The people whose hearts are deceitful must now suffer for their sins. God will break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars.
These people will soon be saying, "We have no king because we did not fear the Lord. But what could a king do for us anyway?"
They utter empty words and make false promises and useless treaties. Justice has become injustice, growing like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.
The people who live in the city of Samaria will be afraid and will mourn the loss of the gold bull at Bethaven. They and the priests who serve the idol will weep over it. They will wail when it is stripped of its golden splendor.
The idol will be carried off to Assyria as tribute to the great emperor. The people of Israel will be disgraced and put to shame because of the advice they followed.
Their king will be carried off, like a chip of wood on water.
The hilltop shrines of Aven, where the people of Israel worship idols, will be destroyed. Thorns and weeds will grow up over their altars. The people will call out to the mountains, "Hide us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" 1
The Lord says, "The people of Israel have not stopped sinning against me since the time of their sin at Gibeah. So at Gibeah war will catch up with them. 2
I will attack this sinful people and punish them. Nations will join together against them, and they will be punished for their many sins.
"Israel was once like a well-trained young cow, ready and willing to thresh grain. But I decided to put a yoke on her beautiful neck and to harness her for harder work. I made Judah pull the plow and Israel pull the harrow.
I said, "Plow new ground for yourselves, plant righteousness, and reap the blessings that your devotion to me will produce. It is time for you to turn to me, your Lord, and I will come and pour out blessings upon you.' 3