What sorrow awaits the unjust judges and those who issue unfair laws.
They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans.
What will you do when I punish you, when I send disaster upon you from a distant land? To whom will you turn for help? Where will your treasures be safe?
You will stumble along as prisoners or lie among the dead. But even then the LORD ’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.
“What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger. I use it as a club to express my anger.
I am sending Assyria against a godless nation, against a people with whom I am angry. Assyria will plunder them, trampling them like dirt beneath its feet.
But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my tool; his mind does not work that way. His plan is simply to destroy, to cut down nation after nation.
He will say, ‘Each of my princes will soon be a king.
We destroyed Calno just as we did Carchemish. Hamath fell before us as Arpad did. And we destroyed Samaria just as we did Damascus.
Yes, we have finished off many a kingdom whose gods were greater than those in Jerusalem and Samaria.
So we will defeat Jerusalem and her gods, just as we destroyed Samaria with hers.’”
After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to accomplish his purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will turn against the king of Assyria and punish him—for he is proud and arrogant.
He boasts, “By my own powerful arm I have done this. With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it. I have broken down the defenses of nations and carried off their treasures. I have knocked down their kings like a bull.
I have robbed their nests of riches and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs. No one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest.”
But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk by itself?
Therefore, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will send a plague among Assyria’s proud troops, and a flaming fire will consume its glory.
The LORD, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy in a single night.
The LORD will consume Assyria’s glory like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague.
Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive— so few that a child could count them!
In that day the remnant left in Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
A remnant will return; yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.
But though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant of them will return. The LORD has rightly decided to destroy his people.
Yes, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has already decided to destroy the entire land.
So this is what the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, says: “O my people in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they oppress you with rod and club as the Egyptians did long ago.
In a little while my anger against you will end, and then my anger will rise up to destroy them.”
The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will lash them with his whip, as he did when Gideon triumphed over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb, or when the LORD ’s staff was raised to drown the Egyptian army in the sea.
In that day the LORD will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders.
Look, the Assyrians are now at Aiath. They are passing through Migron and are storing their equipment at Micmash.
They are crossing the pass and are camping at Geba. Fear strikes the town of Ramah. All the people of Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, are running for their lives.
Scream in terror, you people of Gallim! Shout out a warning to Laishah. Oh, poor Anathoth!
There go the people of Madmenah, all fleeing. The citizens of Gebim are trying to hide.
The enemy stops at Nob for the rest of that day. He shakes his fist at beautiful Mount Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem.
But look! The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power! He will cut down the proud. That lofty tree will be brought down.
He will cut down the forest trees with an ax. Lebanon will fall to the Mighty One.