I'll sing a ballad to the one I love, a love ballad about his vineyard: The one I love had a vineyard, a fine, well-placed vineyard.
He hoed the soil and pulled the weeds, and planted the very best vines. He built a lookout, built a winepress, a vineyard to be proud of. He looked for a vintage yield of grapes, but for all his pains he got junk grapes.
"Now listen to what I'm telling you, you who live in Jerusalem and Judah. What do you think is going on between me and my vineyard?
Can you think of anything I could have done to my vineyard that I didn't do? When I expected good grapes, why did I get bitter grapes?
"Well now, let me tell you what I'll do to my vineyard: I'll tear down its fence and let it go to ruin. I'll knock down the gate and let it be trampled.
I'll turn it into a patch of weeds, untended, uncared for - thistles and thorns will take over. I'll give orders to the clouds: 'Don't rain on that vineyard, ever!'"
Do you get it? The vineyard of God-of-the-Angel-Armies is the country of Israel. All the men and women of Judah are the garden he was so proud of. He looked for a crop of justice and saw them murdering each other. He looked for a harvest of righteousness and heard only the moans of victims. You Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil
Doom to you who buy up all the houses and grab all the land for yourselves - Evicting the old owners, posting no trespassing signs, Taking over the country, leaving everyone homeless and landless.
I overheard God-of-the-Angel-Armies say: "Those mighty houses will end up empty. Those extravagant estates will be deserted.
A ten-acre vineyard will produce a pint of wine, a fifty-pound sack of seed, a quart of grain."
Doom to those who get up early and start drinking booze before breakfast, Who stay up all hours of the night drinking themselves into a stupor.
They make sure their banquets are well-furnished with harps and flutes and plenty of wine, But they'll have nothing to do with the work of God, pay no mind to what he is doing.
Therefore my people will end up in exile because they don't know the score. Their "big men" will starve to death and the common people die of thirst.
Sheol developed a huge appetite, swallowing people nonstop! Big people and little people alike down that gullet, to say nothing of all the drunks.
The down-and-out on a par with the high-and-mighty, Windbag boasters crumpled, flaccid as a punctured bladder.
But by working justice, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will be a mountain. By working righteousness, Holy God will show what "holy" is.
And lambs will graze as if they owned the place, Kids and calves right at home in the ruins.
Doom to you who use lies to sell evil, who haul sin to market by the truckload,
Who say, "What's God waiting for? Let him get a move on so we can see it. Whatever The Holy of Israel has cooked up, we'd like to check it out."
Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, Who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness, Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Doom to you who think you're so smart, who hold such a high opinion of yourselves!
All you're good at is drinking - champion boozers who collect trophies from drinking bouts
And then line your pockets with bribes from the guilty while you violate the rights of the innocent.
But they won't get by with it. As fire eats stubble and dry grass goes up in smoke, Their souls will atrophy, their achievements crumble into dust, Because they said no to the revelation of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Would have nothing to do with The Holy of Israel.
That's why God flamed out in anger against his people, reached out and knocked them down. The mountains trembled as their dead bodies piled up in the streets. But even after that, he was still angry, his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.
He raises a flag, signaling a distant nation, whistles for people at the ends of the earth. And here they come - on the run!
None drag their feet, no one stumbles, no one sleeps or dawdles. Shirts are on and pants buckled, every boot is spit-polished and tied.
Their arrows are sharp, bows strung, The hooves of their horses shod, chariot wheels greased.
Roaring like a pride of lions, the full-throated roars of young lions, They growl and seize their prey, dragging it off - no rescue for that one!
They'll roar and roar and roar on that Day, like the roar of ocean billows. Look as long and hard as you like at that land, you'll see nothing but darkness and trouble. Every light in the sky will be blacked out by the clouds. Holy, Holy, Holy!
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)