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Didn’t God institute the festivals? Didn’t He instruct His people to sacrifice? Didn’t He inspire the singers and songwriters to praise His name? Yes. Even the most beautiful ceremony can become empty ritual, and a sacred time should not be mixed with activities that displease God. He wants more than pious exercises; He wants His people to follow His instructions, to do what is right, and to honor Him because they recognize that He is the one all-powerful God.

Grief is coming to those who live comfortably in Zion
    and those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria;
The noteworthy of this nation
    and those respected by the people of Israel have much to dread.
Go over to Calneh and look at what happened there,
    then cross over to the great city of Hamath in Aram,
Then go down to Gath, the city of the Philistines.
Are you any more powerful than these fallen kingdoms were?
    Are your lands any larger than theirs?
You try to hold off the evil day,
    but your actions bring the reign of violence ever nearer.

Grief is coming to those who lounge on beds inlaid with ivory,
    who stretch out on their luxurious sofas,
And who feast on lambs from their flocks
    and stall-fattened calves anytime, not just during festivals.
Grief is coming to those who sing foolish songs to the sounds of the harp,
    who think they can play like David;
Who guzzle fine wine by the gallon from elegant bowls;
    who apply expensive oils to their bodies, when cheaper ones will do,
But they are not grieved by the awful state of Joseph’s people.
That is why they will be the first ones carried off into exile,
    and their lives of leisure and feasting will disappear.

The Eternal Lord has sworn by His own holiness,
    and the Eternal God, the Commander of heavenly armies,
Promises this:

Eternal One: I detest the pride of Israel, descendants of My servant Jacob,
        and I hate their fortresses,
    And I will hand over the city and all its wealth to their enemies.

If there are only 10 people left in one house, they will all die. 10 If a man arrives to take his relative’s remains out of the house for burial and he calls back into the darkened house, “Is anyone else with you?” the only survivor will respond, “No.” The relative will cut the survivor off: “Quiet! Not another word! We mustn’t mention the name of the Eternal One.”

11 Look: the Eternal gives the order,
    and the great house is smashed to pieces, and the little house crumbles.
12 Do horses gallop over big boulders?
    Does a person plow such rocks with a team of oxen?
But you have somehow managed to make justice poisonous
    and turned the sweet fruits of righteousness into bitterness—
13 You, who celebrate taking back worthless Lo-debar
    and ask, “Haven’t we captured Karnaim with our own strong armies?”

14 Eternal One: You will see—I am raising up a strong nation against you, people of Israel,
        and they will hound you from Hamath pass in the north
    To the Great Rift Valley at Arabah in the south.

So says the Eternal God, the Commander of heavenly armies.

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