A voice is announcing from Dan, proclaiming disaster from the hills of Ephraim.
"Tell this to the nations, proclaim it to Jerusalem: 'A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.
They surround her like men guarding a field, because she has rebelled against me,' " declares the LORD.
"Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!"
Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry.
Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.
How long must I see the battle standard and hear the sound of the trumpet?
"My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good."
I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone.
I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying.
I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away.
I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
This is what the LORD says: "The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely.
Therefore the earth will mourn and the heavens above grow dark, because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back."
At the sound of horsemen and archers every town takes to flight. Some go into the thickets; some climb up among the rocks. All the towns are deserted; no one lives in them.
What are you doing, O devastated one? Why dress yourself in scarlet and put on jewels of gold? Why shade your eyes with paint? You adorn yourself in vain. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life.
I hear a cry as of a woman in labor, a groan as of one bearing her first child-- the cry of the Daughter of Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands and saying, "Alas! I am fainting; my life is given over to murderers."
"Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.
Although they say, 'As surely as the LORD lives,' still they are swearing falsely."
O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.
I thought, "These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God.
So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God." But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds.
Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many.
"Why should I forgive you? Your children have forsaken me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man's wife.
Should I not punish them for this?" declares the LORD. "Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?
"Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely. Strip off her branches, for these people do not belong to the LORD.
The house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me," declares the LORD.
They have lied about the LORD; they said, "He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.
The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them."
Therefore this is what the LORD God Almighty says: "Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes.
O house of Israel," declares the LORD, "I am bringing a distant nation against you-- an ancient and enduring nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you do not understand.
Their quivers are like an open grave; all of them are mighty warriors.
They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will destroy the fortified cities in which you trust.
"Yet even in those days," declares the LORD, "I will not destroy you completely.
And when the people ask, 'Why has the LORD our God done all this to us?' you will tell them, 'As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.'
"Announce this to the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah:
Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear:
Should you not fear me?" declares the LORD. "Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.