The Lord said, "How terrible it will be for these stubborn children. They make plans, but they don't ask me to help them. They make agreements with other nations, without asking my Spirit. They are adding more and more sins to themselves.
They go down to Egypt for help without asking me about it first. They hope they will be saved by the king of Egypt; they want Egypt to protect them.
But hiding in Egypt will bring you only shame; Egypt's protection will only disappoint you.
Your officers have gone to Zoan, and your messengers have gone to Hanes,
but they will be put to shame, because Egypt is useless to them. It will give no help and will be of no use; it will cause them only shame and embarrassment."
This is a message about the animals in southern Judah: full of lions and lionesses, poisonous snakes and darting snakes. The messengers travel through there with their wealth on the backs of donkeys and their treasure on the backs of camels. They carry them to a nation that cannot help them,
to Egypt whose help is useless. So I call that country Rahab the Do-Nothing.
Now write this on a sign for the people, write this on a scroll, so that for the days to come this will be a witness forever.
These people are like children who lie and refuse to obey; they refuse to listen to the Lord's teachings.
They tell the seers, "Don't see any more visions!" They say to the prophets, "Don't tell us the truth! Say things that will make us feel good; see only good things for us.
Stop blocking our path. Get out of our way. Stop telling us about God, the Holy One of Israel."
So this is what the Holy One of Israel says: "You people have refused to accept this message and have depended on cruelty and lies to help you.
You are guilty of these things. So you will be like a high wall with cracks in it that falls suddenly and breaks into small pieces.
You will be like a clay jar that breaks, smashed into many pieces. Those pieces will be too small to take coals from the fire or to get water from a well."
This is what the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: "If you come back to me and trust me, you will be saved. If you will be calm and trust me, you will be strong." But you don't want to do that.
You say, "No, we need horses to run away on." So you will run away on horses. You say, "We will ride away on fast horses." So those who chase you will be fast.
One enemy will make threats, and a thousand of your men will run away. Five enemies will make threats, and all of you will run from them. You will be left alone like a flagpole on a hilltop, like a banner on a hill.
The Lord wants to show his mercy to you. He wants to rise and comfort you. The Lord is a fair God, and everyone who waits for his help will be happy.
You people who live on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will not cry anymore. The Lord will hear your crying, and he will comfort you. When he hears you, he will help you.
The Lord has given you sorrow and hurt like the bread and water you ate every day. He is your teacher; he will not continue to hide from you, but you will see your teacher with your own eyes.
If you go the wrong way -- to the right or to the left -- you will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the right way. You should go this way."
You have statues covered with silver and gold, but you will ruin them for further use. You will throw them away like filthy rags and say, "Go away!"
At that time the Lord will send rain for the seeds you plant in the ground, and the ground will grow food for you. The harvest will be rich and great, and you will have plenty of food in the fields for your animals.
Your oxen and donkeys that work the soil will have all the food they need. You will have to use shovels and pitchforks to spread all their food.
Every mountain and hill will have streams filled with water. These things will happen after many people are killed and the towers are pulled down.
At that time the light from the moon will be bright like the sun, and the light from the sun will be seven times brighter than now, like the light of seven days. These things will happen when the Lord bandages his broken people and heals the hurts he gave them.
Look! The Lord comes from far away. His anger is like a fire with thick clouds of smoke. His mouth is filled with anger, and his tongue is like a burning fire.
His breath is like a rushing river, which rises to the throat. He will judge the nations as if he is sifting them through the strainer of destruction. He will place in their mouths a bit that will lead them the wrong way.
You will sing happy songs as on the nights you begin a festival. You will be happy like people listening to flutes as they come to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.
The Lord will cause all people to hear his great voice and to see his powerful arm come down with anger, like a great fire that burns everything, like a great storm with much rain and hail.
Assyria will be afraid when it hears the voice of the Lord, because he will strike Assyria with a rod.
When the Lord punishes Assyria with a rod, he will beat them to the music of tambourines and harps; he will fight against them with his mighty weapons.
Tophethn has been made ready for a long time; it is ready for the king. It was made deep and wide with much wood and fire. like a stream of burning sulfur and set it on fire.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.