God's Message came to me:
"You, son of man: Take a stick and write on it, 'For Judah, with his Israelite companions.' Then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph - Ephraim's stick, together with all his Israelite companions.'
Then tie the two sticks together so that you're holding one stick.
"When your people ask you, 'Are you going to tell us what you're doing?'
tell them, 'God, the Master, says, Watch me! I'll take the Joseph stick that is in Ephraim's hand, with the tribes of Israel connected with him, and lay the Judah stick on it. I'll make them into one stick. I'm holding one stick.'
"Then take the sticks you've inscribed and hold them up so the people can see them.
Tell them, 'God, the Master, says, Watch me! I'm taking the Israelites out of the nations in which they've been exiled. I'll gather them in from all directions and bring them back home.
I'll make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and give them one king - one king over all of them. Never again will they be divided into two nations, two kingdoms.
Never again will they pollute their lives with their no-god idols and all those vile obscenities and rebellions. I'll save them out of all their old sinful haunts. I'll clean them up. They'll be my people! I'll be their God!
My servant David will be king over them. They'll all be under one shepherd.
They'll live in the same land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren will live there forever, and my servant David will be their prince forever.
I'll make a covenant of peace with them that will hold everything together, an everlasting covenant. I'll make them secure and place my holy place of worship at the center of their lives forever.
I'll live right there with them. I'll be their God! They'll be my people!
"'The nations will realize that I, God, make Israel holy when my holy place of worship is established at the center of their lives forever.'"
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)