1 HEAR THIS word which I take up concerning you in lamentation, O house of Israel:
2 The Virgin of Israel has fallen; she shall no more rise; she lies cast down and forsaken on her land; there is no one to raise her up.
3 For thus says the Lord God: The city that went forth a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went forth a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel.
4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: Seek Me [inquire for and of Me and require Me as you require food] and you shall live! [II Chron. 15:2; Jer. 29:13.]
5 But seek not [the golden calf at] Bethel nor enter into [idolatrous] Gilgal, and pass not over to [the idols of] Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity and exile, and Bethel [house of God] shall become Beth-aven [house of vanity, emptiness, falsity, and futility] and come to nothing.
6 Seek the Lord [inquire for and of Him and require Him] and you shall live, lest He rush down like fire upon the house of Joseph [representing the ten tribes] and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel [the center of their idol hopes].
7 You who turn justice into [the bitterness of] wormwood and cast righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God) down to the ground,
8 Seek Him Who made the [cluster of stars called] Pleiades and [the constellation] Orion, Who turns the shadow of death or deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the face of the earth–the Lord is His name–
9 Who causes sudden destruction to flash forth upon the strong so that destruction comes upon the fortress.
10 They hate him who reproves in the [city] gate [holding him as an abomination and rejecting his rebuke], and they abhor him who speaks uprightly.
11 Therefore because you tread upon the poor and take from him exactions of wheat, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how manifold are your transgressions and how mighty are your sins–you who afflict the [uncompromisingly] righteous, who take a bribe, and who turn aside the needy in the [court of the city] gate from their right.
13 Therefore he who is prudent will keep silence in such a time, for it is an evil time.
14 Seek (inquire for and require) good and not evil that you may live, and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.
15 Hate the evil and love the good and establish justice in the [court of the city's] gate. It may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph [the northern kingdom].
16 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord: There shall be wailing in all the broad ways, and in all the streets they shall say, Alas! Alas! And they shall call the farmers to mourning and such as are skilled in lamentation to wailing.
17 And in all vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through the midst of you, says the Lord.
18 Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness and not light;
19 It is as if a man fled from a lion and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned with his hand against the wall and a serpent bit him.
20 Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light? Even very dark with no brightness in it?
21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will not smell a savor or take delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Though you offer Me your burnt offerings and your cereal offerings, I will not accept them, neither will I look upon the peace or thank offerings of your fatted beasts.
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24 But let justice run down like waters and righteousness as a mighty and ever-flowing stream.
25 Did you bring to Me sacrifices and cereal offerings during those forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
26 [No] but [instead of bringing Me the appointed sacrifices] you carried about the tent of your king Sakkuth and Kaiwan [names for the gods of the planet Saturn], your images of your star-god which you made for yourselves [and you will do so again].
27 Therefore I will cause you to go into exile beyond Damascus, says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts. [Acts 7:42, 43.]
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