A lament and call to repentance
1Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
2‘Fallen is Virgin Israel,
never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
with no-one to lift her up.’
3This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel:
‘Your city that marches out a thousand strong
will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
will have only ten left.’
4This is what the Lord says to Israel:
‘Seek me and live;
5do not seek Bethel,
do not go to Gilgal,
do not journey to Beersheba.
For Gilgal will surely go into exile,
and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.#5:5 Hebrew aven, a reference to Beth Aven (a derogatory name for Bethel); see Hosea 4:15.’
6Seek the Lord and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no-one to quench it.
7There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground.
8He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land –
the Lord is his name.
9With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
and brings the fortified city to ruin.
10There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.
11You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12For I know how many are your offences
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
14Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
16Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
‘There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,’
says the Lord.
The day of the Lord
18Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light –
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
21‘I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
25‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
for forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god#5:26 Or lifted up Sakkuth your king / and Kaiwan your idols, / your star-gods; Septuagint lifted up the shrine of Molek / and the star of your god Rephan, / their idols –
which you made for yourselves.
27Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,’
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.