The Lord’s Legal Case against Israel
4 Listen to the Lord’s word, you Israelites. The Lord has brought these charges against those who live in the land:
“There is no faith, no love, and no knowledge of God in the land.
2 There is cursing, lying, murdering, stealing, and adultery.
People break my laws, and there is one murder after another.
3 That is why the land is drying up,
and everyone who lives in it is passing away.
Wild animals, birds, and fish are dying.
4 “No one should accuse other people or bring charges against them.
My case is against you priests.
5 During the day you stumble,
and during the night the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother, the nation of Israel.
6 I will destroy my people because they are ignorant.
You have refused to learn,
so I will refuse to let you be my priests.
You have forgotten the teachings of your God,
so I will forget your children.
7 The more priests there are,
the more they sin against me.
So I will turn their glory into shame.
8 They feed on the sins of my people,
and they want them to do wicked things.
9 So the priests will be punished like the people.
I will punish them for their wicked ways
and pay them back for what they have done.
10 “They will eat, but they’ll never be full.
They will have sex with prostitutes, but they’ll never have children.
They have abandoned the Lord.
11 Prostitutes, old wine, and new wine have robbed them of their senses.
12 My people ask their wooden idols for help.
A piece of wood tells them what to do.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray.
They commit adultery
by giving themselves to other gods.
13 They offer sacrifices on mountaintops,
and they burn incense on the hills
under oaks, poplars, and other trees.
They think that these trees provide good shade.
“That is why your daughters become prostitutes,
and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.
14 Yet, I will not punish your daughters when they become prostitutes
or your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery.
The men go to prostitutes
and offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes.
These foolish people will be trampled.
15 “Israel, you act like a prostitute.
Don’t let Judah become guilty too.
Don’t go to Gilgal.
Don’t go to Beth Aven.
Don’t take the oath, ‘As the Lord lives. . . .’
16 “The people of Israel are as stubborn as a bull.
How can the Lord feed them like lambs in an open pasture?
17 The people of Ephraim have chosen to worship idols. Leave them alone!
18 When they’re done drinking their wine,
they continue to have sex with the prostitutes.
Their rulers dearly love to act shamefully.
19 The wind will carry them away in its wings,
and their sacrifices will bring them shame.
The Lord Announces the Verdict against Israel
“Listen to this, you priests!
Pay attention, nation of Israel!
Open your ears, royal family!
This is my decision about you.
You set traps at Mizpah
and spread out nets on Mount Tabor.
2 You are deeply involved in sin.
So I will punish all of you.[a]
3 I know Ephraim,
and Israel isn’t a stranger to me.
Now, Ephraim, you are acting like a prostitute,
and Israel is unclean.[b]
4 “The wicked things that the people have done
keep them from returning to their God.
They have a spirit of prostitution,
and they don’t know the Lord.
5 The people of Israel’s arrogance testifies against them.
Israel and Ephraim stumble because of their sins,
and Judah stumbles with them.
6 They go with their sheep and their cattle to search for the Lord,
but they can’t find him.
He has left them.
7 They have been unfaithful to the Lord,
because their children do not belong to him.
Now their New Moon Festivals will devour them and their fields.
8 “Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah.
Blow the trumpet in Ramah.
Sound the alarm at Beth Aven, you descendants of Benjamin.
9 Ephraim will become a wasteland
when the time for punishment comes.
I will make the truth known among the tribes of Israel.
10 The leaders of Judah are like those who move boundary markers.
I will pour my fury on them like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed—crushed by punishment,
because its people are determined to chase idols.[c]
12 I will destroy Ephraim as a moth destroys clothing.
I will destroy the nation of Judah as rot destroys wood.
13 “When Ephraim saw that he was sick
and when Judah saw his own wounds,
Ephraim went to Assyria to ask the great king for help.[d]
But the king couldn’t cure them or heal their wounds.
14 I will be like a lion to Ephraim
and like a young lion to the nation of Judah.
I will carry them off, and no one will rescue them.
15 I will go back to my place until they admit that they are guilty.
Then they will search for me.
In their distress they will eagerly look for me.”
1 From the church leader.[a]
To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love because we share the truth. I’m not the only one who loves you. Everyone who knows the truth also loves you. 2 We love you because of the truth which lives in us and will be with us forever.
3 Good will,[b] mercy, and peace will be with us. They come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, who in truth and love is the Father’s Son.
Living in the Truth
4 I was very happy to find some of your children living in the truth as the Father has commanded us. 5 Dear lady, I’m now requesting that we continue to love each other. It’s not as though I’m writing to give you a new commandment. Rather, from the beginning we were commanded to love each other. 6 Love means that we live by doing what he commands. We were commanded to live in love, and you have heard this from the beginning.
Reject Teachers Who Don’t Teach What Christ Taught
7 Many people who deceive others have gone into the world. They refuse to declare that Jesus Christ came in flesh and blood. This is the mark of a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Be careful that you don’t destroy what we’ve worked for, but that you receive your full reward.
9 Everyone who doesn’t continue to teach what Christ taught doesn’t have God. The person who continues to teach what Christ taught has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and doesn’t bring these teachings, don’t take him into your home or even greet him. 11 Whoever greets him shares the evil things he’s doing.
12 I have a lot to write to you. I would prefer not to write a letter. Instead, I hope to visit and talk things over with you personally. Then we will be completely filled with joy.
13 The children of your chosen sister greet you.
1 Those who trust the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which can never be shaken.
It remains firm forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people now and forever.
3 A wicked ruler will not be allowed to govern
the land set aside for righteous people.
That is why righteous people do not use their power to do wrong.
4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
to those whose motives are decent.
5 But when people become crooked,
the Lord will lead them away with troublemakers.
Let there be peace in Israel!
A song for going up to worship.
9 When a wise person goes to court with a stubborn fool,
he may rant and rave,
but there is no peace and quiet.
10 Bloodthirsty people hate an innocent person,
but decent people seek to protect his life.
11 A fool expresses all his emotions,
but a wise person controls them.