Zephaniah 3

1Jerusalem, your people fought against God! Your people hurt other people, and you have been stained with sin! 2Your people didn’t listen to me! They didn’t accept my teachings. Jerusalem didn’t trust the Lord. Jerusalem didn’t go to her God. 3Jerusalem’s leaders are like roaring lions. Her judges are like hungry wolves that come in the evening ˻to attack the sheep˼—and in the morning nothing is left. 4Her prophets are always making their secret plans to get more and more. Her priests have treated holy things like they are not holy. They have done bad things to God’s teachings. 5But God is still in that city. And he continues to be good. God does not do anything wrong. He continues to help his people. Morning after morning he helps his people make good decisions. But those bad people are not ashamed of the bad things they do. 6˻God says,˼ “I have destroyed whole nations. I destroyed their defense towers. I destroyed their streets and now no one goes there any more. Their cities are empty—no one lives there any more. 7I tell you these things so you will learn a lesson. I want you to fear and respect me. If you do this, then your home won’t be destroyed. If you do this, then I won’t have to punish you the way I planned.” But those bad people only wanted to do more of the same bad things they had already done! 8The Lord said, “So just wait! Wait for me to stand and judge you. I have the right to bring people from many nations and use them to punish you. I will use those people to show my anger against you. I will use them to show how upset I am—and the whole country will be destroyed! 9Then I will change people from other nations so they can speak the language clearly and call out the name of the Lord. They will all worship me together, shoulder to shoulder, as one people. 10People will come all the way from the other side of the river in Ethiopia. My scattered people will come to me. My worshipers will come and bring their gifts to me. 11“Then, Jerusalem, you will no longer be ashamed of the bad things your people do against me. Why? Because I will remove all of those bad people from Jerusalem. I will take away all of those proud people. There won’t be any of those proud people on my holy mountain. 12I will let only meek and humble people stay in my city ˻(Jerusalem)˼. And they will trust the Lord’s name. 13The survivors of Israel won’t do bad things. They won’t tell lies. They won’t try to trick people with lies. They will be like sheep that eat and lie down in peace—and no one will bother them.” 14Jerusalem, sing and be happy! Israel, shout for joy! Jerusalem, be happy and have fun! 15Why? Because the Lord stopped your punishment! He destroyed your enemies’ strong towers! King of Israel, the Lord is with you. You don’t need to worry about anything bad happening. 16At that time, Jerusalem will be told, ”Be strong, don’t be afraid! 17The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much he loves you. He will show you how happy he is with you. He will laugh and be happy about you, 18like people at a party.” The Lord said, ”I will take away your shame. I will make those people stop hurting you. 19At that time, I will punish the people that hurt you. I will save my hurt people. I will bring back the people that were forced to run away. And I will make them famous. People everywhere will praise them. 20At that time, I will bring you back. I will bring you back together. I will make you famous. People everywhere will praise you. That will happen when I bring back the prisoners before your very own eyes!” The Lord said those things.

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