God once let loose against Ephraim a terrifying sentence against Israel: Caught and convicted in the lewd sex-worship of Baal - they died!
And now they're back in the sin business again, manufacturing god-images they can use, Religion customized to taste. Professionals see to it: Anything you want in a god you can get. Can you believe it? They sacrifice live babies to these dead gods - kill living babies and kiss golden calves!
And now there's nothing left to these people: hollow men, desiccated women, Like scraps of paper blown down the street, like smoke in a gusty wind.
"I'm still your God, the God who saved you out of Egypt. I'm the only real God you've ever known. I'm the one and only God who delivers.
I took care of you during the wilderness hard times, those years when you had nothing.
I took care of you, took care of all your needs, gave you everything you needed. You were spoiled. You thought you didn't need me. You forgot me.
"I'll charge them like a lion, like a leopard stalking in the brush.
I'll jump them like a sow grizzly robbed of her cubs. I'll rip out their guts. Coyotes will make a meal of them. Crows will clean their bones.
I'm going to destroy you, Israel. Who is going to stop me?
Where is your trusty king you thought would save you? Where are all the local leaders you wanted so badly? All these rulers you insisted on having, demanding, 'Give me a king! Give me leaders!'?
Well, long ago I gave you a king, but I wasn't happy about it. Now, fed up, I've gotten rid of him.
I have a detailed record of your infidelities - Ephraim's sin documented and stored in a safe-deposit box.
"When birth pangs signaled it was time to be born, Ephraim was too stupid to come out of the womb. When the passage into life opened up, he didn't show.
Shall I intervene and pull them into life? Shall I snatch them from a certain death? Who is afraid of you, Death? Who cares about your threats, Tomb? In the end I'm abolishing regret, banishing sorrow,
Even though Ephraim ran wild, the black sheep of the family. "God's tornado is on its way, roaring out of the desert. It will devastate the country, leaving a trail of ruin and wreckage. The cities will be gutted, dear possessions gone for good.
Now Samaria has to face the charges because she has rebelled against her God: Her people will be killed, babies smashed on the rocks, pregnant women ripped open." Come Back! Return to Your God!
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)