Isaiah 28; Isaiah 29; Isaiah 30

1 How terrible it will be for the city of Samaria! It sits on a hill like a crown of flowers. The leaders of Ephraim are drunk. They take pride in their city. It sits above a valley that has rich soil. How terrible it will be for the glorious beauty of that fading flower! 2 The Lord will bring the strong and powerful king of Assyria against Samaria. The Lord will throw that city down to the ground with great force. It will be like a hailstorm. It will be like a wind that destroys everything. It will be like a driving rain and a flooding storm. 3 That city is like a crown. The leaders of Ephraim are drunk. They take pride in their city. But its enemies will walk all over it. 4 It sits on a hill above a rich valley. It's like a crown of flowers whose glorious beauty is fading away. But it will become like a fig that is ripe before harvest. As soon as someone sees it, he picks it and swallows it. 5 At that time the LORD who rules over all will be like a glorious crown. He will be like a beautiful wreath for those of his people who will be left alive. 6 He will help those who are fair when they judge. He will give strength to those who turn back their enemies at the city gate. 7 Israel's leaders are drunk from wine. They can't walk straight. They are drunk from beer. They are unsteady on their feet. Priests and prophets drink beer. They can't walk straight. They are mixed up from drinking too much wine. They drink too much beer. They are unsteady on their feet. The prophets see visions but don't really understand them. The priests aren't able to make good decisions. 8 They throw up. All of the tables are covered with the mess they've made. There isn't one spot on the tables that isn't smelly and dirty. 9 My people are making fun of me. They say, "Who does he think he's trying to teach? Who does he think he's explaining his message to? Is it to children who do not need their mother's milk anymore? Is it to those who have just been taken from her breast? 10 Here is how he teaches. Do this and do that. Do that and do this. Obey this rule and obey that rule. Obey that rule and obey this rule. Learn a little here and learn a little there." 11 All right then, these people won't listen to me. So God will speak to them. He will speak by using people who speak unfamiliar languages. He will speak by using the mouths of strangers. 12 He said to his people, "I am offering you a resting place. Let those who are tired rest." He continued, "I am offering you a place of peace and quiet." But they wouldn't listen. 13 So then, here is what the LORD's message will become to them. Do this and do that. Do that and do this. Obey this rule and obey that rule. Obey that rule and obey this rule. Learn a little here and learn a little there. So when they try to go forward, they'll fall back and be wounded. They'll be trapped and captured. 14 Listen to the LORD's message, you who make fun of the truth. Listen, you who rule over these people in Jerusalem. 15 You brag, "We have entered into a covenant with death. We have made an agreement with the grave. When a terrible plague comes to punish us, it can't touch us. That's because we depend on lies to keep us safe. We hide behind what isn't true." 16 So the LORD and King speaks. He says, "Look! I am laying a stone in Zion. It is a stone that has been tested. It is the most important stone for a firm foundation. The one who trusts in that stone will never be shaken. 17 I will use a measuring line to prove that you have not been fair. I will use a plumb line to prove that you have not done what is right. Hail will sweep away the lies you depend on to keep you safe. Water will flood your hiding place. 18 Your covenant with death will be called off. The agreement you made with the grave will not stand. When the terrible plague comes to punish you, you will be beaten down by it. 19 As often as it comes, it will carry you away. Morning after morning, day and night, it will come to punish you." If you understand this message, it will bring you absolute terror. 20 You will be like someone whose bed is too short to lie down on. You will be like those whose blankets are too small to wrap themselves in. 21 The LORD will rise up to judge, just as he did at Mount Perazim. He will get up to act, just as he did in the Valley of Gibeon. He'll do his work, but it will be strange work. He'll carry out his task, but it will be an unexpected one. 22 Now stop making fun of me. If you don't, your chains will become heavier. The LORD who rules over all has spoken to me. The Lord has told me he has ordered that the whole land be destroyed. 23 Listen and hear my voice. Pay attention to what I'm saying. 24 When a farmer plows in order to plant, does he plow without stopping? Does he keep on breaking up the soil and making the field level? 25 When he's made the surface even, doesn't he plant caraway seeds? Doesn't he scatter cummin? Doesn't he plant wheat in its proper place? Doesn't he plant barley where it belongs? Doesn't he plant spelt along the edge of the field? 26 His God directs him. He teaches him the right way to do his work. 27 Caraway seeds are beaten out with a rod. They aren't separated out under a threshing sled. Cummin seeds are beaten out with a stick. The wheel of a cart isn't rolled over them. 28 Grain must be ground up to make bread. A farmer separates it out. But he doesn't go on doing it forever. He drives the wheels of a threshing cart over it. But he doesn't let the horses grind it to dust. 29 All of those insights come from the LORD who rules over all. His advice is wonderful. His wisdom is glorious.
