“Seek Me that You May Live”
1Hear this word which I take up for you as a funeral song, O house of Israel:
She has fallen, she will not rise again—
The virgin Israel.
She lies neglected on her land;
There is no one to raise her up.
For thus says the Lord God,
“The city which goes forth a thousand strong
Will have a hundred left,
And the one which goes forth a hundred strong
Will have ten left to the house of Israel.”
4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel,
“Seek Me [search diligently for Me and regard Me as more essential than food] so that you may live.
“But do not resort to Bethel [to worship the golden calf]
Nor enter [idolatrous] Gilgal,
Nor cross over to Beersheba [and its idols];
For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and exile,
And Bethel will come to nothing.
“Seek the Lord [search diligently for Him and long for Him as your most essential need] so that you may live,
Or He will rush down like a [devouring] fire, O [a]house of Joseph,
And there will be no one to quench the flame for [idolatrous] [b]Bethel,
“For those [shall be consumed] who turn justice into wormwood (bitterness)
And cast righteousness down to the earth.”
He who made the [cluster of stars called] Pleiades and [the constellation] Orion,
Who turns deep darkness into the morning
And darkens the day into night,
Who calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the surface of the earth,
The Lord is His name.
It is He who causes [sudden] destruction to flash forth on the strong
So that destruction comes on the fortress.
They hate the one who reprimands [the unrighteous] in the [court held at the city] gate [regarding him as unreasonable and rejecting his reprimand],
And they detest him who speaks [the truth] with integrity and honesty.
Therefore, because you impose heavy rent on the poor
And demand a tribute (food-tax) of grain from them,
Though you have built [luxurious] houses of square stone,
You will not live in them;
You have planted beautiful vineyards, but you will not drink their wine.
For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great (shocking, innumerable),
You who distress the righteous and take bribes,
And turn away from the poor in the [court of the city] gate [depriving them of justice].
Therefore, he who is prudent and has insight will keep silent at such a [corrupt and evil] time, for it is an evil time [when people will not listen to truth and will disregard those of good character].
Seek (long for, require) good and not evil, that you may live;
And so may the Lord God of hosts be with you,
Just as you have said!
Hate evil and love good,
And establish justice in the [court of the city] gate.
Perhaps the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph [that is, those who remain after God’s judgment].
16 Therefore, thus says the Lord God of hosts, the Lord,
“There is wailing in all the public plazas,
And in all the streets they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
And they call the farmers to mourning [for those who have died]
And professional mourners to wailing.
“And in all vineyards there is wailing,
For I will pass through your midst [in judgment],” says the Lord.
Woe (judgment is coming) to you who desire the day of the Lord [expecting rescue from the Gentiles]!
Why would you want the day of the Lord?
It is darkness (judgment) and not light [and rescue and prosperity];
It is as if a man runs from a lion [escaping one danger]
And a bear meets him [so he dies anyway],
Or goes home, and leans with his hand against the wall
And a snake bites him.
Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, instead of light,
Even very dark with no brightness in it?
“I hate, I despise and reject your [sacred] feasts,
And I do not take delight in your solemn assemblies.
“Even though you offer Me your burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fattened animals.
“Take the noise of your songs away from Me [they are an irritation]!
I shall not even listen to the melody of your harps.
“But let justice run down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream [flowing abundantly].
25 “Did you bring Me sacrifices and grain offerings during those forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? [Certainly not!] 26 You carried along your king Sikkuth and Kayyun [your man-made gods of Saturn], your images of your star-god which you made for yourselves [but you brought Me none of the appointed sacrifices]. 27 Therefore, I will send you to go into exile far beyond Damascus,” says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.