I will sing a song for the Lord. He is the one I love. It's a song about his vineyard Israel. The one I love had a vineyard. It was on a hillside that had rich soil.
He dug up the soil and removed its stones. He planted the very best vines in it. He built a lookout tower there. He also cut out a winepress for it. Then he kept looking for a crop of good grapes. But the vineyard produced only bad fruit.
So the LORD said, "People of Jerusalem and Judah, you be the judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could I have done for my vineyard? I did everything I could. I kept looking for a crop of good grapes. So why did it produce only bad ones?
Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard. I will take away its fence. And it will be destroyed. I will break down its wall. And people will walk all over it.
I will turn my vineyard into a dry and empty desert. It will not be pruned or taken care of. Thorns and bushes will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it."
The vineyard of the LORD who rules over all is the nation of Israel. The people of Judah are the garden he takes delight in. He kept looking for them to do what is fair. But all he saw was blood being spilled. He kept looking for them to do what is right. But all he heard were cries of suffering.
How terrible it will be for you who get too many houses! How terrible for you who get too many fields! Finally there won't be any space left in the land. Then you will live all alone.
I heard the LORD who rules over all announce a message. He said, "You can be sure that the great houses will become empty. The fine homes will be left with no one living in them.
A ten-acre vineyard will produce only six gallons of wine. Six bushels of seeds will produce less than a bushel of grain."
How terrible it will be for those who get up early in the morning to start drinking! How terrible for those who stay up late at night until they are drunk with wine!
They have harps and lyres at their big dinners. They have tambourines, flutes and wine. But they don't have any concern for the mighty acts of the Lord. They don't have any respect for what his powerful hands have done.
So my people will be taken away as prisoners. That's because they don't understand what the LORD has done. Their government leaders will die of hunger. The rest of the people won't have any water to drink.
So the grave is hungry to receive them. Its mouth is open wide to swallow them up. Their nobles and the rest of the people will go down into it. They will go there together with all those who have wild parties.
So man will be brought low. People will be put to shame. Those who brag will be brought down.
But the LORD who rules over all will be honored because he judges fairly. The holy God will show that he is holy by doing what is right.
Then sheep will graze as if they were in their own grasslands. Lambs will eat grass among the destroyed buildings where rich people used to live.
How terrible it will be for those who continue to sin and lie about it! How terrible for those who keep on doing what is evil as if they were tied to it!
How terrible for those who say, "Let God hurry up and do what he says he will. We want to see it happen. Let the Holy One of Israel carry out his plan soon. We want to know what it is."
How terrible it will be for those who say that what is evil is good! How terrible for those who say that what is good is evil! How terrible for those who say that darkness is light and light is darkness! How terrible for those who say that what is bitter is sweet and what is sweet is bitter!
How terrible it will be for those who think they are wise! How terrible for those who think they are really clever!
How terrible it will be for those who are heroes at drinking wine! How terrible for those who are heroes at mixing drinks!
How terrible for those who take money to set guilty people free! How terrible for those who don't treat good people fairly!
Flames of fire burn up straw. Dry grass sinks down into those flames. Evil people will be like plants whose roots rot away. They will be like flowers that are blown away like dust. That's because they have said no to the law of the LORD who rules over all. They have turned against the message of the Holy One of Israel.
So the LORD's anger burns against his people. He raises his hand against them. He strikes them down. The mountains shake. The bodies of dead people lie in the streets like trash. Even then, the LORD is still angry. His hand is still raised against them.
He lifts up a banner to gather the nations that are far away. He whistles for them to come from the farthest places on earth. Here they come. They are moving very quickly.
None of them grows tired. None of them falls down. None of them sleeps or even takes a nap. All of them are ready for battle. Every belt is pulled tight. Not a single sandal strap is broken.
The enemies' arrows are sharp. All of their bows are ready. The hoofs of their horses are as hard as rock. Their chariot wheels turn like a twister.
The sound of their army is like the roar of lions. It's like the roar of young lions. They growl as they capture what they were chasing. They carry it off. No one can take it away from them.
At that time the enemy army will roar over Israel. It will sound like the roaring of the ocean. If someone looks at the land of Israel, he will see darkness and trouble. The clouds will make even the light become dark.