I wish you would open up your heavens and come down to us! I wish the mountains would tremble when you show your power!
Be like a fire that causes twigs to burn. It also makes water boil. So come down and make yourself known to your enemies. Cause the nations to shake with fear when they see your power!
Long ago you did some wonderful things we didn't expect. You came down, and the mountains trembled when you showed your power.
No one's ears have ever heard of a God like you. No one's eyes have ever seen a God who is greater than you. No God but you acts for the good of those who trust in him.
You come to help those who enjoy doing what is right. You help those who thank you for teaching them how to live. But when we continued to disobey you, you became angry with us. So how can we be saved?
All of us have become like someone who is "unclean." All of the good things we do are like polluted rags to you. All of us are like leaves that have dried up. Our sins sweep us away like the wind.
No one prays to you. No one asks you for help. You have turned your face away from us. You have let us waste away because we have sinned so much.
Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay. You are the potter. Your hands made all of us.
Don't be so angry with us, Lord. Don't remember our sins anymore. Please show us your favor. All of us belong to you.
Your sacred cities have become a desert. Even Zion is a desert. Jerusalem is a dry and empty place.
Our people used to praise you in our holy and glorious temple. But now it has been burned down. Everything we treasured has been destroyed.
Lord, won't you help us even after everything that's happened? Will you keep silent and punish us more than we can stand?
The LORD says, "I made myself known to those who were not asking for me. I was found by those who were not trying to find me. I spoke to a nation that did not pray to me. 'Here I am,' I said. 'Here I am.'
All day long I have held out my hands to welcome a stubborn nation. They lead sinful lives. They go where their evil thoughts take them.
They are always making me very angry. They do it right in front of me. They offer sacrifices in the gardens of other gods. They burn incense on altars that are made out of bricks.
They sit among the graves. They spend their nights talking to the spirits of the dead. They eat the meat of pigs. Their cooking pots hold soup that has 'unclean' meat in it.
They say, 'Keep away! Don't come near us! We are too sacred for you!' Those people are like smoke in my nose. They are like a fire that keeps burning all day.
"I will judge them. I have even written it down. I will not keep silent. Instead, I will pay them back for all of their sins.
I will punish them for their sins and the sins of their people before them," says the Lord. "They burned sacrifices on the mountains. They disobeyed me by worshiping other gods on the hills. So I will really punish them for all of the sins they have committed."
The LORD says, "Sometimes juice is still left in grapes that have been crushed. So people say, 'Don't destroy them. Some good juice is still left in them.' That is what I will do for the good of those who serve me. I will not destroy all of my people.
I will give children to the families of Jacob and Judah. They will possess my entire land. My chosen people will be given all of it. Those who serve me will live there.
Their flocks will eat in the rich grasslands of Sharon. Their herds will rest in the Valley of Achor. That is what I will do for my people who follow me.
"But some of you have deserted me. You no longer worship on my holy mountain of Zion. You spread a table for the god that is called Good Fortune. You offer bowls of mixed wine to the god named Fate.
So I will make it your fate to be killed with swords. Each of you will die a horrible death. That is because I called out to you, but you did not answer me. I spoke to you, but you did not listen. You did what is evil in my sight. You chose to do what does not please me."
So the LORD and King says, "Those who serve me will have food to eat. But you will be hungry. My servants will have plenty to drink. But you will be thirsty. Those who serve me will be full of joy. But you will be put to shame.
My servants will sing with joy in their hearts. But you will cry out because of the great pain in your hearts. You will cry because your spirits are sad.
My chosen ones will use your names when they call down curses on others. I am your LORD and King. I will put you to death. But I will give new names to those who serve me.
They will ask me to bless their land. They will do it in my name. I am the God of truth. They will take oaths and make promises in their land. They will do it in my name. I am the God of truth. The troubles of the past will be forgotten. They will be hidden from my eyes.
"I will create new heavens and a new earth. The things that have happened before will not be remembered. They will not even enter your minds.
So be glad and full of joy forever because of what I will create. I will cause others to take delight in Jerusalem. They will be filled with joy when they see its people.
And I will be full of joy because of Jerusalem. I will take delight in my people. Sobbing and crying will not be heard there anymore.
"Babies in Jerusalem will no longer live only a few days. Old people will not fail to live for a very long time. Those who live to the age of 100 will be thought of as still being young when they die. Those who die before they are 100 will be considered as having been under God's curse.
My people will build houses and live in them. They will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They will no longer build houses only to have others live in them. They will no longer plant crops only to have others eat them. My people will live to be as old as trees. My chosen ones will enjoy for a long time the things they have worked for.
