When the tribe of Ephraim spoke, the other tribes trembled with fear. Ephraim was honored in Israel. But its people sinned by worshiping Baal. So they were as good as dead.
Now they sin more and more. They use their silver to make statues of gods for themselves. The statues come from their own clever ideas. Skilled workers make all of them. The people pray to those gods. They offer human sacrifices to them. They kiss the gods that look like calves.
So those people will vanish like the morning mist. They will soon disappear like the early dew. They will be like straw that the wind blows around on a threshing floor. They will be like smoke that escapes through a window.
The LORD says, "People of Israel, I am the LORD your God. I brought you out of Egypt. You must not recognize any God but me. You must not have any Savior except me.
I took care of you in the desert. It was a land of burning heat.
I fed you until you were satisfied. Then you became proud. You forgot all about me.
So I will leap on you like a lion. I will hide and wait beside the road like a leopard.
I will attack you like a bear that is robbed of her cubs. I will rip you wide open. Like a lion I will eat you up. Like a wild animal I will tear you apart.
"Israel, you will be destroyed. I helped you. But you turned against me.
Where is your king? Wasn't he supposed to save you? Where are the rulers in all of your towns? You said, 'Give us a king and princes.'
So I became angry and gave you a king. Then I took him away from you.
Ephraim, your guilt is piling up. I am keeping a record of all of your sins.
You will suffer pain like a woman having a baby. You are like a foolish child. It is time for you to be born. But you refuse to come out of your mother's body.
"I will set you free from the power of the grave. I will save you from death. Death, where are your plagues? Grave, where is your power to destroy? "Ephraim, I will no longer pity you.
Even though you are doing well among the other tribes, trouble will come to you. I will send a hot and dry wind from the east. It will blow in from the desert. Your springs will not have any water. Your wells will dry up. All of your treasures will be taken out of your storerooms.
People of Samaria, you must pay for your sins. You have refused to obey me. You will be killed with swords. Your little children will be smashed on the ground. Your pregnant women will be ripped wide open."