1 Jerusalem, how terrible it will be for you! Ariel, you are the city where David settled. The years will come and go. Keep on celebrating your regular feasts. 2 The LORD says, "Ariel, I will surround you. Jerusalem, I will get ready to attack you. Your people will sob. They will sing songs of sadness. I will make you like the front of an altar that is covered with blood. 3 I will be like an army that is camped against you on all sides. I will surround you with towers in order to attack you. I will build my ramps all around you and set up my ladders. 4 You will be brought down to the grave. You will speak from deep down inside the ground. Your words will be barely heard out of the dust. Your voice will sound like the voice of a ghost coming from under the ground. Your words will sound like a whisper out of the dust." 5 Jerusalem, all of your enemies will become like fine dust. Their terrifying armies will become like straw that the wind blows away. All of a sudden, in an instant, 6 the LORD who rules over all will come. He will come with thunder, earthquakes and a lot of noise. He'll bring windstorms and rainstorms with him. He'll send a blazing fire that will burn everything up. 7 Armies from all of the nations will fight against Ariel. They will attack it and its fort. They'll surround it completely. But suddenly those armies will disappear like a dream. They will vanish like a vision in the night. 8 They will be like a hungry person who dreams he is eating. But when he wakes up, he's still hungry. They will be like a thirsty person who dreams he is drinking. But when he wakes up, he is weak. His thirst hasn't been satisfied. In the same way, the armies from all of the nations that fight against Mount Zion will disappear. 9 People of Jerusalem, be shocked and amazed. Make yourselves blind so you can't see anything. Get drunk, but not from wine. Be unsteady on your feet, but not because of beer. 10 The LORD has made you fall into a deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets. He has covered the heads of your seers so they can't see. 11 For you, this whole vision is like words that are sealed up in a scroll. Suppose you give it to someone who can read. And suppose you say to him, "Please read this for us." Then he'll answer, "I can't. It's sealed up." 12 Or suppose you give the scroll to someone who can't read. And suppose you say, "Please read this for us." Then he'll answer, "I don't know how to read." 13 The Lord says, "These people worship me only with their words. They honor me by what they say. But their hearts are far away from me. Their worship doesn't mean anything to me. They teach nothing but human rules. 14 So once more I will shock these people with many wonderful acts. I will destroy the wisdom of those who think they are so wise. I will do away with the cleverness of those who think they are so smart." 15 How terrible it will be for people who do everything they can to hide their plans from the LORD! They do their work in darkness. They think, "Who sees us? Who will know?" 16 They turn everything upside down. How silly they are to think that potters are like the clay they work with! Can what is made say to the one who made it, "You didn't make me"? Can the pot say to the potter, "You don't know anything"? 17 In a very short time, Lebanon will be turned into rich farm lands. The rich farm lands will seem like a forest. 18 At that time those who can't hear will hear what is read from the scroll. Those who are blind will come out of gloom and darkness. They will be able to see. 19 Those who aren't proud will once again find their joy in the Lord. And those who are in need will find their joy in the Holy One of Israel. 20 Those who don't show any pity will vanish. Those who make fun of others will disappear. All those who look for ways to do what is evil will be cut off. 21 Without any proof, they claim that a man is guilty. In court they try to trap the one who speaks up for others. By using dishonest witnesses they keep those who aren't guilty from being treated fairly. 22 Long ago the LORD saved Abraham from trouble. Now he says to Jacob's people, "You will not be ashamed anymore. Your faces will no longer grow pale with fear. 23 You will see your children living among you. I myself will give you those children. Then you will honor my name. You will recognize how holy I am. I am the Holy One of Jacob. You will have great respect for me. I am the God of Israel. 24 I will give understanding to you who find yourselves going down the wrong path. You who are always speaking against others will accept what I teach you."
