Turn Back to the Lord
1 Listen, nation of Israel,
to my mournful message:
2 You, dearest Israel, have fallen,
never to rise again—
you lie deserted in your own land,
with no one to help you up.

3 The Lord God has warned,
“From every ten soldiers
only one will be left;
from a thousand troops,
only a hundred will survive.”

4 The Lord keeps saying,
“Israel, turn back to me
and you will live!
5 Don't go to Gilgal or Bethel
or even to Beersheba.
Gilgal will be dragged away,
and Bethel will end up
as nothing.”

6 Turn back to the Lord,
you descendants of Joseph,
and you will live.
If you don't, the Lord
will attack like fire.
Bethel will burn to the ground,
and no one can save it.
7 You people are doomed!
You twist the truth
and trample on justice.

8 But the Lord created the stars
and put them in place.
He turns darkness to dawn
and daylight to darkness;
he scoops up the ocean
and empties it on the earth.
9 God destroys mighty soldiers
and strong fortresses.
Choose Good Instead of Evil!
The Lord said:

10 You people hate judges
and honest witnesses;
11 you abuse the poor and demand
heavy taxes from them.
You have built expensive homes,
but you won't enjoy them;
you have planted vineyards,
but you will get no wine.
12 I am the Lord, and I know
your terrible sins.
You cheat honest people
and take bribes;
you rob the poor of justice.
13 Times are so evil
that anyone with good sense
will keep quiet.

14 If you really want to live,
you must stop doing wrong
and start doing right.
I, the Lord God All-Powerful,
will then be on your side,
just as you claim I am.
15 Choose good instead of evil!
See that justice is done.
Maybe I, the Lord All-Powerful,
will be kind to what's left
of your people.
Judgment Is Coming
16 This is what the Lord has sworn:

Noisy crying will be heard
in every town and street.
Even farmers will be told
to mourn for the dead,
together with those
who are paid to mourn.
17 Your vineyards will be filled
with crying and weeping,
because I will punish you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
When the Lord Judges
18 You look forward to the day
when the Lord comes to judge.
But you are in for trouble!
It won't be a time of sunshine;
all will be darkness.
19 You will run from a lion,
only to meet a bear.
You will escape to your house,
rest your hand on the wall,
and be bitten by a snake.
20 The day when the Lord judges
will be dark, very dark,
without a ray of light.
What the Lord Demands
21 I, the Lord, hate and despise
your religious celebrations
and your times of worship.
22 I won't accept your offerings
or animal sacrifices—
not even your very best.
23 No more of your noisy songs!
I won't listen
when you play your harps.
24 But let justice and fairness
flow like a river
that never runs dry.

25 Israel, for forty years
you wandered in the desert,
without bringing offerings
or sacrifices to me.
26 Now you will have to carry
the two idols you made—
Sakkuth, the one you call king,
and Kaiwan, the one you built
in the shape of a star.
27 I will force you to march
as captives beyond Damascus.
I, the Lord God All-Powerful,
have spoken!