31Listen, you rulers of Israel! You are supposed to be concerned about justice, 2yet you hate what is good and you love what is evil. You skin my people alive and tear the flesh off their bones. 3You eat my people up. You strip off their skin, break their bones, and chop them up like meat for the pot. 4The time is coming when you will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer you. He will not listen to your prayers, for you have done evil.
5My people are deceived by prophets who promise peace to those who pay them, but threaten war for those who don't. To these prophets the LORD says, 6“Prophets, your day is almost over; the sun is going down on you. Because you mislead my people, you will have no more prophetic visions, and you will not be able to predict anything.” 7Those who predict the future will be disgraced by their failure. They will all be humiliated because God does not answer them.
8But as for me, the LORD fills me with his Spirit and power, and gives me a sense of justice and the courage to tell the people of Israel what their sins are. 9Listen to me, you rulers of Israel, you that hate justice and turn right into wrong. 10You are building God's city, Jerusalem, on a foundation of murder and injustice. 11The city's rulers govern for bribes, the priests interpret the Law for pay, the prophets give their revelations for money — and they all claim that the LORD is with them. “No harm will come to us,” they say. “The LORD is with us.”
And so, because of you, Zion will be ploughed like a field, Jerusalem will become a pile of ruins, and the Temple hill will become a forest.
41In days to come
the mountain where the Temple stands
will be the highest one of all,
towering above all the hills.
Many nations will come streaming to it,
2and their people will say,
“Let us go up the hill of the LORD,4.2 hill of the LORD: Mount Zion (see Zion in Word List).
to the Temple of Israel's God.
He will teach us what he wants us to do;
we will walk in the paths he has chosen.
For the LORD's teaching comes from Jerusalem;
from Zion he speaks to his people.”
He will settle disputes among the nations,
among the great powers near and far.
They will hammer their swords into ploughs
and their spears into pruning knives.
Nations will never again go to war,
never prepare for battle again.
Everyone will live in peace
among his own vineyards and fig trees,
and no one will make him afraid.
The LORD Almighty has promised this.
5Each nation worships and obeys its own god, but we will worship and obey the LORD our God for ever and ever.
6“The time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will gather together the people I punished, those who have suffered in exile. 7They are crippled and far from home, but I will make a new beginning with those who are left, and they will become a great nation. I will rule over them on Mount Zion from that time on and for ever.”
8And you, Jerusalem, where God, like a shepherd, watches over his people, will once again be the capital of the kingdom that was yours. 9Why do you cry out so loudly? Why are you suffering like a woman in labour? Is it because you have no king, and your counsellors are dead? 10Twist and groan,4.10 Probable text groan; Hebrew bring forth. people of Jerusalem, like a woman giving birth, for now you will have to leave the city and live in the open country. You will have to go to Babylon, but there the LORD will save you from your enemies. 11Many nations have gathered to attack you. They say, “Jerusalem must be destroyed! We will see this city in ruins!” 12But these nations do not know what is in the LORD's mind. They do not realize that they have been gathered together to be punished in the same way that corn is brought in to be threshed.
13The LORD says, “People of Jerusalem, go and punish your enemies! I will make you as strong as a bull with iron horns and bronze hoofs. You will crush many nations, and the wealth they got by violence you will present to me, the Lord of the whole world.”
51People of Jerusalem, gather your forces!5.1 Probable text People… forces!; Hebrew unclear. We are besieged! They are attacking the leader of Israel!
The LORD says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.”
3So the LORD will abandon his people to their enemies until the woman who is to give birth has her son. Then those Israelites who are in exile will be reunited with their own people. 4When he comes, he will rule his people with the strength that comes from the LORD and with the majesty of the LORD God himself. His people will live in safety because people all over the earth will acknowledge his greatness, 5and he will bring peace.
When the Assyrians invade our country and break through our defences, we will send our strongest leaders to fight them. 6
By force of arms they will conquer Assyria, the land of Nimrod, and they5.6 Probable text they; Hebrew he. will save us from the Assyrians when they invade our territory.
7The people of Israel who survive will be like refreshing dew sent by the LORD for many nations, like showers on growing plants. They will depend on God, not human beings. 8Those who are left among the nations will be like a lion hunting for food in a forest or a pasture: it gets in among the sheep, pounces on them, and tears them to pieces — and there is no hope of rescue. 9Israel will conquer her enemies and destroy them all.
10The LORD says, “At that time I will take away your horses and destroy your chariots. 11I will destroy the cities in your land and tear down all your defences. 12I will destroy the magic charms you use and leave you without any fortune tellers. 13I will destroy your idols and sacred stone pillars; no longer will you worship the things that you yourselves have made. 14I will pull down the images of the goddess Asherah in your land and destroy your cities. 15And in my great anger I will take revenge on all nations that have not obeyed me.”