God’s Case Against His Children
2 Heaven and earth, listen,
because the Lord is speaking:
“I raised my children and helped them grow up,
but they have turned against me.
3 An ox knows its master,
and a donkey knows where its owner feeds it,
but the people of Israel do not know me;
my people do not understand.”
4 How terrible! Israel is a nation of sin,
a people loaded down with guilt,
a group of children doing evil,
children who are full of evil.
They have left the Lord;
they hate God, the Holy One of Israel,
and have turned away from him as if he were a stranger.
5 Why should you continue to be punished?
Why do you continue to turn against him?
Your whole head is hurt,
and your whole heart is sick.
6 There is no healthy spot
from the bottom of your foot to the top of your head;
you are covered with wounds, hurts, and open sores
that are not cleaned and covered,
and no medicine takes away the pain.
7 Your land is ruined;
your cities have been burned with fire.
While you watch,
your enemies are stealing everything from your land;
it is ruined like a country destroyed by enemies.
8 Jerusalem is left alone
like an empty shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut left in a field of melons,
like a city surrounded by enemies.
9 The Lord All-Powerful
allowed a few of our people to live.
Otherwise we would have been completely destroyed
like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
10 Jerusalem, your rulers are like those of Sodom,
and your people are like those of Gomorrah.
Hear the word of the Lord;
listen to the teaching of our God!
11 The Lord says,
“I do not want all these sacrifices.
I have had enough of your burnt sacrifices
of male sheep and fat from fine animals.
I am not pleased
by the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats.
12 You come to meet with me,
but who asked you to do
all this running in and out of my Temple’s rooms?
13 Don’t continue bringing me worthless sacrifices!
I hate the incense you burn.
I can’t stand your New Moons, Sabbaths, and other feast days;
I can’t stand the evil you do in your holy meetings.
14 I hate your New Moon feasts
and your other yearly feasts.
They have become a heavy weight on me,
and I am tired of carrying it.
15 When you raise your arms to me in prayer,
I will refuse to look at you.
Even if you say many prayers,
I will not listen to you,
because your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean.
Stop doing the evil things I see you do.
Stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do good.
Punish those who hurt others.
Help the orphans.
Stand up for the rights of widows.”
18 The Lord says,
“Come, let us talk about these things.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they can be as white as snow.
Though your sins are deep red,
they can be white like wool.
19 If you become willing and obey me,
you will eat good crops from the land.
20 But if you refuse to obey and if you turn against me,
you will be destroyed by your enemies’ swords.”
The Lord himself said these things.
Jerusalem Is Not Loyal to God
21 The city of Jerusalem once followed the Lord,
but she is no longer loyal to him.
She used to be filled with fairness;
people there lived the way God wanted.
But now, murderers live there.
22 Jerusalem, you have become like the scum left when silver is purified;
you are like wine mixed with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels
and friends of thieves.
They all accept money for doing wrong,
and they are paid to cheat people.
They don’t seek justice for the orphans
or listen to the widows’ needs.
24 So the Lord God All-Powerful,
the Mighty One of Israel, says:
“You, my enemies, will not cause me any more trouble.
I will pay you back for what you did.
25 I will turn against you
and clean away all your wrongs as if with soap;
I will take all the worthless things out of you.
26 I will bring back judges as you had long ago;
your counselors will be like those you had in the beginning.
Then you will be called the City That Is Right with God,
the Loyal City.”
27 By doing what is fair,
Jerusalem will be free again.
By doing what is right,
her people who come back to the Lord will have freedom.
28 But sinners and those who turn against him will be destroyed;
those who have left the Lord will die.
29 “You will be ashamed,
because you have worshiped gods under the oak trees.
You will be disgraced,
because you have worshiped idols in your gardens.
30 You will be like an oak whose leaves are dying
or like a garden without water.
31 Powerful people will be like small, dry pieces of wood,
and their works will be like sparks.
They will burn together,
and no one will be able to put out that fire.”