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[a]Mobilize! Marshal your troops!
    The enemy is laying siege to Jerusalem.
They will strike Israel’s leader
    in the face with a rod.

A Ruler from Bethlehem

[b]But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel,
    whose origins are in the distant past,
    will come from you on my behalf.
The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies
    until the woman in labor gives birth.
Then at last his fellow countrymen
    will return from exile to their own land.
And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
    for he will be highly honored around the world.
    And he will be the source of peace.

When the Assyrians invade our land
    and break through our defenses,
we will appoint seven rulers to watch over us,
    eight princes to lead us.
They will rule Assyria with drawn swords
    and enter the gates of the land of Nimrod.
He will rescue us from the Assyrians
    when they pour over the borders to invade our land.

The Remnant Purified

Then the remnant left in Israel[c]
    will take their place among the nations.
They will be like dew sent by the Lord
    or like rain falling on the grass,
which no one can hold back
    and no one can restrain.
The remnant left in Israel
    will take their place among the nations.
They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest,
    like a strong young lion among flocks of sheep and goats,
pouncing and tearing as they go
    with no rescuer in sight.
The people of Israel will stand up to their foes,
    and all their enemies will be wiped out.

10 “In that day,” says the Lord,
“I will slaughter your horses
    and destroy your chariots.
11 I will tear down your walls
    and demolish your defenses.
12 I will put an end to all witchcraft,
    and there will be no more fortune-tellers.
13 I will destroy all your idols and sacred pillars,
    so you will never again worship the work of your own hands.
14 I will abolish your idol shrines with their Asherah poles
    and destroy your pagan cities.
15 I will pour out my vengeance
    on all the nations that refuse to obey me.”

The Lord’s Case against Israel

Listen to what the Lord is saying:

“Stand up and state your case against me.
    Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints.
And now, O mountains,
    listen to the Lord’s complaint!
He has a case against his people.
    He will bring charges against Israel.

“O my people, what have I done to you?
    What have I done to make you tired of me?
    Answer me!
For I brought you out of Egypt
    and redeemed you from slavery.
    I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help you.
Don’t you remember, my people,
    how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed
    and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?
And remember your journey from Acacia Grove[d] to Gilgal,
    when I, the Lord, did everything I could
    to teach you about my faithfulness.”

What can we bring to the Lord?
    Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High
    with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer him thousands of rams
    and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
    to pay for our sins?

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Israel’s Guilt and Punishment

Fear the Lord if you are wise!
    His voice calls to everyone in Jerusalem:
“The armies of destruction are coming;
    the Lord is sending them.[e]
10 What shall I say about the homes of the wicked
    filled with treasures gained by cheating?
What about the disgusting practice
    of measuring out grain with dishonest measures?[f]
11 How can I tolerate your merchants
    who use dishonest scales and weights?
12 The rich among you have become wealthy
    through extortion and violence.
Your citizens are so used to lying
    that their tongues can no longer tell the truth.

13 “Therefore, I will wound you!
    I will bring you to ruin for all your sins.
14 You will eat but never have enough.
    Your hunger pangs and emptiness will remain.
And though you try to save your money,
    it will come to nothing in the end.
You will save a little,
    but I will give it to those who conquer you.
15 You will plant crops
    but not harvest them.
You will press your olives
    but not get enough oil to anoint yourselves.
You will trample the grapes
    but get no juice to make your wine.
16 You keep only the laws of evil King Omri;
    you follow only the example of wicked King Ahab!
Therefore, I will make an example of you,
    bringing you to complete ruin.
You will be treated with contempt,
    mocked by all who see you.”

Misery Turned to Hope

How miserable I am!
I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest
    who can find nothing to eat.
Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig
    can be found to satisfy my hunger.
The godly people have all disappeared;
    not one honest person is left on the earth.
They are all murderers,
    setting traps even for their own brothers.
Both their hands are equally skilled at doing evil!
    Officials and judges alike demand bribes.
The people with influence get what they want,
    and together they scheme to twist justice.
Even the best of them is like a brier;
    the most honest is as dangerous as a hedge of thorns.
But your judgment day is coming swiftly now.
    Your time of punishment is here, a time of confusion.
Don’t trust anyone—
    not your best friend or even your wife!
For the son despises his father.
    The daughter defies her mother.
The daughter-in-law defies her mother-in-law.
    Your enemies are right in your own household!

As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
    I wait confidently for God to save me,
    and my God will certainly hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemies!
    For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
    the Lord will be my light.
I will be patient as the Lord punishes me,
    for I have sinned against him.
But after that, he will take up my case
    and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.
The Lord will bring me into the light,
    and I will see his righteousness.
10 Then my enemies will see that the Lord is on my side.
    They will be ashamed that they taunted me, saying,
“So where is the Lord
    that God of yours?”
With my own eyes I will see their downfall;
    they will be trampled like mud in the streets.

