whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed. They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets;
but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.
"They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies.
They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises.
On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers.
Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
All of them are hot as an oven; they devour their rulers. All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me.
"Ephraim mixes with the nations; Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over.
Foreigners sap his strength, but he does not realize it. His hair is sprinkled with gray, but he does not notice.
Israel's arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the LORD his God or search for him.
"Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless-- now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria.
When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like birds of the air. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them.
Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me.
They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me.
I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me.
They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt.
I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah--how he appealed to God against Israel:
"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me" ?
And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened,
as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day."
And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever."
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.
But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry
in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,
do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."
Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,
for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.
Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience,
so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you.
For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you.
They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.
The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.