"How terrible it will be for these stubborn children of mine!" announces the Lord. "How terrible for those who carry out plans that did not come from me! Their agreement with Egypt did not come from my Spirit. So they pile up one sin on top of another.
They go down to Egypt without asking me for advice. They look to Pharaoh to help them. They ask Egypt to keep them safe.
But looking to Pharaoh will only bring them shame. Asking Egypt for help will bring them dishonor.
Their officials have gone to the city of Zoan. Their messengers have arrived in Hanes.
But the people of Judah will be put to shame because they are trusting in a nation that is useless to them. Egypt will not bring them any help or advantage. Instead, it will bring them shame and dishonor."
Here is a message the LORD gave me about the animals in the Negev Desert. Judah's messengers carry their riches on the backs of donkeys. They carry their treasures on the humps of camels. They travel through a land of danger and suffering. It's a land that is filled with lions. Poisonous snakes are also there. The messengers travel to a nation that can't do them any good.
They travel to Egypt, whose help is totally useless. That's why I call it Rahab the Do-Nothing.
The LORD said to me, "Go now. Write on a tablet for the people of Judah what I am about to say. Also write it on a scroll. In days to come it will be a witness that lasts forever.
The people of Judah refuse to obey me. They are children who tell lies. They will not listen to what I want to teach them.
They say to the seers, 'Don't see any more visions!' They say to the prophets, 'Don't give us any more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things. Prophesy things we want to hear even if they aren't true.
Get out of our way! Get off our path! Keep the Holy One of Israel away from us!' "
So the Holy One of Israel speaks. He says, "You have turned your backs on what I have said. You have depended on telling people lies. You have crushed others.
Those sins are like cracks in a high wall. They get bigger and bigger. Suddenly the wall breaks apart. Then it quickly falls down.
It breaks into small pieces like a clay pot. It breaks up completely. Not one piece is left big enough for taking coals from a fireplace. Not one piece is left for dipping water out of a well."
The LORD and King is the Holy One of Israel. He says, "You will find peace and rest when you turn away from your sins and depend on me. You will receive the strength you need when you stay calm and trust in me. But you do not want to do what I tell you to.
You said, 'No. We'll escape on horses.' So you will have to escape! You said, 'We'll ride off on fast horses.' So those who chase you will use faster horses!
When one of them dares you to fight, a thousand of you will run away. When five of them dare you, all of you will run away. So few of you will be left that you will be like a flagpole on top of a mountain. You will be like only one banner on a hill."
But the LORD longs to show you his favor. He wants to give you his tender love. The LORD is a God who is always fair. Blessed are all those who wait for him to act!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you won't sob anymore. When you cry out to the Lord for help, he will show you his favor. As soon as he hears you, he'll answer you.
He might treat you like prisoners. You might eat the bread of trouble. You might drink the water of suffering. But he will be your Teacher. He won't hide himself anymore. You will see him with your own eyes.
You will hear your Teacher's voice behind you. You will hear it whether you turn to the right or the left. It will say, "Here is the path I want you to take. So walk on it."
Then you will get rid of the silver statues of your gods. You won't have anything to do with the gold statues either. All of them are "unclean." So you will throw them away like dirty rags. You will say to them, "Get away from us!"
The LORD will send rain on the seeds you plant in the ground. The crops that grow will be rich and plentiful. At that time your cattle will eat grass in rolling meadows.
The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat the finest feed and crushed grain. The farmers will use pitchforks and shovels to separate it from the straw.
At that time the towers of your enemies will fall down. Their soldiers will die. Streams of water will flow on every high mountain and hill.
The moon will shine like the sun. And the sunlight will be seven times brighter than usual. It will be like the light of seven full days. That will happen when the LORD bandages and heals the wounds and bruises he has brought on his people.
The LORD will come from far away in all of his power and glory. He will show his burning anger. Thick clouds of smoke will be all around him. His mouth will speak angry words. The words from his tongue will be like a destroying fire.
His breath will be like a rushing flood that rises up to the neck. He'll separate out the nations he is going to destroy. He'll place a bit in their jaws. It will lead them down the road to death.
You will sing as you do on the night you celebrate a holy feast. Your hearts will be filled with joy. You will be as joyful as people playing their flutes as they go up to the mountain of the Lord. He is the Rock of Israel.
The LORD will cause people to hear his powerful voice. He will make them see his arm coming down to punish them. It will come down with burning anger and destroying fire. It will come down with rain, thunderstorms and hail.
The voice of the LORD will tear the Assyrians apart. He will strike them down with his mighty rod.
He will strike them with his rod to punish them. Each time he does, his people will celebrate with the music of harps and tambourines. He will use his powerful arm to strike the Assyrians down in battle.
In the Valley of Ben Hinnom, Topheth has been prepared for a long time. It has been made ready for the king of Assyria. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide. It has plenty of wood for the fire. The breath of the LORD will be like a stream of burning sulfur. It will set the wood on fire.