1If you return, O Israel,
says the LORD,
if you return to me,
if you remove your abominations from my presence,
and do not waver,
2and if you swear, ‘As the LORD lives!’
in truth, in justice, and in uprightness,
then nations shall be blessed4.2 Or shall bless themselves by him,
and by him they shall boast.
3For thus says the LORD to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
Break up your fallow ground,
and do not sow among thorns.
4Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
and burn with no one to quench it,
because of the evil of your doings.
Invasion and Desolation of Judah Threatened
5Declare in Judah, and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say:
Blow the trumpet through the land;
shout aloud4.5 Or shout, take your weapons: Heb shout, fill (your hand) and say,
‘Gather together, and let us go
into the fortified cities!’
6Raise a standard towards Zion,
flee for safety, do not delay,
for I am bringing evil from the north,
and a great destruction.
7A lion has gone up from its thicket,
a destroyer of nations has set out;
he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
your cities will be ruins
8Because of this put on sackcloth,
lament and wail:
‘The fierce anger of the LORD
has not turned away from us.’
9On that day, says the LORD, courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded. 10Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD, how utterly you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, “It shall be well with you”, even while the sword is at the throat!’
11At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights4.11 Or the trails in the desert towards my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— 12a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgement against them.
13Look! He comes up like clouds,
his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
woe to us, for we are ruined!
14O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness
so that you may be saved.
How long shall your evil schemes
lodge within you?
15For a voice declares from Dan
and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim.
16Tell the nations, ‘Here they are!’
Proclaim against Jerusalem,
‘Besiegers come from a distant land;
they shout against the cities of Judah.
17They have closed in around her like watchers of a field,
because she has rebelled against me,
says the LORD.
18Your ways and your doings
have brought this upon you.
This is your doom; how bitter it is!
It has reached your very heart.’
Sorrow for a Doomed Nation
19My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent;
for I4.19 Another reading is for you, O my soul, hear the sound of the trumpet,
the alarm of war.
20Disaster overtakes disaster,
the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
my curtains in a moment.
21How long must I see the standard,
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22‘For my people are foolish,
they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
but do not know how to do good.’
23I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
24I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
25I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
26I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
27For thus says the LORD: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.
28Because of this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above grow black;
for I have spoken, I have purposed;
I have not relented nor will I turn back.
29At the noise of horseman and archer
every town takes to flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks;
all the towns are forsaken,
and no one lives in them.
30And you, O desolate one,
what do you mean that you dress in crimson,
that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold,
that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
Your lovers despise you;
they seek your life.
31For I heard a cry as of a woman in labour,
anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,
the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,
stretching out her hands,
‘Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!’
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.