Isaiah 33

The Ground Under Our Feet Mourns

Doom to you, Destroyer,
    not yet destroyed;
And doom to you, Betrayer,
    not yet betrayed.
When you finish destroying,
    your turn will come—destroyed!
When you quit betraying,
    your turn will come—betrayed!

God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope.
    First thing in the morning, be there for us!
    When things go bad, help us out!
You spoke in thunder and everyone ran.
    You showed up and nations scattered.
Your people, for a change, got in on the loot,
    picking the field clean of the enemy spoils.

God is supremely esteemed. His center holds.
    Zion brims over with all that is just and right.
God keeps your days stable and secure—
    salvation, wisdom, and knowledge in surplus,
    and best of all, Zion’s treasure, Fear-of-God.

But look! Listen!
    Tough men weep openly.
    Peacemaking diplomats are in bitter tears.
The roads are empty—
    not a soul out on the streets.
The peace treaty is broken,
    its conditions violated,
    its signers reviled.
The very ground under our feet mourns,
    the Lebanon mountains hang their heads,
Flowering Sharon is a weed-choked gully,
    and the forests of Bashan and Carmel? Bare branches.

“Now I’m stepping in,” God says.
    “From now on, I’m taking over.
    The gloves come off. Now see how mighty I am.
There’s nothing to you.
    Pregnant with chaff, you produce straw babies;
    full of hot air, you self-destruct.
You’re good for nothing but fertilizer and fuel.
    Earth to earth—and the sooner the better.

“If you’re far away,
    get the reports on what I’ve done,
And if you’re in the neighborhood,
    pay attention to my record.
The sinners in Zion are rightly terrified;
    the godless are at their wit’s end:
‘Who among us can survive this firestorm?
    Who of us can get out of this purge with our lives?’”

The answer’s simple:
    Live right,
    speak the truth,
    despise exploitation,
    refuse bribes,
    reject violence,
    avoid evil amusements.
This is how you raise your standard of living!
    A safe and stable way to live.
    A nourishing, satisfying way to live.

God Makes All the Decisions Here

Oh, you’ll see the king—a beautiful sight!
    And you’ll take in the wide vistas of land.
In your mind you’ll go over the old terrors:
    “What happened to that Assyrian inspector who condemned and confiscated?
And the one who gouged us of taxes?
    And that cheating moneychanger?”
Gone! Out of sight forever! Their insolence
    nothing now but a fading stain on the carpet!
No more putting up with a language you can’t understand,
    no more sounds of gibberish in your ears.

Just take a look at Zion, will you?
    Centering our worship in festival feasts!
Feast your eyes on Jerusalem,
    a quiet and permanent place to live.
No more pulling up stakes and moving on,
    no more patched-together lean-tos.
Instead, God! God majestic, God himself the place
    in a country of broad rivers and streams,
But rivers blocked to invading ships,
    off-limits to predatory pirates.
For God makes all the decisions here. God is our king.
    God runs this place and he’ll keep us safe.

Ha! Your sails are in shreds,
    your mast wobbling,
    your hold leaking.
The plunder is free for the taking, free for all—
    for weak and strong, insiders and outsiders.

No one in Zion will say, “I’m sick.”
    Best of all, they’ll all live guilt-free.

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Isaiah 34

The Fires Burning Day and Night

Draw in close now, nations. Listen carefully,
    you people. Pay attention!
Earth, you, too, and everything in you.
    World, and all that comes from you.

And here’s why: God is angry,
    good and angry with all the nations,
So blazingly angry at their arms and armies
    that he’s going to rid earth of them, wipe them out.
The corpses, thrown in a heap,
    will stink like the town dump in midsummer,
Their blood flowing off the mountains
    like creeks in spring runoff.
Stars will fall out of the sky
    like overripe, rotting fruit in the orchard,
And the sky itself will be folded up like a blanket
    and put away in a closet.
All that army of stars, shriveled to nothing,
    like leaves and fruit in autumn, dropping and rotting!

“Once I’ve finished with earth and sky,
    I’ll start in on Edom.
I’ll come down hard on Edom,
    a people I’ve slated for total termination.”
God has a sword, thirsty for blood and more blood,
    a sword hungry for well-fed flesh,
Lamb and goat blood,
    the suet-rich kidneys of rams.
Yes, God has scheduled a sacrifice in Bozrah, the capital,
    the whole country of Edom a slaughterhouse.
A wholesale slaughter, wild animals
    and farm animals alike slaughtered.
The whole country soaked with blood,
    all the ground greasy with fat.

It’s God’s scheduled time for vengeance,
    the year all Zion’s accounts are settled.
Edom’s streams will flow sluggish, thick with pollution,
    the soil sterile, poisoned with waste,
The whole country
    a smoking, stinking garbage dump—
The fires burning day and night,
    the skies black with endless smoke.
Generation after generation of wasteland—
    no more travelers through this country!
Vultures and skunks will police the streets;
    owls and crows will feel at home there.
God will reverse creation. Chaos!
    He will cancel fertility. Emptiness!
Leaders will have no one to lead.
    They’ll name it No Kingdom There,
A country where all kings
    and princes are unemployed.
Thistles will take over, covering the castles,
    fortresses conquered by weeds and thornbushes.
Wild dogs will prowl the ruins,
    ostriches have the run of the place.
Wildcats and hyenas will hunt together,
    demons and devils dance through the night.
The night-demon Lilith, evil and rapacious,
    will establish permanent quarters.
Scavenging carrion birds will breed and brood,
    infestations of ominous evil.

Get and read God’s book:
    None of this is going away,
    this breeding, brooding evil.
God has personally commanded it all.
    His Spirit set it in motion.
God has assigned them their place,
    decreed their fate in detail.
This is permanent—
    generation after generation, the same old thing.

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Isaiah 35

The Voiceless Break into Song

1-2 Wilderness and desert will sing joyously,
    the badlands will celebrate and flower—
Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom,
    a symphony of song and color.
Mountain glories of Lebanon—a gift.
    Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon—gifts.
God’s resplendent glory, fully on display.
    God awesome, God majestic.

Energize the limp hands,
    strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls,
    “Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here,
    on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.
    He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

Blind eyes will be opened,
    deaf ears unstopped,
Lame men and women will leap like deer,
    the voiceless break into song.
Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness,
    streams flow in the desert.
Hot sands will become a cool oasis,
    thirsty ground a splashing fountain.
Even lowly jackals will have water to drink,
    and barren grasslands flourish richly.

There will be a highway
    called the Holy Road.
No one rude or rebellious
    is permitted on this road.
It’s for God’s people exclusively—
    impossible to get lost on this road.
    Not even fools can get lost on it.
No lions on this road,
    no dangerous wild animals—
Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.
    Only the redeemed will walk on it.
The people God has ransomed
    will come back on this road.
They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion,
    unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,
Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness
    as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.

Read More of Isaiah 35