Isaiah 8:11-22

A Boulder Blocking Your Way

God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said:

“Don’t be like this people,
    always afraid somebody is plotting against them.
Don’t fear what they fear.
    Don’t take on their worries.
If you’re going to worry,
    worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
The Holy can be either a Hiding Place
    or a Boulder blocking your way,
The Rock standing in the willful way
    of both houses of Israel,
A barbed-wire Fence preventing trespass
    to the citizens of Jerusalem.
Many of them are going to run into that Rock
    and get their bones broken,
Get tangled up in that barbed wire
    and not get free of it.”

Gather up the testimony,
    preserve the teaching for my followers,
While I wait for God as long as he remains in hiding,
    while I wait and hope for him.
I stand my ground and hope,
    I and the children God gave me as signs to Israel,
Warning signs and hope signs from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    who makes his home in Mount Zion.

When people tell you, “Try out the fortunetellers.
    Consult the spiritualists.
Why not tap into the spirit-world,
    get in touch with the dead?”
Tell them, “No, we’re going to study the Scriptures.”
    People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead end!
Frustrated and famished,
    they try one thing after another.
When nothing works out they get angry,
    cursing first this god and then that one,
Looking this way and that,
    up, down, and sideways—and seeing nothing,
A blank wall, an empty hole.
    They end up in the dark with nothing.

Read More of Isaiah 8

Isaiah 9

A Child Has Been Born—for Us!

But there’ll be no darkness for those who were in trouble. Earlier he did bring the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali into disrepute, but the time is coming when he’ll make that whole area glorious— the road along the Sea, the country past the Jordan, international Galilee.

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
    you expanded its joy.
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!
    Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
    sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—
    all their whips and cudgels and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance
    as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops,
    along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned,
    a fire that will burn for days!
For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
    the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He’ll rule from the historic David throne
    over that promised kingdom.
He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing
    and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
    beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will do all this.

God Answered Fire with Fire

The Master sent a message against Jacob.
    It landed right on Israel’s doorstep.
All the people soon heard the message,
    Ephraim and the citizens of Samaria.
But they were a proud and arrogant bunch.
    They dismissed the message, saying,
“Things aren’t that bad.
    We can handle anything that comes.
If our buildings are knocked down,
    we’ll rebuild them bigger and finer.
If our forests are cut down,
    we’ll replant them with finer trees.”

So God incited their adversaries against them,
    stirred up their enemies to attack:
From the east, Arameans; from the west, Philistines.
    They made hash of Israel.
But even after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

But the people paid no mind to him who hit them,
    didn’t seek God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
So God hacked off Israel’s head and tail,
    palm branch and reed, both on the same day.
The big-head elders were the head,
    the lying prophets were the tail.
Those who were supposed to lead this people
    led them down blind alleys,
And those who followed the leaders
    ended up lost and confused.
That’s why the Master lost interest in the young men,
    had no feeling for their orphans and widows.
All of them were godless and evil,
    talking filth and folly.
And even after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

Their wicked lives raged like an out-of-control fire,
    the kind that burns everything in its path—
Trees and bushes, weeds and grasses—
    filling the skies with smoke.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies answered fire with fire,
    set the whole country on fire,
Turned the people into consuming fires,
    consuming one another in their lusts—
Appetites insatiable, stuffing and gorging
    themselves left and right with people and things.
But still they starved. Not even their children
    were safe from their rapacious hunger.
Manasseh ate Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
    and then the two ganged up against Judah.
And after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

Read More of Isaiah 9

Isaiah 10:1-19

You Who Legislate Evil

1-4 Doom to you who legislate evil,
    who make laws that make victims—

Laws that make misery for the poor,
    that rob my destitute people of dignity,
Exploiting defenseless widows,
    taking advantage of homeless children.
What will you have to say on Judgment Day,
    when Doomsday arrives out of the blue?
Who will you get to help you?
    What good will your money do you?
A sorry sight you’ll be then, huddled with the prisoners,
    or just some corpses stacked in the street.
Even after all this, God is still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

Doom to Assyria!

“Doom to Assyria, weapon of my anger.
    My wrath is a cudgel in his hands!
I send him against a godless nation,
    against the people I’m angry with.
I command him to strip them clean, rob them blind,
    and then push their faces in the mud and leave them.
But Assyria has another agenda;
    he has something else in mind.
He’s out to destroy utterly,
    to stamp out as many nations as he can.
Assyria says, ‘Aren’t my commanders all kings?
    Can’t they do whatever they like?
Didn’t I destroy Calno as well as Carchemish?
    Hamath as well as Arpad? Level Samaria as I did Damascus?
I’ve eliminated kingdoms full of gods
    far more impressive than anything in Jerusalem and Samaria.
So what’s to keep me from destroying Jerusalem
    in the same way I destroyed Samaria and all her god-idols?’”

When the Master has finished dealing with Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he’ll say, “Now it’s Assyria’s turn. I’ll punish the bragging arrogance of the king of Assyria, his high and mighty posturing, the way he goes around saying,

“‘I’ve done all this by myself.
    I know more than anyone.
I’ve wiped out the boundaries of whole countries.
    I’ve walked in and taken anything I wanted.
I charged in like a bull
    and toppled their kings from their thrones.
I reached out my hand and took all that they treasured
    as easily as a boy taking a bird’s eggs from a nest.
Like a farmer gathering eggs from the henhouse,
    I gathered the world in my basket,
And no one so much as fluttered a wing
    or squawked or even chirped.’”

Does an ax take over from the one who swings it?
    Does a saw act more important than the sawyer?
As if a shovel did its shoveling by using a ditch digger!
    As if a hammer used the carpenter to pound nails!
Therefore the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    will send a debilitating disease on his robust Assyrian fighters.
Under the canopy of God’s bright glory
    a fierce fire will break out.
Israel’s Light will burst into a conflagration.
    The Holy will explode into a firestorm,
And in one day burn to cinders
    every last Assyrian thornbush.
God will destroy the splendid trees and lush gardens.
    The Assyrian body and soul will waste away to nothing
    like a disease-ridden invalid.
A child could count what’s left of the trees
    on the fingers of his two hands.

Read More of Isaiah 10