5 People of Israel, listen to the Lord’s message. Hear my song of sadness about you. I say,
2 “The people of Israel have fallen. They will never get up again. They are deserted in their own land. No one can lift them up.”
3 Here is what the Lord and King says to Israel.
“A thousand soldiers will march out from a city. But only a hundred will return. A hundred soldiers will march out from a town. But only ten will come back.”
4 The Lord speaks to the people of Israel. He says,
“Look to me and live. 5 Do not look to Bethel. Do not go to Gilgal. Do not travel to Beersheba. The people of Gilgal will be taken away as prisoners. Nothing will be left of Bethel.”
6 Israel, look to the Lord and live. If you don’t, he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire. It will burn everything up. And Bethel won’t have anyone to put it out.
7 There are people among you who turn what is fair into something bitter. They throw down to the ground what is right. 8 The Lord made the Pleiades and Orion. He turns midnight into sunrise. He makes the day fade into night. He sends for the waters in the clouds. Then he pours them out on the surface of the land. His name is the Lord. 9 With a flash of light he destroys places of safety. He tears down cities that have high walls around them. 10 There are people among you who hate anyone who stands for justice in court. They hate those who tell the truth.
11 You make poor people pay tax on their straw. You also tax their grain. So, even though you have built stone houses, you won’t live in them. You have planted fruitful vineyards. But you won’t drink the wine they produce. 12 I know how many crimes you have committed. You have sinned far too much.
Among you are people who crush those who have done no wrong. They accept money from people who want special favors. They take away the rights of poor people in the courts. 13 So those who are wise keep quiet in times like these. That’s because the times are evil.
14 Look to what is good, not to what is evil. Then you will live. And the Lord God who rules over all will be with you, just as you say he is. 15 Hate evil and love good. Do what is fair in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God who rules over all will have mercy on you. After all, you are the only ones left in the family line of Joseph.
16 The Lord God rules over all. The Lord says,
“People will weep in all the streets. They will be very sad in every market place. Even farmers will be told to cry loudly. People will mourn for the dead. 17 Workers will cry in all the vineyards. That’s because I will punish you,” says the Lord.
The Day of the Lord Is Coming
18 How terrible it will be for you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you want it to come? That day will be dark, not light. 19 It will be like a man running away from a lion only to meet a bear. He enters his house and rests his hand on a wall only to be bitten by a snake. 20 The day of the Lord will be dark, not light. It will be very black. There won’t be a ray of sunlight anywhere.
21 The Lord says,
“I hate your holy feasts. I can’t stand them. Your gatherings stink. 22 You bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings. But I will not accept them. You bring your best friendship offerings. But I will not even look at them. 23 Take the noise of your songs away! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 I want you to treat others fairly. So let fair treatment roll on just as a river does! Always do what is right. Let right living flow along like a stream that never runs dry!
25 “People of Israel, did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for 40 years in the desert? 26 Yes. But you have honored the place where your king worshiped other gods. You have carried the stands the statues of your gods were on. You have lifted up the banners of the stars you worship as gods. You made all those things for yourselves. 27 So I will send you away as prisoners beyond Damascus,” says the Lord. His name is God Who Rules Over All.
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