1Ask the LORD for rain in the spring of the year. It is the LORD who sends rain clouds and showers, making the fields green for everyone. 2People consult idols and fortune tellers, but the answers they get are lies and nonsense. Some interpret dreams, but only mislead you; the comfort they give is useless. So the people wander about like lost sheep. They are in trouble because they have no leader.
3The LORD says, “I am angry with those foreigners who rule my people, and I am going to punish them. The people of Judah are mine, and I, the LORD Almighty, will take care of them. They will be my powerful war horses. 4From among them will come rulers, leaders, and commanders to govern my people.5The people of Judah will be victorious like soldiers who trample their enemies into the mud of the streets. They will fight because the LORD is with them, and they will defeat even the enemy horsemen.
6“I will make the people of Judah strong;
I will rescue the people of Israel.
I will have compassion on them
and bring them all back home.
They will be as though I had never rejected them.
I am the LORD their God; I will answer their prayers.
7The people of Israel will be strong like soldiers,
happy like men who have been drinking wine.
Their descendants will remember this victory
and be glad because of what the LORD has done.
8“I will call my people
and gather them together.
I will rescue them
and make them as numerous as they used to be.
9Though I have scattered them among the nations,
yet in far-off places they will remember me.
They and their children will survive
and return home together.
10From Egypt and Assyria I will bring them home
and settle them in their own country.
I will settle them in Gilead and Lebanon also;
the whole land will be filled with people.
11When they pass through their sea of trouble,
I, the LORD, will strike the waves,
and the depths of the Nile will go dry.
Proud Assyria will be humbled,
and mighty Egypt will lose her power.
12I will make my people strong;
they will worship and obey me.”
The LORD has spoken.
The Fall of the Tyrants
1Open your doors, Lebanon,
so that fire can burn down your cedar trees!
2Weep and wail, cypress trees —
the cedars have fallen;
those glorious trees have been destroyed!
Weep and wail, oaks of Bashan —
the dense forest has been cut down!
3The rulers cry out in grief;
their glory is gone!
Listen to the roaring of the lions;
their forest home along the Jordan is destroyed!
The Two Shepherds
4The LORD my God said to me, “Act the part of the shepherd of a flock of sheep that are going to be butchered. 5Their owners kill them and go unpunished. They sell the meat and say, ‘Praise the LORD! We are rich!’ Even their own shepherds have no pity on them.”
6(The LORD said, “I will no longer pity anyone on earth. I myself will put all the people in the power of their rulers. Those rulers will devastate the earth, and I will not save it from their power.”)
7Those who bought and sold the sheep hired me, and I became the shepherd of the sheep that were going to be butchered. I took two sticks: one I called “Favour”, and the other “Unity”. And I took care of the flock. 8I lost patience with three other shepherds, who hated me, and I got rid of them all in a single month. 9Then I said to the flock, “I will not be your shepherd any longer. Let those who are to die, die. Let those who are to be destroyed, be destroyed. Those who are left will destroy one another.” 10Then I took the stick called “Favour” and broke it, to cancel the covenant which the LORD had made with all the nations. 11So the covenant was cancelled on that day. Those who bought and sold the sheep were watching me, and they knew that the LORD was speaking through what I did. 12I said to them, “If you are willing, give me my wages. But if not, keep them.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver as my wages.
13The LORD said to me, “Put them in the temple treasury.” So I took the thirty pieces of silver — the magnificent sum they thought I was worth — and put them in the temple treasury. 14Then I broke the second stick, the one called “Unity”, and the unity of Judah and Israel was shattered.
15Then the LORD said to me, “Once again act the part of a shepherd, this time a worthless one. 16I have put a shepherd in charge of my flock, but he does not help the sheep that are threatened by destruction; nor does he look for the lost, or heal those that are hurt, or feed the healthy. Instead, he eats the meat of the fattest sheep and tears off their hoofs. 17That worthless shepherd is doomed! He has abandoned his flock. War will totally destroy his power. His arm will wither, and his right eye will go blind.”
The Future Deliverance of Jerusalem
1This is a message about Israel from the LORD, the LORD who spread out the skies, created the earth, and gave life to man. He says, 2“I will make Jerusalem like a cup of wine; the nations round her will drink and stagger like drunken men. And when they besiege Jerusalem, the cities of the rest of Judah will also be besieged. 3But when that time comes, I will make Jerusalem like a heavy stone — any nation that tries to lift it will be hurt. All the nations of the world will join forces to attack her. 4At that time I will terrify all their horses and make all their riders go mad. I will watch over the people of Judah, but I will make the horses of their enemies blind. 5Then the clans of Judah will say to themselves, ‘The LORD God Almighty gives strength to his people who live in Jerusalem.’
