Faithless Israel Called to Repentance
The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord.”
And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say,
“‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
for I am merciful, declares the Lord;
I will not be angry forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners
under every green tree,
and that you have not obeyed my voice,"
declares the Lord.
Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days," declares the Lord, they shall no more say, 'The ark of the covenant of the Lord.' It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.
How I would set you among my sons,
and give you a pleasant land,
a heritage most beautiful of all nations.
And I thought you would call me, My Father,
and would not turn from following me.
Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband,
so have you been treacherous to me,
O house of Israel,'"
declares the Lord.
A voice on the bare heights is heard,
the weeping and pleading of Israel’s sons
because they have perverted their way;
they have forgotten the Lord their God.
“Return, O faithless sons;
I will heal your faithlessness.”
“Behold, we come to you,
for you are the Lord our God.
Truly the hills are a delusion,
the orgies on the mountains.
Truly in the Lord our God
is the salvation of Israel.
“But from our youth the shameful
thing has devoured all
for which our fathers labored,
their flocks and their herds,
their sons and their daughters.
Let us lie down in our shame,
and let our dishonor cover us.
For we have sinned against the Lord our God,
we and our fathers,
from our youth even to this day,
and we have not obeyed
the voice of the Lord our God.”
God's Conditions for Israel's Return
“If you return, O Israel, declares the Lord,
to me you should return.
If you remove your detestable things
from my presence,
and do not waver,
and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’
in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then nations shall bless themselves in him,
and in him shall they glory.
Judah Needs to Repent
”For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Break up your fallow ground,
and sow not among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord;
remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem;
lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn
with none to quench it,
because of the evil of your deeds.”
Disaster from the North
"Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say,
'Blow the trumpet through the land;'
cry aloud and say,
and let us go into the fortified cities!’
Raise a standard toward Zion,
flee for safety, stay not,
for I bring disaster from the north,
and great destruction.
A lion has gone up from his thicket,
a destroyer of nations has set out;
he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
your cities will be ruins
For this put on sackcloth,
lament, and wail,
for the fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned back from us.
“In that day," declares the Lord,
"courage shall fail both king and officials.
The priests shall be appalled
and the prophets astounded.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ whereas the sword has reached their very life.”
At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A hot wind from the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, a wind too full for this comes for me. Now it is I who speak in judgment upon them.”
Behold, he comes up like clouds;
his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
woe to us, for we are ruined!
O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil,
that you may be saved.
How long shall your wicked thoughts
lodge within you?
For a voice declares from Dan
and proclaims trouble from Mount Ephraim.
Warn the nations that he is coming;
announce to Jerusalem,
“Besiegers come from a distant land;
they shout against the cities of Judah.
Like keepers of a field are they against her all around,
because she has rebelled against me,
Your ways and your deeds
have brought this upon you.
This is your doom,
and it is bitter;
it has reached your very heart.”
Anguish over Judah’s Desolation
My anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain!
Oh the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent,
for I hear the sound of the trumpet,
the alarm of war.
Crash follows hard on crash;
the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are laid waste,
my curtains in a moment.
How long must I see the standard
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
“For my people are foolish;
they know me not;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!
But how to do good they know not.”
I looked on the earth,
and behold, it was without form and void;
and to the heavens,
and they had no light.
I looked on the mountains,
and behold, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
I looked, and behold, there was no man,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
For thus says the Lord,
“The whole land shall be a desolation;
yet I will not make a full end.
For this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above be dark;
for I have spoken; I have purposed;
I have not relented, nor will I turn back.”
At the noise of horseman and archer
every city takes to flight;
they enter thickets;
they climb among rocks;
all the cities are forsaken,
and no man dwells in them.
And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in scarlet,
that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,
that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
Your lovers despise you;
they seek your life.
For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,
anguish as of one giving birth to her first child,
the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands,
“Woe is me!
I am fainting before murderers.”
Jerusalem Refused to Repent
Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
look and take note!
Search her squares
to see if you can find a man,
one who does justice and seeks truth,
that I may pardon her.
Though they say, “As the Lord lives,”
yet they swear falsely.
O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?
You have struck them down,
but they felt no anguish;
you have consumed them,
but they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
they have refused to repent.
Then I said, “These are only the poor;
they have no sense;
for they do not know the way of the Lord,
the justice of their God.
I will go to the great
and will speak to them,
for they know the way of the Lord,
the justice of their God.”
But they all alike had broken the yoke;
they had burst the bonds.
Therefore a lion from the forest
shall strike them down;
a wolf from the desert shall devastate them.
A leopard is watching their cities;
everyone who goes out of them
shall be torn in pieces,
because their transgressions are many,
their apostasies are great.
“How can I pardon you?
Your children have forsaken me
and have sworn by those who are no gods.
When I fed them to the full,
they committed adultery
and trooped to the houses of whores.
They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this?
“Go up through her vine rows and destroy,
but make not a full end;
strip away her branches,
for they are not the Lord’s.
For the house of Israel and the house of Judah
have been utterly treacherous to me,
declares the Lord.
They have spoken falsely of the Lord
and have said, ‘He will do nothing;
no disaster will come upon us,
nor shall we see sword or famine.
The prophets will become wind;
the word is not in them.
Thus shall it be done to them!’”
Holy Bible, English Standard Version,
as arranged in chronological order by F. Legard Smith