2The time is coming when the LORD will make every plant and tree in the land grow large and beautiful. All the people of Israel who survive will take delight and pride in the crops that the land produces. 3Everyone who is left in Jerusalem, whom God has chosen for survival, will be called holy. 4By his power the Lord will judge and purify the nation and wash away the guilt of Jerusalem and the blood that has been shed there. 5Then over Mount Zion and over all who are gathered there, the LORD will send a cloud in the daytime and smoke and a bright flame at night. God's glory will cover and protect the whole city. 6His glory will shade the city from the heat of the day and make it a place of safety, sheltered from the rain and storm.
The Song of the Vineyard
1Listen while I sing you this song,
a song of my friend and his vineyard:
My friend had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
2He dug the soil and cleared it of stones;
he planted the finest vines.
He built a tower to guard them,
dug a pit for treading the grapes.
He waited for the grapes to ripen,
but every grape was sour.
3So now my friend says, “You people who live in Jerusalem and Judah, judge between my vineyard and me. 4Is there anything I failed to do for it? Then why did it produce sour grapes and not the good grapes I expected?
5“This is what I am going to do to my vineyard; I will take away the hedge round it, break down the wall that protects it, and let wild animals eat it and trample it down. 6I will let it be overgrown with weeds. I will not prune the vines or hoe the ground; instead I will let briars and thorns cover it. I will even forbid the clouds to let rain fall on it.”
7Israel is the vineyard of the LORD Almighty;
the people of Judah are the vines he planted.
He expected them to do what was good,
but instead they committed murder.
He expected them to do what was right,
but their victims cried out for justice.
The Evil that People Do
8You are doomed! You buy more houses and fields to add to those you already have. Soon there will be nowhere for anyone else to live, and you alone will live in the land. 9I have heard the LORD Almighty say, “All these big, fine houses will be empty ruins. 10The grapevines growing on ten hectares of land will yield only eight litres of wine. 180 litres of seed will produce only eighteen litres of corn.”
11You are doomed! You get up early in the morning to start drinking, and you spend long evenings getting drunk. 12At your feasts you have harps and tambourines and flutes — and wine. But you don't understand what the LORD is doing, 13and so you will be carried away as prisoners. Your leaders will starve to death, and the common people will die of thirst. 14The world of the dead is hungry for them, and it opens its mouth wide. It gulps down the nobles of Jerusalem along with the noisy crowd of common people.
15Everyone will be disgraced, and all who are proud will be humbled. 16But the LORD Almighty shows his greatness by doing what is right, and he reveals his holiness by judging his people. 17In the ruins of the cities lambs will eat grass and young goats will find pasture.
18You are doomed! You are unable to break free from your sins. 19You say, “Let the LORD hurry up and do what he says he will, so that we can see it. Let Israel's holy God carry out his plans; let's see what he has in mind.”
20You are doomed! You call evil good and call good evil. You turn darkness into light and light into darkness. You make what is bitter sweet, and what is sweet you make bitter.
21You are doomed! You think you are wise, so very clever.
22You are doomed! Heroes of the wine bottle! Brave and fearless when it comes to mixing drinks! 23But for just a bribe you let the guilty go free, and you prevent the innocent from getting justice. 24So now, just as straw and dry grass shrivel and burn in the fire, your roots will rot and your blossoms will dry up and blow away, because you have rejected what the LORD Almighty, Israel's holy God, has taught us. 25The LORD is angry with his people and has stretched out his hand to punish them. The mountains will shake, and the bodies of those who die will be left in the streets like rubbish. Yet even then the LORD's anger will not be ended, but his hand will still be stretched out to punish.
26The LORD gives a signal to call for a distant nation. He whistles for them to come from the ends of the earth. And here they come, swiftly, quickly! 27None of them grows tired; none of them stumbles. They never doze or sleep. Not a belt is loose; not a sandal strap is broken. 28Their arrows are sharp, and their bows are ready to shoot. Their horses' hooves are as hard as flint, and their chariot-wheels turn like a whirlwind. 29The soldiers roar like lions that have killed an animal and are carrying it off where no one can take it away from them.
30When that day comes, they will roar over Israel as loudly as the sea. Look at this country! Darkness and distress! The light is swallowed by darkness.
God Calls Isaiah to be a Prophet
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on his throne, high and exalted, and his robe filled the whole Temple. 2Round him flaming creatures were standing, each of which had six wings. Each creature covered its face with two wings, and its body with two, and used the other two for flying. 3They were calling out to each other:
“Holy, holy, holy!
The LORD Almighty is holy!
His glory fills the world.”
4The sound of their voices made the foundation of the Temple shake, and the Temple itself was filled with smoke.
5I said, “There is no hope for me! I am doomed because every word that passes my lips is sinful, and I live among a people whose every word is sinful. And yet, with my own eyes, I have seen the King, the LORD Almighty!”
6Then one of the creatures flew down to me, carrying a burning coal that he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7He touched my lips with the burning coal and said, “This has touched your lips, and now your guilt is gone, and your sins are forgiven.”
8Then I heard the Lord say, “Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?”
I answered, “I will go! Send me!”
9So he told me to go and give the people this message: “No matter how much you listen, you will not understand. No matter how much you look, you will not know what is happening.” 10Then he said to me, “Make the minds of these people dull, their ears deaf, and their eyes blind, so that they cannot see or hear or understand. If they did, they might turn to me and be healed.”
11I asked, “How long will it be like this, Lord?”
He answered, “Until the cities are ruined and empty — until the houses are uninhabited — until the land itself is a desolate waste. 12I will send the people far away and make the whole land desolate. 13Even if one person out of ten remains in the land, he too will be destroyed; he will be like the stump of an oak tree that has been cut down.”
(The stump represents a new beginning for God's people.)