Make room for the returning exiles! Breaking the Beautiful Covenant
The people who buy them will butcher them for quick and easy money. What's worse, they'll get away with it. The people who sell them will say, 'Lucky me! God's on my side; I've got it made!' They have shepherds who couldn't care less about them."
God's Decree: "I'm washing my hands of the people of this land. From now on they're all on their own. It's dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, and the devil take the hindmost. Don't look for help from me."
So I took over from the crass, money-grubbing owners, and shepherded the sheep marked for slaughter. I got myself two shepherd staffs. I named one Lovely and the other Harmony. Then I went to work shepherding the sheep.
Within a month I got rid of the corrupt shepherds. I got tired of putting up with them - and they couldn't stand me.
And then I got tired of the sheep and said, "I've had it with you - no more shepherding from me. If you die, you die; if you're attacked, you're attacked. Whoever survives can eat what's left."
Then I took the staff named Lovely and broke it across my knee, breaking the beautiful covenant I had made with all the peoples.
In one stroke, both staff and covenant were broken. The money-hungry owners saw me do it and knew God was behind it.
Then I addressed them: "Pay me what you think I'm worth." They paid me an insulting sum, counting out thirty silver coins.
God told me, "Throw it in the poor box." This stingy wage was all they thought of me and my work! So I took the thirty silver coins and threw them into the poor box in God's Temple.
God then said, "Dress up like a stupid shepherd.
I'm going to install just such a shepherd in this land - a shepherd indifferent to victims, who ignores the lost, abandons the injured, and disdains decent citizens. He'll only be in it for what he can get out of it, using and abusing any and all.
"Doom to you, useless shepherd, walking off and leaving the sheep! A curse on your arm! A curse on your right eye! Your arm will hang limp and useless. Your right eye will go stone blind."
Then I broke the other staff, Harmony, across my knee, breaking the concord between Judah and Israel.
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)