“And when that happens”—GOD’s Decree—
“it will be plain as the sun at high noon:
I’ll be the God of every man, woman, and child in Israel
and they shall be my very own people.”
This is the way GOD put it:
“They found grace out in the desert,
these people who survived the killing.
Israel, out looking for a place to rest,
met God out looking for them!”
GOD told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again,
dear virgin Israel.
You’ll resume your singing,
grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.
You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards
on the Samaritan hillsides,
And sit back and enjoy the fruit—
oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!
The time’s coming when watchmen will call out
from the hilltops of Ephraim:
‘On your feet! Let’s go to Zion,
go to meet our GOD!’”
Oh yes, GOD says so:
“Shout for joy at the top of your lungs for Jacob!
Announce the good news to the number-one nation!
Raise cheers! Sing praises. Say,
‘GOD has saved his people,
saved the core of Israel.’
“Watch what comes next:
“I’ll bring my people back
from the north country
And gather them up from the ends of the earth,
gather those who’ve gone blind
And those who are lame and limping,
gather pregnant women,
Even the mothers whose birth pangs have started,
bring them all back, a huge crowd!
“Watch them come! They’ll come weeping for joy
as I take their hands and lead them,
Lead them to fresh flowing brooks,
lead them along smooth, uncluttered paths.
Yes, it’s because I’m Israel’s Father
and Ephraim’s my firstborn son!
“Hear this, nations! GOD’s Message!
Broadcast this all over the world!
Tell them, ‘The One who scattered Israel
will gather them together again.
From now on he’ll keep a careful eye on them,
like a shepherd with his flock.’
I, GOD, will pay a stiff ransom price for Jacob;
I’ll free him from the grip of the Babylonian bully.
The people will climb up Zion’s slopes shouting with joy,
their faces beaming because of GOD’s bounty—
Grain and wine and oil,
flocks of sheep, herds of cattle.
Their lives will be like a well-watered garden,
never again left to dry up.
Young women will dance and be happy,
young men and old men will join in.
I’ll convert their weeping into laughter,
lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.
I’ll make sure that their priests get three square meals a day
and that my people have more than enough.’” GOD’s Decree.
Again, GOD’s Message:
“Listen to this! Laments coming out of Ramah,
wild and bitter weeping.
It’s Rachel weeping for her children,
Rachel refusing all solace.
Her children are gone,
gone—long gone into exile.”
But GOD says, “Stop your incessant weeping,
hold back your tears.
Collect wages from your grief work.” GOD’s Decree.
“They’ll be coming back home!
There’s hope for your children.” GOD’s Decree.
“I’ve heard the contrition of Ephraim.
Yes, I’ve heard it clearly, saying,
‘You trained me well.
You broke me, a wild yearling horse, to the saddle.
Now put me, trained and obedient, to use.
You are my GOD.
After those years of running loose, I repented.
After you trained me to obedience,
I was ashamed of my past, my wild, unruly past.
Humiliated, I beat on my chest.
Will I ever live this down?’
“Oh! Ephraim is my dear, dear son,
my child in whom I take pleasure!
Every time I mention his name,
my heart bursts with longing for him!
Everything in me cries out for him.
Softly and tenderly I wait for him.” GOD’s Decree.
“Set up signposts to mark your trip home.
Get a good map.
Study the road conditions.
The road out is the road back.
Come back, dear virgin Israel,
come back to your hometowns.
How long will you flit here and there, indecisive?
How long before you make up your fickle mind?
GOD will create a new thing in this land:
A transformed woman will embrace the transforming GOD!”
A Message from Israel’s GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies: “When I’ve turned everything around and brought my people back, the old expressions will be heard on the streets: ‘GOD bless you!’ . . . ‘O True Home!’ . . . ‘O Holy Mountain!’ All Judah’s people, whether in town or country, will get along just fine with each other.
I’ll refresh tired bodies;
I’ll restore tired souls.