Listen, you people of Israel! Listen to this funeral song I am singing:
"The virgin Israel has fallen, never to rise again! She lies forsaken on the ground, with none to raise her up."
The Sovereign LORD says: "When one of your cities sends a thousand men to battle, only a hundred will return. When a town sends a hundred, only ten will come back alive."
Now this is what the LORD says to the family of Israel: "Come back to me and live!
Don't go to worship the idols of Bethel, Gilgal, or Beersheba. For the people of Gilgal will be dragged off into exile, and the people of Bethel will come to nothing."
Come back to the LORD and live! If you don't, he will roar through Israel a like a fire, devouring you completely. Your gods in Bethel certainly won't be able to quench the flames!
You wicked people! You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the poor and oppressed. Righteousness and fair play are meaningless fictions to you.
It is the LORD who created the stars, the Pleiades and Orion. It is he who turns darkness into morning and day into night. It is he who draws up water from the oceans and pours it down as rain on the land. The LORD is his name!
With blinding speed and power he destroys the strong, crushing all their defenses.
How you hate honest judges! How you despise people who tell the truth!
You trample the poor and steal what little they have through taxes and unfair rent. Therefore, you will never live in the beautiful stone houses you are building. You will never drink wine from the lush vineyards you are planting.
For I know the vast number of your sins and rebellions. You oppress good people by taking bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
So those who are wise will keep quiet, for it is an evil time.
Do what is good and run from evil -- that you may live! Then the LORD God Almighty will truly be your helper, just as you have claimed he is.
Hate evil and love what is good; remodel your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on his people who remain. b16
Therefore, this is what the Lord, the LORD God Almighty, says: "There will be crying in all the public squares and in every street. Call for the farmers to weep with you, and summon professional mourners to wail and lament.
There will be wailing in every vineyard, for I will pass through and destroy them all. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
How terrible it will be for you who say, "If only the day of the LORD were here! For then the LORD would rescue us from all our enemies." But you have no idea what you are wishing for. That day will not bring light and prosperity, but darkness and disaster.
In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion -- only to meet a bear. After escaping the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house -- and is bitten by a snake.
Yes, the day of the LORD will be a dark and hopeless day, without a ray of joy or hope.
"I hate all your show and pretense -- the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry."
"Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, Israel?
No, your real interest was in your pagan gods -- Sakkuth your king god and Kaiwan your star god -- the images you yourselves made. c27
So I will send you into exile, to a land east of Damascus," says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)