Damascus Will Be Punished 17 1 This is a message about Damascus:   Damascus is doomed! It will end up in ruins. 2The villages around Aroer[S] will be deserted, with only sheep living there and no one to bother them. 3Israel[T] will lose its fortresses. The kingdom of Damascus will be destroyed; its survivors will suffer the same fate as Israel. The LORD All-Powerful has promised this. Sin and Suffering 4When that time comes, the glorious nation of Israel will be brought down; its prosperous people will be skin and bones. 5Israel will be like wheat fields in Rephaim Valley picked clean of grain. 6It will be like an olive tree beaten with a stick, leaving two or three olives or maybe four or five on the highest or most fruitful branches. The LORD God of Israel has promised this.   7At that time the people will turn and trust their Creator, the holy God of Israel. 8They have built altars and places for burning incense to their goddess Asherah, and they have set up sacred poles[U] for her. But they will stop worshiping at these places. 9Israel captured powerful cities and chased out the people who lived there. But these cities will lie in ruins, covered over with weeds and underbrush.[V]   10Israel, you have forgotten the God who saves you, the one who is the mighty rock[W] where you find protection. You plant the finest flowers to honor a foreign god. 11The plants may sprout and blossom that very same morning, but it will do you no good, because you will suffer endless agony. God Defends His People 12The nations are a noisy, thunderous sea. 13But even if they roar like a fearsome flood, God will give the command to turn them back. They will be like dust, or like a tumbleweed blowing across the hills in a windstorm. 14In the evening their attack is fierce, but by morning they are destroyed. This is what happens to those who raid and rob us.
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