But there will be no more gloom for the land that is in distress. God humbled the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali in earlier times. But in the future he will bring glory to the road by the sea, to the land across the Jordan River, to Galilee, where foreigners live.
The people who walk in darkness will see a bright light. The light will shine on those who live in the land of death's shadow.
You will expand the nation and increase its happiness. It will be happy in your presence like those who celebrate the harvest or rejoice when dividing loot.
You will break the yoke that burdens them, the bar that is across their shoulders, and the stick used by their oppressor, as [you did in the battle against] Midian.
Every warrior's boot marching to the sound of battle and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel in the fire.
A child will be born for us. A son will be given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. He will be named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and peace will have unlimited growth. He will establish David's throne and kingdom. He will uphold it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The LORD of Armies is determined to do this!
The LORD sent a message against Jacob. The message is against Israel.
All the people of Ephraim and the people who live in Samaria will know it. With arrogant and conceited hearts they will say,
"Bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with hand-cut stones. Fig trees have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars."
The LORD will set Rezin's oppressors against Israel and will stir up its enemies--
the Arameans from the east and the Philistines from the west. They will devour Israel with open mouths. Even after all this, his anger will not disappear, and he is still ready to use his power.
But the people have not returned to the one who struck them, nor have they sought the LORD of Armies.
So in one day the LORD will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branches and cattails.
Respected and honored leaders are the head. Prophets who teach lies are the tail.
Those who guide these people lead them astray. Those who are guided by them will be destroyed.
That is why the Lord isn't happy with their young men, nor will he show compassion for their orphans and widows. Every one of them is a godless evildoer, and every mouth speaks foolishness. Even after all this, his anger will not disappear, and he is still ready to use his power.
Surely wickedness burns like fire. It burns up briars and thorns. It sets the underbrush in the forest on fire, and it whirls upward in clouds of smoke.
The land is scorched by the fury of the LORD of Armies, and the people are like fuel for the fire. No one shows concern for others:
On the right, one gobbles up food and is still hungry. On the left, another eats and is never full. Each person eats the flesh from his own arm.
Manasseh is against Ephraim. Ephraim is against Manasseh. Together they attack Judah. Even after all this, his anger will not disappear, and he is still ready to use his power.
How horrible it will be for those who make unjust laws and who make oppressive regulations.
They deprive the poor of justice. They take away the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and rob orphans.
What will you do on the day you are called to account [for these things], when the disaster comes from far away? Where will you run for help? Where will you leave your wealth?
Nothing's left but to crouch among prisoners and to fall with those who are killed. Even after all this, his anger will not disappear, and he is still ready to use his power.
"How horrible it will be for Assyria! It is the rod of my anger. My fury is the staff in the Assyrians' hands.
I send them against a godless nation. In my fury I order them against the people to take their belongings, loot them, and trample on them like mud in the streets.
But that's not what they intend to do. Their minds don't work that way. Their purpose is to destroy and put an end to many nations.
They ask, 'Aren't all our commanders kings?
Isn't Calno like Carchemish? Isn't Hamath like Arpad? Isn't Samaria like Damascus?'
My power has reached kingdoms which have idols. They had more carved statues than Jerusalem or Samaria.
I will do to Jerusalem and its idols what I've done to Samaria and its idols."
When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will punish the king of Assyria for all his boasting and all his arrogance.
The king will say, "I did this with my own two powerful hands. I did this with my wisdom, because I am so clever. I've eliminated the boundaries of nations. I've looted treasuries. I've brought down people like a mighty man.
I've found the riches of nations as one finds a nest. I've gathered the whole world as one gathers abandoned eggs. Not one of them flapped a wing, opened its mouth, or peeped."
Can an ax attack the person who cuts with it? Can a saw make itself greater than the person who saws with it? A rod cannot move the person who lifts it. A wooden stick cannot pick up a person.
That is why the Almighty LORD of Armies will send a degenerative disease against brave men. A flame will be turned into a raging fire under his power.
Israel's light will become a flame. Its Holy One will become a fire. He will burn up and devour the weeds and thornbushes in one day.
The majestic forest and the orchard will destroy both body and soul. They will be like a sick person wasting away.
The trees that remain in the forest will be so few that a child could count them.
At that time the remaining few Israelites, the survivors of Jacob's descendants will no longer depend on the one who struck them. They will only depend on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
A few, the remaining few of Jacob, will return to the mighty God.
Although your people Israel may be as [numerous as] the grains of sand on the seashore, only a few will return. Destruction will be complete and fair.
The Almighty LORD of Armies will carry out this destruction throughout the world as he has determined.
The Almighty LORD of Armies says: My people who live in Zion, don't be afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with a rod or when they raise their staff against you as the Egyptians did.
Very soon I will unleash my fury, and my anger will destroy them.
Then the LORD of Armies will raise his whip against them. As he struck down Midian at the Rock of Oreb and raised his staff over the water, so he will lift it as he did in Egypt.
At that time their burden will be removed from your shoulders. Their yoke will be removed from your neck. The yoke will be torn away because you have grown fat.
They come to Aiath. They pass through Migron. They store their equipment at Michmash.
They go through the mountain pass and lodge at Geba for the night. The people in Ramah tremble; the people in Saul's Gibeah flee.
Cry aloud, you people in Gallim! Pay attention, you people in Laishah and miserable Anathoth!
The people in Madmenah flee; those who live in Gebim take shelter.
This day they stopped at Nob. They shake their fist at the mountain of my people Zion, at the mountain of Jerusalem.
Now look! The Almighty LORD of Armies will trim the branches with terrifying power. The highest trees will be cut down. The tallest ones will be brought down.
He will cut down the underbrush of the forest with an ax. Lebanon will fall in front of the Mighty One.
This is the reason I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus for those of you who are not Jewish.
Certainly, you have heard how God gave me the responsibility of bringing his kindness to you.
You have heard that he let me know this mystery through a revelation. I've already written to you about this briefly.
When you read this, you'll see that I understand the mystery about Christ.
In the past, this mystery was not known by people as it is now. The Spirit has now revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.
This mystery is the Good News that people who are not Jewish have the same inheritance as Jewish people do. They belong to the same body and share the same promise that God made in Christ Jesus.
I became a servant of this Good News through God's kindness freely given to me when his power worked [in me].
I am the least of all God's people. Yet, God showed me his kindness by allowing me to spread the Good News of the immeasurable wealth of Christ to people who are not Jewish.
He allowed me to explain the way this mystery works. God, who created all things, kept it hidden in the past.
He did this so that now, through the church, he could let the rulers and authorities in heaven know his infinite wisdom.
This was God's plan for all of history which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
We can go to God with bold confidence through faith in Christ.
So then, I ask you not to become discouraged by the troubles I suffer for you. In fact, my troubles bring you glory.
This is the reason I kneel in the presence of the Father
from whom all the family in heaven and on earth receives its name.
I'm asking God to give you a gift from the wealth of his glory. I pray that he would give you inner strength and power through his Spirit.
Then Christ will live in you through faith. I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation.
This way, with all of God's people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep his love is.
You will know Christ's love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God.
Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Glory belongs to God in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time and eternity! Amen.