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The Lord’s Case against His People
1 The Lord gave me another message. He said, 2 “Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says:
“I remember how eager you were to please me
as a young bride long ago,
how you loved me and followed me
even through the barren wilderness.
3 In those days Israel was holy to the Lord,
the first of his children.[a]
All who harmed his people were declared guilty,
and disaster fell on them.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
4 Listen to the word of the Lord, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! 5 This is what the Lord says:
“What did your ancestors find wrong with me
that led them to stray so far from me?
They worshiped worthless idols,
only to become worthless themselves.
6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord
who brought us safely out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness—
a land of deserts and pits,
a land of drought and death,
where no one lives or even travels?’
7 “And when I brought you into a fruitful land
to enjoy its bounty and goodness,
you defiled my land and
corrupted the possession I had promised you.
8 The priests did not ask,
‘Where is the Lord?’
Those who taught my word ignored me,
the rulers turned against me,
and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal,
wasting their time on worthless idols.
9 Therefore, I will bring my case against you,”
says the Lord.
“I will even bring charges against your children’s children
in the years to come.
10 “Go west and look in the land of Cyprus[b];
go east and search through the land of Kedar.
Has anyone ever heard of anything
as strange as this?
11 Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones,
even though they are not gods at all?
Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God[c]
for worthless idols!
12 The heavens are shocked at such a thing
and shrink back in horror and dismay,”
says the Lord.
13 “For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
that can hold no water at all!
The Results of Israel’s Sin
14 “Why has Israel become a slave?
Why has he been carried away as plunder?
15 Strong lions have roared against him,
and the land has been destroyed.
The towns are now in ruins,
and no one lives in them anymore.
16 Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis[d] and Tahpanhes,
have destroyed Israel’s glory and power.
17 And you have brought this upon yourselves
by rebelling against the Lord your God,
even though he was leading you on the way!
18 “What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt
and your covenants with Assyria?
What good to you are the streams of the Nile[e]
or the waters of the Euphrates River?[f]
19 Your wickedness will bring its own punishment.
Your turning from me will shame you.
You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is
to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him.
I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
20 “Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you
and tore away the chains of your slavery,
but still you said,
‘I will not serve you.’
On every hill and under every green tree,
you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols.
21 But I was the one who planted you,
choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best.
How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?
22 No amount of soap or lye can make you clean.
I still see the stain of your guilt.
I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!
Israel, an Unfaithful Wife
23 “You say, ‘That’s not true!
I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’
But how can you say that?
Go and look in any valley in the land!
Face the awful sins you have done.
You are like a restless female camel
desperately searching for a mate.