Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”
God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. Oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills. Better yet, on the Day God heals his people of the wounds and bruises from the time of punishment, moonlight will flare into sunlight, and sunlight, like a whole week of sunshine at once, will flood the land.
Look, God’s on his way,
and from a long way off!
Smoking with anger,
immense as he comes into view,
Words steaming from his mouth,
searing, indicting words!
A torrent of words, a flash flood of words
sweeping everyone into the vortex of his words.
He’ll shake down the nations in a sieve of destruction,
herd them into a dead end.
But you will sing,
sing through an all-night holy feast!
Your hearts will burst with song,
make music like the sound of flutes on parade,
En route to the mountain of God,
on the way to the Rock of Israel.
God will sound out in grandiose thunder,
display his hammering arm,
Furiously angry, showering sparks—
cloudburst, storm, hail!
Oh yes, at God’s thunder
Assyria will cower under the clubbing.
Every blow God lands on them with his club
is in time to the music of drums and pipes,
God in all-out, two-fisted battle,
fighting against them.
Topheth’s fierce fires are well prepared,
ready for the Assyrian king.
The Topheth furnace is deep and wide,
well stoked with hot-burning wood.
God’s breath, like a river of burning pitch,
starts the fire.
Impressed by Military Mathematics
1-3 Doom to those who go off to Egypt
thinking that horses can help them,
Impressed by military mathematics,
awed by sheer numbers of chariots and riders—
And to The Holy of Israel, not even a glance,
not so much as a prayer to God.
Still, he must be reckoned with,
a most wise God who knows what he’s doing.
He can call down catastrophe.
He’s a God who does what he says.
He intervenes in the work of those who do wrong,
stands up against interfering evildoers.
Egyptians are mortal, not God,
and their horses are flesh, not Spirit.
When God gives the signal, helpers and helped alike
will fall in a heap and share the same dirt grave.
This is what God told me:
“Like a lion, king of the beasts,
that gnaws and chews and worries its prey,
Not fazed in the least by a bunch of shepherds
who arrive to chase it off,
So God-of-the-Angel-Armies comes down
to fight on Mount Zion, to make war from its heights.
And like a huge eagle hovering in the sky,
God-of-the-Angel-Armies protects Jerusalem.
I’ll protect and rescue it.
Yes, I’ll hover and deliver.”
Repent, return, dear Israel, to the One you so cruelly abandoned. On the day you return, you’ll throw away—every last one of you—the no-gods your sinful hands made from metal and wood.
“Assyrians will fall dead,
killed by a sword-thrust but not by a soldier,
laid low by a sword not swung by a mortal.
Assyrians will run from that sword, run for their lives,
and their prize young men made slaves.
Terrorized, that rock-solid people will fall to pieces,
their leaders scatter hysterically.”
God’s Decree on Assyria.
His fire blazes in Zion,
his furnace burns hot in Jerusalem.
Safe Houses, Quiet Gardens
1-8 But look! A king will rule in the right way,
and his leaders will carry out justice.
Each one will stand as a shelter from high winds,
provide safe cover in stormy weather.
Each will be cool running water in parched land,
a huge granite outcrop giving shade in the desert.
Anyone who looks will see,
anyone who listens will hear.
The impulsive will make sound decisions,
the tongue-tied will speak with eloquence.
No more will fools become celebrities,
nor crooks be rewarded with fame.
For fools are fools and that’s that,
thinking up new ways to do mischief.
They leave a wake of wrecked lives
and lies about God,
Turning their backs on the homeless hungry,
ignoring those dying of thirst in the streets.
And the crooks? Underhanded sneaks they are,
inventive in sin and scandal,
Exploiting the poor with scams and lies,
unmoved by the victimized poor.
But those who are noble make noble plans,
and stand for what is noble.
Take your stand, indolent women!
Listen to me!
Indulgent, indolent women,
listen closely to what I have to say.
In just a little over a year from now,
you’ll be shaken out of your lazy lives.
The grape harvest will fail,
and there’ll be no fruit on the trees.
Oh tremble, you indolent women.
Get serious, you pampered dolls!
Strip down and discard your silk fineries.
Put on funeral clothes.
Shed honest tears for the lost harvest,
the failed vintage.
Weep for my people’s gardens and farms
that grow nothing but thistles and thornbushes.
Cry tears, real tears, for the happy homes no longer happy,
the merry city no longer merry.
The royal palace is deserted,
the bustling city quiet as a morgue,
The emptied parks and playgrounds
taken over by wild animals,
delighted with their new home.
Yes, weep and grieve until the Spirit is poured
down on us from above
And the badlands desert grows crops
and the fertile fields become forests.
Justice will move into the badlands desert.
Right will build a home in the fertile field.
And where there’s Right, there’ll be Peace
and the progeny of Right: quiet lives and endless trust.
My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood—
in safe houses, in quiet gardens.
The forest of your pride will be clear-cut,
the city showing off your power leveled.
But you will enjoy a blessed life,
planting well-watered fields and gardens,
with your farm animals grazing freely.