"Patrol Jerusalem's streets. Look around. Take note. Search the market squares. See if you can find one man, one woman, A single soul who does what is right and tries to live a true life. I want to forgive that person." God's Decree.
"But if all they do is say, 'As sure as God lives . . . ' they're nothing but a bunch of liars."
But you, God, you have an eye for truth, don't you? You hit them hard, but it didn't faze them. You disciplined them, but they refused correction. Hardheaded, harder than rock, they wouldn't change.
Then I said to myself, "Well, these are just poor people. They don't know any better. They were never taught anything about God. They never went to prayer meetings. I'll find some people from the best families.
I'll talk to them. They'll know what's going on, the way God works. They'll know the score." But they were no better! Rebels all! Off doing their own thing.
The invaders are ready to pounce and kill, like a mountain lion, a wilderness wolf, Panthers on the prowl. The streets aren't safe anymore. And why? Because the people's sins are piled sky-high; their betrayals are past counting.
"Why should I even bother with you any longer? Your children wander off, leaving me, Taking up with gods that aren't even gods. I satisfied their deepest needs, and then they went off with the 'sacred' whores, left me for orgies in sex shrines!
A bunch of well-groomed, lusty stallions, each one pawing and snorting for his neighbor's wife.
Do you think I'm going to stand around and do nothing?" God's Decree. "Don't you think I'll take serious measures against a people like this? Eyes That Don't Really Look, Ears That Don't Really Listen
"Go down the rows of vineyards and rip out the vines, but not all of them. Leave a few. Prune back those vines! That growth didn't come from God!
They've betrayed me over and over again, Judah and Israel both." God's Decree.
"They've spread lies about God. They've said, 'There's nothing to him. Nothing bad will happen to us, neither famine nor war will come our way.
The prophets are all windbags. They speak nothing but nonsense.'"
Therefore, this is what God said to me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies: "Because they have talked this way, they are going to eat those words. Watch now! I'm putting my words as fire in your mouth. And the people are a pile of kindling ready to go up in flames.
"Attention! I'm bringing a far-off nation against you, O house of Israel." God's Decree. "A solid nation, an ancient nation, A nation that speaks another language. You won't understand a word they say.
When they aim their arrows, you're as good as dead. They're a nation of real fighters!
They'll clean you out of house and home, rob you of crops and children alike. They'll feast on your sheep and cattle, strip your vines and fig trees. And the fortresses that made you feel so safe - leveled with a stroke of the sword!
"Even then, as bad as it will be" - God's Decree! - "it will not be the end of the world for you.
And when people ask, 'Why did our God do all this to us?' you must say to them, 'It's tit for tat. Just as you left me and served foreign gods in your own country, so now you must serve foreigners in their own country.'
"Tell the house of Jacob this, put out this bulletin in Judah:
Listen to this, you scatterbrains, airheads, With eyes that see but don't really look, and ears that hear but don't really listen.
Why don't you honor me? Why aren't you in awe before me? Yes, me, who made the shorelines to contain the ocean waters. I drew a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. Waves roll in but cannot get through; breakers crash but that's the end of them.
But this people - what a people! Uncontrollable, untameable runaways.
It never occurs to them to say, 'How can we honor our God with our lives, The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn and maintains the rhythm of the seasons, Who sets aside time each year for harvest and keeps everything running smoothly for us?'
Of course you don't! Your bad behavior blinds you to all this. Your sins keep my blessings at a distance. To Stand for Nothing and Stand Up for No One
"My people are infiltrated by wicked men, unscrupulous men on the hunt. They set traps for the unsuspecting. Their victims are innocent men and women.
Their houses are stuffed with ill-gotten gain, like a hunter's bag full of birds. Pretentious and powerful and rich,
hugely obese, oily with rolls of fat. Worse, they have no conscience. Right and wrong mean nothing to them. They stand for nothing, stand up for no one, throw orphans to the wolves, exploit the poor.
Do you think I'll stand by and do nothing about this?" God's Decree. "Don't you think I'll take serious measures against a people like this?
"Unspeakable! Sickening! What's happened in this country?
Prophets preach lies and priests hire on as their assistants. And my people love it. They eat it up! But what will you do when it's time to pick up the pieces?
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)