1 Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel! The LORD has filed a lawsuit against you, saying: "There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land.
2 You curse and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another.
3 That is why your land is not producing. It is filled with sadness, and all living things are becoming sick and dying. Even the animals, birds, and fish have begun to disappear.
4 "Don't point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! Look, you priests, my complaint is with you!*1
5 As a sentence for your crimes, you will stumble in broad daylight, just as you might at night, and so will your false prophets. And I will destroy your mother, Israel.
6 My people are being destroyed because they don't know me. It is all your fault, you priests, for you yourselves refuse to know me. Now I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.
7 The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged* the glory of God for the disgrace of idols.2
8 "The priests get fed when the people sin and bring their sin offerings to them. So the priests are glad when the people sin!
9 `Like priests, like people'--since the priests are wicked, the people are wicked, too. So now I will punish both priests and people for all their wicked deeds.
10 They will eat and still be hungry. Though they do a big business as prostitutes, they will have no children, for they have deserted the LORD to worship other gods.
11 "Alcohol and prostitution have robbed my people of their brains.
12 They are asking a piece of wood to tell them what to do! They think a stick can tell them the future! Longing after idols has made them foolish. They have played the prostitute, serving other gods and deserting their God.
13 They offer sacrifices to idols on the tops of mountains. They go up into the hills to burn incense in the pleasant shade of oaks, poplars, and other trees. "That is why your daughters turn to prostitution, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.
14 Why should I punish them? For you men are doing the same thing, sinning with whores and shrine prostitutes. O foolish people! You will be destroyed, for you refuse to understand.
15 "Though Israel is a prostitute, may Judah avoid such guilt. O Judah, do not join with those who worship me insincerely at Gilgal and at Beth-aven.* Their worship is mere pretense as they take oaths in the LORD's name.3
16 Israel is as stubborn as a heifer, so the LORD will put her out to pasture. She will stand alone and unprotected, like a helpless lamb in an open field.
17 Leave her alone because she is married to idolatry.
18 The men of Israel finish up their drinking bouts and off they go to find some prostitutes. Their love for shame is greater than their love for honor.*4
19 So a mighty wind will sweep them away. They will die in shame because they offer sacrifices to idols.
Read Hosea 5