Zephaniah 3 (The Message)

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1 Doom to the rebellious city, the home of oppressors - Sewer City! 2 The city that wouldn't take advice, wouldn't accept correction, Wouldn't trust God, wouldn't even get close to her own god! 3 Her very own leaders are rapacious lions, Her judges are rapacious timber wolves out every morning prowling for a fresh kill. 4 Her prophets are out for what they can get. They're opportunists - you can't trust them. Her priests desecrate the Sanctuary. They use God's law as a weapon to maim and kill souls. 5 Yet God remains righteous in her midst, untouched by the evil. He stays at it, day after day, meting out justice. At evening he's still at it, strong as ever. But evil men and women, without conscience and without shame, persist in evil. 6 "So I cut off the godless nations. I knocked down their defense posts, Filled her roads with rubble so no one could get through. Her cities were bombed-out ruins, unlivable and unlived in. 7 "I thought, 'Surely she'll honor me now, accept my discipline and correction, Find a way of escape from the trouble she's in, find relief from the punishment I'm bringing.' But it didn't faze her. Bright and early she was up at it again, doing the same old things. 8 "Well, if that's what you want, stick around." God's Decree. "Your day in court is coming, but remember I'll be there to bring evidence. I'll bring all the nations to the courtroom, round up all the kingdoms, And let them feel the brunt of my anger, my raging wrath. My zeal is a fire that will purge and purify the earth. God Is in Charge at the Center 9 "In the end I will turn things around for the people. I'll give them a language undistorted, unpolluted, Words to address God in worship and, united, to serve me with their shoulders to the wheel. 10 They'll come from beyond the Ethiopian rivers, they'll come praying - All my scattered, exiled people will come home with offerings for worship. 11 You'll no longer have to be ashamed of all those acts of rebellion. I'll have gotten rid of your arrogant leaders. No more pious strutting on my holy hill! 12 I'll leave a core of people among you who are poor in spirit - What's left of Israel that's really Israel. They'll make their home in God. 13 This core holy people will not do wrong. They won't lie, won't use words to flatter or seduce. Content with who they are and where they are, unanxious, they'll live at peace." 14 So sing, Daughter Zion! Raise the rafters, Israel! Daughter Jerusalem, be happy! celebrate! 15 God has reversed his judgments against you and sent your enemies off chasing their tails. From now on, God is Israel's king, in charge at the center. There's nothing to fear from evil ever again! God Is Present Among You 16 Jerusalem will be told: "Don't be afraid. Dear Zion, don't despair. 17 Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he'll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs. 18 "The accumulated sorrows of your exile will dissipate. I, your God, will get rid of them for you. You've carried those burdens long enough. 19 At the same time, I'll get rid of all those who've made your life miserable. I'll heal the maimed; I'll bring home the homeless. In the very countries where they were hated they will be venerated. 20 On Judgment Day I'll bring you back home - a great family gathering! You'll be famous and honored all over the world. You'll see it with your own eyes - all those painful partings turned into reunions!" God's Promise.
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