1 "How terrible it will be for these stubborn children of mine!" announces the Lord. "How terrible for those who carry out plans that did not come from me! Their agreement with Egypt did not come from my Spirit. So they pile up one sin on top of another. 2 They go down to Egypt without asking me for advice. They look to Pharaoh to help them. They ask Egypt to keep them safe. 3 But looking to Pharaoh will only bring them shame. Asking Egypt for help will bring them dishonor. 4 Their officials have gone to the city of Zoan. Their messengers have arrived in Hanes. 5 But the people of Judah will be put to shame because they are trusting in a nation that is useless to them. Egypt will not bring them any help or advantage. Instead, it will bring them shame and dishonor." 6 Here is a message the LORD gave me about the animals in the Negev Desert. Judah's messengers carry their riches on the backs of donkeys. They carry their treasures on the humps of camels. They travel through a land of danger and suffering. It's a land that is filled with lions. Poisonous snakes are also there. The messengers travel to a nation that can't do them any good. 7 They travel to Egypt, whose help is totally useless. That's why I call it Rahab the Do-Nothing. 8 The LORD said to me, "Go now. Write on a tablet for the people of Judah what I am about to say. Also write it on a scroll. In days to come it will be a witness that lasts forever. 9 The people of Judah refuse to obey me. They are children who tell lies. They will not listen to what I want to teach them. 10 They say to the seers, 'Don't see any more visions!' They say to the prophets, 'Don't give us any more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things. Prophesy things we want to hear even if they aren't true. 11 Get out of our way! Get off our path! Keep the Holy One of Israel away from us!' " 12 So the Holy One of Israel speaks. He says, "You have turned your backs on what I have said. You have depended on telling people lies. You have crushed others. 13 Those sins are like cracks in a high wall. They get bigger and bigger. Suddenly the wall breaks apart. Then it quickly falls down. 14 It breaks into small pieces like a clay pot. It breaks up completely. Not one piece is left big enough for taking coals from a fireplace. Not one piece is left for dipping water out of a well." 15 The LORD and King is the Holy One of Israel. He says, "You will find peace and rest when you turn away from your sins and depend on me. You will receive the strength you need when you stay calm and trust in me. But you do not want to do what I tell you to. 16 You said, 'No. We'll escape on horses.' So you will have to escape! You said, 'We'll ride off on fast horses.' So those who chase you will use faster horses! 17 When one of them dares you to fight, a thousand of you will run away. When five of them dare you, all of you will run away. So few of you will be left that you will be like a flagpole on top of a mountain. You will be like only one banner on a hill." 18 But the LORD longs to show you his favor. He wants to give you his tender love. The LORD is a God who is always fair. Blessed are all those who wait for him to act! 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you won't sob anymore. When you cry out to the Lord for help, he will show you his favor. As soon as he hears you, he'll answer you. 20 He might treat you like prisoners. You might eat the bread of trouble. You might drink the water of suffering. But he will be your Teacher. He won't hide himself anymore. You will see him with your own eyes. 21 You will hear your Teacher's voice behind you. You will hear it whether you turn to the right or the left. It will say, "Here is the path I want you to take. So walk on it." 22 Then you will get rid of the silver statues of your gods. You won't have anything to do with the gold statues either. All of them are "unclean." So you will throw them away like dirty rags. You will say to them, "Get away from us!" 23 The LORD will send rain on the seeds you plant in the ground. The crops that grow will be rich and plentiful. At that time your cattle will eat grass in rolling meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat the finest feed and crushed grain. The farmers will use pitchforks and shovels to separate it from the straw. 25 At that time the towers of your enemies will fall down. Their soldiers will die. Streams of water will flow on every high mountain and hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun. And the sunlight will be seven times brighter than usual. It will be like the light of seven full days. That will happen when the LORD bandages and heals the wounds and bruises he has brought on his people. 27 The LORD will come from far away in all of his power and glory. He will show his burning anger. Thick clouds of smoke will be all around him. His mouth will speak angry words. The words from his tongue will be like a destroying fire. 28 His breath will be like a rushing flood that rises up to the neck. He'll separate out the nations he is going to destroy. He'll place a bit in their jaws. It will lead them down the road to death. 29 You will sing as you do on the night you celebrate a holy feast. Your hearts will be filled with joy. You will be as joyful as people playing their flutes as they go up to the mountain of the Lord. He is the Rock of Israel. 30 The LORD will cause people to hear his powerful voice. He will make them see his arm coming down to punish them. It will come down with burning anger and destroying fire. It will come down with rain, thunderstorms and hail. 31 The voice of the LORD will tear the Assyrians apart. He will strike them down with his mighty rod. 32 He will strike them with his rod to punish them. Each time he does, his people will celebrate with the music of harps and tambourines. He will use his powerful arm to strike the Assyrians down in battle. 33 In the Valley of Ben Hinnom, Topheth has been prepared for a long time. It has been made ready for the king of Assyria. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide. It has plenty of wood for the fire. The breath of the LORD will be like a stream of burning sulfur. It will set the wood on fire.
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