This is a message from the Lord about Israel. The Lord is the one who made the earth and the sky, and he put the human spirit in people. And this is what the Lord said: “Look, I will make Jerusalem like a cup of poison to the nations around her. The nations will come and attack that city, and all of Judah will be caught in the trap. But I will make Jerusalem like a heavy rock—those who try to take it will hurt themselves. They will be cut and scratched. All the nations on earth will come together to fight against Jerusalem. But at that time I will scare the horse, and the soldier riding it will panic. I will make all the enemy horses blind, but my eyes will be open—and I will be watching over Judah’s family. The leaders of Judah will encourage the people and say, ‘The Lord All-Powerful is your God. He makes us strong.’ At that time I will make the leaders of Judah like a fire burning in a forest. They will destroy their enemies like fire burning straw. They will destroy the enemy all around them, and the people in Jerusalem will again be able to sit back and relax.”
The Lord will save the people of Judah first, so the people in Jerusalem will not be able to brag too much. David’s family and the other people who live in Jerusalem will not be able to brag that they are better than the other people in Judah. But the Lord will protect the people in Jerusalem. Even the man who trips and falls will become a great soldier like David. And the men from David’s family will be like gods—like the Lord’s own angel leading the people.
The Lord says, “At that time I will destroy the nations that came to fight against Jerusalem. I will fill David’s family and the people living in Jerusalem with a spirit of kindness and mercy. They will look to me, the one they stabbed, and they will be very sad. They will be as sad as someone crying over the death of their only son, as sad as someone crying over the death of their firstborn son. There will be a time of great sadness and crying in Jerusalem. It will be like the time people cry over the death of Hadad Rimmon in Megiddo Valley. Each and every family will cry by itself. The men in David’s family will cry by themselves, and their wives will cry by themselves. The men in Nathan’s family will cry by themselves, and their wives will cry by themselves. The men in Levi’s family will cry by themselves, and their wives will cry by themselves. The men in Simeon’s family will cry by themselves, and their wives will cry by themselves. And the same thing will happen in all the other tribes. The men and women will cry by themselves.”
But at that time a new spring of water will be opened for David’s family and for the other people living in Jerusalem. That fountain will be to wash away their sins and to make the people pure.
The Lord All-Powerful says, “At that time I will remove all the idols from the earth. People will not even remember their names, and I will remove the false prophets and unclean spirits from the earth. Whoever continues to prophesy will be punished. Even their parents, their own mother and father, will say to them, ‘You have spoken lies in the name of the Lord, so you must die!’ Their own mother and father will stab them for prophesying. At that time the prophets will be ashamed of their visions and prophecies. They will not wear the rough cloth that shows a person is a prophet. They will not wear those clothes to trick people with the lies they call prophecies. They will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer. I have worked as a farmer since I was a little child.’ But other people will say, ‘Then what are these wounds in your hands?’ He will say, ‘I was beaten in the house of my friends.’”
The Lord All-Powerful says, “Sword, wake up and strike the shepherd, my friend! Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will run away. And I will punish those little ones. Two-thirds of the people in the land will be struck down and die,” says the Lord, “but one-third will survive. Then I will test those survivors by giving them many troubles. The troubles will be like the fire a person uses to prove silver is pure. I will test them the way a person tests gold. Then they will call to me for help, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘You are my people.’ And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”