Their work will not be worthless anymore. They will not have children who are sure to face sudden terror. Instead, I will bless them. I will also bless their children after them.
Even before they call out to me, I will answer them. While they are still speaking, I will hear them.
Wolves and lambs will eat together. Lions will eat straw like oxen. Serpents will not bite anyone. They will eat nothing but dust. None of those animals will harm or destroy anything or anyone on my holy mountain of Zion," says the Lord.
The LORD says, "Heaven is my throne. The earth is under my control. So how could you ever build a house for me? Where would my resting place be?
Didn't my powerful hand make everything? That is how all things were created," announces the Lord. "The person I value is not proud. He is sorry for the wrong things he has done. He has great respect for what I say.
But others are not like that. They sacrifice bulls to me, but at the same time they kill people. They offer lambs to me, but they also sacrifice dogs to other gods. They bring grain offerings to me, but they also offer pig's blood to other gods. They burn incense to me, but they also worship statues of gods. They have chosen to go their own way. They take delight in things I hate.
So I have also made a choice. I will make them suffer greatly. I will bring on them what they are afraid of. When I called out to them, no one answered me. When I spoke to them, no one listened. They did what is evil in my sight. They chose to do what displeases me."
Listen to the word of the Lord. Listen, you who tremble with fear when he speaks. He says, "Some of your own people hate you. They turn their backs on you because you are faithful to me. They make fun of you and say, 'Let the LORD show his glory by saving you. Then we can see how happy you are.' But they will be put to shame.
Hear the loud sounds coming from the city! Listen to the noise coming from the temple! I am the one who is causing it. I am paying my enemies back for everything they have done.
"Zion is like a woman who has a baby before she goes into labor. She has a son even before her labor pains begin.
Who has ever heard of anything like that? Who has ever seen such a thing? Can a country be born in a day? Can a nation be created in a moment? But as soon as Zion goes into labor, her people increase their numbers.
Zion, would I bring you to the moment of birth and not let it happen?" says the Lord. "Would I close up a mother's body when it is time for her baby to be born?" says your God.
"Be glad along with Jerusalem, all you who love her. Be filled with joy because of her. Take great delight in her, all you who sob over her.
You will nurse at her comforting breasts. And you will be satisfied. You will drink until you are full. And you will delight in her rich and plentiful supply."
The LORD continues, "I will cause peace to flow over her like a river. I will make the wealth of nations sweep over her like a flooding stream. You will nurse and be carried in her arms. You will play on her lap.
As a mother comforts her child, I will comfort you. You will find comfort in Jerusalem."
When you see that happen, your hearts will be filled with joy. Just as grass grows quickly, you will succeed. The LORD will show his power to those who serve him. But he will pour out his anger on his enemies.
The LORD will judge them with fire. His chariots are coming like a windstorm. He will pour out his burning anger on his enemies. It will blaze out like flames of fire.
The LORD will bring everyone into court. He will use fire and his sword to punish those he finds guilty. He will put many people to death.
"Some people set themselves apart and make themselves pure. They do it so they can go into the gardens to worship other gods. They do what the worship leader tells them to do. They eat the meat of pigs and rats. They also eat other things I hate. All of those people will come to a horrible end," announces the Lord.
"They have done many evil things. And they plan to do even more. So I will come and gather the people of every nation and language. They will see my glory when I act.
"I will do a miracle among them. I will send to the nations some of those who are left alive. I will send some of them to the people of Tarshish, Libya and Lydia, who are famous for using bows. I will send others to Tubal and Greece. And I will send still others to islands far away. The people who live there have not heard about my fame. They have not seen my glory. Those I send will tell the nations about my glory when I act.
"And they will bring back all of the people of Israel from all of those nations. They will bring them to my holy mountain in Jerusalem. My people will ride on horses, mules and camels. They will come in chariots and wagons," says the Lord. "Those messengers will bring my people as an offering to me. They will bring them to my temple, just as the Israelites bring their grain offerings in bowls that are 'clean.'
And I will choose some of them to be priests and Levites," says the Lord.
"I will make new heavens and a new earth. And they will last forever," announces the Lord. "In the same way, your name and your children after you will last.
Everyone will come and bow down to me. They will do it at every New Moon Feast and on every Sabbath day," says the Lord.
"When they go out of Jerusalem, they will see the dead bodies of those who refused to obey me. The worms that eat the bodies will not die. The fire that burns them will not be put out. It will make everyone sick just to look at them."