Listen to this, family of Israel, this Message I'm sending in bold print, this tragic warning:
"Virgin Israel has fallen flat on her face. She'll never stand up again. She's been left where she's fallen. No one offers to help her up."
This is the Message, God's Word: "The city that marches out with a thousand will end up with a hundred. The city that marches out with a hundred will end up with ten. Oh, family of Israel!"
God's Message to the family of Israel: "Seek me and live.
Don't fool around at those shrines of Bethel, Don't waste time taking trips to Gilgal, and don't bother going down to Beer-sheba. Gilgal is here today and gone tomorrow and Bethel is all show, no substance."
So seek God and live! You don't want to end up with nothing to show for your life But a pile of ashes, a house burned to the ground. For God will send just such a fire, and the firefighters will show up too late. Raw Truth Is Never Popular
Woe to you who turn justice to vinegar and stomp righteousness into the mud.
Do you realize where you are? You're in a cosmos star-flung with constellations by God, A world God wakes up each morning and puts to bed each night. God dips water from the ocean and gives the land a drink. God, God-revealed, does all this.
And he can destroy it as easily as make it. He can turn this vast wonder into total waste.
People hate this kind of talk. Raw truth is never popular.
But here it is, bluntly spoken: Because you run roughshod over the poor and take the bread right out of their mouths, You're never going to move into the luxury homes you have built. You're never going to drink wine from the expensive vineyards you've planted.
I know precisely the extent of your violations, the enormity of your sins. Appalling! You bully right-living people, taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they're down.
Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic. Decent people throw up their hands. Protest and rebuke are useless, a waste of breath.
Seek good and not evil - and live! You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, being your best friend. Well, live like it, and maybe it will happen.
Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square. Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will notice your remnant and be gracious.
Now again, my Master's Message, God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies: "Go out into the streets and lament loudly! Fill the malls and shops with cries of doom! Weep loudly, 'Not me! Not us, Not now!' Empty offices, stores, factories, workplaces. Enlist everyone in the general lament.
I want to hear it loud and clear when I make my visit." God's Decree. Time to Face Hard Reality, Not Fantasy
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)