1Good people die, and no one understands or even cares. But when they die, no calamity can hurt them. 2Those who live good lives find peace and rest in death.
3Come here to be judged, you sinners! You are no better than sorcerers, adulterers, and prostitutes. 4Who are you making fun of? Who are you liars jeering at? 5You worship the fertility gods by having sex under those sacred trees of yours. You offer your children as sacrifices in the rocky caves near the bed of a stream. 6You take smooth stones from there and worship them as gods. You pour out wine as offerings to them and bring them grain offerings. Do you think I am pleased with all this? 7You go to the high mountains to offer sacrifices and have sex. 8You set up your obscene idols just inside your front doors. You forsake me; you take off your clothes and climb into your large beds with your lovers, whom you pay to sleep with you. And there you satisfy your lust. 9You put on your perfumes and ointments and go to worship the god Molech. To find gods to worship, you send messengers far and wide, even to the world of the dead. 10You wear yourselves out looking for other gods, but you never give up. You think your obscene idols give you strength, and so you never grow weak.
11The LORD says, “Who are these gods that make you afraid, so that you tell me lies and forget me completely? Have you stopped honouring me because I have kept silent for so long? 12You think that what you do is right, but I will expose your conduct, and your idols will not be able to help you. 13When you cry for help, let those idols of yours save you! A puff of wind will carry them off! But those who trust in me will live in the land and will worship me in my Temple.”
God's Promise of Help and Healing
14The LORD says, “Let my people return to me. Remove every obstacle from their path! Build the road, and make it ready!
15“I am the high and holy God, who lives for ever. I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope. 16I gave my people life, and I will not continue to accuse them or be angry with them for ever.17I was angry with them because of their sin and greed, and so I punished them and abandoned them. But they were stubborn and kept on going their own way.
18“I have seen how they acted, but I will heal them. I will lead them and help them, and I will comfort those who mourn. 19I offer peace to all, both near and far! I will heal my people. 20But evil people are like the restless sea, whose waves never stop rolling in, bringing filth and muck. 21There is no safety for sinners,” says the LORD.
1The LORD says, “Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins! 2They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they take pleasure in worshipping me.”
3The people ask, “Why should we fast if the LORD never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?”
The LORD says to them, “The truth is that at the same time as you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. 4Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers? 5When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass, and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that?
6“The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.
8“Then my favour will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. 9When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.
“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; 10if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. 11And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never runs dry. 12Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.”
The Reward for Keeping the Sabbath
13The LORD says, “If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honour it by not travelling, working, or talking idly on that day, 14then you will find the joy that comes from serving me. I will make you honoured all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
The Prophet Condemns the People's Sins
1Don't think that the LORD is too weak to save you or too deaf to hear your call for help! 2It is because of your sins that he doesn't hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship him. 3You are guilty of lying, violence, and murder.
4You go to court, but you haven't got justice on your side. You depend on lies to win your case. You carry out your plans to hurt others. 7You are always planning something evil, and you can hardly wait to do it. You never hesitate to murder innocent people. You leave ruin and destruction wherever you go, 8and no one is safe when you are about. Everything you do is unjust. You follow a crooked path, and no one who walks that path will ever be safe.
The People Confess their Sin
9The people say, “Now we know why God does not save us from those who oppress us. We hope for light to walk by, but there is only darkness, 10and we grope about like blind people. We stumble at noon, as if it were night, as if we were in the dark world of the dead. 11We are frightened and distressed. We long for God to save us from oppression and wrong, but nothing happens.
12“LORD, our crimes against you are many. Our sins accuse us. We are well aware of them all. 13We have rebelled against you, rejected you, and refused to follow you. We have oppressed others and turned away from you. Our thoughts are false; our words are lies. 14Justice is driven away, and right cannot come near. Truth stumbles in the public square, and honesty finds no place there. 15There is so little honesty that those who stop doing evil find themselves the victims of crime.”
The LORD Prepares to Rescue his People
The LORD has seen this, and he is displeased that there is no justice. 16He is astonished to see that there is no one to help the oppressed. So he will use his own power to rescue them and to win the victory. 17He will wear justice like a coat of armour and saving power like a helmet. He will clothe himself with the strong desire to set things right and to punish and avenge the wrongs that people suffer. 18He will punish his enemies according to what they have done, even those who live in distant lands. 19From east to west everyone will fear him and his great power. He will come like a rushing river, like a strong wind.
20The LORD says to his people, “I will come to Jerusalem to defend you and to save all of you that turn from your sins. 21And I make a covenant with you: I have given you my power and my teachings to be yours for ever, and from now on you are to obey me and teach your children and your descendants to obey me for all time to come.”