“When Israel was a young nation, I loved them. I chose to bring my son out of Egypt. 2 But the more I called out to Israel, the more they went away from me. They brought sacrifices to the statues of the gods that were named Baal. And they burned incense to them. 3 I taught Ephraim to walk. I took them up in my arms. But they did not realize I was the one who took care of them. 4 I led them with kindness and love. I was to them like a person who lifts a little child to their cheek. I bent down and fed them.
5 “But they refuse to turn away from their sins. So they will return to Egypt. And Assyria will rule over them. 6 A sword will flash in their cities. It will destroy the prophets who teach lies. It will bring an end to their plans. 7 My people have made up their minds to turn away from me. Even if they call me the Most High God, I will certainly not honor them.”
8 The Lord continues,
“People of Ephraim, how can I give you up? Israel, how can I hand you over to your enemies? Can I destroy you as I did the town of Admah? Can I treat you like Zeboyim? My heart is stirred inside me. It is filled with pity for you. 9 I will not be so angry with you anymore. I will not completely destroy you again. After all, I am God. I am not a mere man. I am the Holy One among you. I will not direct my anger against their cities. 10 I will roar like a lion against my enemies. Then the Lord’s people will follow him. When he roars, his children will come home trembling with fear. They will return from the west. 11 They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows. They will return from Assyria, flying in like doves. I will settle you again in your homes,” announces the Lord.
Israel Has Sinned
12 The people of Ephraim tell me nothing but lies. Israel has not been honest with me. And Judah continues to wander away from God. They have deserted the faithful Holy One.
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