6“At that time I will make the clans of Judah like a fire in a forest or in a field of ripe corn — they will destroy all the surrounding nations. The people of Jerusalem will remain safe in the city.
7“I, the LORD, will give victory to the armies of Judah first, so that the honour which the descendants of David and the people of Jerusalem will receive will be no greater than that of the rest of Judah. 8At that time the LORD will protect those who live in Jerusalem, and even the weakest among them will become as strong as David was. The descendants of David will lead them like the angel of the LORD, like God himself. 9At that time I will destroy every nation that tries to attack Jerusalem.
10“I will fill the descendants of David and the other people of Jerusalem with the spirit of mercy and the spirit of prayer. They will look at the one whom they stabbed to death, and they will mourn for him like those who mourn for an only child. They will mourn bitterly, like those who have lost their firstborn son. 11At that time the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12-14Each family in the land will mourn by itself: the family descended from David, the family descended from Nathan, the family descended from Levi, the family descended from Shimei, and all the other families. Each family will mourn by itself, and the men of each family will mourn separately from the women.
1“When that time comes,” says the LORD Almighty, “a fountain will be opened to purify the descendants of David and the people of Jerusalem from their sin and idolatry. 2At that time I will remove the names of the idols from the land, and no one will remember them any more. I will get rid of anyone who claims to be a prophet and will take away the desire to worship idols. 3Then if anyone still insists on prophesying, his own father and mother will tell him that he must be put to death, because he claimed to speak the LORD's word, but spoke lies instead. When he prophesies, his own father and mother will stab him to death. 4When that time comes, no prophet will be proud of his visions, or act like a prophet, or wear a prophet's coarse garment in order to deceive people. 5Instead, he will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer — I have farmed the land all my life.’ 6Then if someone asks him, ‘What are those wounds on your chest?’ he will answer, ‘I got them at a friend's house.’ ”
The Command to Kill God's Shepherd
7The LORD Almighty says, “Wake up, sword, and attack the shepherd who works for me! Kill him, and the sheep will be scattered. I will attack my people 8and throughout the land two-thirds of the people will die. 9And I will test the third that survives and will purify them as silver is purified by fire. I will test them as gold is tested. Then they will pray to me, and I will answer them. I will tell them that they are my people, and they will confess that I am their God.”
Jerusalem and the Nations
1The day when the LORD will sit in judgement is near. Then Jerusalem will be looted, and the loot will be divided up before your eyes. 2The LORD will bring all the nations together to make war on Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses looted, and the women raped. Half the people will go into exile, but the rest of them will not be taken away from the city. 3Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. 4At that time he will stand on the Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem. Then the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west by a large valley. Half the mountain will move northwards and half of it southwards. 5You will escape through this valley that divides the mountain in two. You will flee as your ancestors did when the earthquake struck in the time of King Uzziah of Judah. The LORD my God will come, bringing all the angels with him.
6When that time comes, there will no longer be cold or frost,7nor any darkness. There will always be daylight, even at night-time. When this will happen is known only to the LORD.
8When that day comes, fresh water will flow from Jerusalem, half of it to the Dead Sea and the other half to the Mediterranean. It will flow all the year round, in the dry season as well as the wet. 9Then the LORD will be king over all the earth; everyone will worship him as God and know him by the same name.
10The whole region, from Geba in the north to Rimmon in the south, will be made level. Jerusalem will tower above the land round it; the city will reach from the Benjamin Gate to the Corner Gate, where there had been an earlier gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. 11The people will live there in safety, no longer threatened by destruction.
12The LORD will bring a terrible disease on all the nations that make war on Jerusalem. Their flesh will rot away while they are still alive; their eyes and their tongues will rot away.
13At that time the LORD will make them so confused and afraid that everyone will seize the man next to him and attack him. 14The men of Judah will fight to defend Jerusalem. They will take as loot the wealth of all the nations — gold, silver, and clothing in great abundance.
15A terrible disease will also fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, and the donkeys — on all the animals in the camps of the enemy.
16Then all the survivors from the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go there each year to worship the LORD Almighty as king, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. 17If any nation refuses to go and worship the LORD Almighty as king, then rain will not fall on their land. 18If the Egyptians refuse to celebrate the Festival of Shelters, then they will be struck by the same disease that the LORD will send on every nation that refuses to go. 19This will be the punishment that will fall on Egypt and on all the other nations if they do not celebrate the Festival of Shelters.
20At that time even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with the words “Dedicated to the LORD”. The cooking pots in the Temple will be as sacred as the bowls before the altar. 21Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in all Judah will be set apart for use in the worship of the LORD Almighty. The people who offer sacrifices will use them for boiling the meat of the sacrifices. When that time comes, there will no longer be any merchant in the Temple of the LORD Almighty.