Starved for God
9 1-6 Don’t waste your life in wild orgies, Israel.
Don’t party away your life with the heathen.
You walk away from your God at the drop of a hat
and like a whore sell yourself promiscuously
at every sex-and-religion party on the street.
All that party food won’t fill you up.
You’ll end up hungrier than ever.
At this rate you’ll not last long in God’s land:
Some of you are going to end up bankrupt in Egypt.
Some of you will be disillusioned in Assyria.
As refugees in Egypt and Assyria,
you won’t have much chance to worship God—
Sentenced to rations of bread and water,
and your souls polluted by the spirit-dirty air.
You’ll be starved for God,
exiled from God’s own country.
Will you be homesick for the old Holy Days?
Will you miss festival worship of God?
Be warned! When you escape from the frying pan of disaster,
you’ll fall into the fire of Egypt.
Egypt will give you a fine funeral!
What use will all your god-inspired silver be then
as you eke out a living in a field of weeds?
* * *
7-9 Time’s up. Doom’s at the doorstep.
Did Israel bluster, “The prophet is crazy!
The ‘man of the Spirit’ is nuts!”?
Think again. Because of your great guilt,
you’re in big trouble.
The prophet is looking out for Ephraim,
working under God’s orders.
But everyone is trying to trip him up.
He’s hated right in God’s house, of all places.
The people are going from bad to worse,
rivaling that ancient and unspeakable crime at Gibeah.
God’s keeping track of their guilt.
He’ll make them pay for their sins.
They Took to Sin Like a Pig to Filth
10-13 “Long ago when I came upon Israel,
it was like finding grapes out in the desert.
When I found your ancestors, it was like finding
a fig tree bearing fruit for the first time.
But when they arrived at Baal-peor, that pagan shrine,
they took to sin like a pig to filth,
wallowing in the mud with their newfound friends.
Ephraim is fickle and scattered, like a flock of blackbirds,
their beauty dissipated in confusion and clamor,
Frenetic and noisy, frigid and barren,
and nothing to show for it—neither conception nor childbirth.
Even if they did give birth, I’d declare them
unfit parents and take away their children!
Yes indeed—a black day for them
when I turn my back and walk off!
I see Ephraim letting his children run wild.
He might just as well take them and kill them outright!”
14 Give it to them, God! But what?
Give them a dried-up womb and shriveled breasts.
15-16 “All their evil came out into the open
at the pagan shrine at Gilgal. Oh, how I hated them there!
Because of their evil practices,
I’ll kick them off my land.
I’m wasting no more love on them.
Their leaders are a bunch of rebellious adolescents.
Ephraim is hit hard—
roots withered, no more fruit.
Even if by some miracle they had children,
the dear babies wouldn’t live—I’d make sure of that!”
17 My God has washed his hands of them.
They wouldn’t listen.
They’re doomed to be wanderers,
vagabonds among the godless nations.