"Destruction is certain for my rebellious children," says the LORD. "You make plans that are contrary to my will. You weave a web of plans that are not from my Spirit, thus piling up your sins.
For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt to find help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh for his protection.
But in trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated and disgraced.
For though his power extends to Zoan and Hanes,
it will all turn out to your shame. He will not help you even one little bit."
Look at the animals moving slowly across the terrible desert to Egypt -- donkeys and camels loaded with treasure to pay for Egypt's aid. On through the wilderness they go, where lions and poisonous snakes live. All this, and Egypt will give you nothing in return.
Egypt's promises are worthless! I call her the Harmless Dragon.
Now go and write down these words concerning Egypt. They will then stand until the end of time as a witness to Israel's unbelief.
For these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay any attention to the LORD's instructions.
They tell the prophets, "Shut up! We don't want any more of your reports." They say, "Don't tell us the truth. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.
Forget all this gloom. We have heard more than enough about your 'Holy One of Israel.' We are tired of listening to what he has to say."
This is the reply of the Holy One of Israel: "Because you despise what I tell you and trust instead in oppression and lies,
calamity will come upon you suddenly. It will be like a bulging wall that bursts and falls. In an instant it will collapse and come crashing down.
You will be smashed like a piece of pottery -- shattered so completely that there won't be a piece left that is big enough to carry coals from a fireplace or a little water from the well."
The Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says, "Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.
You said, 'No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.' But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you!
One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a distant mountaintop."
But the LORD still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for him to help them.
O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will respond instantly to the sound of your cries.
Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and affliction for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes,
and you will hear a voice say, "This is the way; turn around and walk here."
Then you will destroy all your silver idols and gold images. You will throw them out like filthy rags. "Ugh!" you will say to them. "Begone!"
Then the LORD will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your cattle.
The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff having been blown away by the wind.
In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill.
The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter -- like the light of seven days! So it will be when the LORD begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them.
Look! The LORD is coming from far away, burning with anger, surrounded by a thick, rising smoke. His lips are filled with fury; his words consume like fire.
His anger pours out like a flood on his enemies, sweeping them all away. He will sift out the proud nations. He will bridle them and lead them off to their destruction.
But the people of God will sing a song of joy, like the songs at the holy festivals. You will be filled with joy, as when a flutist leads a group of pilgrims to Jerusalem -- the mountain of the LORD -- to the Rock of Israel.
And the LORD will make his majestic voice heard. With angry indignation he will bring down his mighty arm on his enemies. It will descend with devouring flames, with cloudbursts, thunderstorms, and huge hailstones, bringing their destruction.
At the LORD's command, the Assyrians will be shattered. He will strike them down with his rod.
And as the LORD strikes them, his people will keep time with the music of tambourines and harps.
Topheth -- the place of burning -- has long been ready for the Assyrian king; it has been piled high with wood. The breath of the LORD, like fire from a volcano, will set it ablaze.
Destruction is certain for those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their cavalry and chariots instead of looking to the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
In his wisdom, the LORD will send great disaster; he will not change his mind. He will rise against those who are wicked, and he will crush their allies, too.
For these Egyptians are mere humans, not God! Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits! When the LORD clenches his fist against them, they will stumble and fall among those they are trying to help. They will all fall down and die together.
But the LORD has told me this: "When a lion, even a young one, kills a sheep, it pays no attention to the shepherd's shouts and noise. It just goes right on eating. In the same way, the LORD Almighty will come and fight on Mount Zion. He will not be frightened away!
The LORD Almighty will hover over Jerusalem as a bird hovers around its nest. He will defend and save the city; he will pass over it and rescue it."
Therefore, my people, though you are such wicked rebels, come and return to the LORD.
I know the glorious day will come when every one of you will throw away the gold idols and silver images that your sinful hands have made.
"The Assyrians will be destroyed, but not by the swords of men. The sword of God will strike them, and they will panic and flee. The strong young Assyrians will be taken away as captives.
Even their generals will quake with terror and flee when they see the battle flags," says the LORD, whose flame burns brightly in Jerusalem.
Dear brothers and sisters, I love you and long to see you, for you are my joy and the reward for my work. So please stay true to the Lord, my dear friends.
And now I want to plead with those two women, Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.
And I ask you, my true teammate, to help these women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. And they worked with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again -- rejoice!
Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.
How grateful I am, and how I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but for a while you didn't have the chance to help me.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little.
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
But even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.
Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once.
I don't say this because I want a gift from you. What I want is for you to receive a well-earned reward because of your kindness.
At the moment I have all I need -- more than I need! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable to God and pleases him.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Now glory be to God our Father forever and ever. Amen.
Give my greetings to all the Christians there. The brothers who are with me here send you their greetings.
And all the other Christians send their greetings, too, especially those who work in Caesar's palace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)