"When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, 'My son!' - called him out of Egypt.
But when others called him, he ran off and left me. He worshiped the popular sex gods, he played at religion with toy gods.
Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim. I rescued him from human bondage, But he never acknowledged my help,
never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon, That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek, that I bent down to feed him.
Now he wants to go back to Egypt or go over to Assyria - anything but return to me!
That's why his cities are unsafe - the murder rate skyrockets and every plan to improve things falls to pieces.
My people are hell-bent on leaving me. They pray to god Baal for help. He doesn't lift a finger to help them.
But how can I give up on you, Ephraim? How can I turn you loose, Israel? How can I leave you to be ruined like Admah, devastated like luckless Zeboim? I can't bear to even think such thoughts. My insides churn in protest.
And so I'm not going to act on my anger. I'm not going to destroy Ephraim. And why? Because I am God and not a human. I'm The Holy One and I'm here - in your very midst.
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)