3 Listen to this message that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against the entire family I rescued from Egypt:
2 “From among all the families on the earth, I have been intimate with you alone. That is why I must punish you for all your sins.”
Witnesses against Guilty Israel
3 Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? 4 Does a lion ever roar in a thicket without first finding a victim? Does a young lion growl in its den without first catching its prey? 5 Does a bird ever get caught in a trap that has no bait? Does a trap spring shut when there’s nothing to catch? 6 When the ram’s horn blows a warning, shouldn’t the people be alarmed? Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it?
7 Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.
8 The lion has roared— so who isn’t frightened? The Sovereign Lord has spoken— so who can refuse to proclaim his message? 9 Announce this to the leaders of Philistia[a] and to the great ones of Egypt: “Take your seats now on the hills around Samaria, and witness the chaos and oppression in Israel.”
10 “My people have forgotten how to do right,” says the Lord. “Their fortresses are filled with wealth taken by theft and violence. 11 Therefore,” says the Sovereign Lord, “an enemy is coming! He will surround them and shatter their defenses. Then he will plunder all their fortresses.”
12 This is what the Lord says:
“A shepherd who tries to rescue a sheep from a lion’s mouth will recover only two legs or a piece of an ear. So it will be for the Israelites in Samaria lying on luxurious beds, and for the people of Damascus reclining on couches.[b]
13 “Now listen to this, and announce it throughout all Israel,[c]” says the Lord, the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
14 “On the very day I punish Israel for its sins, I will destroy the pagan altars at Bethel. The horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 And I will destroy the beautiful homes of the wealthy— their winter mansions and their summer houses, too— all their palaces filled with ivory,” says the Lord.
Israel’s Failure to Learn
4 Listen to me, you fat cows[d] living in Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy, and who are always calling to your husbands, “Bring us another drink!” 2 The Sovereign Lord has sworn this by his holiness: “The time will come when you will be led away with hooks in your noses. Every last one of you will be dragged away like a fish on a hook! 3 You will be led out through the ruins of the wall; you will be thrown from your fortresses,[e]” says the Lord.
4 “Go ahead and offer sacrifices to the idols at Bethel. Keep on disobeying at Gilgal. Offer sacrifices each morning, and bring your tithes every three days. 5 Present your bread made with yeast as an offering of thanksgiving. Then give your extra voluntary offerings so you can brag about it everywhere! This is the kind of thing you Israelites love to do,” says the Sovereign Lord.
6 “I brought hunger to every city and famine to every town. But still you would not return to me,” says the Lord.
7 “I kept the rain from falling when your crops needed it the most. I sent rain on one town but withheld it from another. Rain fell on one field, while another field withered away. 8 People staggered from town to town looking for water, but there was never enough. But still you would not return to me,” says the Lord.
9 “I struck your farms and vineyards with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured all your fig and olive trees. But still you would not return to me,” says the Lord.
10 “I sent plagues on you like the plagues I sent on Egypt long ago. I killed your young men in war and led all your horses away.[f] The stench of death filled the air! But still you would not return to me,” says the Lord.
11 “I destroyed some of your cities, as I destroyed[g] Sodom and Gomorrah. Those of you who survived were like charred sticks pulled from a fire. But still you would not return to me,” says the Lord.
12 “Therefore, I will bring upon you all the disasters I have announced. Prepare to meet your God in judgment, you people of Israel!”
13 For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals his thoughts to mankind. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads on the heights of the earth. The Lord God of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
A Call to Repentance
5 Listen, you people of Israel! Listen to this funeral song I am singing:
2 “The virgin Israel has fallen, never to rise again! She lies abandoned on the ground, with no one to help her up.”
3 The Sovereign Lord says:
“When a city sends a thousand men to battle, only a hundred will return. When a town sends a hundred, only ten will come back alive.”
4 Now this is what the Lord says to the family of Israel:
“Come back to me and live! 5 Don’t worship at the pagan altars at Bethel; don’t go to the shrines at Gilgal or Beersheba. For the people of Gilgal will be dragged off into exile, and the people of Bethel will be reduced to nothing.” 6 Come back to the Lord and live! Otherwise, he will roar through Israel[h] like a fire, devouring you completely. Your gods in Bethel won’t be able to quench the flames. 7 You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the oppressed. You treat the righteous like dirt.
8 It is the Lord who created the stars, the Pleiades and Orion. He turns darkness into morning and day into night. He draws up water from the oceans and pours it down as rain on the land. The Lord is his name! 9 With blinding speed and power he destroys the strong, crushing all their defenses.
10 How you hate honest judges! How you despise people who tell the truth! 11 You trample the poor, stealing their grain through taxes and unfair rent. Therefore, though you build beautiful stone houses, you will never live in them. Though you plant lush vineyards, you will never drink wine from them. 12 For I know the vast number of your sins and the depth of your rebellions. You oppress good people by taking bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. 13 So those who are smart keep their mouths shut, for it is an evil time.
14 Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. 15 Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.[i]
16 Therefore, this is what the Lord, the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, says:
“There will be crying in all the public squares and mourning in every street. Call for the farmers to weep with you, and summon professional mourners to wail. 17 There will be wailing in every vineyard, for I will destroy them all,” says the Lord.
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