The Lord said, "I was ready to answer my people's prayers, but they did not pray. I was ready for them to find me, but they did not even try. The nation did not pray to me, even though I was always ready to answer, "Here I am; I will help you.' 1
I have always been ready to welcome my people, who stubbornly do what is wrong and go their own way. 2
They shamelessly keep on making me angry. They offer pagan sacrifices at sacred gardens and burn incense on pagan altars.
At night they go to caves and tombs to consult the spirits of the dead. They eat pork and drink broth made from meat offered in pagan sacrifices.
And then they say to others, "Keep away from us; we are too holy for you to touch!' I cannot stand people like that - my anger against them is like a fire that never goes out.
"I have already decided on their punishment, and their sentence is written down. I will not overlook what they have done, but will repay them
for their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They have burned incense at pagan hill shrines and spoken evil of me. So I will punish them as their past deeds deserve."
The Lord says, "No one destroys good grapes; instead, they make wine with them. Neither will I destroy all my people - I will save those who serve me.
I will bless the Israelites who belong to the tribe of Judah, and their descendants will possess my land of mountains. My chosen people, who serve me, will live there.
They will worship me and will lead their sheep and cattle to pasture in the Plain of Sharon in the west and in Trouble Valley in the east. 3
"But it will be different for you that forsake me, who ignore Zion, my sacred hill, and worship Gad and Meni, the gods of luck and fate.
It will be your fate to die a violent death, because you did not answer when I called you or listen when I spoke. You chose to disobey me and do evil.
And so I tell you that those who worship and obey me will have plenty to eat and drink, but you will be hungry and thirsty. They will be happy, but you will be disgraced.
They will sing for joy, but you will cry with a broken heart.
My chosen people will use your name as a curse. I, the Sovereign Lord, will put you to death. But I will give a new name to those who obey me.
Anyone in the land who asks for a blessing will ask to be blessed by the faithful God. Whoever takes an oath will swear by the name of the faithful God. The troubles of the past will be gone and forgotten."
The Lord says, "I am making a new earth and new heavens. The events of the past will be completely forgotten. 4
Be glad and rejoice forever in what I create. The new Jerusalem I make will be full of joy, and her people will be happy.
I myself will be filled with joy because of Jerusalem and her people. There will be no weeping there, no calling for help. 5
Babies will no longer die in infancy, and all people will live out their life span. Those who live to be a hundred will be considered young. To die before that would be a sign that I had punished them.
People will build houses and get to live in them - they will not be used by someone else. They will plant vineyards and enjoy the wine - it will not be drunk by others. Like trees, my people will live long lives. They will fully enjoy the things that they have worked for.
The work they do will be successful, and their children will not meet with disaster. I will bless them and their descendants for all time to come.
Even before they finish praying to me, I will answer their prayers.
Wolves and lambs will eat together; lions will eat straw, as cattle do, and snakes will no longer be dangerous. On Zion, my sacred hill, there will be nothing harmful or evil." 6