Now I will sing for my friend a song about his vineyard. My friend had a vineyard on a hill with very rich soil.
He dug and cleared the field of stones and planted the best grapevines there. He built a tower in the middle of it and cut out a winepress as well. He hoped good grapes would grow there, but only bad ones grew.
My friend says, "You people living in Jerusalem, and you people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could I have done for my vineyard than I have already done? Although I expected good grapes to grow, why were there only bad ones?
Now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will remove the hedge, and it will be burned. I will break down the stone wall, and it will be walked on.
I will ruin my field. It will not be trimmed or hoed, and weeds and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it."
The vineyard belonging to the Lord All-Powerful is the nation of Israel; the garden that he loves is the people of Judah. He looked for justice, but there was only killing. He hoped for right living, but there were only cries of pain.
How terrible it will be for you who add more houses to your houses and more fields to your fields until there is no room left for other people. Then you are left alone in the land.
The Lord All-Powerful said this to me: "The fine houses will be destroyed; the large and beautiful houses will be left empty.
At that time a ten-acre vineyard will make only six gallons of wine, and ten bushels of seed will grow only half a bushel of grain."
How terrible it will be for people who rise early in the morning to look for strong drink, who stay awake late at night, becoming drunk with wine.
At their parties they have lyres, harps, tambourines, flutes, and wine. or notice the work of his hands.
So my people will be captured and taken away, because they don't really know me. All the great people will die of hunger, and the common people will die of thirst.
So the place of the dead wants more and more people, and it opens wide its mouth. Jerusalem's important people and common people will go down into it, with their happy and noisy ones.
So the common people and the great people will be brought down; those who are proud will be humbled.
The Lord All-Powerful will receive glory by judging fairly; the holy God will show himself holy by doing what is right.
Then the sheep will go anywhere they want, and lambs will feed on the land that rich people once owned.
How terrible it will be for those people! They pull their guilt and sins behind them as people pull wagons with ropes.
They say, "Let God hurry; let him do his work soon so we may see it. so that we will know what it is."
How terrible it will be for people who call good things bad and bad things good, who think darkness is light and light is darkness, who think sour is sweet and sweet is sour.
How terrible it will be for people who think they are wise and believe they are clever.
How terrible it will be for people who are famous for drinking wine and are champions at mixing drinks.
They take money to set the guilty free and don't allow good people to be judged fairly.
They will be destroyed just as fire burns straw or dry grass. They will be destroyed like a plant whose roots rot and whose flower dies and blows away like dust. and have hated the message from the Holy God of Israel.
So the Lord has become very angry with his people, and he has raised his hand to punish them. Even the mountains are frightened. Dead bodies lie in the streets like garbage. But the Lord is still angry; his hand is still raised to strike down the people.
He raises a banner for the nations far away. He whistles to call those people from the ends of the earth.
Not one of them becomes tired or falls down. Not one of them gets sleepy and falls asleep. Their weapons are close at hand, and their sandal straps are not broken.
Their arrows are sharp, and all of their bows are ready to shoot. The horses' hoofs are hard as rocks, and their chariot wheels move like a whirlwind.
Their shout is like the roar of a lion; it is loud like a young lion. They growl as they grab their captives. There is no one to stop them from taking their captives away.
On that day they will roar like the waves of the sea. And when people look at the land, they will see only darkness and pain; all light will become dark in this thick cloud.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.