14 Israel, return to the Lord your God. Your sins have destroyed you! 2 Tell the Lord you are turning away from your sins. Return to him. Say to him, “Forgive us for all our sins. Please be kind to us. Welcome us back to you. Then our lips will offer you our praise. 3 Assyria can’t save us. We won’t trust in our war horses. Our own hands have made statues of gods. But we will never call them our gods again. We are like children whose fathers have died. But you show us your tender love.”
4 Then the Lord will answer,
“My people always wander away from me. But I will put an end to that. My anger has turned away from them. Now I will love them freely. 5 I will be like the dew to Israel. They will bloom like a lily. They will send their roots down deep like a cedar tree in Lebanon. 6 They will spread out like new branches. They will be as beautiful as an olive tree. They will smell as sweet as the cedar trees in Lebanon. 7 Once again my people will live in the safety of my shade. They will grow like grain. They will bloom like vines. And Israel will be as famous as wine from Lebanon. 8 Ephraim will have nothing more to do with other gods. I will answer the prayers of my people. I will take good care of them. I will be like a healthy juniper tree to them. All the fruit they bear will come from me.”
9 If someone is wise, they will realize that what I’ve said is true. If they have understanding, they will know what it means. The ways of the Lord are right. People who are right with God live the way he wants them to. But those who refuse to obey him trip and fall.
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