11 In that day, Israel, your cities will be rebuilt,
    and your borders will be extended.
12 People from many lands will come and honor you—
    from Assyria all the way to the towns of Egypt,
from Egypt all the way to the Euphrates River,[g]
    and from distant seas and mountains.
13 But the land[h] will become empty and desolate
    because of the wickedness of those who live there.

The Lord’s Compassion on Israel

14 O Lord, protect your people with your shepherd’s staff;
    lead your flock, your special possession.
Though they live alone in a thicket
    on the heights of Mount Carmel,[i]
let them graze in the fertile pastures of Bashan and Gilead
    as they did long ago.

15 “Yes,” says the Lord,
    “I will do mighty miracles for you,
like those I did when I rescued you
    from slavery in Egypt.”

16 All the nations of the world will stand amazed
    at what the Lord will do for you.
They will be embarrassed
    at their feeble power.
They will cover their mouths in silent awe,
    deaf to everything around them.
17 Like snakes crawling from their holes,
    they will come out to meet the Lord our God.
They will fear him greatly,
    trembling in terror at his presence.

18 Where is another God like you,
    who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
    overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
    because you delight in showing unfailing love.
19 Once again you will have compassion on us.
    You will trample our sins under your feet
    and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
20 You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love
    as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.

Footnotes

  1. 5:1 Verse 5:1 is numbered 4:14 in Hebrew text.
  2. 5:2 Verses 5:2-15 are numbered 5:1-14 in Hebrew text.
  3. 5:7 Hebrew in Jacob; also in 5:8. See note on 1:5a.
  4. 6:5 Hebrew Shittim.
  5. 6:9 Hebrew “Listen to the rod. / Who appointed it?”
  6. 6:10 Hebrew of using the short ephah? The ephah was a unit for measuring grain.
  7. 7:12 Hebrew the river.
  8. 7:13 Or earth.
  9. 7:14 Or surrounded by a fruitful land.

God’s People Will Be Preserved

Then I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds so they did not blow on the earth or the sea, or even on any tree. And I saw another angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted to those four angels, who had been given power to harm land and sea, “Wait! Don’t harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.”

And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God—144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel:

from Judah12,000
from Reuben12,000
from Gad12,000
from Asher12,000
from Naphtali12,000
from Manasseh12,000
from Simeon12,000
from Levi12,000
from Issachar12,000
from Zebulun12,000
from Joseph12,000
from Benjamin12,000

Praise from the Great Crowd

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
    and from the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. 12 They sang,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
    and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
    forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”

14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”

Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in[a] the great tribulation.[b] They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.

15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
    and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
    will give them shelter.
16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
    they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
17 For the Lamb on the throne[c]
    will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
    And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

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Footnotes

  1. 7:14a Greek who came out of.
  2. 7:14b Or the great suffering.
  3. 7:17 Greek on the center of the throne.

Psalm 135

Praise the Lord!

Praise the name of the Lord!
    Praise him, you who serve the Lord,
you who serve in the house of the Lord,
    in the courts of the house of our God.

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
    celebrate his lovely name with music.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
    Israel for his own special treasure.

I know the greatness of the Lord
    that our Lord is greater than any other god.
The Lord does whatever pleases him
    throughout all heaven and earth,
    and on the seas and in their depths.
He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth.
    He sends the lightning with the rain
    and releases the wind from his storehouses.

He destroyed the firstborn in each Egyptian home,
    both people and animals.
He performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt
    against Pharaoh and all his people.
10 He struck down great nations
    and slaughtered mighty kings—
11 Sihon king of the Amorites,
    Og king of Bashan,
    and all the kings of Canaan.
12 He gave their land as an inheritance,
    a special possession to his people Israel.

13 Your name, O Lord, endures forever;
    your fame, O Lord, is known to every generation.
14 For the Lord will give justice to his people
    and have compassion on his servants.

15 The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold,
    shaped by human hands.
16 They have mouths but cannot speak,
    and eyes but cannot see.
17 They have ears but cannot hear,
    and mouths but cannot breathe.
18 And those who make idols are just like them,
    as are all who trust in them.

19 O Israel, praise the Lord!
    O priests—descendants of Aaron—praise the Lord!
20 O Levites, praise the Lord!
    All you who fear the Lord, praise the Lord!
21 The Lord be praised from Zion,
    for he lives here in Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

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Every word of God proves true.
    He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.
Do not add to his words,
    or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.

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