Israel's Return Home
1The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel, and they will be my people. 2In the desert I showed mercy to those people who had escaped death. When the people of Israel longed for rest, 3I appeared to them from far away. People of Israel, I have always loved you, so I continue to show you my constant love. 4Once again I will rebuild you. Once again you will take up your tambourines and dance joyfully. 5Once again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria, and those who plant them will eat what the vineyards produce. 6Yes, the time is coming when sentries will call out on the hills of Ephraim, ‘Let's go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’”
7The Lord says,
“Sing with joy for Israel,
the greatest of the nations.
Sing your song of praise,
‘The Lord has saved his people;
he has rescued all who are left.’
8I will bring them from the north
and gather them from the ends of the earth.
The blind and the lame will come with them,
pregnant women and those about to give birth.
They will come back a great nation.
9My people will return weeping,
praying as I lead them back.
I will guide them to streams of water,
on a smooth road where they will not stumble.
I am like a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my oldest son.”
10The Lord says,
“Nations, listen to me
and proclaim my words on the far-off shores.
I scattered my people, but I will gather them
and guard them as a shepherd guards his flock.
11I have set Israel's people free
and have saved them from a mighty nation.
12They will come and sing for joy on Mount Zion
and be delighted with my gifts—
gifts of grain and wine and olive oil,
gifts of sheep and cattle.
They will be like a well-watered garden;
they will have everything they need.
13Then the young women will dance and be happy,
and men, young and old, will rejoice.
I will comfort them and turn their mourning into joy,
their sorrow into gladness.
14I will fill the priests with the richest food
and satisfy all the needs of my people.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
The Lord's Mercy on Israel
15 The Lord says,
“A sound is heard in Ramah,
the sound of bitter weeping.
Rachel is crying for her children;
they are gone,
and she refuses to be comforted.
16Stop your crying
and wipe away your tears.
All that you have done for your children
will not go unrewarded;
they will return from the enemy's land.
17There is hope for your future;
your children will come back home.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
18“I hear the people of Israel say in grief,
‘Lord, we were like an untamed animal,
but you taught us to obey.
Bring us back;
we are ready to return to you,
the Lord our God.
19We turned away from you,
but soon we wanted to return.
After you had punished us,
we hung our heads in grief.
We were ashamed and disgraced
because we sinned when we were young.’
20“Israel, you are my dearest child,
the one I love best.
Whenever I mention your name,
I think of you with love.
My heart goes out to you;
I will be merciful.
21Set up signs and mark the road;
find again the way by which you left.
Come back, people of Israel,
come home to the towns you left.
22How long will you hesitate, faithless people?
I have created something new and different,
as different as a woman protecting a man.”
The Future Prosperity of God's People
23The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says, “When I restore the people to their land, they will once again say in the land of Judah and in its towns,
‘May the Lord bless the sacred hill of Jerusalem,
the holy place where he lives.’
24People will live in Judah and in all its towns, and there will be farmers, and shepherds with their flocks. 25I will refresh those who are weary and will satisfy with food everyone who is weak from hunger. 26So then, people will say, ‘I went to sleep and woke up refreshed.’
27“I, the Lord, say that the time is coming when I will fill the land of Israel and Judah with people and animals. 28And just as I took care to uproot, to pull down, to overthrow, to destroy, and to demolish them, so I will take care to plant them and to build them up. 29 When that time comes, people will no longer say,
‘The parents ate the sour grapes,
But the children got the sour taste.’
30Instead, those who eat sour grapes will have their own teeth set on edge; and everyone will die because of their own sin.”
31 The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. Although I was like a husband to them, they did not keep that covenant. 33 The new covenant that I will make with the people of Israel will be this: I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 None of them will have to teach a neighbor to know the Lord, because all will know me, from the least to the greatest. I will forgive their sins and I will no longer remember their wrongs. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
35The Lord provides the sun for light by day,
the moon and the stars to shine at night.
He stirs up the sea and makes it roar;
his name is the Lord Almighty.
36He promises that as long as the natural order lasts,
so long will Israel be a nation.
37If one day the sky could be measured
and the foundations of the earth explored,
only then would he reject the people of Israel
because of all they have done.
The Lord has spoken.
38“The time is coming,” says the Lord, “when all of Jerusalem will be rebuilt as my city, from Hananel Tower west to the Corner Gate. 39And the boundary line will continue from there on the west to the hill of Gareb and then around to Goah. 40The entire valley, where the dead are buried and garbage is dumped, and all the fields above Kidron Brook as far as the Horse Gate to the east, will be sacred to me. The city will never again be torn down or destroyed.”