A message came to me from the Lord. He said,
"Go. Announce my message to the people in Jerusalem. I want everyone to hear it. Tell them, " 'I remember how faithful you were to me when you were young. You loved me as if you were my bride. You followed me through the desert. Nothing had been planted there.
Your people were holy to me. They were the first share of my harvest. All those who destroyed them were held guilty. And trouble came to their enemies,' " announces the Lord.
People of Jacob, hear the LORD's message. Listen, all you tribes of Israel.
The LORD says, "What did your people find wrong with me? Why did they wander so far away from me? They worshiped worthless statues of gods. Then they themselves became worthless.
They did not ask, 'Where is the Lord? He brought us up out of Egypt. He led us through a dry and empty land. He guided us through deserts and deep valleys. It was a land of darkness where there wasn't any rain. No one lived or traveled there.'
But I brought you into a land that has rich soil. I gave you its fruit and its finest food. In spite of that, you polluted my land. You turned it into something I hate.
The priests did not ask, 'Where is the Lord?' Those who taught my law did not know me. The leaders refused to obey me. The prophets prophesied in the name of Baal. They worshiped worthless statues of gods.
"So I am bringing charges against you again," announces the Lord. "And I will bring charges against your children's children.
Go over to the coasts of the western nations and look. Send people to the land of Kedar and have them look closely. See if there has ever been anything like this.
Has a nation ever changed its gods? Actually, they are not even gods at all. But my people have traded away their glorious God. They have traded me for worthless statues of gods.
Sky above, be shocked over that. Tremble with horror," announces the Lord.
"My people have sinned twice. They have deserted me, even though I am the spring of water that gives life. And they have dug their own wells. But those wells are broken. They can't hold any water.
Are you people of Israel servants? You were not born as slaves, were you? Then why have you been carried off like stolen goods?
Lions have roared. They have growled at you. They have destroyed your land. Your towns are burned and deserted.
The men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved your heads to dishonor you.
Haven't you brought that on yourselves? I am the LORD your God, but you deserted me. You left me even while I was leading you.
Why do you go to Egypt to drink water from the Shihor River? Why do you go to Assyria to drink from the Euphrates River?
You will be punished because you have sinned. You will be corrected for turning away from me. I am the LORD your God. If you desert me, bad things will happen to you. If you do not respect me, you will suffer bitterly. I want you to understand that," announces the LORD who rules over all.
"Long ago you broke off the yoke I put on you. You tore off the ropes I tied you up with. You said, 'I won't serve you!' In fact, on every high hill you lay down like a prostitute. You worshiped other gods under every green tree.
You were like a good vine when I planted you. You were a healthy plant. Then how did you turn against me? How did you become a bad, wild vine?
You might wash yourself with baking soda. You might use plenty of soap. But I can still see the stains your guilt covers you with," announces the LORD and King.
"You say, 'I am "clean." I haven't followed the gods that are named after Baal.' How can you say that? Remember how you acted in the valley. Consider what you have done. You are like a female camel running quickly here and there.
You are like a wild donkey that lives in the desert. She smells the wind when she longs for a mate. Who can hold her back? The males that run after her do not need to wear themselves out. At mating time they will easily find her.
Do not run after other gods until your sandals are worn out and your throat is dry. But you said, 'It's no use! I love those gods. I must go after them.'
"A thief is dishonored when he is caught. And you people of Israel are filled with shame. Your kings and officials are dishonored. So are your priests and your prophets.
You say to a piece of wood, 'You are my father.' You say to a stone, 'You are my mother.' You have turned your backs to me. You refuse to look at me. But when you are in trouble, you say, 'Come and save us!'
So where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come when you are in trouble! Let them save you if they can! Judah, you have as many gods as you have towns.
"Why do you bring charges against me? All of you have refused to obey me," announces the Lord.
"I punished your people. But it did not do them any good. They did not pay attention when they were corrected. You have killed your prophets with swords. You have swallowed them up like a hungry lion.
"You who are now living, consider my message. I am saying, "Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been like a land of deep darkness? Why do my people say, 'We are free to wander. We won't come to you anymore'?
Does a young woman forget all about her jewelry? Does a bride forget her wedding jewels? But my people have forgotten me more days than anyone can count.
You are very skilled at chasing after love! Even the worst of women can learn from how you act.
The blood of those you have killed is on your clothes. You have destroyed poor people who were not guilty. You did not catch them in the act of breaking in. In spite of all of that,
you say, 'I'm not guilty of doing anything wrong. The LORD isn't angry with me.' But I will judge you. That is because you say, 'I haven't sinned.'
Why do you keep on changing your ways so much? Assyria did not help you. And Egypt will not help you either.
So you will also leave Egypt with your hands tied together above your heads. I have turned my back on those you trust. They will not help you.