1“If you will return, Israel,
then return to me,” says the Lord.
“If you will throw away your idols that I hate,
then don’t wander away from me.
2If you say when you make a promise,
‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
and you can say it in a truthful, honest, and right way,
then the nations will be blessed by him,
and they will praise him for what he has done.”
3This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem:
“Plow your unplowed fields,
and don’t plant seeds among thorns.
4Give yourselves to the service of the Lord,
and decide to obey him,
people of Judah and people of Jerusalem.
If you don’t, my anger will spread among you like a fire,
and no one will be able to put it out,
because of the evil you have done.
Trouble from the North
5“Announce this message in Judah and say it in Jerusalem:
‘Blow the trumpet throughout the country!’
Shout out loud and say,
Let’s all escape to the strong, walled cities!’
6Raise the signal flag toward Jerusalem!
Run for your lives, and don’t wait,
because I am bringing disaster from the north
There will be terrible destruction.”
7A lion has come out of his den;
a destroyer of nations has begun to march.
He has left his home
to destroy your land.
Your towns will be destroyed
with no one left to live in them.
8So put on rough cloth,
show how sad you are, and cry loudly.
The terrible anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us.
9“When this happens,” says the Lord,
“the king and officers will lose their courage.
The priests will be terribly afraid,
and the prophets will be shocked!”
10Then I said, “Lord God, you have tricked the people of Judah and Jerusalem. You said, ‘You will have peace,’ but now the sword is pointing at our throats!”
11At that time this message will be given to Judah and Jerusalem: “A hot wind blows from the bare hilltops of the desert toward the Lord’s people. It is not a gentle wind to separate grain from chaff. 12I feel a stronger wind than that. Now even I will announce judgments against the people of Judah.”
13Look! The enemy rises up like a cloud,
and his chariots come like a tornado.
His horses are faster than eagles.
How terrible it will be for us! We are ruined!
14People of Jerusalem, clean the evil from your hearts so that you can be saved.
Don’t continue making evil plans.
15A voice from Dan makes an announcement
and brings bad news from the mountains of Ephraim.
16“Report this to the nations.
Spread this news in Jerusalem:
‘Invaders are coming from a faraway country,
shouting words of war against the cities of Judah.
17The enemy has surrounded Jerusalem as men guard a field,
because Judah turned against me,’ ” says the Lord.
18“The way you have lived and acted
has brought this trouble to you.
This is your punishment.
How terrible it is!
The pain stabs your heart!”
19Oh, how I hurt! How I hurt!
I am bent over in pain.
Oh, the torture in my heart!
My heart is pounding inside me.
I cannot keep quiet,
because I have heard the sound of the trumpet.
I have heard the shouts of war.
20Disaster follows disaster;
the whole country has been destroyed.
My tents are destroyed in only a moment.
My curtains are torn down quickly.
21How long must I look at the war flag?
How long must I listen to the war trumpet?
22The Lord says, “My people are foolish.
They do not know me.
They are stupid children;
they don’t understand.
They are skillful at doing evil,
but they don’t know how to do good.”
Disaster Is Coming
23I looked at the earth,
and it was empty and had no shape.
I looked at the sky,
and its light was gone.
24I looked at the mountains,
and they were shaking.
All the hills were trembling.
25I looked, and there were no people.
Every bird in the sky had flown away.
26I looked, and the good, rich land had become a desert.
All its towns had been destroyed
by the Lord and his great anger.
27This is what the Lord says:
“All the land will be ruined,
but I will not completely destroy it.
28So the people in the land will cry loudly,
and the sky will grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not change my mind.
I have made a decision, and I will not change it.”
29At the sound of the horsemen and the archers,
all the people in the towns run away.
They hide in the thick bushes
and climb up into the rocks.
All of the cities of Judah are empty;
no one lives in them.
30Judah, you destroyed nation, what are you doing?
Why do you put on your finest dress
and decorate yourself with gold jewelry?
Why do you put color around your eyes?
You make yourself beautiful, but it is all useless.
Your lovers hate you;
they want to kill you.
31I hear a cry like a woman having a baby,
distress like a woman having her first child.
It is the sound of Jerusalem gasping for breath.
She lifts her hands in prayer and says,
“Oh! I am about to faint
before my murderers!”