New International Reader's Version

Isaiah 28

The Lord Will Judge the Leaders of Ephraim and Judah

1How terrible it will be for the city of Samaria!
    It sits on a hill like a wreath 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!
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.
That city is like a wreath.
    The leaders of Ephraim are drunk.
They take pride in their city.
    But its enemies will walk all over it.
It sits on a hill above a rich valley.
    The city is like a wreath of flowers whose glorious beauty is fading away.
But it will become like figs that are ripe before harvest.
    As soon as people see them,
    they pick them and swallow them.

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.
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.

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.
They throw up. All the tables are covered
    with the mess they’ve made.
There isn’t one spot on the tables
    that isn’t smelly and dirty.

The Lord’s people are making fun of him. 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.
There is a rule for this and a rule for that.
    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.
There is a rule for this and a rule for that.
    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 the place of the dead.
    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 depends on 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 place of the dead will not stand.
When the terrible plague comes to punish you,
    you will be struck 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 cumin seeds?
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.
Cumin 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 use horses to grind the grain.
29 All these insights come from the Lord who rules over all.
    His advice is wonderful. His wisdom is glorious.

The Message

Isaiah 28

God Will Speak in Baby Talk

11-4 Doom to the pretentious drunks of Ephraim,
    shabby and washed out and seedy—
Tipsy, sloppy-fat, beer-bellied parodies
    of a proud and handsome past.
Watch closely: God has someone picked out,
    someone tough and strong to flatten them.
Like a hailstorm, like a hurricane, like a flash flood,
    one-handed he’ll throw them to the ground.
Samaria, the party hat on Israel’s head,
    will be knocked off with one blow.
It will disappear quicker than
    a piece of meat tossed to a dog.

5-6 At that time, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will be
    the beautiful crown on the head of what’s left of his people:
Energy and insights of justice to those who guide and decide,
    strength and prowess to those who guard and protect.

7-8 These also, the priest and prophet, stagger from drink,
    weaving, falling-down drunks,
Besotted with wine and whiskey,
    can’t see straight, can’t talk sense.
Every table is covered with vomit.
    They live in vomit.

9-10 “Is that so? And who do you think you are to teach us?
    Who are you to lord it over us?
We’re not babies in diapers
    to be talked down to by such as you—
‘Da, da, da, da,
    blah, blah, blah, blah.
That’s a good little girl,
    that’s a good little boy.’”

11-12 But that’s exactly how you will be addressed.
    God will speak to this people
In baby talk, one syllable at a time—
    and he’ll do it through foreign oppressors.
He said before, “This is the time and place to rest,
    to give rest to the weary.
This is the place to lay down your burden.”
    But they won’t listen.

13 So God will start over with the simple basics
    and address them in baby talk, one syllable at a time—
“Da, da, da, da,
    blah, blah, blah, blah.
That’s a good little girl,
    that’s a good little boy.”
And like toddlers, they will get up and fall down,
    get bruised and confused and lost.

14-15 Now listen to God’s Message, you scoffers,
    you who rule this people in Jerusalem.
You say, “We’ve taken out good life insurance.
    We’ve hedged all our bets, covered all our bases.
No disaster can touch us. We’ve thought of everything.
    We’re advised by the experts. We’re set.”

The Meaning of the Stone

16-17 But the Master, God, has something to say to this:

“Watch closely. I’m laying a foundation in Zion,
    a solid granite foundation, squared and true.
And this is the meaning of the stone:
    a trusting life won’t topple.
I’ll make justice the measuring stick
    and righteousness the plumb line for the building.
A hailstorm will knock down the shantytown of lies,
    and a flash flood will wash out the rubble.

18-22 “Then you’ll see that your precious life insurance policy
    wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.
Your careful precautions against death
    were a pack of illusions and lies.
When the disaster happens,
    you’ll be crushed by it.
Every time disaster comes, you’ll be in on it—
    disaster in the morning, disaster at night.”
Every report of disaster
    will send you cowering in terror.
There will be no place where you can rest,
    nothing to hide under.
God will rise to full stature,
    raging as he did long ago on Mount Perazim
And in the valley of Gibeon against the Philistines.
    But this time it’s against you.
Hard to believe, but true.
    Not what you’d expect, but it’s coming.
Sober up, friends, and don’t scoff.
    Scoffing will just make it worse.
I’ve heard the orders issued for destruction, orders from
    God-of-the-Angel-Armies—ending up in an international disaster.

23-26 Listen to me now.
    Give me your closest attention.
Do farmers plow and plow and do nothing but plow?
    Or harrow and harrow and do nothing but harrow?
After they’ve prepared the ground, don’t they plant?
    Don’t they scatter dill and spread cumin,
Plant wheat and barley in the fields
    and raspberries along the borders?
They know exactly what to do and when to do it.
    Their God is their teacher.

27-29 And at the harvest, the delicate herbs and spices,
    the dill and cumin, are treated delicately.
On the other hand, wheat is threshed and milled, but still not endlessly.
    The farmer knows how to treat each kind of grain.
He’s learned it all from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    who knows everything about when and how and where.