We are much better than that.
So instead of living a craving existence, we need start being amazed at our life and the opportunities given to us. Instead of succumbing to the temptation of grabbing and bragging all the time, we need to understand that our life is really about constantly being prepared to receive God's blessings and miracles in our life.
So, please leave room for God. Instead of concentrating on where we fit, stand, or rank, we need to understand that we are infinite, eternal beings, who need to tap into the sea of true love that God and our True Parents have shared with all of us.
As we go day to day, week to week, in the heart of unity, realizing that we need our True Parents, great things can be accomplished. Having the right heartistic attitude is like creating a receptacle for us to harvest all of heaven's fortune. I've seen it time and time again. Many times people with a great attitude look like they have less, like they're not faring well. But in the end if we maintain this great heartistic attitude, allowing God the space to work his and her magic, despite the best of our intentions and plans, then we can reap the heavenly fortune that God wants to share with all of us.
So, brothers and sisters, be inspired and know that you are going to be the agent of change. Please tackle this new week with a heart of gratitude. Thank you.
1: These are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnez'zar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
2: This was after King Jeconi'ah, and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.
3: The letter was sent by the hand of Ela'sah the son of Shaphan and Gemari'ah the son of Hilki'ah, whom Zedeki'ah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnez'zar king of Babylon. It said:
4: "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.
6: Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.
7: But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
8: For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream,
9: for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.
10: "For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place.
11: For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12: Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
13: You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart,
14: I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
15: "Because you have said, `The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,' --
16: Thus says the LORD concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your kinsmen who did not go out with you into exile:
17: `Thus says the LORD of hosts, Behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs which are so bad they cannot be eaten.
18: I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them,
19: because they did not heed my words, says the LORD, which I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, says the LORD.' --
20: Hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon:
21: `Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kola'iah and Zedeki'ah the son of Ma-asei'ah, who are prophesying a lie to you in my name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadrez'zar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes.
22: Because of them this curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: "The LORD make you like Zedeki'ah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire,"
23: because they have committed folly in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and they have spoken in my name lying words which I did not command them. I am the one who knows, and I am witness, says the LORD.'"
24: To Shemai'ah of Nehel'am you shall say:
25: "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are in Jerusalem, and to Zephani'ah the son of Ma-asei'ah the priest, and to all the priests, saying,
26: `The LORD has made you priest instead of Jehoi'ada the priest, to have charge in the house of the LORD over every madman who prophesies, to put him in the stocks and collar.
27: Now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of An'athoth who is prophesying to you?
28: For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, "Your exile will be long; build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their produce."'"
29: Zephani'ah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet.
30: Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
31: "Send to all the exiles, saying, `Thus says the LORD concerning Shemai'ah of Nehel'am: Because Shemai'ah has prophesied to you when I did not send him, and has made you trust in a lie,
32: therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, I will punish Shemai'ah of Nehel'am and his descendants; he shall not have any one living among this people to see the good that I will do to my people, says the LORD, for he has talked rebellion against the LORD.'"