God's Message came to me as follows: "If a man's wife walks out on him And marries another man, can he take her back as if nothing had happened? Wouldn't that raise a huge stink in the land? And isn't that what you've done - 'whored' your way with god after god? And now you want to come back as if nothing had happened." God's Decree.
"Look around at the hills. Where have you not had sex? You've camped out like hunters stalking deer. You've solicited many lover-gods, Like a streetwalking whore chasing after other gods.
And so the rain has stopped. No more rain from the skies! But it doesn't even faze you. Brazen as whores, you carry on as if you've done nothing wrong.
Then you have the nerve to call out, 'My father! You took care of me when I was a child. Why not now?
Are you going to keep up your anger nonstop?' That's your line. Meanwhile you keep sinning nonstop." Admit Your God-Defiance
God spoke to me during the reign of King Josiah: "You have noticed, haven't you, how fickle Israel has visited every hill and grove of trees as a whore at large?
I assumed that after she had gotten it out of her system, she'd come back, but she didn't. Her flighty sister, Judah, saw what she did.
She also saw that because of fickle Israel's loose morals I threw her out, gave her her walking papers. But that didn't faze flighty sister Judah. She went out, big as you please, and took up a whore's life also.
She took up cheap sex-and-religion as a sideline diversion, an indulgent recreation, and used anything and anyone, flouting sanity and sanctity alike, stinking up the country.
And not once in all this did flighty sister Judah even give me a nod, although she made a show of it from time to time." God's Decree.
Then God told me, "Fickle Israel was a good sight better than flighty Judah.
Go and preach this message. Face north toward Israel and say: "'Turn back, fickle Israel. I'm not just hanging back to punish you. I'm committed in love to you. My anger doesn't seethe nonstop.
Just admit your guilt. Admit your God-defiance. Admit to your promiscuous life with casual partners, pulling strangers into the sex-and-religion groves While turning a deaf ear to me.'" God's Decree.
"Come back, wandering children!" God's Decree. "I, yes I, am your true husband. I'll pick you out one by one - This one from the city, these two from the country - and bring you to Zion.
I'll give you good shepherd-rulers who rule my way, who rule you with intelligence and wisdom.
"And this is what will happen: You will increase and prosper in the land. The time will come" - God's Decree! - "when no one will say any longer, 'Oh, for the good old days! Remember the Ark of the Covenant?' It won't even occur to anyone to say it - 'the good old days.' The so-called good old days of the Ark are gone for good.
"Jerusalem will be the new Ark - 'God's Throne.' All the godless nations, no longer stuck in the ruts of their evil ways, will gather there to honor God.
"At that time, the House of Judah will join up with the House of Israel. Holding hands, they'll leave the north country and come to the land I willed to your ancestors.
"I planned what I'd say if you returned to me: 'Good! I'll bring you back into the family. I'll give you choice land, land that the godless nations would die for.' And I imagined that you would say, 'Dear father!' and would never again go off and leave me.
But no luck. Like a false-hearted woman walking out on her husband, you, the whole family of Israel, have proven false to me." God's Decree.
The sound of voices comes drifting out of the hills, the unhappy sound of Israel's crying, Israel lamenting the wasted years, never once giving her God a thought.
"Come back, wandering children! I can heal your wanderlust!" "We're here! We've come back to you. You're our own true God!
All that popular religion was a cheap lie, duped crowds buying up the latest in gods. We're back! Back to our true God, the salvation of Israel.
The Fraud picked us clean, swindled us of what our ancestors bequeathed us, Gypped us out of our inheritance - God-blessed flocks and God-given children.
We made our bed and now lie in it, all tangled up in the dirty sheets of dishonor. All because we sinned against our God, we and our fathers and mothers. From the time we took our first steps, said our first words, we've been rebels, disobeying the voice of our 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)