The LORD continues, "When Israel was a young nation, I loved them. I chose to bring my son out of Egypt.
But the more I called out to Israel, the further they went away from me. They brought sacrifices to the statues of the gods that were named after Baal. And they burned incense to them.
I taught Israel to walk. I took them up in my arms. But they did not realize I was the one who took care of them.
I led them with kindness and love. I did not lead them with ropes. I lifted the heavy loads from their shoulders. I bent down and fed them.
"But they refuse to turn away from their sins. So they will return to Egypt. And Assyria will rule over them.
Swords will flash in their cities. The heavy metal bars on their gates will be destroyed. Their plans will come to an end.
My people have made up their minds to turn away from me. Even if they call out to me, I will certainly not honor them. I am the Most High God."
The LORD continues, "People of Ephraim, how can I give you up? Israel, how can I hand you over to your enemies? Can I destroy you as I did the town of Admah? Can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is stirred inside me. It is filled with pity for you.
My anger will not burn against you anymore. I will not completely destroy you. After all, I am God. I am not a mere man. I am the Holy One among you. My burning anger will not come against you.
I will roar like a lion against my enemies. You will follow me. When I roar, my children will come home trembling with fear. You will return from the west.
You will come trembling like birds from Egypt. You will return like doves from Assyria. I will settle you again in your homes," announces the Lord.
The people of Ephraim tell nothing but lies. Israel has not been honest with me. And Judah continues to wander away from God. They have deserted the faithful Holy One.